Image Credit: East African Van Guard
Image Credit: East African Van Guard
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The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) and National Guidance, Vincent Waiswa Bagiire has lashed at government and the Ministry of Finance over their directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to procure mobile and fixed telephony communication from Uganda Telecom (UTL).

The said directive was issued by the Secretary to the National Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi in a September 14th letter which followed a resolution by the Ministry’s Top Management Team (TMT)

Bagiire says the directive contravenes Section 7(1) of the Public Enterprises Reform and Divestiture (PERD) Act of 1993 which provides that “the Minister of Finance shall exercise a monitoring role and liase with line Ministers in monitoring performance.”

Also, Section 20 of the PERD Act directs that “the Minister responsible for finance shall consult with the relevant minister prior to his or her making any decision or exercising any power in relation to public enterprise.”

“We note that this was not done prior to the Top Management Team’s decision,” wrote Bagiire in a letter dated October 5th.

UTL’s Capacity
Bagiire notes that UTL has no capacity to provide the said services to MDAs considering their services and equipment are outdated.

“It is a known fact that UTL is predominantly second generation (2G) network with equipment that has run its race. UTL does not have maintenance and support for its network because its equipment has reached End of Life,” said Bagiire.

“To subject government to utilising this kind of network is to compromise service delivery, information security and competitiveness of the country where most economies are now using a minimum of 3Gand predominantly 4G,” he added.

Bagiire criticized UTL’s coverage across the country which he said is negligible, also noting the absence of distribution of their services such as airtime and Mobile Money.

“In the recently concluded sim registration, UTL had less than 300,000 subscribers,” Bagiire noted adding that Muhakanizi’s directive, if implemented will retard the country.

Tumwebaze faults the directive
Earlier, ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze had written a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda challenging the directive which he said is “a bad idea.”

Tumwebaze, in the letter sought a meeting to discuss the directive before its implementation and a proposal from UTL demonstrating how they plan to offer cheaper internet services sustainably.

He said the directive seizes the mandate of his ministry, which is charged with among others implementing the broadband strategy among other ICT aspects.