Breaking-Dawn: New Cost for Government Internet to Spur Digitization

Kampala – Uganda, Effective 1st August 2023, the new cost for Uganda’s government Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) is $35 per megabyte per second (per month), down from $75. This is in a bid to deepen government digitization where more data is being shared by both government and private users in Uganda.

This is commendable in a highly shifting internet era, where African governments are up for a challenge to match up public service; therefore, it is crucial to have affordable and dependable internet supply.

The World Bank in 2022 estimated world internet data usage to be more than 3 zettabytes, or 3 trillion gigabytes (GB). This is an unimaginably big and abstract number, but it translates roughly into the equivalent of 32 GB for each person on the planet per month, or 1 GB per person per day.

Ironically, the National Information Technology Survey Report of Uganda in 2022 shows that Internet penetration in Uganda is still low (link.1), with over 90% of citizens barely carrying an internet-run device. So, the new internet price gives the government a head-start to in buffering up regulatory and infrastructural safe-nets for the anticipated data-usage growth.

“In May this year, while commissioning the Integration of the National ICT Backbone Infrastructure with the Tanzanian government in Isingiro (link2), we discussed making internet-run devices more affordable to our citizens. We have also signed some agreements with suppliers to make this possible,” says Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of ICT & National Guidance in Uganda.

Moreover, as private sector telecoms start to set up 5G routers across the country, Ugandans too have started interacting with Artificial Intelligence (A.I), utilizing various commercial applications to run both Big and Small data within their enterprises. So, the government needs to be ready to monitor and regulate the data spike, but above all, use the reduced internet costs to serve citizens efficiently and effectively online.

Notable presentations and speeches at this announcement via Uganda Media Center (UMC) on August 2nd, 2023, were made by Hatwib Mugasa, the NITA-U Executive Director, and Collins Mugasha, the director of e-government services at the authority, witnessed by the media and other government officials.

The writer is a Business Journalist and News Anchor with UBC.