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Uganda Develops National Web Portal
Source: East African Business Week (Kampala)
Source Date: Monday, March 31, 2014
Focus: Health
Country: Uganda
Created: Apr 02, 2014

Kampala — Uganda's government has developed a Web portal that will ease the flow of information from its institutions to the general public.

Pius Mwinganisa the principal information officer at the Ministry of Information and National Guidance said the Government web portal will host all Government institutions.

It will help the public to access information from all the Government departments which has been a big challenge.

"The Government web portal will be a one stop information center where the public will access Government information.

"As a ministry, we shall ensure that all sectors avail the necessary information to us. This will allow our information and technology team to upload all the information to the central web portal," he explained.

The information officer disclosed this during the News Editor Breakfast meeting organized by the Ministry of Information and National Guidance in Kampala. The objective of the breakfast meeting was to equip news managers with the new proposed media code which the Government want to implement soon.

Mwinganisa, who is also the secretary to the Media Council of Uganda, noted that the central Government web portal will help Government, the General public and professionals like Journalist to monitor Government Institutions in services delivery.

He said journalists have been facing challenges in accessing Government information due to bureaucracy but with the portal all the information will be available to the general public. According to him, this will help Government in the fight against corruption.

In order to ensure that the portal functions excellently, the Minister of Information and National Guidance Rose Namayanja Nsereko said Government will ensure that all ministries and autonomous institutions that have been operating without official spokespersons recruits information officers who will be updating the ministry of information from their agencies on how their agencies ministries are implementing Government programs.

"Some Government ministries have been operating without an official spokesperson. This hinders the flow of information from such Government institutions. With the coming up of this web portal, all Government institutions will be mandatory to have substantive spokespersons who can comment on behalf of the organization in the absence of the minister, permanent secretary, or the Executive director in case of an Authority," he said.

The National Government web portal will be maintained by the office of the prime minister and it has been developed by the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA -U) and it can be accessed at www.gov.ug .

It is expected to be launched very soon by the president of Uganda.

The Government web portal will not only inform the public about Government programs but it will also act as an investment guide where the Government will be posting information concerning investment opportunities in the country.

On the new media code, the minister said Government is coming up with new Journalism and media reforms which will see journalists in the country registered by the media council and pay for the Practicing license certificates.

Namayanja observed that although the Government liberalized the sector in the early 1990s the Journalism professional has been highly infiltrated by non-professionals whom she said have killed the quality of journalism in the country.

"The Journalism professional in Uganda is the most disorganized one in the region. Where the sector is tightly monitored by the state, there is professionalism and that is where we want to go as Uganda. If the Government implements the 1995 Media statute we shall eliminate masqueraders in the profession," the minister said.

However, a cross section of the Editors who attended the meeting objected to the registration fee which they said is very prohibitive to ordinary journalists in Uganda who largely operate as freelance journalists.

In such cases they are paid per story. Others said Government wants to use the Journalism registration to control the freedom of expression.

"The Journalism sector should be regulated but Government should not regulate the sector by over charging the practitioners. Some of the charges which Government is suggesting should be dropped," said Babra Kaija the Editor in Chief of Uganda's leading daily Newspaper the New Vision.

Walter Isenged the Editor In Chief at East African Business Week said the profession should be regulated but the payment of the sum of Ush 200,000 or USD$ 80 per journalist for the license fee should not be implemented by Government.

According to the new regulations issued by the Information and National guidance minister, Rose Namayanja, in a statutory instrument entitled the Press and Journalist (fees) Regulations, 2014, journalists will be required to pay sh200,000 or USD$80 for a practicing certificate and sh100,000 (US$ 40) for renewing the certificate every year.

The new regulations also require journalists to pay sh5,000 (US$ 2) as application for enrolment and sh30,000 (US$ 12) for a certificate of enrolment. Furthermore, to have his certificate entered on the register of journalists, the journalist will have to pay sh50,000 (US$ 20).

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