Hon. Frank Tumwebaze takes over the ICT Ministry from Hon. John Nasasira

The Minister of Information, ICT and Communications, Hon Frank Tumwebaze, has officially taken over office from his predecessor, Hon John Nasasira. Hon Tumwebaze and the State Minister for ICT officially assumed office on 27th June 2016.

In his handover speech, Nasasira congratulated Tumwebaze upon his being appointed by H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to the ICT Ministry and for the responsibilities entrusted to him by the President. He stated that the ICT Sector had registered tremendous growth over the last 5 years in terms of sector contribution to GDP, employment, mobile phone and internet penetration, and the use of ICT in service delivery among others.  The examples he cited included the increase in telephone subscriptions from 15 million (Tele-density of 45.6) in June 2011 to 23 million active subscribers (Tele-density of 64.3%) as of Sept. 2015; the establishment of the One Area Network (ONA) in the region, under which all calls to and from partner states (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan) are charged not more than US $10 Cents per minute; the establishment of the BPO Incubation Centre at Statistics House to provide employment for the youth; the establishment an Information Access Centre at the Ministry to promote ICT innovation; and the establishment of a multimedia Content Development Centre at the Ministry. He further revealed that revenue collection from telecom companies amounted to Shs 484.4Bn in 2015, a rise from Shs. 199.63Bn in June 201

Among the challenges highlighted, Nasasira called for increased funding to the ICT Sector. He said although the Ministry is a key sector in the country’s transformation, achieving this goal would not be possible with the current funding. He also said, ‘’there is a high turnover of staff in the Ministry. Qualified ICT staff are on demand’. The outgoing Minister also cited irresponsible use of the social media as a challenge. He said use of the social media should be regulated without killing its vibrancy. Other challenges mentioned included over taxation of the private sector players which hinder investment in the sector. He expressed optimism that all these challenges can be overcome by the new Minister. Nasasira concluded by thanking President Museveni for allowing him to serve as a Minister for 27 years without a break. He also expressed gratitude to the people and the agencies he had worked with closely in the ICT Sector.

On his part, Hon Tumwebaze said President Museveni had merged the Ministries of Information and National Guidance and ICT to form one Ministry of Information, ICT and Communications to facilitate effective communication of Government programmes; to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure easy coordination of all Government communication players. Tumwebaze directed all Government Ministries to ensure that their websites are up-to-date and that they should effectively utilize social media to communicate Government programmes. He assured the media that he was ready to work with them. He called on them to be objective in reporting. “I’m against people who use the media to give one side of the story. Criticizing is ok, but give the other person an opportunity to defend himself”, He said.

During the same function, the outgoing Minister of State for ICT, Hon Nyombi Thembo, also handed over to the new Minister of State for Information, ICT and Communications, Hon. Aida Nantaba. She said her priority would be to push for adequate funding to achieve the Ministry’s mandate and mission.