Uganda legislators approve US$75 million for data backbone

KAMPALA, UGANDA – Uganda’s parliament has approved a US$75 million loan for the second and third phases of the country’s national data transmission backbone, ICT Minister Ham Mulira announced.

In addition, a fourth phase has been added to the project in order to connect the war-torn region of Northern Uganda, which was not included in the original broadband infrastructure plans, Mulira said.

The original plans called for a 2,500-kilometer backbone to cover 28 districts, with major towns acting as switching centers.

The backbone is aimed at improving communication in Uganda through the wide availability of inexpensive bandwidth in areas that telecom companies have not considered economically viable. It will, thereby, provide basic communication to rural communities and help the government improve service delivery in such fields as agriculture, education and health care.

The first phase of the project covered Kampala and three other urban areas at a cost of $30 million and resulted in an e-government platform, interconnecting government institutions to exploit their full potential, reduce domestic expenditure on public administration and increase the speed of operations.

China’s Huawei Technologies is executing the job, while China Exim Bank is funding the project with a $106 million loan. The Ugandan government has provided an additional $5 million for the project.

Potential users of the backbone’s resulting bandwidth include financial institutions, mobile telephone operators, nongovernmental organizations, television broadcasters, Internet service providers and educational institutions.

Once complete, the backbone will link into the East African Backhaul System, a joint venture among operators from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda that will connect the five countries to the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System.

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