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Parliament votes against dissolution of NITA-U

ANALYSIS: Why Parliament Stayed Dissolution of NITA-U

For the last four years, NITA-U’s contribution in terms of NTR to the national treasury has been on an increasing trend. For example; in FY 2019/2020, NITA-U generated Shs18.9bn in NTR, Shs21.1bn in FY 2020/2021, Shs25.5bn in FY 2021/2022, and a whopping Shs45.5bn in FY 2022/2023.
by Max Pat
posted onFebruary 28, 2024
nocomment

On Wednesday, Members of Parliament voted against the National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (Amendment) Bill, 2024 that intended to dissolve NITA-U and have its functions mainstreamed into the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.

The move to dissolve NITA-U is part of the Rationalization of Government Agencies and Public Expenditure (RAPEX) policy that was adopted by cabinet on 22nd February 2021 as a measure to reduce public expenditure, reduce duplication of duties, and facilitate effective and efficient service delivery.

Whereas the NITA-U Amendment Bill as presented by government proposed that NITA-U be scrapped and its functions are absorbed by Ministry of ICT, the Committee on ICT in its report that was tabled by the vice chairperson, Hon Tony Ayoo called for stay, saying the Authority is a strategic entity in spearheading digital transformation programme.

“NITA- U has enabled Government to save up to Shs49bn by providing internet bandwidth by reducing costs of internet from US$70 to US$35 per megabyte per second (MBPS), with a projection of a further reduction to US$ 20per Mbps,” the report says.

The report adds that NITA-U has reduced duplication of up to US$92m by establishing the National Data Centre and the Disaster Recovery sites hosting 287 critical applications in over 100 Government institutions.

“The decision to mainstream NITA-U into the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance therefore should be stayed to allow the institution to continue championing digitization in fulfillment of the Government's aspirations enshrined in Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan III and IV,” the report reads.

In recent years, NITA-U has immensely contributed to the increase of mobilization of Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) in the country. For the last four years, NITA-U’s contribution in terms of NTR to the national treasury has been on an increasing trend. For example; in FY 2019/2020, NITA-U generated Shs18.9bn in NTR, Shs21.1bn in FY 2020/2021, Shs25.5bn in FY 2021/2022, and a whopping Shs45.5bn in FY 2022/2023. Due to anticipated increase in demand for ICT services by MDAs, Local Governments and other private sectors, NITA-U’s contribution is projected at Shs53.0bn by the end of this FY 2023/2024.

In FY 2024/2025, NITA-U is expected to bring Shs64.7bn in revenue and another Shs75.6bn in FY 2025/2026. NITA-U has saved the Government money through their provision of Shs1.165 trillion through centralized hosting of critical applications Management of the NBI (over 4,172 km) network across the country connecting over 1480 MDAs (e-government services). This is said to have reduced duplication and promoted shared services.

It should be noted that the biggest commercialization aspect of NITA-U is the operation of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI). NBI is considered a public utility which hosts information of critical national importance including information on payment systems of government, all information regarding the security of the country - information belonging to police, CMI, and UPDF among others, registration information for all citizens including national identity card, e- passports, e-visas, Performance Budgeting System (PBS), customs - One Stop Border Posts (OSBP), Electronic Government Procurements (E-GP) and the Integrated Financial Management Systems (IFMIS).

It is also worth noting that over 21 major private telecom and internet service providers are utilising the NBI to deliver affordable services even to hard-to-reach areas and if this autonomy is removed from NITA-U then such private players could abandon the infrastructure.

The Ministry of ICT failed to provide evidence-based information to demonstrate that the mainstreaming of NITA-U into the Ministry will create an efficient and successful management of the projects and effectively implement them. Similarly, the Ministry also failed to justify duplication of roles or even wastage.

NITA-U is an autonomous government parastatal under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, mandated to coordinate, promote and monitor Information and Technology developments in Uganda within the context of National Social and Economic development.

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