The government will be starting from the next financial year to connect all sub-counties to the upgraded national cloud data center in Jinja District, as a strategy to provide centralized hosting services for their applications and data.
Ms. Vivian Ddambya, the Director of Technical Services at National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U), made the revelation on Tuesday during a visit to the facility by the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Ms. Judith Nabakooba and her junior counterpart, Mr. Peter Ogwang.
Ms. Ddambya’s pronouncement came after the Jinja district LC5 Chairman, Mr. Titus Kisambira, requested NITA-U officials to connect all sub-counties and parishes within the district to the data grid.
“We request that all sub-counties are connected to the data grid to help schools, health centers, and police stations track data and know whatever government is doing and also reduce on absenteeism. We are in urgent need of such help so as to improve on service delivery to people,” Mr. Kisambira said.
However, Ms. Ddambya said they are planning to connect all the sub-counties countrywide to the national data grid such that they can have an online payment system and online connection of revenue.
“This means that all health center IIs, schools, police stations will be able to benefit. It is going to be a whole ecosystem and with schools, e-learning will come with e-learning solutions,” she explained.
According to Ms Ddambya, the project is currently in its design process and is expected to start in the next [2020/2021] financial year.
She was however noncommittal on how much the project would cost but noted that they expect to add 24 government agencies to the grid by the end of the year.
“We are supposed to connect 20,000 government units [to the national grid] but as of today have connected 446; but I must add that this is a big leap considering that five years ago, only 27 had been connected.
“Connecting all those units requires funds, but at the end of this year, we expect to have added about 800 sites to the existing 446,” Ms. Ddambya noted.
Ms Nabakooba said: “The mindset is to change in our administration of services at the district level; we need to think of digital means of delivering services and the tendency of carrying huge files must stop.”
The data centre boasts of online integration and storage of all government data.
Mr Peter Kahiigi, the Director e-Government Services at NITA-U, said there will be no more losing files and there will be an improvement in the criminal justice chain from when a case is reported at the police station up to the final judgment.
Last year, President Museveni launched the data centre primarily to bring government services online by connecting the internet and government ministries, departments to the internet and be able to have inter-connectivity with an aim of improving service delivery.
The Tier 3 data centre houses all government ICT applications, thereby saving taxpayers’ money and avoiding duplication and wastage of resources, Mr James Saaka, the executive director of the National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U), said during the launch.
Mr Arnold Mangeni, the Director of Information Technology at NITA-U, in an earlier interview, said Government was spending Shs2.1b on the internet every year but will now save money instead of everyone building its own data centre.
The data centre was put together in five different phases by Sybyl Limited, previously Computer Point Limited over a period of 18 months starting in October 2017.
History of the National ICT backbone
In 2006, President Museveni signed the National ICT backbone [NBI] agreement whose benefits are to improve communication in Government and lower internet costs to improve service delivery.
NITA-U operationalized the NBI in 2013 with 27 ministries connected, and there are currently 446 MDA [government] offices out of about 20,000 across the country, with Jinja district offices being one of those connected onto the NBI.
This Financial Year, about 700 more MDA sites are expected to be connected across the country under the Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme [RCIP], a World Bank-funded project.
In addition, the NBI generates revenue for Government, with about Shs26b expected to be generated this Financial Year.
NITA-U expects to do more investments across the country to connect more MDAs and lower the cost of internet to USD30 [Shs111,000] per mbps.