MUK ICT policy bogging down infrastructure development

By Clare Muhindo

The policy expired in 2014

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The policy that guides the implementation of Information communications and technology (ICT) activities at Makerere University expired in 2014, affecting the upgrading of technology at the institution.

After its expiry, it was rolled over to July 2016, by the University council and is currently under review.

However, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, the Director of research and graduate training revealed that the Swedish International Development cooperation (SIDA) has deferred implementation of its five year funding for ICT support, libraries, and laboratories, until the policy is reviewed.

Last year, the Swedish government renewed a five year research collaboration agreement worth USD32 million (about Sh113.8 billion) to support five Ugandan public Universities for five years. 

Apart from training 337 academic staff at public universities; the university was supposed to develop ICT infrastructure, maintain and support internet and bandwidth.

Beneficiary universities include Makerere, Gulu, Kyambogo, Busitema, and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).

 "The ICT development project for Makerere University was halted towards the end of 2015.  The Swedish embassy noted that the ICT policy and master plan had expired the previous year, and would release the funds after the policy is reviewed," he said.

He added that it would guide the implementation, so that it is in line with the new policy.

Buyinza was speaking at the annual Makerere- SIDA planning conference at the school of food science and technology.

In response to the issue, Samuel Mugabi the Director of ICT support at the University said ICT Policy Framework is supposed to be reviewed and updated, after it was rolled over by the university council.  

It entails all policies pertaining to the access, ownership, maintenance and repair of ICT equipment and systems within the University.

"Since ICT policies directly impact on several end-user activities within the university (teaching, and research), they are developed in consultation with users such as staff and students. The process of consultation is still underway," he said.

As part of the agreement, a total of 167 academic staff from five public universities have so far been awarded scholarships to pursue Masters, doctorates and post doctorates in various disciplines.

Of these, 86 were awarded scholarships for PhDs, 55 masters and 28 post doctorate fellowships. Beneficiary Universities include Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara, Busitema, and Gulu.

PhDs are trained at Makerere University, while masters' students are trained at their respective universities. Beneficiaries started their programmes on March 1, this year.

Speaking at the conference, Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu, the vice chancellor Makerere University said the university is still struggling with inadequate infrastructure, and a high student staff ratio.

The Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, Urban Andersson said that since 2000 when the first collaboration agreement was signed, a total of 325 academics have been trained, laboratories and libraries have been equipped.