Residents of Ugandan capital Kampala began enjoying free internet services from last week. Announcing the launch of the free Wi-Fi service on 1 October, the country’s Minister of Information, ICT and Communication Frank Tumwebaze said, “We will be providing free Wi-Fi services between 6pm and 6 am on weekdays, and at the weekends. Wi-Fi will also be free from Saturday 3pm through to Monday 6 am."
The service, which was launched in association with the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA U), is under a trial run in Kampala's central business district and parts of Entebbe. The minister added that the trial launch of free Wi-Fi services, which coincided with the Kampala Capital City Authority Street Carnival on 2 October, would allow revelers to enjoy the service throughout the day.
"Internet access is no longer a luxury but a necessity for all Ugandan citizens. The ICT sector must remain at the center of this countrywide transformation, and steering Uganda to world class efficiency and productivity," Mr. Tumwebaze said.
He said the roll out of free internet has been made possible because of investment in the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) whose 3rd phase is nearing completion. The minister added that rolling out NBI has helped government agencies increase productivity, efficiency and reduced costs of internet bandwidth. Mr. Tumwebaze went on to note, "Internet costs have reduced from US$1,200 per megabit per second (Mbps) per month in 2010 and to $300 today."
Meanwhile, Dr. James Saka, the executive director NITA U, clarified that since the service would be shared between government agencies and the public, the capacity provided will be up to Mbps.