|I met our AIGP Asan Kasingye at the event|
I had the pleasure of attending a public dialogue on Access to Information hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the company of Uganda Government representatives from Ministers, Departments and Agencies.
The topic at hand was what government agencies had done to enable the public access information and majority of the replies from the representatives ranged from social media activity where citizens get timely responses, development of web portals for information dissemination and accountability, not forgetting magazines.
As much as the strides are notable especially in this digital age; I felt these public servants focused much more on the minority of users that is the technologically savvy urban person than the layman person who would like to access this information and represents majority of the population.
In a population of 38 million people as of June 2016, internet usage and access is at 31% with an even lower margin from a disability point of view. Many cannot afford the basic phone let alone smart phones which remain the cheapest method of internet and information access. Their low income statuses cannot sustain the possession of a smart phone coupled with the purchase of data.
Information access remains beleaguered by computer illiteracy where persons with disabilities are concerned. They lack basic skills in computer use if presented with one and it is far worse for blind persons with disabilities who need specialized equipment like JAWS (Job Access with Speech) which comes at a cost.
A lot of sensitization campaigns need to be carried out to inform the public on the availability of information access on prior mentioned platforms. They need to be shared and use tutored for full utilization because not all are knowledgeable of their existence.
To cap it off; the impenetrable mountainous terrain has made wider spread and coverage impossible invariably limiting access to both the internet and information in the deeper villages of the country.
More needs to be done to propel information access on a wider coverage regardless of the availability of services and tools. They alone cannot do much for that person with a disability living in a far off village without so much as awareness of their availability and use.