Ugandan MPs query internet prices

Ugandan MPs query internet prices

A press release attributed to the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda underlines the continuing issue of communications charges across Africa – this time relating to the internet.

The country’s Committee on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and National Guidance has asked the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) to reduce the cost of internet connectivity.

The committee’s MPs apparently said the high cost of internet connectivity offered by the authority is making it difficult to do business.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Moses Magogo, challenged claims that the cost of internet connectivity from NITA-U is the cheapest on the market, saying: “There are some private players who are providing cheaper internet. So how would it be that private players are providing cheaper internet than NITA-U?”

Richard Obita, the Director, Planning, Research and Development at NITA-U, assured the MPs of his group’s aim to reduce the cost of internet further from the current US$70 for each megabit per second to US$35, which, if correct, is still astronomical compared to many countries.

That said, fixed services are limited in Uganda compared to mobile, although the Minister of ICT, Chris Baryomunsi, said the ICT sector is committed to ensuring that the entire country is connected to the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI). This would increase internet accessibility, thus lowering its cost. Currently, national internet coverage under the NBI is at 62 per cent.

Baryomunsi did, however, ask Parliament to support the sector with adequate resources to meet its goals.

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