WEEKLY REVIEW

Playing host to Sudan, Zambia

One sure way to tell that you are doing something right is to see other people coming to learn from you. Uganda Communications Commission is one of the best sector regulators in Africa, and this is evident from other countries lining up to learn from us. Over the last two weeks, the Commission has hosted two groups of officials from the regulatory bodies of South Sudan and Zambia.

Just as two senior officials from the National Communications Authority (NCA) of South Sudan were completing their one-week benchmarking visit at the Commission, in came their Zambian counterparts.

While the South Sudanese were interested in the way UCC functions in general, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) staff were here on a specific mission to study the administration and management of the Universal Access and Service Fund, which in Uganda is also known as the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF).

The Zambian authorities recently appointed a Fund manager as they bid to establish their version of a communications development institution. And what better model to learn from than Uganda’s RCDF, which has to date equipped at least 1,000 schools with modern computer labs, among other interventions geared towards taking ICT services to the unserved and underserved!

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UCC, US Embassy talk film

Meanwhile, the Uganda Film Festival (UFF), which is due next month, is attracting many admirers of its own, with the United States Embassy being the latest. As US Embassy officials paid a courtesy call on the UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi last week, top on the meeting’s agenda was the prospects of a partnership in support of Uganda’s film industry.

The host and the visitors, who included the Public Affairs Officer and Cultural Affairs Officer, discussed collaboration opportunities through capacity building programmes in American universities, as well as access to content designed and agreed upon by both UCC and the US Embassy.

The parties also discussed the possibility of the US Embassy’s participation in the forthcoming Uganda Film Festival 2019. The annual UFF, which is scheduled for 25th-29th November, was created by the Commission in 2013 to stimulate the domestic film industry to enable it achieve its full potential as a source of employment, revenue, and to preserve culture through local content.

It has since grown into one of the biggest events on the Ugandan social calendar, drawing the interest of film enthusiasts as well as corporate institutions. Confirmed partners for the UFF this year include Stanbic Bank, MTN Uganda, Multichoice Uganda and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).

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Two in Luzira over SIM card fraud

When their work premises were raided early this month, the suspects were found in possession of assorted SIM cards, voter registration lists, 28 forged national IDs, one forged refugee card and fake passports, among other items. This was enough to have the duo –a photographer and a teenage businesswoman – separately charged and remanded to Luzira Prison.

Joshua Katamba, 26, and Agnes Kirabo, 18, were arrested by detectives attached to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) after their illegal SIM card registration bubble bust.

Their arrest followed press reports that some unscrupulous persons were making money out of selling SIM cards using forged national identity cards or refugee cards.

Appearing before Her Worship Esther Nahirya of Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court, Katamba was charged with 10 counts, including altering national identification card numbers and refugee cards, making documents without authority, and forgery.

In one count, Katamba is accused of altering and modifying the refugee registration card number of one Makalulinda Malekera Ghyslain, while in another he is accused of “making” a national identification card in the names of one Esther Namulondo.

On her part, Agnes Kirabo is charged with disobedience of lawful orders on account of “vending Airtel and MTN SIM cards” in disregard of an order issued by UCC and the Police.

Both suspects denied the charges and were remanded to Luzira Prison until 1st November 2019.

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E-waste management training

As the universe continues on an irreversible course towards complete digitisation, it is easy to take for granted the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) without considering the side effects. One of these is e-waste.

However, the East African Communications Organisation (EACO) is not sitting back. The body that brings together communications regulators in the region adopted a strategy in 2017 that aims to achieve zero negative impact of e-waste in member states by 2030. With only eleven years to go, EACO’s work is well cut out. That is why, in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the East African communications body held a training programme on e-waste management at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala from 21st to 25th October.

Facilitated by an e-waste capacity building expert from the United Nations University and ITU, the first of its kind training was organised under EACO’s capacity building programme and the implementation of the regional e-waste management strategy adopted in 2017.

An estimated 30 participants, including government officials, policymakers, ICT regulators, national bureau of standards bodies and leading specialists in the e-waste management field in EA and beyond attended.

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‘Doctors of the IT space.’

Where problems exist, solutions must be found. Just as people bank on doctors to find solutions for their illnesses, all eyes are on ICT industry players to leverage technology to solve contemporary problems.

That was the message of Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance, when he addressed the 5th National Conference on Communications (NCC) at Makerere University.

“You are the doctors of the IT space,” Hon. Tumwebaze, the chief guest, told his audience of mostly university students, researchers, academicians, technology enthusiasts and industry players.

The two-day event was hosted by the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) in conjunction with UCC. Initiated in 2010, NCC offers students, researchers, application developers, and practitioners a platform to identify new research challenges, share solutions and discuss issues relevant to the communications sector.

Under the theme, Harnessing Opportunities in Emerging 4IR Technologies, this year’s edition sought to promote and stimulate research and debate around emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things, unmanned vehicles, 3-D printing and blockchain.

In his speech, the UCC Executive Director, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi argued for relevant education.

“To successfully harness the opportunities presented by Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, our challenge is how to make our education system responsive to today’s needs and challenges,” he said.

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All set for WRC 2019

For a regulator like UCC, harnessing opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution includes keeping up with international trends and standards in the communications sector. Participating in the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19), which is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from October 28 to November 22, 2019, is one way. The conference is organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for information and communication technology.

Held every four years, the WRC’s main task is to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio frequency spectrum, and satellite technology.

In line with Sections 5(1)(h)(i)(q) and 25 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, UCC is coordinating Uganda’s participation in the conference that is expected to attract approximately 3,500 delegates. 

The World Radiocommunication Conference seeks to harmonise existing spectrum allocations and also make new ones to facilitate radio communication or wireless innovations.

Participating in the Conference ensures that national spectrum allocations are globally harmonised. With that, Uganda would not be limited as a country on where to get the latest technology and devices.

The Ugandan delegation to the meeting is led by the UCC Executive Director Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, with the Commission’s Director of Engineering and Communications Infrastructure Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo leading the technical team.

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