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Uganda Internet Governance Forum discusses the state of national internet service and policy

September 19, 2013  »  ICT PolicyOne Comment

The Internet Society Chapter Uganda in partnership with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) hosted the Uganda Internet Governance Forum (UIGF) at the Hive Colab on September 18, 2013.

The one-day multi-stakeholder event, ran under the theme “Harnessing Internet Development in Uganda: Connecting the last mile.” Over the course of a few hours, participants and panelists discussed obstacles to internet access in Uganda and within the East African context. Key topics included achieving affordable internet access and maintaining online freedoms. More specifically, participants analyzed the state of Uganda’s network infrastructure and talked about the balance between privacy and online user protection. Ultimately, hundreds of ideas on how to improve the quality of internet access were shared.

An astounding number of facts were shared on social media using #UIGF13:

  • Internet penetration in Uganda is at 17% as of December 2012 from 9.6% in 2010 (Source: Internet World Stats).
  • NITA Uganda’s Vivian Ddambya says government has laid more than 1500km of fibre.
  • Posta Uganda is putting up district business centres that allow the access of internet & e-gov centres.
  • @ISOCUG is currently implementing a project on Online Child Protection (how cyber framework addresses child safety online).
  • Freedom on the Net Report by Freedom House: Not free – Ethiopia; Partly free – Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda; Free – South Africa & Kenya
  • @NITAUganda1 setting up CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team.
  • Internet has been purchased in bulk and will be supplied to all government entities starting next month (October).
  • Need to reduce cost of electricity, integrate ICT into education curriculum, provide Internet to schools, research.
  • ISPs should start sharing infrastructure as opposed to setting up their own. Talk about cost-cutting to the end user.
  • Uganda Registration Services Bureau: Internet usage limited to email and sports; unstable power; insufficient awareness; government not doing enough; young people use the Internet most; few Internet cafes; poor connectivity; expensive broadband; limited local content.
  • IXP Peak stats: Kenya – 500Mbps, Rwanda – 250Mbps, Uganda – 150Mpbs, Tanzania – 60Mbps.
  • @NITAUganda1 working on Power generation and renewable energy use, to promote ICT in Uganda.
  • The cost of laying & maintaining fiber is high thus affecting end user prices hence has limited access & affordability.
  • Universal access requires consumer understanding.

Questions were also asked:

  • What kind of information has the UG government requested about users?
  • Is there a long term connectivity plan for Uganda? Is there a policy document to that effect?
  • A participant advised @NITAUganda1 to ensure that connectivity starts from schools and not necessarily in the rural areas.
  • Research suggests that service providers charge 3 times the amount for access to the Internet. Is this fair?

Influential participants (ie. those from the Ministry of ICT, ISOC Uganda, UCC, UIXP, NITA-U, etc.) claim to have listened. Time will tell how quickly changes are made to the way Ugandan internet services are managed.