Uganda’s government announced this week that it will provide free wi-fi in the capital, Kampala, and Entebbe from today. Minister for ICT Frank Tumwebaze says the country may be a first for the East African Community – the regional grouping of Uganda, Kenyan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzanian and South Sudan.
However, the free service will only be available from 6pm to 6am on weekdays and 3pm to 6am on weekends – so that people will not be using it during office hours. And the minister added that some sites will be blocked.
Tumwebaze announced that Kampala city dwellers, the central business district and part of Entebbe will be able to get free internet access beginning today (Saturday).
The trial run is being administered by the ministry of Information, ICT and Communication and the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA U).
“We will be providing free Wi-Fi services between 6pm and 6 am on weekdays, and at the weekends. Wi-Fi will be free from Saturday 3pm through to Monday 6 am,” he said.
He added that free wi-fi services will be offered at the Kampala Capital City Authority Street Carnival on Sunday where revellers will enjoy the service throughout the day.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury but a necessity for all Ugandan citizens. The ICT sector must remain at the centre of this countrywide transformation, and is steering Uganda to world class efficiency and productivity.”
He said the roll out of free internet has been made possible because of investment in the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) with the third phase of this now nearing completion.
The minister said rolling out NBI has helped government agencies increase productivity, efficiency and reduced costs of internet bandwidth.
“Internet costs have reduced from USD1200 to USD 300 per megabit per second per month from 2010 to 2016,” he said.
Dr James Saka, the executive director of NITA U, said the service would be shared between government agencies and the public and the capacity provided will be up to 2 megabits per second.