Uganda’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is dynamic and vibrant. The sector has registered double digit growth over the last few years. Figure 1 shows the growth in industry investment expenditure over the last few years. The bulk of investment expenditure was in the roll out of mobile broadband solutions and other Internet related infrastructure. Investment in the sector is expected to grow in the near future as the new service providers expand their networks coupled with the expenditure for the 3rd phase of the national backbone infrastructure network. Sector dynamism is a result of Uganda’s good ICT legal and regulatory framework, a stable macroeconomic environment and economic reforms pursued since the early 1990s.
The telecommunications sub-sector, formerly dominated by a single national operator, has been progressively liberalised over the last 10 years. Because of it cross- cutting nature, the ICT sector plays a very big role in employment, job creation and quality/efficiency in other services delivery. For decades, the ICT sector in Uganda has been revolving around the Telecommunications, Postal and Broadcasting services. This has been mainly voice, very limited data handling and mail deliveries. The 1996 policy framework that liberalized telecommunication sub-sector resulted into radical changes that have given birth to an ICT service sector. The sector has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the last decade, especially in the areas of mobile devices, computer applications, information processing, storage and dissemination (Broadcasting and Internet Points of Presence at district levels) as well as m-finance, e-finance, global connectivity and online trade.
The posts and telecommunications services activities, grew by 30.3 percent in Financial Year 2009/10 and it accounted for 3.3 per cent of GDP. The growth changes have had a profound impact on the whole Ugandan economy, making the ICT sector an important part of the economy. Communications Infrastructure The government of Uganda, through the Ministry of ICT, decided to implement the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project for high speed communications.
This entails laying of Fibre Optic Cables and installation of related equipment, which include switches, optical transmission equipment, data communication equipment, fixed network equipment, video equipment, computers, servers, training and service. Ultimately, the fibre optic cable will link Uganda to the submarine cables on the East African coast providing access to the rest of the world through Kenya. As East Africa has relied on expensive satellite connections for telephony and Internet access, local operators and software companies are looking forward to the submarine cable with improved connection speeds and lower operating costs. In addition, the optical transmission is more reliable and of higher capacity compared with microwave transmission. BPO (and other) initiatives fit well into the National Fibre Optic Backbone.