Uganda’s online service index has improved from 50% in 2016 to 57% in 2018 which puts the country in High Online Service Index bracket. This is according to the United Nations E-Government survey 2018.
The Online Services Index is a component of the E-Government Development Index(EGDI) which is a composite indicator measuring the use of ICTs by Governments in delivering public services at the national level. It examines how digital technologies and innovations are impacting the public sector and changing people’s everyday lives.
The Survey is the only global report that assesses the e-Government development status of all member States of the United Nations. It measures e-Government effectiveness in the delivery of public services and identifies Patterns in e-government development and performance.
Results are tabulated and presented as a set of standardized index values on a scale. Uganda’s e-Government development index (EGDI) also improved from 36% in 2016 to 41% in 2018, which is above the African average of 34%.
Hon. Vincent Bagiire, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, attributes the growth to Government’s deliberate efforts to automate majority of its systems to ensure that citizens can access Government services efficiently.
“Through Technical support from the National Informational Technology Authority, under the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have taken services online, this has resulted into the automation of processes and development of services which are already improving efficiency and transparency. As a Government, we have realized a saving of 4 million working hours that can be attributed to this automation. In addition we have set up an E-Citizens portal which is a one-stop online center for Government online services. To date, 76 MDA informational and transactional services may be accessed through this portal,” said Bagiire.
Citizens can access the above services by visiting, ecitizen website. What’s even more exciting is that access to the portal is free of charge when one is using free Wi-Fi or MyUG that is accessible across 284 locations in Kampala and Entebbe.
A good example, cites Hon. Bagiire, is the e-visa platform which allows foreigners to apply for visas of all classes, visa renewal and insurance, Residence permits application/renewal and issuance, Work permits /Entry Permits, Passes (student pass, dependent passes and special passes) and Certificates of residence. By the end of 2017, more than 212,000 applications and application time reduced from 1 month to 5 working days.
The concept of leaving no one behind extends to inclusive digital participation. The use of online tools can enhance access to information and public services, as well as promote better public policy decision-making. E-participation can serve as a catalyst for citizen engagement and in achieving the objectives of the National Development Plan.
With a grading of High eParticipation Index, Uganda was lauded for the improvement in this score as it showcases Uganda’s commitment in implementing further tools for engaging citizens.
There was some improvement in the Telecommunications Index from 11.3 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2018 and the Human Capital Index from 46.7 percent in 2016 to 49.6 in 2018 which is still a major challenge in most African countries including Uganda.
The report affirms that Africa has large gaps in infrastructure, including broadband infrastructure and access to broadband services, where it exists, is very expensive. This is evident in the region’s low Telecommunications Infrastructure Index score of 20.3 percent.
According to James Ssaka, the Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), the Ugandan Government deliberately invested in the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) aiming to close such gaps and to ensure effective service delivery riding off the robust infrastructure. It aims to connect all major towns within the country onto an optical fiber based network and to connect all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Local Governments (LGs) and Institutions.
NITA-U has completed the implementation of all the three phases of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI). Phase four has commenced and will extend the ICT backbone to the West Nile districts of Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Koboko and Adjumani, Katakwi and Moroto. With 2400km of fibre already laid across the nation, there are 33 major towns connected the NBI. In addition, a total of 344 MDAs, Local Government (LG) sites and Government service centers (Hospitals, universities) are connected to the NBI. The cost of internet to Government was at an average of USD$1200 per Mbps as Government set up the infrastructure in 2012, it is now down to USD$70 per Mbps, representing a significant saving of tax payers’ money.
In a bid to improve communication via internet across the remote rural areas of Uganda, the Government through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has launched a pilot remote broadband connectivity project. In the project, UCC has joined forces with International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO), Intelsat and Gilat Satellite networks.
According to the survey, the three most commonly used online services in 2018 are utilities payment, submission of income taxes, and registration of new businesses.
With upcoming services like the Government e-Payment Gateway which will facilitate electronic payments for Government services, MyUG Mail which will provide Email, Voice, Video, Social and Instant Messaging services to government offices and Government SMS Gateway which will allow government entities to push SMS notifications to citizens, and Government e-procurement among others, Uganda is headed on the right path and its EGDI and OSI are set to improve much further.