The Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze has asked ICT proprietors in the 6 East African Community (EAC) states to push for harmonized policies for the whole region to ease integration as well as achieving digital inclusion for everyone.
Tumwebaze said that EAC needs harmonized data prices, a one area network as well as interconnection across boarders between the different country agencies as a way of quickening the process of making the region a one big village that can work together for development.
“Our ICT challenges are almost the same in EAC. The cost of internet is too high, the network is still not reliable and there is no common language for intercommunications between our communities, cyber harassment among other problems.”
He added: “I ask the ICT operators as well as the proprietors from the whole of East Africa to work tirelessly towards achieving uniform data charges, one area network as well as intercommunications between countries. This will help countries to achieve better and cheaper internet for their communities which will eventually enhance development.’’
Tuwwebaze was speaking at the East African Communications organization (EACO) 22nd congress on promotion of ICT through local content development that is being held at the Silver Spring Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala.
The regional 4-day conference is being hosted by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and it has attracted country representatives from the EA countries, telecom companies as well as ICT developers.
Tumwebaze noted that as much as there are developments to integrate the EAC, there is need for commitment for the ICT developers and regulators in EAC to find immediate solutions to the challenges that exist in ICT.
“As you mediate on ICT development in this conference, there is need for you to find solutions to challenges like language barrier, digital inclusion and penetration as well as protecting citizens against cyber harassment without impeaching in the rights of internet users. We do not need to wait for international regulations to be formulated for us; we can find local solutions because we are capable,” he said.
The Executive Secretary EACO, Hodge Semakula, thanked the government of Uganda for accepting to host the conferences on short notice after security challenges in Burundi who were supposed to host this year’s conference.
“We almost cancelled this conference because countries were not willing to host it due to financial restraints. We thank Uganda for volunteering to host. I hope at the end of the conference on Thursday, we will have found solutions that can help the EAC citizens achieve better and cheaper network that can help them in their struggle for development.”