World Bank approves $200 million to drive digital inclusion in Uganda
In a bid to increase access to high-speed internet in Uganda, the World Bank has announced the approval of $200 million to the Ugandan government to improve digital efficiency in public service delivery and to strengthen digital inclusion in Uganda.
Like most countries in the African continent, Uganda still struggles with digital inclusion. With a population of about 46 million people, only 26% of its population is connected to the internet. Despite spirited efforts by the government to increase this number, many still remain unconnected due to high internet costs and lack of widespread broadband connection.
The new Uganda Digital Acceleration Project-GovNet (UDAP-GovNet) initiated by the government will go to support the extension of 1,000 km of the national backbone fiber infrastructure, an additional 500 km of fiber optic network links between towns, mobile broadband connections for 900 government administrative units, and service centers in underserved areas, and 828 Wi-Fi hotspots in select locations to support access to online services among rural and peri-urban, underserved and unserved communities.
Commenting on the project, Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda said, “Transforming Uganda’s digital infrastructure is an urgent necessity for post-COVID-19 recovery.”
“We look forward to the time when all citizens can access high-quality and low-cost internet, public services online, a digital economy driving growth, innovation, and job creation.”
With $140 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) and a $60 million grant, the project will support the implementation of the governments’ flagship initiative, GovNet, which contributes to the objectives of Digital Uganda Vision and the Digital Transformation Program under the National Development Plan III.
The Executive Director of NITA-U, Hatwib Mugasa expressed his appreciation to the World Bank via Twitter.
— Dr. Hatwib Mugasa (@NITAUgandaED) June 3, 2021
It will help develop shared platforms for ministries, departments, and agencies to efficiently deliver digitally-enabled public services to citizens and businesses throughout the country. These digital platforms will create the foundations for better resilience and economic recovery by boosting the effectiveness of government e-services that can be delivered remotely, in a paperless and cashless manner, reducing the need to travel for government services.
The expanded connectivity will also strengthen the digital inclusion of host communities and refugees by improving the availability of digital infrastructure and tackling demand-side factors like digital skills, affordability of internet connectivity, and accessibility of digital services.
Given the project’s scope, it is anticipated that it will benefit a wide spectrum of beneficiaries, including businesses; rural, unserved, and underserved populations (both men and women); the elderly; and persons with disabilities. The project is also designed to promote private sector participation using an approach compatible with the Maximizing Finance for Development principles.