The telecom sector’s contribution to the tax revenue hit Shs1.1 trillion, up from Shs131b in 2016 as of December 2020, according to Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
In November last year, President Museveni named telecom company MTN as the highest taxpayer with expected annual returns of Shs701b, followed by Airtel with Shs500b.
Ms Judith Nabakooba, the minister of ICT and National Guidance, said ICT services have continued to grow at a fast growth rate.
“ICT services in Uganda continued to grow at an impressive average growth rate of 14.8 per cent during the period (2014/15 to 2019/20). ICT grew by 21.9 per cent in 2019/20, contributing 3.5 per cent to total services added to the economy,” Ms Nabakooba said in her manifesto presentation.
For example as per ministry of ICT, mobile money agents increased from 119,581 in 2016 to 235,790 in 2020, Internet penetration increased to 52 per cent last year from 25.03 per cent in 2016.
Ms Nabakooba said the country online service index has improved from 50 per cent in 2016 to 58.24 per cent last year, which puts the country in the high online service index bracket of the United Nations.
“Seventy one per cent of government services are offered electronically via institutional websites, email, social media, SMS and mobile applications,” Ms Nakooba said.
To enable sharing of data in a rational and efficient way, government is set to launch UGhub, a systems integration platform through National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) this year, which will save both government and citizens time and resources.
According to the Ministry of ICT, this will improve service delivery to citizens as well as reporting, planning and decision making across ministries and government agencies.
However, Ms Nabakooba said the ministry is still faced with challenges such as low funding coupled with persistent budget cuts to the sector and a high taxation regime affecting adoption of ICT, among others.
“UBC has an accumulated debt portfolio of more than Shs75b, including the principal, penalties and interest on funds owed to NSSF, URA, Umeme and NWSC,” Ms Nabakooba said. Despite the challenges, the Ministry of ICT has planned to focus on reduction of cost of ICT devices and services, promoting innovation and commercialisation of ICT products, among others in its next five-year plan.
For example, the ministry plans to reduce unit cost of low entry smart phones from Shs100,000 to Shs60,000 or lower, and cost of a computer from Shs1.6m to Shs800,000, among others, create 500,000 direct and indirect jobs within the ICT sector, and provide 80 per cent of government services online, among others.