Archive for May, 2009

Kato Mivule | May 25, 2009

Uganda’s Government is reported to have budgeted Shs 114 Billion – about 57 Million US Dollars for a new computer system for Uganda’s High School, a move that is certainly long over due and will no doubt contribute to making Uganda an I.T power house in East Africa.

Govt earmarks sh114b for computer project
Sunday, 24th May, 2009
THE Government has budgeted sh114b for the establishment of computer technology systems in secondary schools, writes Ayiga Ondoga. The project will be undertaken by the Uganda Communications Commission, according to Alintuma Nsambu, the information and communication technology (ICT) state minister. Nsambu said the Government would equip every secondary school with about 15 to 50 computers by 2012, adding that 4,000 teachers to champion the project had been trained. This was at the launch of Symphony Limited, a computer firm formerly called Computer Applications Limited, at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel recently. Nsambu said the computers would be procured from Inveneo, an American firm. He appealed to the business community and private sector to come on board so that other schools can join the programme for the betterment of their students.

Uganda currently has some of the best High Schools in the East African region that students travel from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Congo to study in Uganda. Giving these High Schools a 57 Million US Dollar Investment in Information Technology is certainly a welcome move.

Not only will this move by Uganda’s Government boost the I.T Economy in Uganda but also will create jobs for the Computer Tech Specialists among other I.T professionals who will need to oversee the systems.

I.T State Minister displays an Inveneo System: Image Source: New Vision

I.T State Minister displays an Inveneo System: Image Source: New Vision

However, Uganda’s Government must be held accountable to make sure that this program is seen to its implementation.

With the final steps of laying of the Fiber Optic Cable from Kenya’s Coast to Uganda and accessibility to Broadband Internet, the bridging of the digital divide is becoming a reality at least in Uganda.

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By Kato Mivule | May 11, 2009

A recent article by the BBC sited what would be a significant impediment to the full utilization of the High Speed internet connectivity provided by companies like SEACOM which expects to launch services by June 2009.

“…And some analysts say that the three competing cables due to land shortly may actually create an over-supply of bandwidth in the East African market. Very few Kenyan households even have an internet connection and not many own a personal computer – indeed, there are just three million internet users in the whole country, out of a total population of close on 40 million. The statistics for the rest of Africa tell a similar story – of the 945 million people living on the continent, just 54 million use the internet. For all the talk of opening up access to broadband, this could end up being one big white elephant…”
BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7987812.stm

Though East African Governments are racing to complete laying fiber optic cable inland, the High Speed Connectivity infrastructure will stay largely redundant for some time due to the fact that many families, schools, and even government institutions lack computers.

However, the lack of interest in owning a Personal Computer by those who can afford it, mainly Africa’s Middle Class and Business community is that there is a lack of sensitization on the advantages of computerization for both records and communication.

The same African Middle class and business community that shows no interest in owning a PC spends large sums of money buying expensive Nokia Phones and the latest Blackberry headsets.

I know of colleagues in Uganda for example who will buy the latest Nokia phone and yet will not buy a Laptop which would cost almost the same amount of money spent of the latest Nokia Headset.

However, this could be a very good opportunity to boost the Information Technology economy sector in East Africa. If only 3 million people out of 40 million have access to the internet in Africa according to the BBC, then perhaps there is potential for growth assuming that most of the 3 million folks access the internet via ‘Internet Cafes’.

PC Manufacturers could team up with SEACOM and provide broadband internet connectivity at home with the purchase of the latest PC at an affordable price slightly lower or at par with the latest Nokia headset.

Fiber Optic Cable Network Around Africa - BBC

Fiber Optic Cable Network Around Africa - BBC

As a matter of fact PC Manufactures are coming out with 200 to 300 Dollar Laptops and that price will continue to drop. SEACOM could beat competitors by teaming up with PC and Laptop Manufacturers and at the same time help promote computerization in East Africa. The Key is to send out a message that computerization is not an ‘elite thing’ but a basic need.

However, Internet Cafes in East Africa had better brace themselves for some tough time ahead as Africa’s Middle Class and Businesses will seek to access the internet from the comforts of their homes.

Yet, Computer Support Tech jobs will increase as the sales of PCs and Laptops increase and therefore the need for service.

Overall if SEACOM can see the ICT deficiencies in East Africa as an opportunity, SEACOM will set itself as a major ICT household name in East Africa.

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