trueBy Mike Moses Odhiambo
When the New Vision on Thursday, July 4, 2013 published an article titled “first internet project halted”, among the many questions that ran into my mind was, again?
It then quickly flashed back to the many objectives, anticipations and advantages of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) / Electronic Government Infrastructure (EGI) project as had earlier projected before the inception of the project in 2006.
Such advantages included but not limited to enhancement of efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to citizens of Uganda, facilitation of business transactions nationally and internationally through adoption of e-commerce, provision of faster and cheaper internet, lowering of telecommunication costs.
It is really down casting when such a technological advancement initiative, which was intended to have ended in March 2010, has made us lag behind in this fast growing ICT revolution age, thereby leading a slow development of the ICT sector.
It has so far taken more than six (6) years to fully operationalise the project and yet this would have been the period of enjoying the expected benefits and considering preparations to service the concession loan acquired from Chinese government’s Export/Import Bank (EXIM) to implement the project.
As one of the people so eager for the benefits thereof, I have been closely following the trends of NBI/EGI project; this is not the first time the project has been threatened to be halted by the sectorial stakeholders such as NITA, MOICT, and parliamentary ICT committee due to various concerns foresighted but mainly irregularities more so in the laying of the fiber cable types.
At one time the then Parliamentary ICT Committee chairperson, Hon Nathan Igeme Nabeta, is reported to have said, after a halt, that they were moving in the right direction as published by New Vision on November 12, 2009, similarly he is quoted to have said that the first phase was marred by irregularities and that they were on course in the second implementation phase as published on May 10, 2010 in an article titled “MPs give Internet Firm deadline”
A question would arise, if indeed those statements were true, why again after not too long the Auditor General would want the big internet deal halted? As reported last week by the New Vision.
Would one assume that halting the project is going to be the norm of the day?
This of course is based on grounds that the project has been halted more than once on grounds of doing forensic audits, addressing irregularities etc. but yet the same issues have kept on being re-current.
Well, I suppose, as appoint of emphasis, to the Auditor General’s recommendation that projects with similar magnitude should be properly planned for and consultation highly carried out prior to implementation because if proper/full requirements assessment had been done all alternatives would have been considered and the best one chosen.
Other considerations such as establishment of project monitoring unit would not have been set six months after the inception of the project as reported by New Vision on April 4, 2010.
Conclusively, with this high rate of technological advancement in the ICT sector, chances are high that there will be need for our nation to cope with the trends and as such project initiatives will come up, however it is imperative that comprehensive studies such as requirements gathering and assessment are carried out in order realise the projected objectives and also to avoid monetary loss in the long run.
The writer is an ICT Specialist
Proper planning and consultation the way forward for ICT projects