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Internet Access in Uganda

According to our 2008 national survey, only 3 percent of the rural population is an internet user (based on at least monthly use) compared to about 19 percent of urban residents. Limited telecommunications and electrical infrastructure has kept the cost of home internet access high and unaffordable to even some of the most affluent Ugandans. Even in the relatively well-connected urban centers of the Central region, only 23 percent of respondents said they are internet users. What's more, the vast majority of web surfers rely on internet cafés to get online.

Chart 1


Substantial investment in power supplies and domestic fiber-optic backbone is needed to expand internet connectivity in Uganda, despite a number of new international connections being established that will greatly expand international bandwidth. These include six undersea cables, two of which have already reached land-EASSy (http://www.eassy.org/) and Seacom (http://www.seacom.mu/index2.asp). But without domestic infrastructure improvements, the benefits of these cables will probably be limited mainly to government agencies and some businesses in urban centers. For a brief description of current and pending efforts to expand Uganda’s electrical grid and fiber-optic backbone see the Overview section. [1]

Chart 2

 

Another factor in expanding internet use is education and skills training. Unless individuals are familiar with or have been educated in how to use the internet, it will be of little use. To meet this need, Uganda’s Ministry of Education has partnered with several international development organizations to work with students and teachers on using ICTs in the classroom. For a brief overview of past and current efforts by the Ugandan government and its partners to integrate ICTs and education, see here (http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.435.html).

One such effort was implemented by the U.S.-based Education Development Center (EDC) and a number of local partners between 2002 and 2004.The project used peer learning and social action to encourage the development of IT skills by youth, while increasing the capacity of local NGOs and their ability to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. The project utilized school-based telecentres to educate students and teachers, who in turn educated their communities including NGO workers involved in HIV/AID awareness campaigns. The IT coursework included website development, email, CD-ROM development, and the creation of list-serves to complement existing HIV/AIDS Information Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns designed to reach youth and their communities. A broader goal of the project was to test the potential of ICTs as a means of assisting youth and community learning about HIV/AIDS in Uganda. [2]

 


[1] Also see, “We need fibre optic project to join new information age”. New Vision. 19 August 2009. Kampala, Uganda. Accessed January 2010. http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/459/691787.

[2] “Using Information and Communication Technology to Combat HIV/AIDS”. Dot-EDU. Education Development Center. Washington, D.C. http://dot-edu.edc.org/projects/uganda.htm. and “Using Information and Communication Technology to Combat HIV/AIDS”. The Communication Initiative Network. Victoria, Canada. Accessed January 2010. http://www.comminit.com/en/node/123300/347.