Unequal access to and use of IT services, a major challenge

In Summary
  • The proportion of government staff that routinely used a computer for work purposes, and the proportion of the staff that
    routinely used the internet at work, have greatly improved since 2017/18 (from 37% to 61%, and 23% to 65% respectively).
  • Some of the internal challenges identified by the 2017/18 survey, such as poor internal network infrastructure and a lack of adequate ICT skills and knowledge among employees, persist
Director Planning, Research and Development · National Information Technology Authority,Richard Obita receives the report from Knowledge Consult
Image: Courtesy

Internet penetration in rural areas has continued to be a challenge that has led to difficulty in accessing Information Technology (IT) services.

This is according to the National Information Technology Survey 2022 that indicates that although penetration has increased, access to IT services in rural areas is harder, compared to urban areas.

While presenting the findings, Ali Ndiwalana, the lead researcher at Knowledge Consult, noted that internet costs remain a barrier as well as use of digital means to offer services at local government level even among agencies, departments and ministries of government.

“Cost came up again as a biggest issue, the reduction in costs of internet is certainly a move in the right direction and then lack of expertise as well as slow internet.”

He added. “When it comes to leveraging digital options to provide public service, that’s still rather very low, the biggest aspect is that local governments still expect people to come and walk in to receive a service.”

Ali Ndiwalana, the lead researcher at Knowledge Consult presents the findings
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Richard Obita, Director in charge of Research, Planning and Development noted, “as a country we must put focus in specific areas, in areas infrastructure, and e-services to create efficiency in the delivery of services to our citizens.”

According to NITA-U, the survey will go a long way in helping them as the sector the respective operational environments, to do better in government, local government, at household level, across businesses and where to direct support in terms of digitization and decision making as well as policy during planning.

The survey covered Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Local Government Business establishments, households and individuals and here is its link.

https://www.nita.go.ug/sites/default/files/2022-09/NATIONAL IT SURVEY REPORT 2022.pdf

Officials and stakeholders in attendance
Image: Courtesy

Meanwhile, the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) is recommending that it should be made mandatory that all government agencies, departments and ministries communicate all government information through official email addresses following widespread concerns of poor data security as a result of officials opting to use their personal email address to pass government information.

Overall findings indicate that significant progress has been achieved in terms of the overall penetration and utilization of IT services. However, the unequal access to and use of such services across the country remain a major challenge, with especially rural-urban-, gender- and income-based divides (that relate to the affordability of service) remaining as challenges.

Gaps also exist at the sub-regional levels. Given these findings, the government needs to double down on programs and policies designed to improve access and affordability to achieve the level of digital inclusion expected under the Sustainable Development Goals.