Image Credit: East African Van Guard
Image Credit: East African Van Guard
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Government through the Ministry of Finance has ordered all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to buy internet services from the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).

The order was issued by the Secretary to the National Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi in a response letter to the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Vincent Bagiire.

On September 14th, government had ordered all MDAs to procure airtime and internet services from bankrupt Uganda Telecom Limited, a decision that was disputed by many in the ICT Ministry.

Bagiire would later write to the Finance Ministry, protesting their directive which he said would leave uncertainty on the future and purpose of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) in which government has invested in excess of USD$140 million.

He argued that the directive was in contravention with the NITA-U Act of 2009 which envisaged that the NBI (which is run by NITA-U) be used as a primary vehicle for all internet services for government.

Bagiire further clarified that the NITA-U Act is still in place and has never been rescinded before outlining a new pricing model for MDAs and an offer to provide internet bandwidth at USD 70 from the former USD 190 per month.

“On account of proposals contained in your letter, therefore, this is to inform that the earlier instruction to purchase internet services from UTL is hereby set aside,” Muhakanizi wrote.

“The contracts with NITA-U for IT services therefore remain active and should be maintained,” he further wrote before ordering all Accounting officers to adhere to contracts for ICT services with NITA.

The New NITA-U pricing model (USD$70 per month) will take effect on Wednesday November 1st.

What Next for UTL?
The new directive casts a lot of uncertainty about the future of UTL and the possibility that it can get back to its feet as is hoped.

PC Tech Magazine understands that part of the reasons why government had opted to transfer the service to the struggling telecom was to help it gain stability.

UTL which is currently under government receivership had made a proposal to supply the same services at a cost of USD$100 per month although NITA’s offer outmatched them.

This leaves them with the option of providing voice and sms services only.