My visit to Uganda

Reflections on my visit to Uganda in October 2009.
In October, I traveled with a team from the University of Notre Dame, to perform an ICT assessment for a partner school Uganda Martyrs University.
Much of my research prior to the visit revolved around improved access to the Internet and the fledgling research network RENU (Research and Education Network of Uganda). It seems there is a great deal of interest in both Kenya and Uganda with the new SEACOM submarine fiber optic cable that made landfall in June 2009.
The visit involved a review and assessment of the current ICT environment at UMU. In addition to reviewing the ICT at UMU, we also held meetings with RENU, MTN, UTL, Makerere University and the US Embassy.
One of the goals was to get a sense for the connectivity options in Uganda and how, if any, the presence of the SEACOM fiber has affected Internet pricing and options. At the time the only providers that have signed up on SEACOM were UTL and Infocom.
The meeting with MTN provided good information on the status of the TEAMs fiber cable and it’s planned landfall in Nov/Dec timeframe.
During our short week in Uganda we also had time to visit the Nnindye Villages. The time spent in the vilages opened my eyes to the less fortunate in their country.
We saw a rural medical clinic that seems to be making a difference with their vacination programs and spoke with the doctor about malaria cases and how they affect the local villages. In addition we traveled to an open well where rural Ugandans came from up to one kilometer to haul “fresh” water.
Finally, we met with some of the village leaders to listen to their plans and concerns for the villages. The biggest challenges revolved around increasing their profit margin on their crops (mostly Matooke), reducing the expenses for transporting their crops to market and increasing crop yield by eliminating pests. This proves to be very interesting, in light of the research I’ve been conducting on ICT4D.
More on the Uganda visit later.

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