Corruption, negligence, and a lack of accountability are hampering Uganda’s growth in I.T and will certainly make Uganda lose her place as a regional I.T power in the East African region. With many IT folks unemployed and under employed, Uganda’s government cannot put together a project worse even accomplishing a simple IT project like setting up a Computer Resource Center in a rural area…
Another $1m Internet project in jeopardy
Daily Monitor | News | August 9, 2009 | Yasiin Mugerwa
Corruption and negligence has bungled a planned $1 million government rural Internet project seeking to establish business information centres in the countryside communities, MPs heard last week.
Angry MPs on the Information and Communication Technology Committee, also gave the sector minister, Aggrey Awori and his junior colleague Alintuma Nsambu, 48 hours to explain why the costs of a $126 million (about Shs252 billion) National ICT backbone infrastructure project were reportedly inflated.
“The new District Business Information Centres (DBICs) Project has flopped due to negligence and corruption. These people in the ministry have turned this project into a conduit for them to waste public money,” Mr Ssebuliba Mutumba (DP, Kawempe South), one of the committee members said yesterday.
“They supplied computers and other equipment to various districts, but were not connected, no testing done, no mini-servers and have been deserted on the floors with dust yet we spent billions. We are yet to get the explanation why they inflated costs of the National ICT backbone and here we are with another project mishandled the same way and the ministry is doing nothing.”
The uncertainty over the new rural Internet project puts the ministry’s credibility in spotlight after Daily Monitor reported two weeks ago that the same Committee had queried the $126 million cost for the 2,130km project national ICT backbone project, arguing that Rwanda is carrying out a similar project across 2,300km for only $38 million (about Shs76 billion). To substantiate their claims, the MPs showed Mr Awori and his team, footage of the neglected equipment, idle at various centres in the districts of Mityana, Iganga and Busia. Other districts which were supposed to benefit from the project include; Kamwenge, Lira and Rukungiri. After viewing the “footage of shame” as the MPs described it, minister Awori, who only came to the ministry in the February Cabinet reshuffle, apologised to the committee. The post was previously held by Mr Ham Mulira.
“We sincerely do apologise to the committee, the contractors who won the tender didn’t play their role and as a ministry, we are going to take action to correct these faults. There should have been a follow-up but this wasn’t done.”
Some MPs led by Ishaa Otto (UPC, Oyam South) cited duplication in the project under scrutiny after it emerged that the establishment of District Business Information Centres is closely linked with the e-government initiative, which was covered under the disputed National ICT backbone project.
“We welcome the idea of the rural ICT project, but this is covered under the National ICT backbone. We are talking about Shs2 billion going to waste and all this is duplication intended to abuse public funds,” Mr Otto said.
“We have given them 48 hours to give us all the information relating to these two projects otherwise we see corruption and negligence pulling us down yet we need ICT to develop as a country.”
Once the project succeeds, DBICs shall be the first of its kind as a government response to the challenge of enhancing productivity and fighting digital marginalisation.
The Committee has ordered Mr Awori to appear before it on Thursday with a written explanation as to why the rural internet project has delayed and who was responsible for the supervision of the project.