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Uganda’s ICT minister appeals to reduce the cost of IT services at ICT4D

Uganda: Honourable Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s minister for Information and Communication Technology & National Guidance of Uganda closed the largest ICT4D Conference: “We shouldn’t think that ICT is only for computer scientists in the lab. In these past three days, we have learnt that ICT is everywhere, in Agriculture, Education, and Health etc.”

He emphasised that digital technologies are not only for educated people – both literate, illiterate and different sectors need ICT. He called for better collaboration to make technology affordable to everyone: “How do we best reduce the cost of IT (Information Technology) services to accelerate development in Africa especially IT Infrastructure and Internet? Can the cost of internet be made affordable like a bottle of water?”

Other presentations addressed the refugee response in Uganda, USAID’s upcoming digital strategy, ICT for safeguarding, next steps of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning for development and humanitarian aid, innovations in digital financial inclusion, and practical advice on how Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and their partners can better manage the digital transformation. Not an easy task, as highlighted by Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope: “Non-Profits are missing the boat – digital is not the same as being digitized.

Both are important but not the same.” This year’s ICT4D Conference had a strong focus on youth engagement, digital diversity and responsible data. All topics that brought up lively discussions and the need for action on getting digital technologies to program participants, better engaging communities and more co-development of digital programs in agriculture and health, and a general need for better data privacy in the face of cyber security risks.

The results of the annual international survey on the use, impact and challenges of ICT in the development sector are here. “We were able to receive over 930 Participants from 440 organizations in 85 countries who all came to Uganda to share their experiences and ideas around how ICT can help the poor and destitute in the world to better their lives.

Uganda hosting this conference demonstrates that this country is in a great position to support digital development, with a very young population struggling with connectivity, and a strong mission around legislation and ICT investment. There is a great future for ICT here in Uganda.” Niek de Goeij, Country Representative in Uganda for Catholic Relief Services.