My little observation about EFRIS going forward

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My little observation about EFRIS going forward
Most shops remained closed in the CBD on Tuesday | Courtesy-Radio Pacis

Edward Balidawa

Apart from reviewing the hurried manner in which the system was rolled out to the traders without enough prior proper sensitization, there are key cardinal issues that must be addressed if the system is to be operational effectively.

As we know it, EFRIS point-of-sale machines do depend on the Internet for connectivity to record a sale with the URA system.

Therefore, the three issues that need to be addressed are:

1. Internet Connectivity

2. Internet Reliability

3. Internet Affordability

It is understood that EFRIS isn't limited or only intended for the traders and businesses in Kampala or major towns but for all across the country. The purpose is to enable URA to be able to effectively collect payable taxes across the entire business and trade chain in the country.

However, it is a known fact that, although the efforts of the government to establish a countrywide Internet connectivity through the installation of the National Backbone Infrastructure project of laying optic fibre coupled with the provision of the Last Mile connectivity that commenced in 2006, to this date, there are still areas of the country that are not yet Internet-connected.

There are still areas in which although are connected, the quality and reliability of the Internet connection is poor.

But also worth noting is that even in those areas where seemingly there is an Internet connection like Kampala and the major towns, the cost of accessing and maintaining the Internet connection is very high.

A case in point is that due to those three factors, Uganda has continued to lag in reaping the potential dividends from leveraging the Internet to achieve critical participation in E-Learning, E-Health, E-Employment, E-Investment Promotion and Virtual Tourism.

All Local Government Districts, Government Schools and Government Health facilities across the country have failed to maintain their presence on the Internet due to those three impeding factors mentioned.

So, for EFRIS to work, there is a need for the following entities to have a joint meeting, the Ministry of ICT, UCC, NITA-U, and ROWAD company that is supposed to take over UTEL plus the NBI as is reported to have been directed by the H.E, the President.

The benefit of this interaction will not only be to ascertain how best and efficiently can Internet connectivity be spread and enabled throughout the country, but also most importantly on how there can be reliability, consistency of that connectivity and affordability. Needless to say, as far as most Ugandan Internet users are concerned, the cost of the Internet is very high and most times it is prohibitive for any meaningful online transaction.

Hopefully, these issues will be sorted before the traders are required to use EFRIS in it's earnest.

Edward Baliddawa is a Former Member of Parliament

Contact: 0772502121

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