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Gov't losing billions in under-utilised internet - Auditor General

New ICT minister Judith Nabakooba getting a tour of NITA-U offices

New ICT minister Judith Nabakooba getting a tour of NITA-U offices

Government is losing billions of shillings due to the underutilization of National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) and the e-Government Infrastructure (eGI) portals. 

In the 2006/2007 financial year, government through the National Information and Technology Authority (NITA-U) secured funds to put up a National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure to provide connectivity to government entities, ministries and departments across the country.    

The project was embraced as a viable intervention towards addressing challenges of internet connectivity and ICT infrastructure to enhance e-government services in the country. 

However, the 2019 report by the auditor general, John Muwanga indicates that though connected to the backbone, many beneficiaries are not effectively utilizing the facilities at their exposure, which compels government to continue spending huge sums of money to other alternative services. 

The audit report reveals that a total of 445 sites out of the envisaged 20,000 are connected to the national backbone and of these 369 are still using related services and incurring huge costs. 76 sites though connected to the infrastructure are not utilizing the available services at all. 

As a result, government continues spending heavily to procure bandwidth from alternative service providers, whose costs have also remained high. In the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial year, a total of Shs 25 billion was spent to pay for alternative internet service providers for agencies that are connected to the NBI, which by implication points to wastage of resources. 

An additional Shs 1.04 billion, which was spent on the connection infrastructure to the 76 sites that are not using the NBI services according to the report could also become a wasted investment over non-utilization of the equipment, which is becoming obsolete before it is even used.  

Muwanga recommends to government to fully enforce the National Information and Technology Authority (NITA) Act that requires all public agencies to use the NBI electronic and government infrastructure as their primary vehicle for all their data and internet services. 

Figures at NITA indicate that a distance of about 2,474 kilometers have been laid with optical fiber cables connecting major towns of the country. However, one of the systems administrator in Masaka judicial area who talked to us condition of anonymity so as to speak freely, explained that the internet service provided by NITA through the NBI is too slow and less reliable, which affects the pace of their operations.

“The government system is usually bogged down by reliability challenges compared to private service providers hence leaving us with no options but to use alternatives,” he noted. 

But James Saaka, the executive director of NITA in his annual performance report of 2019, indicated that they embarked on the process towards addressing all underlying bottlenecks that affect their efficiency.  

Some of the considered interventions according to him are rolling out capacity building sessions and enforcing compliance to the national IT standards.     

Comments

0 #1 MR 2020-02-13 17:45
Even the gov't agencies that do utilize that I.T facility do not have updated information like UBOS.

Others don't have functioning contact/directories details and the like yet they have fully functioning I.T departments. No value for money in short
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0 #2 Kabayekka 2020-02-13 18:49
Indeed this is a country that might have got 0ld computers that came to this country at the back doors.

It is a country that does not assemble computers, and it is a country that taxes brand new modern computers 200 percent. When then does the well learned Auditor General ever expect such internet service costs to come down?
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+1 #3 Lysol 2020-02-13 21:43
Who would like to use a censored internet when the corrupt oppressive regime is always spying on them. China does the same to it's citizens.

The internet is the voice of the voiceless and the oppressed. The government (and its news medias) in some of those shithole countries, always feed us with fake news.
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-1 #4 rubangakene 2020-02-13 23:59
Another fallacy this internet business; a vain glory project that does not feed the masses.

In my opinion those billions should have been invested in Agriculture and Co-operatives, that's where the business is.

You see the people who came from the bush now want to emulate 'wazungus', even wearing glasses to look "white!
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