The Ugandan government has launched a free Wi-Fi service in the capital Kampala, as part of its efforts to expand Internet access to the public, according to AllAfrica.
The service, which is being overseen by the country’s National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U), is available between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. UTC on weekdays and between 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. UTC on weekends.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury but a necessity for all Ugandan citizens,” Information and Communication Technology Minister Frank Tumwebaze said. “The ICT sector must remain at the center of this country wide transformation steering Uganda to world class efficiency and productivity.”
On Friday, Tumwebaze announced the launch of the free Internet service via Twitter:
— Uganda Media Centre (@UgandaMediaCent) September 30, 2016
When questioned about the safety standards of the service, Mbonimpa said they have put in place industry standard security measures to ensure all government ministries offering the service are fully secured.
“We shall be monitoring usage when one logs in to flag suspicious usage patterns, and access will be checked through a firewall that protects the end users against an internet threat,” she explained.
Some have questioned the government’s commitment to providing free Internet to the public, saying the areas selected for the service (including in Kampala and Entebbe) usually see less foot traffic during the specified access periods.
Others believe the free Wi-Fi is another initiative by the Ugandan government to spy on its citizens.
#myUG seems to be the next Gov’t spy program. All those details for ‘free’ WiFi?
— Mac (@mukasa23) September 30, 2016
Tumwebaze insists that the government has invested in the National Backbone Infrastructure, a project that aims to connect major cities and towns and government departments in Uganda to the Internet.
He says top priority is being given to institutions of higher learning, hospitals, and local governments to ensure the service reaches the largest number of users who need to access critical information.