Technology has made the world a global village. This is in regard to the way information travels nowadays from one continent to another in seconds and back.
Africa has joined the rest of the world and is striving to be part of this global village. In Uganda, technology is gradually contributing to this country’s economic flight.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed the technology sector’s rapid growth, especially in the areas of mobile devices, computer applications, information processing and sharing.
According to statistics from Uganda Investment Authority, posts and telecommunications services activities grew by 30.3 percent in fiscal year 2010/11 and accounted for 3.3 percent of Uganda’s GDP. This has made information communication in Uganda to grow hence improving the economics of this country.
At the end of 2011, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reported 4.6 million internet users in Uganda, amounting to 13 percent of the country’s estimated population of 34.5 million. There are currently more than 48 licensed telecommunications service providers, a good number of which offer both voice and data services, and over 30 internet service providers (ISPs) that offer broadband and dial-up internet services according to the prepaid economy.
Given this trend of ICT growth in Uganda, there has been a sharp increase in the number of entrepreneurs in the ICT industry who have not only enjoyed the reduced costs of production, but also targeted Public and Private sector support.
In 2012 Uganda was ranked among the top three countries with advanced technological and innovation capabilities in Africa, according to a study conducted by Martin Prosperity Institute of the US. Uganda is second to South Africa and followed by Madagascar.
The then ICT minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda attributed Uganda’s success to Universities and other tertiary institutions, which had engaged fully in information technology. And the cheap internet though he was concerned about the infrastructure which the ministry was trying improve and increase.
Uganda has made remarkable improvements in embracing ICT mainly in the use of mobile telephones. Besides radio technology, telephony access is one that has penetrated many rural communities much more than other forms of ICT, such as those involving traditional personal computer technology.
Uganda has embraced e-health and m-health projects in a bid to achieve the millennium development goals. Clinics in Uganda are using simple SMS-based systems to track medical supplies, help patients remember to take their HIV treatments and to keep in touch with the nursing and medical staff working on the ground, making sure they are informed of the latest procedures.
Also records software is being used to keep track of the patient’s information and healthy statuses.
Uganda was one of the first countries in sub–Saharan Africa to obtain a full Internet connection. The Private company InfoMail (IMUL) was the first supplier, establishing a VSAT–based service via an InterSputnik satellite to MSN in the United States.
However, the implementation of ICTs has occurred in a context way where the cultural and institutional barriers are not well addressed. The assumption often made is that if one just purchases a few computers and modems, a post-industrial society can magically result.
Basic education, equipping schools with enough texts and reducing the teacher-student ratio, and seeing culturally relevant programs on television seem to be the major concerns. There is also fear that the Internet could corrupt the morals of the society through easy access to pornography and other culturally “reprehensible” material.