The the opening ceremony last evening, at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, Edward Ssekandi, the Vice President of Uganda, told delegates to discuss how internet connectivity can be increased in Africa, if the continent is to benefit from the using technology based teaching.
Ssekandi said that delegates should discuss how to “internet connectivity can be improved, in order to enhance eLearning.” Uganda has become a major player in East Africa, particularly in ICT infrastructure development.
The Ugandan Ministry of ICT, which is co-hosting of the conference, has been part of some initiatives in the last few years to improve connectivity, among them, the laying of the National Fiber Backbone, a project that has however been dogged by controversy. Linking sub-counties to this backbone has also taken longer than expected.
Data from the International Technology Union indicates that about 4.4million of the entire Ugandan population has access to the internet. The use of technology in education is still limited in Uganda, with most primary schools under the UPE scheme hardly being able afford using such tools. More so, the schools have limited or no access to electricity, which would have enhanced the use of such technology.
John Nasasira, the ICT Minister, however says “The National Backbone will be implemented with last mile broadband rollout working through public-private partnerships, [to] ensure the reach of the broadband network deeper into rural areas that might not be profitable for commercial telecommunications companies.”
The conference is being attended by about 1,300 delegates from all over the world and will include sessions showcasing various initiatives that can bring technology to classrooms. Some of these projects include solar backed projects, which have been developed in Uganda but lack the required funding to be rolled in the country.
Uganda’s IT Association has however criticized the conference for the high conference costs, noting that the “amount is greater than most educationists in Uganda earn on a monthly basis, and would also constitute a substantial portion of a higher-level ICT professional in private employment.”