ICT Minister Nabakooba  Shakes Up NITA-U, Appoints New Executive Director

ICT Minister Nabakooba Shakes Up NITA-U, Appoints New Executive Director

By Andrew Irumba

Kampala: The Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Hon. Judith Nabakooba has appointed a new Executive Director for the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda following the conclusion of the 10-year tenure for James Saaka-TheSpy Uganda reports.

The newly appointed Executive Director, Dr. Hatwib Mugasa, holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana Tech University, USA.

The appointment comes on the heels of successful completion of the legally authorized 10-year tenure by the outgoing ED James Saaka that will officially expire in August 2020. Under the steadfast leadership of Saaka,

In Saka’s tenure, the government has completed all four phases of the National Backbone Infrastructure (ICT backbone), laying 4,000 kilometres of Fiber, extending to 49 districts, and connecting 480 Government offices.

The recently launched last mile project will connect 1,000 more sites across 58 districts to the network is underway. The seven major border posts of Uganda with its neighboring countries have all been connected to the ICT backbone thus facilitating regional integration, cooperation, communication, and trade with our neighboring countries.

Dr.Hatwib Mugasa newly appointed NITA-U Executive Director

Government’s has also decreased the cost of the internet prices from USD 1,200, in 2013, to USD 300 in 2016. In 2017 there was a further drop to USD 70 per Mbps and is projected to drop further to USD 50 by the end of 2020.

The NITA-U cost of the internet is 71% cheaper than what the private sector charges in Uganda.

It is pertinent to note that this influenced a drop in market-led prices for the internet to USD 300 per Mbps, the lowest in the East African region. All these efforts in astutely managing the NBI/ICT backbone have resulted in the Government of Uganda realizing revenue of USD. 20Million from the operation of the NBI/ICT Backbone.

In the same period, a number of electronic services for the Government have been launched and operationalized. A government-wide messaging system-UMCS has been established and rolled out in 37 entities to provide standardized and secure email for all Government communications.

Mr.James Saka the outgoing NITA-U Executive Director

NITA-U and Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development (MoFPED) have rolled out e-PAY, an electronic payment gateway that enables online payments for all public services.

NITA-U set up a tier 3 cloud data center, the first of its kind in Uganda with the capacity to host all government applications and data. To date, there are over 473 applications & web services hosted in this Government facility.

Owing to this initiative of building a calculable Government Data Center that all entities can use, NITA-U has saved the Government of Uganda UGX. trillion in costs that are individual agencies would have used to build their own data centers.

In the last 10 years, NITA-U has created an enabling environment for ICT to flourish by ensuring that the right laws, regulations, and policies are in place. These include the Electronic Signatures Act, The Electronic Transactions Act & the Data Protection & Privacy Act. 

In addition, the Government put in place the Certification Framework to ensure improved quality of IT products and services, ensure consumer/client protection, and standards applicable to the IT industry. 305 IT firms have been certified and over 2,000 firms have been registered for IT certification.

Speaking of his fruitful tenure, Saaka Said “I am pleased to have served Uganda for the last 10 years in driving the digital revolution. I am honoured to pass on the baton to Dr Hawib Mugasa. We have accomplished much but there is still a lot that needs to be done. We need to lower the cost of the internet further to $20 per Mbps and I am confident the team I’m leaving behind will achieve this’’.

‘I am honoured and thankful that H.E President Museveni, the ICT Ministers I have had the joy to serve under and the NITA Board, who have given me an opportunity to play a significant role in changing lives of Ugandans for years to come,’. ‘I want to thank the team with whom for 10 years we’ve worked tirelessly to digitize the country. 

Always remember the journey has just begun.’’ Saaka concluded.

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