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MPs approve Shs26 bn for extension of internet to schools, hospitals


By Mukembo Wilfred

Parliament has adopted a recommendation that Shs 26.781 billion be provided to the National Information Technology Uganda (NITA-U) to extend ICT services to extra 700 sites which include schools, hospitals and local governments.

The recommendation was contained in the Report of the Committee on Information, Communication, Technology and National Guidance the ICT Ministerial policy statement and budget estimates for the 2024/2025 financial year. 

The Committee Vice Chairperson, Hon. Tonny Ayoo, presented the report during the House sitting on Friday 12 April 2024. Parliament chaired by Speaker, Anita Among, adopted the committee report.

MPs expressed concern that rural schools have been provided with computers without internet, amidst a new and technology led curriculum.

“The Ministry supplied our schools with computers, but there is no internet connectivity and electricity. I wonder why they would supply schools in villages that have never seen electricity?” asked Hon. Peter Okot (DP, Tochi County).

Legislators noted that schools without internet connectivity are putting students at a disadvantage in the final national examination assessment.

“We have students who have ICT in their combination, yet in Kotido we have never heard of computers in schools. We believe if our students are well skilled in ICT we would realise a bigger population in employment,” said Hon. Margaret Aleper (NRM, Kotido District Woman MP).

Hon. Patrick Ocan (UPC, Apac Municipality) said that the consistent network failure is a disruption in local governments, saying that making a single payment can take two days to be effected.

The Speaker observed that there was equally a need to improve telecommunication network, which she said was in a sorry state in her constituency.

“The network in my village is so bad that you cannot even send a message. If I want to speak while in the village I have to climb an ant hill,” said Among.

The House also backed the committee recommendation to provide Shs10.322 billion Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) to cover its wage bill but asked that UBC improves its programming which they said was not competitive enough to drive revenue.

The committee observed that UBC is mandated to supply information needs of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme, for which government is seeking Shs1.5 billion to upgrade its data management system.

Kampala Central Division MP, Hon. Muhammad Nsereko, charged the ICT Ministry to urgently address the social media abuse by teaching the masses the better ways of utilising the new media.

“The reason we are seeing abuse is because we have not taught our people how to use internet for their benefit and how to make money using the internet. If we do we shall see a shift, if we finance the ministry to teach women how to make money online, the usage will change,” said Hon. Nsereko.

The ICT minister, Chris Baryomunsi said the ministry has studied the social media misuse and a plan is being hatched for its regulation. 

On members’ submissions on internet connectivity in schools, the minister said he had charged his technocrats to come up with what is required for all schools in Uganda to be connected with computers and internet.

“All learners sit the same exams yet some do not have ICT equipment, this brings imbalance for which I have asked my technical people to compute all that it takes to have computers and internet in all schools,” Baryomunsi stated.  

MPs approve Shs26 bn for extension of internet to schools, hospitals

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