President Museveni says Uganda will soon exploit artificial intelligence, satellites and new technologies In order to stimulate the growth of the ICT sector in Uganda.
This was contained in his address read for him by Vice president Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi during the cerebrations to mark 20 years of Uganda Communications Commissions existence.
The president says “We must ensure we are not left behind”.
Museveni explained that in 1996, government adopted a policy to increase penetration through privatization rather than government intervention.
“We only had UTL and MTN. But the last few years have seen growth in both fixed and mobile telephone subscribers to 21 million from 28, 000,” said Museveni.
“The liberalized communications sector has made it possible for Ugandans to enjoy new technologies through private investment,” he emphasized, adding, “Currently, the national coverage of 3G technology stands at 70 percent.”
Museveni further said 93 percent of Ugandans can make voice calls while 78 percent have access to data.
He said Uganda is entirely covered by 299 radio stations and 30 licensed television service providers.
Museveni revealed that 50 percent of Uganda is covered by 22 courier service providers.
He said Uganda has realized $180m per year in terms of foreign direct investment in the ICT sector over the last 7 years.
“This has impacted the economy positively, creating employment opportunities for our people. 1.5 million People are directly or indirectly employed in activities related to supporting the communication services,” said Museveni.
The Uganda market hosts local international ICT brands such as Huawei, Ericsson, MTN, Vodafone, Airtel, Liquid/Infocom, Simbanet/Wanainchi Group, Multichoice, Star Times, DHL, FEDEX, Smile Communications, Google, Seacom, UTL and Kwese Tv.
Uganda enjoys more than 90 percent population coverage with basic cellular network signal.
Consequently, there are over 22 million Mobile money accounts and a network of more than 160,000 agents countrywide.
Museveni challenged UCC to invest in research, facilitate generation of local content and support e-learning.
Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, hailed UCC for promoting the ICT sector in Uganda.
“Through an innovative licensing regime, Uganda is recognized for lowering market entry barriers and increasing consumer choice, and one of very few countries worldwide that were able to improve ICT global rankings 5 places upwards on the ICT ranking index,” he observed.
ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze expressed government determination to improve the quality and penetration of ICT services.
“While the challenges of the sector 20 years when UCC was being set up were more to do with the need for telephony service penetration, the challenges now are to do with quality of service. It’s more about universal connectivity, broadband reliably and affordability,” said Tumwebaze.
“The National broadband Policy recently drafted by the Ministry of ICT and passed cabinet gives the sector and UCC a clear campus to ride on with clear milestones to work on. The Policy recognizes ICT infrastructure as critical just like any other physical infrastructure of water, electricity, etc are.”
Several government officials including Museveni, Tumwebaze, UCC boss Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi and former ICT Minister John Nasasira were handed awards for supporting growth of the ICT sector in Uganda.