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Internet cable project stopped

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th April 2010 03:00 AM

THE National Information Technology Authority has stopped the laying of the Internet cable over reports of poor quality and inflated costs.

THE National Information Technology Authority has stopped the laying of the Internet cable over reports of poor quality and inflated costs.

By Cyprian Musoke

THE National Information Technology Authority has stopped the laying of the Internet cable over reports of poor quality and inflated costs.

The three-phase project, which was meant to be ready by now, has been mired in controversy since it started in 2006.

The cable is meant to be linked to the submarine cable that arrived at the East African coast recently and to provide faster and cheaper Internet access to Uganda.

However, experts say the project will not deliver on the objectives because of the poor quality of the cable. Experts also said Uganda was spending far more on the “inferior” cable than what Rwanda spent on a superior one.

In a letter to the Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies, which is implementing the $106m (about sh221b) national fibre-optic project, the ICT watchdog said the work should wait until a forensic audit is conducted.

The permanent secretary of the ICT ministry, Dr. Godfrey Kibuuka, said the audit was goung on, but refused to give details.

The head of the parliamentary committee on ICT, Igeme Nabeta, also said yesterday the MPs had ordered the Chinese company to stop to allow a review of their work to ensure value for money.

“Where we find that they made mistakes they have to fix them at their own cost,” he stressed.

He said they would like to see the first phase operational before they give the project a greenlight.

“We want to see those e-government services operational.” The first phase involved laying a cable covering Kampala city, Entebbe, Mukono and Bombo towns, to enable high-speed data transfer between government offices.

Under the project, 2,100km of backbone fibre-optic cable would be laid. The New Vision broke the story recently that the cable was largely defective and inadequate for the national backbone infrastructure.

Uganda, it emerged, was using the G652 type instead of the G655 which would enable fast transmission and to take care of future growth.

The project is funded by a concessional loan from the export/import bank of China. Uganda will pay back the loan over 20 years.

“The contractor had transferred the completed phase to the Government. In some parts, the cable was laid in swamp land, elsewhere there are no generators, and many trenches are too shallow,” the MPs said in a report.

Despite the order from Parliament and the ICT ministry to halt the second phase, Huawei refused to stop.
Huawei blamed the damage to the cable on the numerous dig-ups in the city by various companies installing underground infrastructure.

Huawei wants each party to appoint its own experts to establish the quality of their work and said it was ready to fix any errors which they are responsible for.

Internet cable project stopped

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