Uganda Stands at the Peak of Its Digital Journey

Ms. Charity Komujjurizi addressing the media.

KAMPALA:  In commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2023, the year’s global theme, as set by UNESCO, is ‘the importance of online space for access to information’.

Ms. Charity Komujjurizi speaking on behalf of the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) said that this theme is relevant as Uganda stands at the peak of its digital journey with Uganda’s government’s recent unveiling of a 5-year roadmap to digital transformation signifies its dedication towards the Digital Uganda Vision 2040.

This ambitious vision targets 95% of government services online, 90% broadband coverage, and 90% citizen online service access, and aims to empower 90% of SMEs with internet connectivity, whilst ensuring that 60% of the country utilizes local ICT products and services.

Komujjurizi said that spaces such as websites and portals, as well as social media platforms, could increase access to information and democratize citizens’ participation in public procurement.

She called for measures like recognition that disadvantaged groups such as women, youth, and persons with disabilities have unequal access to information and being more intentional in making sure that they are properly targeted, lowering the cost of doing business by reducing the cost of data, extend internet services to all districts and sub-counties across the country, allowing social media platforms to operate freely and reducing or removing taxes on social media platforms and enforcing disclosure requirements of government procurement opportunities by all ministries, departments, and agencies.

“Remove all obstacles regarding access and use of social media platforms including reopening Facebook, lowering taxes, and removing all forms of Internet shutdowns and network disrupts,” she added.

According to AFIC’s most recent research on the barriers and solutions to women’s participation in public procurement in Eastern Africa including Uganda found that in Uganda, 99% of registered women businesses not being able to participate in public procurement where over 60% of the national budget is spent annually.

The study also revealed that 70% of the 1% of the women businesses that participate in public procurement are based in Kampala and Wakiso, two of the country’s 146 districts.

AFIC’s 2020 analysis of public procurement practices in Uganda based on the Government Procurement Portal revealed another problem- a lack of disclosure of procurement information. The research revealed that less than 1% of the data was being disclosed by procuring entities in agriculture, education, health, and works and transport sectors.

“This lack of disclosure denies Uganda the opportunity to know about government business opportunities but also creates a fertile ground for corruption. Indeed this research revealed that the government had over a five-year period lost over 720 billion through inflated costs,” she addressed.

AFIC encourages other African countries to adopt or fortify their access to information laws, consistent with the six treaties of the African Union.

On October 15, 2019, the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly marked September 28th as IDUAI.

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