About two years back, President Museveni asked Auditor General John Muwanga to carry on an audit of the e-government fiber project that was being implemented by Huawei Technologies with a loan from Exim Bank of China. This was due to some queries about the cost and quality of work done. Last week, President Museveni has ordered Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to block an impendent approval of an extra loan to Huawei Technologies.
The directive was made after the president finally read the Auditor General’s letter which shows that the project cost had been blown out of proportion and poorly procured. According to the Daily Monitor, the Auditor General’s report shows that during the implementation of the first two phases, the e-government National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) and the Electronic Government Infrastructure (EGI) projects, “the approximate loss or amount of money or savings that could have been made if better advised is $41.9m (about Shs116b).”
From consultations with different telecoms and reviewing of the bills of quantities for the project, Mr Muwanga said he reached an inevitable conclusion that “the project price was grossly inflated.”
“There was a lot of unnecessary equipment that was deployed to different transmission stations, some of which is still not being used to-date. We also noted that the cost of fibre per kilometre was significantly higher than that for many of the local operators in Uganda based on the review of the bills of quantities, some of whom have also had Huawei Technologies implementing their optic fibre cable projects,”
the Auditor General observed in his report.
The aim of the project was to slowly reduce the dependence of using the satellite link for telephones and other forms of data transmission, to reduce related costs for the government by half. It was planned to be implemented in four phases, three of which were to be financed by a $106m (about Shs293.5b) loan from China.
- Phase 1 & Phase 2 Was aimed to link all government departments and agencies whereas the second phase would link Uganda to Kenya in the east and South Sudan to the north.
- Phase 3 was to link to the border with Rwanda.
The project is part of an East African Community terrestrial fibre optic cable covering 15,600km, which is supposed to link all the five EAC countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, to the rest of the world through the under-sea cable in Mombasa.