Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has directed Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance and Minister of Education and Sports to put in a request of Shs1bn needed by national broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) to telecast the Africa Cup of Nations matches.
“Minister is directed to immediately put in request. This isn’t much money,” Kadaga said.
Uganda Cranes qualified for Africa Cup of Nations games for the second time in the row since the 70’s but Ugandans who can’t afford pay television services risk missing out on the games after UBC revealed that they don’t have the Shs1bn required to purchase rights to air the games.
The matter was brought to light by Jinja West lawmaker, Moses Balyeku, who called on the Ministry of Finance to avail the funds to give chance to all Ugandans to watch the Cranes play.
David Bahati, State Minister for Planning however denied accusations that the Treasury has declined to provide the money, saying no such request has been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance.
“It’s obvious we support UBC to broadcast live we haven’t been approached by such a request. We would encourage Ministry of Education rather than bothering MPs in corridors to bring the request. We shall work on it appropriately,” he said.
However, some MPs questioned why UBC is still lamenting about funding yet Parliament approved funds to a tune of Shs70bn for the revamp of UBC with aim of making the national broadcaster operate in a business manner like other players in the industry.
“We recently released a lot of money and the idea was to make UBC a competitive platform and attract advertisers. The question is whether that money can’t meet some simple things like airing the games,” said Ibrahim Ssemujju, the Kira Municipality MP.
He was supported by Moses Kasibante who described UBC’s letter to Parliament requesting for funding as displaced, arguing that the revamp of UBC was to allow the corporation do business.
He reasoned that UBC should have sent the letter to potential advertisers instead of Parliament.
John Muyingo, State Minister for Higher Education acknowledged that Ugandans are waiting for the games but wondered if broadcasting is duty of Ministry of Education.
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be Uganda Crane’s 7th time participation and their first match in the tournament will be against Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday at Cairo International Stadium, a day after kick off on Friday.
Uganda Cranes will also play against hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe in Group A as it aims to go past Group Stages.