Information and Communication Technology, a sector recognised as crucial to social and economic development by the East African Community (EAC), received meagre budget allocations for 2012/2013 in most of the regional grouping’s five member countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
East Africa is a leader in adoption of mobiles, and, led by Kenya, in adoption of mobile money and a string of technological innovations. The figures allocated by the different states, and the (non)-mentions of the ICT sectors in the spending blueprints for the coming year, seem to indicate that most EAC governments have surrendered the role of developing the ICT sector to private players – if they ever quite had the baton.
The Rwanda government, taking notable strides in promoting ICT infrastructure investments and enabling usage by citizens, put no figure to the sector’s portion of its US$ 2.32 billion budget. Uganda’s US$ 6.4 million ICT sector allocation is the highest in the last three years but represents a mere 0.13% of the budget.
Among the priorities for Kenya’s more than US $17 billion budget were implementing the new public sector reforms and the country’s new (2010) constitution, and funding the upcoming general elections. But it still made, by regional standards, a far larger allocation to ICT.
Tanzania, one of the region’s top misers as far as allocation to the ICT sector is concerned, increased duty on mobile telephone airtime, taking it to a league Uganda has for long dominated, where telephone services are taxed steeply.
In this June 2012 briefing paper, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) takes a peek into the East African ICT budget allocations and priorities for 2012/2013.