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Inside 10 years of NITA-U

 

  1. How is NITA –U helping Uganda to transform, and what milestones have we achieved over the last decade under your guidance?

 

      Infrastructure

The National Information Technology Authority Uganda ( NITA-U) has completed the implementation of all the three phases of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) and phase four (Missing Links Project) has commenced and will extend the ICT backbone to the West Nile districts of Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Koboko and Adjumani, Katakwi and Moroto.  Phase four will also provide new international connections to neighbouring countries which will improve access, reliability and competitiveness of broadband services both domestically and regionally.

This is in line with enhancing regional integration through robust and dependable infrastructure across the region. It should be noted that so far, the connectivity of the following border points has been achieved namely; Elegu (border point with South Sudan), Katuna (border point with Rwanda), Mutukula (border point with Tanzania) and Malaba & Busia (border point with Kenya). The aforementioned missing links project will provide new connectivity to Vura & Mpondwe (border point with Democratic Republic of Congo) and Oraba (border point with South Sudan). It’s important to note that owing to the already connected border points, there has been a reduction in clearance times for goods at these border points by average of 70%. Also, there has been enhanced coordination between agencies, Ministry of Trade Uganda Police Force and Directorate of Immigration which has improved trade facilitation across the region.

Relatedly, NITA-Uganda has deliberately ensured that the NBI offers Internet geographical redundancy by providing three Internet Uplinks that guarantee business continuity for its customers. This means that whether there is a Local Fiber cut within Uganda or a Fiber cut in Kenya or Rwanda, or an undersea cable cut, NITA-U can use an alternative route to still provide its customers with World-class Internet connectivity. Government Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and Local Governments are never offline with the NBI.

In order to cope with the Industry demands, NITA-U as Uganda’s ICT leaders has made deliberate effort to plan for improvement of critical components of the National Backbone Infrastructure and Data Center platform. Additional capacity will be deployed on the national backbone to accommodate up to 100G on the line greatly boosting the current utilized protected capacity.

Internet service and cloud

At a 71% cheaper-than-industry average pricing of USD. 70 per Mbps, it is forecast that the cost of internet will drop further in the nation once NITA-U implements the planned reduction to USD. 50 per Mbps.

The first in the nation, a National  Tier 3 Data Center is set to open its doors for business. This is one of the key initiatives under the Government of Uganda’s strategy for the provision of a centralized Data Centre with hosting and Disaster Recovery Services for Government Applications & Data.

With a rack space potential of 2000 racks, the biggest in Uganda, the Primary National Data Centre will house all Government ICT infrastructure thereby saving tax payer’s money with the centralized hosting consequently avoiding duplications and wastage of resources.

The National Data Centre will also host the Government Cloud, MyUG Cloud. MyUG Cloud will enable MDAs focus their resources on service based delivery rather than asset based delivery. MyUG Cloud has been established to support the following service delivery models:

  • Infrastructure as a Service;
  • Software as a Service;
  • Backup as a Service and
  • Platform as a Service.

eGovernment

  1. NITA-U rolled out U-mail to six (12) piloting entities a Unified Messaging and Collaboration System that leverages on traditional email and accessibility to collaborative applications to support and improve Government wide communication. U-mail shall increase Government efficiency through shared services. . MDAs are now able to enhance collaboration amongst  their teams by providing data, voice and video communication across a range of devices, across the nation, thereby facilitating more informed decision-making and increased productivity whilst saving considerable travel time and costs.
  2. NITA-U provides free Wi-Fi internet services (MYUG) to all citizens in Kampala from 6pm- 6am during the week, and 3pm- 9am over the weekend. During the first two Quarters, three (3) additional sites were connected bringing the total number of hotspots connected to MYUG to two hundred and eighty-four (284) since inception. 76,519 citiznes have signed up for the service.
  3. As at half annual, 17 new websites were developed bringing the total number of websites in Government to two hundred ninety-three (293)
  4. A total of 280 MDA/LGs websites have been maintained and supported.
  5. Technical support provided to thirty-six (36) new and ongoing projects in MDAs and LGs
  6. Two (2) additional e-government services have been provided through a single point of contact (the e-Government Portal) bringing the total to Eighty-One (81) e-Government services. This platform has improved access to these services by the citizens. The new services that have been added are as follows;
    1. E-certification service by MAAIF
    2. Anti-Corruption Online Tool by Office of the President

 

Cyber security and Cyberlaws

NITA-U has ensured that the right laws are in place to ensure that one transacts securely in the digital world. These laws include:

  • Computer Misuse Act, 2011
  • Electronic Misuse Act, 2011
  • Electronic Signatures Act, 2011

Additionally, there are regulations and frameworks that safeguard and prescribe how one transacts digitally. These frameworks also govern how service providers (Public & Private sector) provide services:

  • The NITA-U (Certification of Providers of IT Products & Services) Regulations 2016
  • The NITA-U (E-Government Regulations) 2015
  • E-Transactions Regulations,2013
  • E- Signatures Regulations, 2013
  • National IT Policy Framework 2003
  • National IT Standards
  • MDA IT related Standards
  • National IS Framework

The above legislations/laws provide sanctions for when one is defrauded/harmed in the digital space. The sanctions are enforceable by the both the courts and Police.

Relatedly, because we acknowledge that transacting in the digital space means that citizens’ information needs to be shared securely. This means that we need to have the appropriate legislation in place that prescribes how the different entities share information, despite having the above mentioned legislation, we need more legislations to guide both the private and public sector on how to handle citizen information. This is the reason the H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni assented to the Data Protection and Privacy ACT 2019.  The Data Protection and Privacy ACT will deliver on the following;

  • To protect the privacy of the individual and personal data;
  • To regulate the collection and processing of personal information;
  • To provide for the rights of the persons whose data is collected;
  • To provide obligations of data collectors and data processers
  • To regulate the use or disclosure of personal information and for related matters

Also, NITA-U cognizant of the need to ensure a secure cyberspace, has gone ahead to put in place IT security infrastructure to this effect. In order to protect MDA resources and systems from potential cyber-attacks and associated risks such as cyber terrorism, NITA-U has put in place structures and mechanisms to operationalize the National Information Security Framework (NISF). The Implementation of the National Information Security Framework in Government MDAs ensures that Government’s use of IT enabled services is always secure, vigilant and resilient. As an update;

 

  1. To date, thirteen (14) MDAs (KCCA, NSSF, NWSC, ERA, PEPD, Courts of Judicature, National Council of Sports, Uganda Law Reform Commission, Uganda Heart Institute, Naguru Hospital, Ministry of Science and Technology, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Jinja Local Government, Uganda Coffee Development Authority IPPS) were assessed on their knowledge and implementation of the NISF as a measure of enhancing efficiency and safeguarding government institutions against potential losses due to information security risks and cyber-attacks
  2. During the Financial year 2017/18 incident coordination was provided to seventy three (73) MDAs and 90 Critical Infrastructure (CI) operators on the WannaCry Ransomware.
  3. Twenty five (25) Cybercrime investigators trained on application of Cyber laws and investigation of Cyber related crimes on the in coordination with the JLOS secretariat. Addition to twenty three (23) police investigators were trained in Digital Forensics within the FY2017. This was to enhance and equip the Uganda Police Force to handle cyber related issues
  4. Thirty six (36) awareness sessions on Information Security was conducted in the FY2017. These awareness sessions were conducted in the areas of risk management, Computer Emergency Response Team, implementation of Security Controls, Audits, Cyber laws, amongst others.
  5. Conducted two trainings on Malware Analysis and Cyber Hygiene
  6. National Information Risk Profile and Register Updated
  7. Carried out Twenty-Four (24) Cyber security awareness sessions

Also, NITA-U has set up a National Computer Emergency Response Team in its bid to ensure that all cyber threats are pre-empted, analyzed and resolved. This pre-emptive action has ensured that the cyber-attacks Uganda has faced have been kept at a minimum.

The overall coordination, that is multi-sectoral, ensures that National Critical Information Infrastructure is protected. This provision of cyber security assurance & audits for Government MDA infrastructure & systems to proactively mitigate against cyber threats.

  1. Are there any particular interventions by NITA –U to improve efficiency in government service delivery and also boost the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises?

Yes. There have been various interventions. As the champion of driving the digitization in the nation, the interventions can be summarized as below:

  • Rolling out of the National Backbone infrastructure across the nation. With 3000km already laid, and connecting 39 districts, 414 MDAs in four regions of Uganda, the ensure connectivity across Government continues. New regions – West Nile and Karamoja, and new border points – Oraba, Vurra and Mpondwe will be connected to the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI), opening up new international routes to neighboring countries of South Sudan and DR Congo. The NBI is an optic fiber cable that connects the internet to all regions of Uganda. By the end of 2019, the current number of connected sites on the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) fibre is anticipated to double. This will not only have economic benefits but will bring public services closer to the Citizens in those areas
  • Launching the Government Service desk. It has been established to be the Single Point of Contact for IT service delivery to all MDAs and Local Governments. With this service desk, operations are streamlined and there’s efficiency through tracking and timely resolution of requests, incidents and problems relating to the services provided by NITA-U.
  • National  Tier 3 Data Center is set to open its doors for business. This is one of the key initiatives under the Government of Uganda’s strategy for the provision of a centralized Data Centre with hosting and Disaster Recovery Services for Government Applications & Data.

With a rack space potential of 2000 racks, the biggest in Uganda, the Primary National Data Centre will house all Government ICT infrastructure thereby saving tax payer’s money with the centralized hosting consequently avoiding duplications and wastage of resources.

  • Internally, NITA-U has a team of technically competent, certified and highly skilled team of knowledge matter experts. Additionally, we are constantly working with the MDAs to upskill them so they can provide the right services whilst aptly equipped. You will be happy to learn that:
  • 83% of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are aware of the existing Cyber laws.
  • 62% of Local Governments are aware of the of the existing Cyber laws.
  • 6,246 Government staff have been trained on Information Access Centre (IAC)
  • 1,275 Government staff have been trained on website management
  • NITA-U have carried out 112 ICT trainings specific to security within Government ministries.

As testimony to the effectiveness of this upskilling, there are 293 Functional Government portals that can be accessed through the citizens portal www.ecitizen.go.ug, which is free to access and use when one is using the free MYUG WiFi.

 

Lastly, owing to the local skillset we have enabled, we have been able to save 4 Million working Hours and  have enabled 66 Million Transactions online as illustrated below:

Service Annual Time Savings Per transaction
E-Immigration

 

Work Permit 311,040
30 days- 4 Days
Online Declaration

 

Wealth declaration  42,960

 

60 mins – 20mins
E-Citie

 

Trading License 17,100
24 hours- 15mins
NEMA

 

Environmental Assessment 501,120
30 days- 24 hours
Program Budgeting

 

Budget consolidation  86,400

 

7 days- 48 hours
ARV Web Ordering

 

Processing of orders  501,120

 

30 days- 24 hours
Last mile delivery 7 months – 2 months 2,592,000
 AIMS Application & Payment of fees  51,660
3 days- 15 mins
TOTAL SAVINGS 4,103,400  Working Hours

 

  1. What are some of the significant gains/ achievements we are yet to achieve in ICT growth as a country, and what can be done to fast track these gains?

Uganda has gotten global recognition for the achievements in ICT. These are:

  • Most secure in Cyberspace, across Africa – Uganda was ranked as the most secure cyberspace in Africa in the Global National Cyber Security Index.
  • Uganda has moved up 5 places in the ICT Development Index (IDI). Previously 158 in 2016, the improvement to 152 is indicative of the steady success the multifaceted approach being undertaken by the Government of Uganda and the Private Sector in driving the Digital agenda in Uganda. Additionally Uganda improved its ranking regionally to 20th in Africa and 2nd in the East African region

Additional gains, according the National IT Survey 2017/2018, MDAs have embraced the use of digital platforms to provide government services with half of them (50.7%) offering e-Government services via the web, 19.5% via SMS and 13% using mobile applications. In addition, 61% of MDAs plan to implement new e-Government services in the next five years.

  1. How would you rate Uganda’s ICT infrastructure, and what can be done to improve it?

 

Uganda’s ICT infrastructure continues to grow and we are happy to contribute to this multisectoral effort. In order to cope with the Industry demands, NITA-U as Uganda’s ICT leaders has made deliberate effort to plan for improvement of critical components of the National Backbone Infrastructure and Data Center platform. Additional capacity will be deployed on the national backbone to accommodate up to a backhaul capability of 100G on the line greatly boosting the current utilized protected capacity.

Secondly, new regions – West Nile and Karamoja, and new border points – Oraba, Vurra and Mpondwe will be connected to the National Backbone Infrastructure, opening up new international backbone routes to neighboring countries of South Sudan and DR Congo.

These are key standouts of the NBI:

  • Reach of the NBI – 3,000km. In 2019, an additional 1200 sites to be added to the spread of the NBI.
  • SLA performance – We have had a consistent performance of 99% uptime to the Government Ministries, Departments & Agencies that we serve.

NITA-U has upgraded the National Data Centre and Disaster Recovery Site to Tier 3 classification. These facilities are currently providing services to 33 MDA/LGs and hosting 36 critical Government applications and systems.  Government shall realize cost saving through centralized hosting and Disaster Recovery Services for Government Applications and Data at the National Data Centre.

Features of the tier 3 data centre include:

  • Tier 3 Data Centre
  • ISO27001 certified
  • 2000 rack space – Biggest in Uganda

That said, not all of Uganda is connected. A large portion of the country is still left unserved or is still underserved by broadband communication infrastructure that would enable the effective and efficient delivery of e-Government services. The broadband access penetration in rural areas is still low; only a few districts and sub-county headquarters, health centre IVs, tertiary institutions and secondary schools are with broadband connectivity.

Relatedly, under the new initiative, Govnet, NITA-U will connect over 800 sites (MDAs, LGs, Municipal and Town Councils, schools, hospitals, universities, research institutions and NGOs). This particular project component will ensure the unserved areas along the constructed backbone route are connected and have broadband access to Government services.

It is therefore important for the Government of Uganda to consider extending the coverage of the Government ICT infrastructure to unserved regions and administrative units in the country. The proposed project IT Shared Platform (GOVNET) will focus on two major components;

  1. Establishment of Government ICT Infrastructure to connect over twenty thousand nine hundred and two (20,902) Government MDAs, DLGs, Municipal Councils, schools, Health Centers, hospitals and Government schools across the country. This will also include the provision of LANs, computers and terminal devices to facilitate utilization of e-services.
  2. Rollout of e-services (IFMS, e-payment gateway, Mobile ID/e-Signatures Platform, Internet, IPPS, PBS, etc.)to all Government administrative units across the Country through the Government network
  3. Implement Phase 5 of the NBI extend connectivity to the underserved regions of the country. It is expected that 3,711 km of fiber optic cable shall be implemented under Phase 5 of the NBI. The implementation of the NBI&EGI Phase V shall constitute: implementation of thirty six (36) Optical Transport Network (OTN) transmission sites, installation of fifty (50) Internet Protocol (IP) sites across the country

It is the intention of the Government of Uganda to extend the coverage of the National Backbone equitably to cover all the regions of the country.

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