By Mark Kawalya
The cost of Internet service provision by the Ugandan government has over the years fallen from $1200 in 2013 to just $34 (UGX 130,000) in megabits per second. This is a 97% decline in the cost of the internet, which Minister for ICT and National Guidance Chris Bayomunsi threw his weight behind, attributing this development to the new Regional Communication Infrastructure Project (RCIP). The RCIP is a project that was started by the National Information and Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).
“One of the issues the public has had is the cost of the Internet and how the government has been handling it. The project, in partnership with the World Bank, has reduced the cost of the Internet to $35 megabits per second,” Minister Bayomunsi said.
The ICT ministry has a mandate to prioritize affordable internet access, especially to the youth demographic, who, armed with the right tools, are in a position to spur job and wealth creation. The minister holds that the adoption of ICT in all service delivery sectors is a critical component in transforming Uganda into a knowledge-driven economy. This will be through the development of conducive policies, legal and institutional reforms.
At the launch of the RCIP, Nita-U executive director Dr.Hatwib Mugasa outlined the success of integrating government systems, banks and private sector players. He mentioned the project being a success, citing the successful connection of more than 600 government offices in 2020. RCIP has additionally enabled the government to connect another 1,200 government offices over a period of two years.
Information from NITA-U shows that, on average, a data system would cost the government $500,000(UGX1.9b) each year from recurring costs like licensing, cooling electricity, and maintenance. However, through RCIP, the government has been able to consolidate all those systems into a singular location, the National Data Center. Each system currently costs only $10,000 annually, saving the government $93m (UGX 355b) each year for the combined 190 systems.