The Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Hon Frank Tumwebaze, on Tuesday officially launched the new National Broadband Strategy for Uganda (2016-2020) that was approved by the cabinet. The strategy describes broadband as an “interconnected multi-layered ecosystem of high capacity communications, network services, applications, devices and users”.
It regulates the network space that telecommunication companies tap in, to be able to provide services to people. In the context of Uganda, the policy defines broadband as “a robust connectivity that is affordable, always on and delivers a minimum of 3mps to the users for applications, content and services”.
Some of the deliberations and resolutions from the cabinet towards the Policy stipulate that;
To make it simpler, it is internet access via wireless networks such as Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G, among other advanced connections.
To achieve Uganda’s vision 2040, the government identified ICT as an area that would enhance improved service delivery, create employment and wealth.
Broadband was also identified as that area of ICT, that needed focus.
The vision of the strategy is “A transformed middle-income economy, driven by affordable high-quality broadband connectivity”.
The strategy is centred around 5 areas including (1) infrastructure, connectivity, and devices (2) content, applications, and innovation (3) capacity building, and awareness creation (4) policy, legal regulatory environment and (5) finance and investment.
Some of the targets for the new policy by the year 2020, is that the minimum broadband speed will be 3mps, a broadband penetration of 50% for rural areas, and 100% for the urban centres. In the areas of district and sub-county headquarters, health centres IVs, tertiary institutions and secondary schools, broadband connectivity should be at 100%.
These are intended so that access of the telecommunications services is enjoyed by the majority of Uganda’s in every geographical space within the country.
Regarding the costs of broadband, the cost of Mbps should be reduced by 10%. It also mentions that 40% of Uganda’s population should be digitally literate, and at least 50% of Uganda’s registered business to be online.
The policy is the reason why the government has now made it a requirement for telecommunications to list in the stock exchange so that Ugandans can be able to have an ownership stake in the companies in order for influence and improve service delivery. These are some of the conditions MTN has been given if it’s licence is to be renewed. MTN was also ordered to allow customers to retain their sim cards and numbers when one decides to change a network operator or geographical location.