LEFT-RIGHT: Emmanuel Katongole, Chairman of the Covid-19 Response Fund; NITA-U's Marketing and Communications Lead, Steven Kirenga and Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda at the launch of the Covid-19 crowdfunding platform last week. As, at May 3rd 2020 the Katongole committee had mobilised up to UGX7 billion in cash, UGX4 billion in pledges, 50 vehicles valued at UGX5 billion as well as food stuffs, medical equipment and others valued at UGX5 billion- altogether UGX 21 billion.

The Office of the Prime Minister has this morning unveiled a citizen fundraising platform aimed at assisting the government of Uganda in mobilising resources and funds from its citizenry and well-wishers to boost the coronavirus fight in the country.

Developed by the National Information Technology Uganda (NITA-U), the application utilizes the national electronic payment gateway to collect funds/donations from individual donors. The online system enables anyone with donations from as little as UGX 1,000 to make a contribution at their convenience (using a mobile phone or website).  

Prospective donors can visit https://covid.pay.go.ug/, to make donations from their mobile phone accounts. In the event one doesn’t have a smart phone, they can make a contribution using MTN Mobile Money by dialing * 165*4*4#ok.

A real-time funds counter shows a cumulative total of contributions as they are made; contributions can either be in cash or in-kind.  

Once one makes the contribution, they will be automatically added to the honorable wall of contributors.  

Commenting on this, the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda said, “We welcome this ICT initiative that will bolster our fundraising efforts. Using the online portal means Ugandans can still participate in the nationwide effort to combat Covid19 whilst maintaining the Ministry of Health guidelines of social distancing and avoiding the use of cash.”

NITA-U’s Executive Director, James Saaka, said: “The Covid-19 citizen fundraising platform will enable the participation of Ugandans who may wish to make donations but are limited by mobility, fear, language, proximity, and flexibility.”

Saaka told CEO East Africa last week in an interview that while making it easy and convenient for everyone around the world to donate, it will also minimise the use of cash and physical contact during donations which are known to increase the likelihood of transmission.

Up until today, most of the donations, many of them large, have been made face-to-face.

As of last week, the COvid-19 response fund had collected UGX7 billion in cash, UGX4 billion in pledges, 50 vehicles valued at UGX5 billion as well as food stuffs, medical equipment and others valued at UGX5 billion- altogether UGX 21 billion.

NITA-U’s James Saaka. His agency has been at the forefront of several e-government innovations

The committee aims to raise at least UGX170 billion.

Uganda at the end of Q3, 2019 had 26,401,509 registered mobile money users, out of whom 15,673,621 were active.

Other initiatives by NITA-U to fight Covid-19

Other than the crowdfunding platform, NITA-U has also developed a Covid-19 information portal that provides timely and accurate information on Covid-19 to the public, the media and policymakers. Accessible via www.Covid-19.gou.go.ug, the portal has several facts and figures such as the number of confirmed cases, recoveries, active and repatriated cases. It also has details on other statistics such as the demographic distribution of the disease as well as the chronological cumulative confirmed cases as and when they were confirmed.  It also has public education information on how to fight the disease.

For those without access to the internet, a free USSD helpline: (*260#ok) which allows citizens to request for a Covid-19 test, report a case, obtain district personnel information, a list of sample collection centres, RDC Contacts and Get SMS alerts, has also been developed.

NITA has also rolled out a dedicated 919 toll-free number across all telephone networks t help citizens answer all Covid-19 questions and inquiries as well as request for tests or report cases.

To also ease access to government services during the lockdown, the e-citizen portal (www.ecitizen.go.ug) has been refreshed, allowing users to access over 100 e-Services from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).   

UNICEF, together with the Government of Uganda through NITA-U and the Ministry of Education and Sports have also rolled out a free digital learning platform- Kolibri. The platform allows pupils, students and teachers in government schools to access content on mathematics, sciences, technology, arts, humanities and life skills in form of text, videos, interactive simulations and digital education games.

Just last week, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Jumia Uganda, a leading e-commerce company and NITA-U, launched an e-commerce platform that connects market vendors to consumers- allowing for contactless trade.

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About the Author

Muhereza Kyamutetera is the Executive Editor of CEO East Africa Magazine; strategic communications consultant, social-economic analyst and travel enthusiast based in Kampala.