This morning, the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) was hosted by the Parliamentary Committee on ICT to appraise them on Uganda’s Missing Links Project.

The Government of Uganda (GoU), through NITA-U, is implementing the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project to connect all major towns across the country including Government Ministries,Departments and Agencies via an optical fiber cable network so as to reduce the cost of public administration,support delivery of secure e-Government services as well as enhance communications services in the country.

Following the successful completion of Phases I – III of the NBI/EGI Project, as part of a deliberate effort to ensure the network is able to consistently provide 99.9%, the Missing Links project was started upon. The Missing Links project details laying out of concentric rings connected through optical fiber cable that will ensure self-resilient National Communications Infrastructure.

As is the normal procedure with Government procurement that are donor funded, NITAU embarked on the Missing Links procurement process as per the World Bank guidelines for International Competitive bidding.

NITA-U was requested to respond to a letter from the Budadiri County West Member of Parliament, Honorable Nandala Mafabi. The letter sought clarification on the procurement of the Missing Links project.

NITA-U’s Executive Director, James Saaka, shared with the Parliamentary Committee on ICT that the procurement process was adhered to with the requisite quality checks along the way.

Below is a summary of the events in the procurement process that he shared:

Develop Standard Bidding Document; Submit for review and no objection from the World Bank – Completed

Conduct Environment & Social Impact Assessment for the project; Submit report to NEMA for approval- Completed

Put out a general procurement notice (International Competitive Bidding (ICB)) –Completed.

Print adverts run on 14th August 2017 in the East African newspaper and on 17th August 2017 in the New Vision newspaper Organize for pre-bid conference/meeting with all interested suppliers, capture and address all queries/issues raised- Completed

Submit all amendments to the document (based on the pre-bid issues) for review and no objection from the World Bank – Completed

Confirm and communicate the bid submission date to receive bids- Completed

Receive and open bids- Completed

Undertake the Technical Evaluation – Ongoing

Submit Report of Evaluation Report to the Contracts Committee – Scheduled

Submit Approved Report to the World Bank for Review and Approval – If any queries these are addressed and resubmitted until a NO OBJECTION is received Scheduled – Scheduled

Undertake Post Evaluation Review on Likely Best Evaluated Bidder – Scheduled

During the pre-bid stage, all suppliers were invited to view the bid specification and it is at this stage that if a particular supplier had concerns with the bid specification detail,they would raise concern. It should be noted that no concerns were registered and this signaled the transition to the next stage of the procurement process.

It therefore infers that should have any impropriety been registered, it would have been picked up and addressed. In addition, the Word Bank uses its global technical experts to audit/review and subsequently approve the documents and the completion of each and every stage.

The Honorable Member of Parliament, Hon. Nandala Mafabi, raised additional new inquiries that prompted the Chairperson of the ICT Committee, Hon. Nyaketcho Annet,to provide guidance that NITA-U would be accorded an another opportunity to respond to these new inquiries.

NITA-U would like to reassure its stakeholders that all bid specification documentation was prepared internally by a technically competent and highly skilled team of knowledge matter experts.

NITA-U is always mindful that our continued progress in driving the digitization of Uganda has not only been due to the success of our infrastructure roll-out. We therefore remain committed to maintaining solid partnerships with the private & public sectors and communities to build a sustainable ICT ecosystem that contributes to the growth of the Ugandan economy.