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UCC Boss Mutabazi Eats Big As Gov’t Finalizes Plot To Dissolve NITA

President Yoweri Museveni’s desire to close the mushrooming government agencies is beginning to see light of the day.

Museveni directed Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to handle the matter and according to sources in Prime Minister’s Office (OPM), government will pilot Museveni’s directive beginning with National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U).

NITA-U is an autonomous statutory body established under the NITA-U Act 2009, to coordinate and regulate Information Technology services in Uganda.

NITA-U is under the general supervision of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.

However, sources say NITA’s existence is a duplication of duties since Uganda Communications Commission which is headed by Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi and the ICT ministry can handle NITA-U’s mandate.

Credible sources reveal that the regulation of internet will be handled by UCC once NITA is dissolved while policy formulation for the ICT sector will go to the ICT ministry.

Sources say NITA boss James Saka and UCC’s Mutabazi haven’t been on working terms for some time, a thing that is affecting the growth of the ICT sector.

James Saka, ED NITA-Uganda

This is because NITA applied to UCC for a license to become an Internet Service Provider (ISP) two years ago, but Mutabazi, who regulates the telcom sector refused to give it out, arguing that NITA can’t compete with internet providers it is supposed to provide.

And even when NITA went ahead to provide internet to some government agencies, some refused to do business with it on the above grounds.

Government also says NITA has been exploiting it by making super normal profits through the private company called M/S Soliton Telmec Ltd, a frm owned by ‘Kenyans’.

Soliton also provides internet cabling services to MTN.

Credible sources reveal that Soliton has been charging USD300 for every megabyte per second of which USD285 is profit because it costs them only USD15 to supply per megabyte to government MDAs.

Every month, Soliton makes not less than Shs10bn which is shared by those behind it.

The good thing is that MPs have also become interested and will be interrogating NITA bosses Saka, Vivian Dambya and Peter Kahiga concerning things that have gone wrong.

It is important to note that Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi’s Thursday 14th September letter ordered all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to buy telecom services and internet from Uganda Telecom (UTL) and he gave reasons for that.

A copy of Muhakanizi’s letter

The order is in line with Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy which demands all MDAs to buy Uganda and Build Uganda.

Muhakanizi says MDAs, which every year spend over UShs35bn on internet expenses, can bring back UTL to life and save government excessive expenditure on ‘greedy’ firms.

Additionally, while NITA has been implementing the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure Project in the country, UCC is almost doing the same work under its Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF)project of taking internet to rural areas.

RCDF is headed by former ICT minister Nyombi Thembo. In fact, sources say NITA was also interested in doing the same project yet its internet is quite expensive.

A source said government is aware there will be loss of jobs but to save the country from losing further billions a number of agencies will be dissolved.

“NITA officials are aware that the institution is going to be dissolved. Their argument that they got a loan from China for NBI (National Backbone Infrastructure) doesn’t add up because the loan is for government of Uganda to service. The ministry of finance will handle that,” the source said.

The source added that some government agencies like Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) are no longer getting internet from NITA. They have already given the deal to UTL since it has more national presence than NITA.

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