By John B. Thawite
District Information Officer, Focal officer E-society resource centre
Synoptic background to the E-Society
When I started working in Kasese in 1997, one of my cherished dreams was to establish a resource centre for my district.
But the question was how, given the ever-dwindling local revenue on which my department entirely depends.
In 2006, Kasese initiated the public-private partnership (PPP) strategy, one of whose focal areas was to harness the available but scattered financial, human and technical resources in the district to synergise service delivery.
Thus, the district) the public) and her stakeholders – the private and the civil society organisations – came together to chart a common development path, which came to be known as the Kasese District development path initiative.
The partnership was consolidated with the official launching of the PPP initiative in December 2006, at which the permanent secretary Ministry of Local Government, was the chief guest.
It was against this background that Kasese district local government and one of her development partners, the Rwenzori Consortium for Civic Competences (RWECO), got into dialogue, to see the idea of resource centre would be addressed.
After a series of consultations, RIC-NET, a RWECO member organisation, and Kasese district signed an MoU under which the facility, which we are happy to be commissioning today as the E-Society resource centre – came to be born.
December 2009 is another historical date in the history of this facility for it was the time when RIC-NET, true to their word, started delivering 12 computers, a printer/photocopier/scanner.
This was to be later followed with the installation of a LAN (local area network) and an internet modem, a carpet and other assorted items.
At this point, I wish to recognise the Education Department for having sacrificed what should have been their board room for us to install the facility that is being commissioned today.
It is therefore, my unequalled pleasure to be alive to see my brain-child now talking the walk and walking the talk.
In other articles in this publication, other writers talk of the various online and offline ICT services that we provide.
Established in December 2009, in the spirit of the PPP, the centre is located in the District Information Office in the Education block, at the district headquarters.
The facility is aimed at bringing the society of Kasese into purview of electronic usage for poverty alleviation to improve their social, economical, health, cultural and educational status of the Kasese community.
Thus, it is hoped that the e-Society will answer the issue of inadequate access to timely and relevant information, a key aspect that limits citizen's effective participation in the planning and monitoring processes in the district.
In this way, we hope to use the facility as district to actualise our vision: to have a poverty-0free-socity.
Convinced that information is power,, we take note that poverty does not only manifest in inadequacies of the material things but it is also a mental phenomenon.
I wish to register my gratitude to the following for all the unreserved support towards the development of this facility.
• The Humanist Institute for Cooperation with developing Countries, (HIVOs), the European Union , the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) through the Rwenzori Information Centres Network (RIC-NET) and (RWECO) for their technical, financial, moral and material support.
• We are also grateful to the sitting Government of Uganda for the enabling environment which has and continues to enable the international community to support us in our development endeavours.
• The Kasese district administrative leadership for financially, materially and morally supporting me in my endeavour.
• The District Education Officer for sparing the departmental board room.
• The Kasese-based local civil society organisations for their great cooperation in moving this centre forward.
• I wish to particularly thank Mr John Silco Murugahara, the RIC-NET Executive Director for working tireless to make the centre what it is today.
• I also thank our VSO volunteer, Mr Raja Mohan, our systems advisor, the RIC-NET staff, Edwin Bwambale, Yosia Baluku, Agnes Kabugho and others for their respective roles in shaping the centre into a usable facility that it is today.
My appeal to all stakeholders within the PPP spirit is for us to not only utitlise the facility but also to continue working together for its self -sustainability.
As part of this sustainability strategy, we have established an administrative structure, the E-Society Governing Body (ESGB) chaired by the Chief Administrative Officer and comprising members from various development partners, under the PPP spirit.
We are also developing a strategy in which we spell out the future of the facility.
Wishing you a happy commissioning.