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57 years of Independence

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Added 8th October 2019 04:14 PM

45-The time used to travel from Namanve to Kampala by train minutes

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45-The time used to travel from Namanve to Kampala by train minutes

In 2018, Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) took possession of the concession assets from Rift Valley Railways (RVR) and started operating the metregauge. URC cited RVR’s failure to perform as stipulated in the concession agreement to terminate the concession. Stephen Wakasenza, the chief commercial/ concession officer, says at the time of the takeover, railway transport in Uganda was in a mess. “We are now on track and the future is bright,” he says.

He says at the take-over, RVR was only transporting goods on the northern Corridor, because it was not in its interest to move in the southern Corridor. “It did not make business sense because it was not a profi table route. But as URC, we are looking at the bigger picture. We need to have an alternative access to the sea. It is, therefore, in our best interest to have the Central Corridor and the Northern Corridor Operating,” Wakasenza explains. In June 2018, URC started movement on the central corridor, and is now moving an average of 6,500 tonnes per month. URC has started moving local cargo from Tororo to Kampala.

Passengers waiting to board the Rift Valley railways train 

Currently, URC is averaging 18,000-20,000 tonnes per month. “Our biggest clients are Grain Bulk Houliers Ltd, Roofi ngs Ltd, World Food Programme and Seroma Ltd. But at the time we took over, there was neither a Central Corridor nor local cargo,” he says.

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The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has prioritised infrastructure development, innovation, development of ICT parks and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). The ministry’s mission is to increase access and usage of ICT infrastructure and services throughout the country, ensure effective communication of government policies and programmes as well as promotion of a national ideology for socioeconomic transformation.

As a result, it has registered a 76% reduction in the cost of Internet bandwidth to $70 per Mbps from $300 per Mbps. Since the 2013/14 financial year, under the strategy for rationalisation of IT services across Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), NITA-U is currently providing bulk Internet bandwidth to Government through the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (NBI). The provision of bulk Internet bandwidth through the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) has seen the reduction of the cost from $190 Mbps per month to $70 per Mbps.

rime inister uhakana ugunda inister of   ational uidance on rank umwebaze tate inister inance incharge of nvestments velyne nite and   ames aaka pose for a picture with the various winners at the inaugural eovernment xcellence wardsPrime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Hon Frank Tumwebaze; State Minister Finance in-charge of Investments, Evelyne Anite and NITA-U ED James Saaka, pose for a picture with the various winners at the inaugural eGovernment Excellence Awards
 

 

NITA – U currently offers one of the lowest prices for Internet. The body intends to reduce this cost further, which will in turn lower the bandwidth prices across the country. ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze said the Government’s investment in infrastructure development such as optic fibre and satellite is meant to make Internet a public good.

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It is 10 years since mobile money was introduced into Uganda. It was easy to borrow a leaf from neighbouring Kenya that had advanced in mobile money services. The growth in mobile money services has been phenomenal. It has deepened financial inclusion, incurring lower transaction costs, improving rural access to financial services and integrating greater customer convenience.

According to Bank of Uganda (BOU) the mobile money balance on customer accounts increased from sh418.9b in September 2017 to sh495.9 in June 2018. The number of mobile money subscription by September 2017 was recorded at 23,726,352 while in June 2018 it was recorded at 22,733,823. The apparent decline in numbers followed deactivation of some unregistered numbers from the network. The value of mobile money transactions shows a growth from sh16.7 trillion in September 2017 to sh19.3 trillion in June 2018.

Schemes in Uganda

Mobile money services were first introduced in March 2009. From then it took off at great speed. Currently there are seven mobile money schemes in Uganda. These include MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom, Africell, M-cash, PayWay and Eeezy Money. Mobile money services are regulated through a shared responsibility that is governed by Bank of Uganda and Uganda Communication Commission (UCC).

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This month, the Chinese contractor TBEA Co. Ltd is expected to begin the construction of power lines to 545 sub-counties countrywide that lack electricity supply. The pressure to get more rural areas electrified has been high over the years. According to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) executive director, Godfrey Turyahikayo, all the agreements required for the project to begin have been signed.

Connections start

The project dubbed,Bridging The Demand Supply Balance Gap Through The Accelerated Rural Electrification Programme, seeks to connect the subcounties that arein darkness to the national power grid. “We will begin this project this month. We could not start without advance payments to the projects. We have also selected the 14 subcontractors out of 40 and can begin,” Turyahikayo said. He added pole treatment plants have been tested to select the best.

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