James Saaka - Executive Director, National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U).
James Saaka - Executive Director, National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U).

Underfire IT Authority, NITA-U has responded to the various accusations that are being thrown around the media, notably that it is charging Government Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) $300 per Mbps per month for internet connectivity.

The authority came out to publicly share statistics of their undertakings in reducing the cost of internet connectivity to government offices.

“This effort has been deliberate and we are happy to have led the industry in reducing the cost of connectivity to Government offices by over 84% since 2010, when 1Mbps cost a government office $1200 to the current cost of $70 for 1Mbps.”

NITA-U attributes this success to the effective completion of the three phases of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) project which saw over 2,400km of fiber laid across a number of towns in the country.

There are up to 321 Government MDAs and Local Governments connected to the NBI currently, NITA-U shared in an official communication. The Authority plans to have connected 730 MDAs and Local Governments to the backbone by the end of Financial Year 17/18.

“This means that more MDA/LGs will access reliable internet at a low cost, which translates into significant cost savings for the Government of Uganda,” NITA-U said.

NITA-U claims that there will be a further reduction in these costs; “It should be noted that there is a planned reduction in the cost of internet to Government offices that will take effect in July 2018, it will reduce further in July 2018 to $50 per 1Mbps.”

On irregular awarding of CyberQ/Comtel Certification Services Contract
NITA-U says CyberQ Consulting came out as the best company after an international bidding process. Consequently, CyberQ partnered with a local organization, Comtel, who were their local partners.

“It should be noted that this procurement was carried out as per the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) rules with quality control at each stage to ensure all the bid requirements were met and the consequent award was considered compliant to the PPDA regulations.” the Authority said.

“The procurement is turn-key in nature, what this means is that CyberQ/Comtel undertook to design, construct and implement the Certification of Providers of IT Products & Services. This involves operational costs associated with running a full-functional certification office with salaried staff, tools of trade, office equipment, a lot of field visits across the country and other related expenses. Therefore the revenue share between CyberQ Consulting and NITA-U took into consideration the nature of the project, turn-key.” NITA-U continued.

On exaggerated costs of constructing transmission manholes
NITA-U says the accusations that it is overpricing the cost of constructing transmission manholes are false, not factual and an unfair assertion. “A simple check in the market will reveal that a transmission manhole is more than just a cover. It includes culverts, a concrete cover, joint boxes (JB)to mention but a few.”

This comes after some social media reports suggested that the cost of constructing a single manhole cover is UGX 400,000. Emphasis should be on the fact that it is not only a manhole cover but a transmission manhole:

  • The costs involved to construct a manhole whose base is 1300mm diameter and 100mm thick, with a precast concrete top section of 1100mm diameter and 100mm thickness. Including the accessories involved in the construction process.
  • Cost of making a manhole cover which is made of polymer, hard plastic branded with NITA-U logo that comes with a ring and a 600mm diameter removable cover.
  • Cost of transportation and installation of precast manholes, that are then are placed in excavated pits (2m by 2m). Backfill material is then placed around the ring and compacted.

On overpricing Switches
The IT Authority also addressed the issue that it is exaggerating the price of a switch at $2400 (approximately UGX 8,700,000) instead of UGX 1,400,000.

To which it responds that the contract for extensions to the NBI defines a CISCO 2960 24 port model switch to be used and this model on the market starts at $2400. “A quick search on the internet would show this price.”

NITA-U continued, “Costs for switches are determined by the functionality required of those switches. Just stating the number of ports is not enough to determine the functionality or the cost of a switch.”