The National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has unveiled a game-changing move to cut the cost of internet bandwidth in the country by 50%. The price reduction brings the cost down from 254,000 Shillings (USD 70) to 127,000 Shillings (USD 35) per megabyte, per second, per month.
Initially established in 2013 to cater primarily to government entities and offices, NITA-U has expanded its internet services to include the private sector, innovation hubs, educational institutions, and Wi-Fi hotspots.
The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, announced that the updated prices would take effect from August 1, 2023. This move is expected to provide users connected to NITA-U services through the National Backbone Infrastructure with the most affordable internet service available in the market.
Dr. Baryomunsi described the halving of internet bandwidth costs as a milestone that would not only reduce government expenditure but also drive the adoption of e-Government Services, attract more internet users, and accelerate digitization in the country.
Furthermore, Dr. Baryomunsi highlighted the potential ripple effects of this action, foreseeing that it would lead to improvements in the accessibility and affordability of internet services in the retail market, ultimately benefiting the entire population and potentially increasing internet penetration in Uganda.
Dr. Hatwib Mugasa, the Executive Director of NITA-U, added that the agency has plans to continue decreasing the cost of internet in the coming years. This vision is tied to the rollout of the Uganda Digital Acceleration Project (UDAP), which aims to extend internet coverage from the current 53 major districts and ten border points to every parish, covering the entire country.
A 2022 research report by the cyber security company Surfshark, based in the Netherlands, ranked Uganda 116th out of 117 countries in terms of internet affordability. This finding indicates that internet services in the country are not cost-effective when compared to global standards.
Previously, in September 2019, Cable.co.uk, a Broadband, TV, and Mobile Phone Price Comparison Site from the UK, reported that Ugandans paid some of the highest prices for mobile data in the East African region. At that time, 1GB of data in Uganda cost USD 4.69 (equivalent to 17,231 Shillings), making it the second-highest data price in East Africa, with Tanzania holding the highest cost of 1GB at USD 5.93 (22,000 Shillings).
The low internet penetration in Uganda has been attributed to various factors, including the high cost of internet and smart phones, which can be prohibitive for a significant portion of the population.
Additionally, the lack of sufficient infrastructure, especially in remote and rural areas, hinders the widespread adoption of the internet in the country. With this significant price reduction, NITA-U aims to tackle these challenges and propel Uganda towards greater digital accessibility and inclusivity.