The School of Management and Entrepreneurship of Kyambogo University has completed a setup of a modern computer laboratory using the state-of-art-technology with 144 workstations scalable to over 300 workstations. The setup is based on the latest N-Computing technology, a solution implemented by Netsoft Consulting Services (Pvt) Ltd of Uganda with Head Office in India and linked to NComputing Company of California in the US. NComputing is the fastest growing desktop virtualization company in the world, with more than 70,000 customers and 20 million daily users in 140 countries (NComputing.com).
The total investment of the new computer facility is about 260 million shillings, including furniture and other equipment, such as air conditioners, which shows a big saving as compared to standalone solutions. The money was derived from locally generated sources (NTR). This is the most modern and largest computing facility at Kyambogo University, with only nine (9) state-of-the-art computers ( i7 with16GB RAM) operating the 144 workstations.
NComputing technology solution allows multiple users (up to 45) to share one computer simultaneously. The solution is based on a simple fact that the current generations of computers are so powerful that vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. Therefore, the NComputing solution taps this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple users, thus maximizing the PC investment.
As the number of students continue growing, the need for computing facilities are increasing, yet the budgets do not increase proportionately. The way to go is to harness the NComputing’s desktop virtualization solution which enables increasing computing access within budget constraints.
NComputing vSpace™ virtualisation software works with standard Windows and Linux PCs and servers*, and each user’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and highly reliable NComputing access device/terminal. The access device/terminal itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts so it is easy to deploy and maintain.
NComputing technology comes with the following benefits:
- Reduces hardware costs by up to 75%
- Easy to setup, maintain and secure.
- Reduces on energy consumption as NComputing terminals use less power compared to host computers.
- Supports all standard applications including multimedia.
- Supports a wide variety of hardware and software.
- Cheaper and easier upgrades as only the host computers have to be upgraded.
The Vice-Chancellor of Kyambogo University, Professor Eli Katunguka-Rwakishaya says that the investment in ICT facilities is one of the pillars of the University Strategic Plan. Infrastructural developments, such as ICT facilities will make the University activities and processes relevant to the 21st Century. The University has already embarked on digitizing its strategic students’ information requirements through the e-kampus project, which has been successfully implemented with more potentials to be tapped. The investment in NComputing by the School of Management and Entrepreneurship is meant to widen access to computing facilities for students’ learning, which is a critical requirement by the National Council for Higher Education. Students should guard this new facility jealously to derive maximum benefit from it.
The Dean of the School of Management and Entrepreneurship, Dr Stephen Kasumba, says that the new computer lab facility will enhance teaching and learning in the School as well as in the University. The School has several business computing courses, such as computerised accounting, electronic business, and others, offered to students to integrate ICTs in their areas of specialization to make them highly competitive and relevant in the job market. With the high bandwidth internet installed in the new computing facility, students will be able to access useful lecture materials and latest online databases and articles to facilitate self-learning and research. “The University lecturers have been over teaching students. It is high time the students managed their learning”, the Dean said.
Investment in ICTs will help countries to redefine their destiny and a key driver in socio-economic transformation.
For instance, in 2004, while opening the Fort Hare University’s computer lab, the South African Minister of Science and Technology said:
The current world revolution is forever redefining the way we live by constantly changing the manner in which we work, play and organise our societies. Although the nature of this information revolution is still being determined, its implications, which are global and inescapable, are being felt with increasing force. The worldwide race for competitiveness is characterised by receding goalposts. Hence, the ability to maximise the citizen’s access to and use of information has become one of the most important factors deciding the competitiveness of countries. Our challenge is to develop our people’s digital literacy and advanced computer skills by putting in place facilities, such as this computer laboratory that will facilitate the successful diffusion of ICT. The ability to utilise ICT by communities will greatly facilitate processes of dealing with issues of social equity and help in addressing the needs of disadvantaged people and those living in rural areas.
In 2003, while addressing the Transform Africa Summit co-organised by the Government of Rwanda and ITU, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni said for ICT to be useful to people, it has to be relevant to their lives:
“ICT must help Agriculture and other fundamental sectors like industry and services for it to be a relevant tool. ICT is not only a facilitator but also a sector in itself. If we have to avoid problems, we have to integrate ICT in the entire economy, because making it a standalone sector would lead to problems.”
Meanwhile, Jean Philippe Prosper, Vice President of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean said IFC was committed to partnering with Africa to invest in ICT as one of the key economic drivers. He cited ICT as one of the reasons of Rwanda’s recent ranking by the World Bank as one of the best places to do business in the world, after emerging 32nd in the world.
The above citations are a reflection of the importance attached to not only investing in ICTs but also its integration in the socio-economic transformation of any country.