East African Business Week
Kampala — Increasing online local content will ultimately go towards increased internet penetration. People want things relevant to their lives and environs.
This is one of the major points that the 1st Technical Committee Meeting for the ICT Cluster of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects agreed upon during their recent meeting in Kampala recently.
During the meeting, the technical committee agreed despite the relative high cost of transit broadband for member states, the limited generation of local content only made the situation worse.
Figures from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) show that internet penetration in Uganda rose to over 6% early last year.
This increase comes on the heels of increased action from the Ministry of ICT as well as the regulator's efforts to take internet to schools countrywide through provision of computer laboratories.
This has further been boosted by the readily available market for smart phones as well as other gadgets such as tablets.
The Managing Director, Airtel (Uganda), V.G Somasekhar said, "At times we even forget that smart phones can make calls."
That statement sums up the main reason most people purchase these gadgets, as such attractions as Facebook and Twitter dominate usage.
There have also been efforts by the Ministry of ICT to improve e-Government service provision.
The Internet has become a societal foundation for global communications. The digital era opens vast opportunities, but it also poses risks. Combating internet abuse is a challenge to both policy makers and business.
Once primarily a one-way street, 'the information highway' has since about the turn of the century developed into a truly interactive medium.
However, these efforts have not really translated into provision of local services over the internet which therefore leaves most of the citizens consuming more content and providing less content.
This therefore means that majority of the citizens do not reap the full benefits of the Internet.
The meeting that was convened by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) was attended by delegations from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and a representative from South Sudan.
The meeting also sought to address other issues such as region roaming charges, international termination rates as well as international traffic surcharges, Digital Migration, SIM registration regimes among others.
They also discussed the proposal of having harmonised call rates across the member states so as to ensure that roaming charges are scrapped or greatly reduced. This would mean that subscribers, regardless of their providers, can use their SIM cards across the region at the same rates.
If these strategies are harmonised, it would reduce the cost of Internet, especially in inland countries such as Uganda and Rwanda.