In efforts to increase access to high-speed internet in Uganda secures $200 million from the World Bank. The financing was approved by the World Bank and will be focused on improving public service delivery digitally and strengthening digital inclusion in Uganda.
Like a number of countries on the continent, Uganda is struggling with inadequate digital integration, with most people without internet access. Despite some attempts by governments to enhance digital transformation, most people are still lagging behind because of high, discouraging internet charges. Without an internet connection, many choose to focus on more vital demands.
Higher digital penetration expected as Uganda secures $200 million from the World Bank
The new Uganda Digital Acceleration Project-GovNet (UDAP-GovNet) will support the extension of 1000 km of the national backbone fibre infrastructure, an additional 500 km of fibre optic network links between towns, mobile broadband connections for 900 government administrative units and service centres in underserved areas, and 828 Wi-Fi hotspots in select locations to support access to online services among rural and peri-urban, underserved and unserved communities.
Tony Thompson the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda said, “Transforming Uganda’s digital infrastructure is an urgent necessity for post-COVID-19 recovery. We look forward to the time when all citizens can access high-quality and low-cost internet, public services online, a digital economy driving growth, innovation and job creation.”
Enhanced digital inclusion will provide the population with significant benefits. It enables people to remain linked well and pushes innovation even further. In times such as these during a pandemic, many people have been pushed to deviate from traditional practices which has encouraged a high digital penetration. People now carry out their studies on the internet and conduct business online more efficiently.
These benefits will soon be the reality for many Ugandans thanks to the financing from the World Bank. With $140 million from the International Development Association (IDA) and a $60 million grant, the project will support the implementation of the governments’ flagship initiative, GovNet, which contributes to the objectives of Digital Uganda Vision and the Digital Transformation Program under the National Development Plan III.
It will help deliver shared platforms for ministries, departments, and agencies that will create the foundations for better resilience and economic recovery. More efficiency will be created by boosting the effectiveness of government e-services that can be delivered remotely, in a cashless manner reducing the need to travel for government services.
The Executive Director of NITA-U, Hatwib Mugasa showed his appreciation for the support from the World Bank to see to it that Ugandans can benefit from a digital economy. He said, “I would like to thank the World Bank for their support in transforming Uganda into a digital economy.”
Efforts by the private sector to promote digital transformation
There have also been various efforts from the private sector to see that digital transformation goes up. Telecom companies like Airtel and MTN have launched various initiatives and products in order to encourage more smartphone penetration and provide affordable rates for internet.
The Airtel Kwata-essimu and MTN Pay Mpola Mpola initiative are efforts aimed at making smartphones more affordable by allowing customers to get them on credit and pay in instalments. Other recent efforts are the internet bundles that provide packages where MBs only expire when depleted.