Uganda has a population of about 37 million inhabitants, whose 48% are under the age of 14 and 84% are living in rural areas. The primary school enrolment rate is 91% and the literacy rate is 78.9% (male 85.3% and women 71.5%). Uganda is building on an atmosphere of peace, economic liberalization and macroeconomic stabilization and progressed slightly on the Human Development Index - ranking the country 161th out of 187.
Uganda has made good progress towards achieving some of the targets set out in its Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) although regional inequalities remain. Sound governance, including transparency and accountability, is not yet a universal norm, resulting in high percentage of Ugandans living in disadvantaged rural areas with hunger and food insecurities.
Concerning gender equality, Uganda has an Index value of 0.517, ranking it 110 out of 148 countries in 2012. Gender inequality and the lack of respect for the human rights are both a cause and consequence of poverty and low educational attainment.
ICTs in the country
The “Uganda Vision 2040” is a guiding document which identifies ICTs among the key foundations to spur Uganda’s transformation into a modern and prosperous country. The ICT sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors in Uganda’s economy at an average of 20.5% per annum (2011/2012) and contributing to an average of 2.4% to the country GDP per capita growth in 2012. Uganda’s ICT development index has grown steadily from 1.53 in 2010 to 1.81 in 2012, improving from 136th to 130th position in the same period. ICT uptake is hampered by the poor spread of infrastructure, low literacy levels, high cost of access, and minimal local content online.
Local radios in the country
In recent years, there has been a tremendous growth in the radio industry with over 25 radio stations establishment, majority of which are commercial radios, and 12 community radio stations. A 2012 report, titled "National Electronic Media Performance" describing the audio-visual sector, expressed concerns over the media's role in enhancing political and cultural diversity because of interference by government, private owners, advertisers and other powerful players. This compromises the Ugandan media’s diversity and highlights the need for better editorial independence. Therefore the "Empowering Local Radios with ICTs" project will help increase knowledge among radio staff about ICTs for improved programming, editorial work, communication and interaction, broadcasting and delivery, financial planning and management and further enhance its editorial independence as a result.
Importance to support local radios
Since their inception, community radio stations have focused on spreading information for development purposes, especially in rural areas. Traditionally community radios in Uganda have been promoting health, education, sports and community dialogue. A recent assessment of community broadcasting in the country points to the need to support community radio in establishing a sustainability framework to improve management structures, and build capacity in content development and radio broadcasting. The survey also highlights listeners views that local radios needs to air more local content and engage better with community members. The need for local content is the highest regarding news and current affairs, followed by entertainment, social/ cultural/ family uses, and educational/ developmental uses, cutting across gender lines and urban and rural locations.