Truths About Uganda’s National Backbone Infrastructure

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In an unfortunate instance of erroneous and misleading reporting, a Ugandan tabloid recently stated mistruths about Uganda’s National Backbone Infrastructure that we wish to correct as follows.

The originators of the false news around the National Backbone Infrastructure are obviously intent on downplaying Uganda’s progress in achieving widespread connectivity and significantly lowered internet bandwidth costs to Ugandan individuals and organizations over the last ten years.

Since 2011, the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has successfully completed three phases of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI). With over 2400km of fibre laid across Uganda, a number of towns have been connected, these include Kampala, Entebbe, Mukono, Jinja, Bombo, Busia, Tororo, Mbale, Malaba, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Elegu, Masindi, Kyenjojo, Fort Portal, Kasese, Bushenyi, Masaka, Mutukula, Mbarara, Kabale and the Katuna Border Post.

Additionally, extension of the NBI is planned for the following districts in West Nile; Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Koboko and Adjumani.

By September 2017, two hundred and seventy (270) Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs) and Local Government sites have been connected to the NBI.

The benefits of rolling out the NBI have been lauded in Uganda and abroad for:

• Increasing productivity within Government. With the robust NBI infrastructure, MDAs have been able to do more without worry of service outages.

• Increasing efficiency in Government service provision to the general public.

• Reducing the cost of internet bandwidth in Uganda (per megabit per second per month) from US$1,200 in 2010 to US$190 in 2017. This has resulted into significant costs savings for the Government of Uganda.

• Setting the stage for further cost reductions from bulk internet bandwidth purchase arrangements through an Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) arrangement.

• Increasing internet penetration in Uganda by providing Free Wi-Fi services to the Ugandan public by way of the ‘MyUG’ initiative - which has since October 2016 registered 663,096 hits.

• Providing subsidized internet bandwidth to twenty-one (21) educational institutions.

• Increasing civic engagement because of the availability of more E-Government services provided. Coupled with the free access to e-Government services through the ‘MyUG’ internet service, Ugandan citizens are getting value from the strategic initiative of taking government services online.

In 2015, NITA-U, in partnership with Akamai, launched a content delivery service (cache). This service has enhanced the internet user experience for Ugandan citizens. Owing to the reduced latency, data doesn’t have to be transmitted across the world wide web whenever a user access an application or a website. This has gone a long way in encouraging the use of internet in the day to day life of citizens.

NITA-U appreciates and supports all efforts made across the government to spur increased growth within the economy through private enterprise and government business.

The framers of erroneous news and malicious publications, however, seek to create intrigue and discord that hampers the collaboration that NITA-U and various other Government bodies have developed to make the NBI project successful and viable into the future.