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Outgoing NITA-U boss James Saaka succumbs to covid-19

The Outgoing Executive Director, National Information Technology Authority has today succumbed to the deadly coronavirus disease, reports

Saaka had recently retired in August after being at the helm of NITA for a decade.

Saaka has been the NITA-U Executive Director for over 10 years and the contracts are only renewable once every five years. His contract expired in August 2020.ccumbs to covid-19 IT IS WITH PROFOUND SHOCK AND SADNESS THAT WE ANNOUNCE THAT JAMES SAAKA, OUR FORMER ED, HAS PASSED AWAY.



— NITA-Uganda (@NITAUganda1) December 9, 2020

During his tenure, Government completed all four phases of the National Backbone infrastructure (ICT backbone), laying 4,000 kilometers of Fiber, extending to 49 districts and connecting 480 Government offices. The recently launched last mile project will connect 1,000 more sites across 58 districts to the network is underway. The seven major border posts of Uganda with its neighboring countries have all been connected to the ICT backbone thus facilitating regional integration, cooperation, communication, and trade with our neighboring countries.

Saaka had been at the front of Government’s deliberate effort to decrease the cost of internet. As a result, Government saw a drop in internet prices from USD 1,200, in 2013, to USD 300 in 2016. In 2017 there was a further drop to USD 70 per Mbps and is projected to drop further to USD 50 by the end of 2020. The NITA-U cost of internet is 71% cheaper than what the private sector charges in Uganda.

It is pertinent to note that this influenced a drop in market-led prices for internet to USD 300 per Mbps, the lowest in the East African region. All these efforts in astutely managing the NBI/ICT backbone have resulted in Government of Uganda realizing revenue of USD. 20Million from the operation of the NBI/ICT Backbone.

In the same period a number of electronic services for Government have been launched and operationalized. A government-wide messaging system-UMCS has been established and rolled out in 37 entities to provide standardized and secure email for all Government communications.

NITA-U and Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development (MoFPED) have rolled out e-PAY, an electronic payment gateway that enables online payments for all public services.

Additionally, NITA-U now provides subsidized SMS services that public entities are utilizing to provide USSD services, Bulk SMS notifications among others. NITA-U set up a tier 3 cloud data center, the first of its kind in Uganda with the capacity to host all government applications and data. To date, there are over 473 applications & web services hosted in this Government facility. Owing to this initiative of building a scalable Government Data Centre that all entities can use, NITA-U has saved the Government of Uganda UGX. 1.2Trillion in costs that individual agencies would have used to build their own data centers.

The efforts by Government through NITA-U in digitizing services have yielded in improvement of the country’s e-Government global ranking. The Online service index improved from 50 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in 2018 putting the country in the high online service index bracket. In addition to that, the e-Participation Index improved from 0.07 in 2010 to 0.6 in 2018 putting the country in the high e-participation bracket. The automation of the various services of Government have created efficiency in the delivery of services to citizens and also time is saved. In 2018, Uganda Ranked as the most cyber secure country in Africa in the national cybersecurity Index.

In the last 10 years, NITA-U has created an enabling environment for ICT to flourish by ensuring that the right laws, regulations and Policies are in place. These include the Electronic Signatures Act, The Electronic Transactions Act & the Data Protection & Privacy Act. In addition, Government put in place the Certification Framework to ensure improved quality of IT products and services, ensure consumer/client protection, and standards applicable to the IT industry. 305 IT firms have been certified and over 2,000 firms have been registered for IT certification.

Speaking of his fruitful tenure at the time he left office, Saaka Said “I am pleased to have served Uganda for the last 10 years in driving the digital revolution. I am honored to pass on the baton to Dr. Hawib Mugasa. We have accomplished much but there is still a lot that needs to be done. We need to lower the cost of the internet further to $20 per Mbps and I am confident the team I’m leaving behind will achieve this’’.

‘I am honored and thankful that H.E President Museveni, the ICT Ministers I have had the joy to serve under, and the NITA Board, who have given me an opportunity to play a significant role in changing lives of Ugandans for years to come,’. ‘I want to thank the team with whom for 10 years we’ve worked tirelessly to digitize the country. Always remember the journey has just begun.’’ Saaka concluded

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