New digital centre planned for East Africa

By on 30/04/2019
Smartphone apps are transforming pricing and payments for farmers across Africa; the new centre aims to further boost digital growth (Image courtesy: Neil Palmer (CIAT).

The members of the East Africa Community are planning to establish an Information Access Centre (IAC) to boost digital government in the region, Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s minister for ICT & national guidance, has told Global Government Forum in a telephone interview.

“We are looking for funds from our development partners so that we can embark on the establishment, and we expect this to commence by 2020,” he said. The IAC will facilitate e-government initiatives to support public bodies across the region, Tumwebaze said – developing IT projects to promote business development and providing an incubation facility for innovative schemes.

Its goals will include improving public service delivery, supporting citizens’ participation in public policymaking and governance, and helping to tackle corruption, the minister added.

Supporting growth, improving services

Libérat Mfumukeko, secretary general of the East African Community (EAC) – whose members are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – said that the IAC will contribute to economic growth by supporting the development of a knowledge-based society and facilitating technology-driven entrepreneurship across the region.

According to Mfumukeko, EAC’s e-governance strategy sets out partner states’ aims of developing ICT applications and services for public service delivery, covering fields such as immigration, health, financial management and procurement.

EAC partner states have already taken steps to develop relevant infrastructure and e-government systems, he said, though governments face a range of problems – including internet access and costs, inadequate budgets for ICT ministries, and ICT skills gaps among government employees and citizens.

Wider goals

According to Gertrude Ngabirano, the executive secretary of the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), the development of digital services is amongst EAC’s strategic priorities – supporting cooperation on a set of regional activities, include governance and socio-economic development.

Such technological infrastructure will boost not only e-governance, but also economic growth and prosperity based on greater inclusion and social cohesion in the region, she added.

About Edgar Rwakenya

Edgar Rwakenya is a reporter based in Kenya whose work has been published both online and in print. He has over 12 years of extensive experience in business, finance, taxation, oil and gas reporting in Africa. He has been a reporter for bne IntelliNews, Haymarket Media Group’s SC Media UK, ConstructAfrica.com, Argus Media and Skye Media. He has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including Skye Media magazine and The Moodie Davitt Report. He graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam with a Bachelor of Mass Communication.

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