iPads for Ugandan MPs
By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda
In a move aimed at cutting the stationery costs threefold, Ugandan legislatures have received iPads which will help them carry out their duties within and outside the parliament.
The move, which is line with the government’s bilateral partnership with the government of South Korea to enhance e-governance in the country, will enable adoption of technology to cut costs in their discharge of constitutional duties.
The over 375 legislatures and ministers are also expected to improve efficiency through this initiative and foster service delivery to the masses. The Speaker of Parliament, Rebbeca Kadaga, who presided over the handing over the gadgets to the lawmakers ,challenged them to now become more active and participatory with all the house business.
“This now brings an end to any excuses; all committee reports and ministerial statements will be sent electronically. These tools are for parliamentary business and therefore I hope that you will become more proactive than has been the case. I also expect quick service delivery because by the click of a button we shall be able to communicate. The new dawn will gradually eliminate the lengthy paper process,” explained Kadaga.
The move was welcomed by the parliamentary committee on Information Technology which has over the years advised government to roll out e-governance. With available statistics indicating estimates of about $12 million spent by the government on stationery annually, experts observed that such a move for e-governance will slash the high expenditure stationery expenditure by three fold. The Vice Chairperson, for parliamentary committee on I.T Vicent Bagiire is among the personalities who has for long questioned the rationale of spending over $12 million on stationery and courier services when the deepening of technology can be adopted to cut the cost.
In order to facilitate the success of the initiative, many of the legislatures who are not tech savvy and are not conversant with the applications and general operation of the gadgets will undergo user training schedules which have been organized by the parliament. Bagiire supported the organized training noting that it will help foster the familiarization and adoption of the tools by the members. “It makes no sense to give people iPads, yet some of them don’t know how to use them.”
The iPad project, which cost about $400,000, has cost uproar among some civil society groups, who argue that the members of the legislature earn handsome salaries and therefore should be able to afford the gadgets on their own. However, proponents of e-governance observe that for success and smooth implementation of the project, the state had to take a lead role and in the long run, the initiative is aimed at minimizing costs and efficiency in service delivery.