Gen. Moses Ali during the launch.

The first Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali on Saturday launched a state-of-the-art solar-powered ICT computer laboratory comprising of 21 computers and accessories at Bezza Al Hijji senior secondary school, Adjumani. The school also benefited from the same programme with the support of 20 computers in 2013.

Launching the facility Gen. Ali commended UCC for the sponsorship that was realised under the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF). “The launch of the lab is particularly important because it marks a transformation in the way schools will deliver education in ICT. We can now expect improvements in the quality of ICT education and better ICT educational content,” he said.

He said the NRM Government has provided an enabling environment where a child anywhere in the country is expected to get quality education whether living in the rural area or the big cities. A child of an ordinary peasant should have the opportunity to become a doctor, a scientist or an engineer.

The Government of Uganda has prioritised ICT as a critical enabler of socio-economic transformation and development. This is well articulated in the National Development Plan 2010/2015, the Vision 2040, and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Manifesto. Thanks to the president of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whose government has put in place an enabling environment for this economic transformation.

“The government, is ensuring that as the country prepares to embrace the 4th Industrial Digital Revolution, our children who come from rural areas are not forgotten. It is our duty to ensure that as the rest of the world moves forward, they are not left behind,” he said.

Technological skills are necessary to participate in the global economy, and the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in education can also improve the quality of teaching and learning. At an administrative level, ICT can make education systems more efficient by helping teachers and administrators streamline routine tasks and improve assessment and data collection which in return will improve the culture of learning.

Teachers at Bezza Secondary School are also expected to benefit significantly from this computer laboratory and that is our aim as government. Through this laboratory, pupils at this school will no longer have to struggle to search for information as they will now have all the information that they need by searching the Internet and that is an excellent step in the right direction. Information and Communication Technology for education is seen as an enabler for teaching and learning.

He said the use of technology is at the centre of this revolution, creating room for new forms of delivery of educational content and the accompanying teaching aids. “Combined with technologies that continue to develop at breakneck speed, the result is a world that has the want, and the means, to learn at scale. The global challenge for education is not just about providing access, but also ensuring progress,” he said.

It is no secret that a good education has the power to change a life. What is new is the demand for that change. It is always fulfilling to acquire a new skill especially computer skills which have become an essential tool as the world is rapidly transforming into a digital era.

Since 2003, the Government of Uganda, through the Rural Communications Development Fund, has implemented several ICT projects for rural areas. The government, through the communications regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), established RCDF. Several other projects other than the school ICT laboratories have been implemented such as Internet cafes, ICT training centres, postal service expansion and GSM towers throughout the country.

West Nile region has been a major beneficiary of the universal access projects. RCDF established several internet cafes and ICT training centres. It also connected the region to the rest of the country and the world through supporting the building of GSM base towers. These GSM sites expansion project had access points in the form of public pay phones and phone charging facilities. Suffice to say; we have registered significant achievements:

According to officials, while a lot more needs to be done, we should use these ICT facilities and equipment to create our niche; to seek information, to present ourselves to the world through content creation, to market our cultures, to market our tourism potential and to improve efficiency in service delivery.

The government has also further put in place appropriate measures to protect the country and people on the challenges affecting the ICT sector such as cybercrime, online child trafficking and pornography by establishing laws as well as the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which will help us use ICT responsibly.

“I welcome you to the launch of this School ICT Laboratory and thank UCC for the excellent job well done and look forward to continued development of the ICT sector services, especially in the rural areas which are in line with NRM’s manifesto of transforming Uganda to middle-income status by 2025,” Said Ali.

The Government, through the UCC/RCDF programme, has supplied computers to over 1,000 secondary schools since the inception of the RCDF programme in 2003.

Internet penetration, adoption and usage for socio-economic transformation has increased notably in business, education, health and agriculture, which has improved the standards of living of the community.

The ICT sector is one of the fastest growing in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. It employs over one million people. The growth of services such as mobile money, the sale of airtime and community ICT centres have contributed tremendously to job creation.

The number of users of telephony services (fixed & mobile) is over 20 million, which is close to 68 percent penetration.

In the broadcasting sub-sector, Uganda has achieved 100 percent radio signal coverage with over 200 operational FM stations. Every district in Uganda has more than two radio stations broadcasting in local languages.

On ICT infrastructure development, both the government and the private sector have continued to invest heavily in its deployment. The provision of quality services is mostly dependent on the availability of the ICT infrastructure.