By Andrew Irumba
Minister for Information, National guidance and Communication Frank Kagyigyi Tumwebaze on July 11 released a statement on Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF).
Below is a full statement.
The Government of Uganda recognizes information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an essential driver of social Economic Transformation. The ICT sector is also identified in the National Development plan 2 and Uganda Vision 2040 as one of the job creation sectors. The ICT sector has been liberalized since the year 1996.
Consequently, there are limited obligations to service providers of communications services in the country. While this liberalization policy came with several advantages arising from the flexibility of service provision, it also came with several advantages arising from the flexibility of service provision, it also came with several challenges particularly that of leaving certain areas and communities unserved or under-served with certain communication services where the Return on Investment for private service providers is low and thus not viable for investment in those areas. Since the liberalization of the Telecom sector, the private sector has taken the lead in extending communication services, mostly in the urban centers where business profits are attainable.
To ensure that communication services got a reach to the under-served or unserved areas of Uganda, a Universal service Fund called the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) was created during the year 2003. UCC under the Uganda Communications Act.2013 is mandated to manage the fund facilitated by a 2% Gross Annual Revenue levy collected from the Telecom operators or Grants/Donations from development partners. Since its inception, RCDF has continued to make a significant contribution towards ensuring that the potentially unserved or under-served areas also access communication services just like other preferred areas for the service providers. To support and scale up ICT services, both the demand and Supply side, Government and private operators must coordinate in the development of services across the country. It is important to note that the Government of Uganda in 2008 adopted the National Broad band policy, which emphasizes the role of broad band internet in the socio- economic transformation process as a critical enabler.
Through this policy Government will seek to among others ensure that National operators are obligated to connect broad band services to all parts of the country and not only the urban areas as it was the case in the recent past .RCDF will continue to play a critical role in driving the capability of the Broad band services and ensure universal connectivity, access, affordability and equity of communication services across the country.