By Jude Kafuuma
LOCAL governments have received funding from the World Bank for projects connecting the districts to the global network via the Internet.
The bank has previously given the Rural Communications Development Fund $7m (about sh13b) that was used to run the 2003/2008 Internet connectivity projects.
â€œUnder the new funding, the bank has committed $8m (about sh14.8b) for Internet connectivity of schools and health institutions.
â€œThe funding is meant to start connectivity projects and to run sustainability of information and communication technology ICT projects in local governments,â€ the head of the Uganda Communications Commission, Patrick Masambu, said.
This was during the ICT sensitisation workshop for district leaders at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Monday.
The workshop was discussing ICT facilities the UCC established in districts.
In his message read by the ICT permanent secretary, Jimmy Saamanya, ICT minister Agrey Awori said the Government views ICT as one of its strategic interventions in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals.
With the UCC, the ministry has prioritised the development of telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas to ensure equal access to ICT by all, he said.
â€œThe ministry is now implementing the national data backbone to provide high capacity ICT infrastructure that will link all district administrative headquarters,â€ Awori said.
The UCC has set up ICT facilities and infrastructure across the country, including district websites, internet points of presence, ICT training centres, ICT laboratories, and e-health facilities.
The minister called for the development of relevant content on district websites and asked local government leaders to apply user-friendly information in local languages.
â€œThe content delivered will determine how effective ICT is. It is, therefore, necessary to avail timely, relevant and reliable information that is locally applicable, user friendly and written in local languages,â€ Awori urged.
The permanent secretary in the ministry of local government, John Kashaka, said through district websites, local governments are able to disseminate information, including population statistics, tenders, jobs advertisements and district activities.
The ministry has just completed an update of the Local Government Information Communication System that will publicise information from districts.
Since its establishment in 2003, the Rural Communication Development Fund has set up 299 ICT training centres. The project is funded by the national budget, grants from development partners and the UCC.
During its first phase, a number of facilities were set up, including 78 Internet Points of Presence, 68 ICT training centres, 106 school projects, 43 e-health projects and 98 Internet cafes.
The project has also created 52 ICT business enterprises employing over 3,000 people.
According to fundâ€™s project director, Bob Lyazi, by January 2010, each hospital in the country will have 7 computers.
The fund targets 320 schools, 1 from each constituency.
Before the end of the 2009/10 financial year, several schools will have received f