Building capacity. Building capacity for ICT skills. Building capacity with Internet bandwidth. Building capacity for ICT services. This is the theme of working with UMU (Uganda Martyrs University) on their information and communications technology – building capacity. After the visit in Fall of 2009, an ICT assessment was drafted and submitted to the UMU administration for consideration. Lately, some problems with email have brought focus on how integral communications and technology are to an institution of higher learning and our partnership with their school. A positive point in the past few weeks is the first (and somewhat successful) Skype video call from ND to UMU, since the MTN bandwidth upgrade.
To provide some context, UMU sits about 80KM west of Kampala, so they are “off the beaten track” and they’re also a private university….<I have to admit, not sure how funding between private and public universities works in Uganda>. But the point is they are very different from the preeminent Makerere University, based in Kampala and supported (at least partially) by the Ugandan govt. Well known and well positioned. As they say, location, location, location.
So the remote location from the urban area of Kampala means that things like Internet access is more difficult to negotiate, though we did assist in working with MTN on getting UMU “Kampala city pricing”. Same expenses, but seven times the bandwidth. The preference would be to also have fiber presence on the UMU campus by UTL and Infocom, this would position them to better negotiate with their providers. This is one of our next goals.
Fast forward to April 2010, in conjunction with UMU ICT staff, we’ve recently completed a proposal to upgrade their ICT infrastructure from the ground up. Everything from new fiber optic cabling to all buildings, to new network switches, WIFI, servers (some), security, mobile, etc…so it will prove to be a fairly ambitious upgrade path. This is where capacity building plays an important role. The UMU staff is quite competent and skilled in ICTs, but the shear growth of their infrastructure will dictate a more committed involvment to move UMU forward with their technology needs and hence, their mission as an institution of higher education for Ugandans.