Parliament of Uganda is set to diversify the use of technology in an effort to enhance public participation in plenary and committee proceedings, and other activities of the House. This follows Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga’s directive to the ICT team at Parliament to develop a mobile application that will see Parliament ably achieve this.
The development comes at the time when the Speaker is attending the 25th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the commonwealth in Ottawa, Canada where Parliament of Uganda was hailed for its transparency and openness in deliberation of issues that affect Ugandans.
“Uganda’s Parliament has done quite a lot in being open to the public with a live broadcast that has been done for over 10 years, giving all Ugandans an opportunity to follow in real time, the goings-on in the House,” the conference convener commended Kadaga.
Besides the live broadcast that is shown on the national television, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), Parliament of Uganda also runs the annual Parliament Week that welcomes members of the public to access Parliamentary Chambers, obtain necessary information and interact with MPs about the affairs of their constituencies.
Parliament is now set to make a quantum leap giving both MPs and Uganda an opportunity to contribute to debate, submit on topics and access parliamentary resources on-the-go via a mobile application.
Although MPs already have iPads which makes it easy for them to use the application to send and receive messages and also research extensively on matters they intend to contribute, Kadaga said that public input into the legislative processes in the House is still lacking.
“Where I am not yet satisfied is the public input into our legislation. I asked ICT people to prepare this App but its taking a long time. I hope during this third meeting they will deliver because it is very essential that we able to reach out to the public on relevant discussion about the bills in committees,” Kadaga argued.
Kadaga also intimated that although the Parliamentary Commission established a radio station in the spirit of openness and public accountability, acquiring a frequency for it has been a big challenge.
“We already have the equipment, the studios but the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has not helped us in securing frequency. This is hindering our desire to interact with the public through radio so that the country can follow what Parliament is doing,” she added.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia, Nga Kor Ming told the conference that their Parliament has just handed over leadership of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to the opposition, a practice inspired by Parliament of Uganda.