TOPICT: The Government’s Agenda to achieve gender diversity in the development and use of ICT products and services
IntroductionIt is a pleasure to be part of the HiPipo Women in FinTech Summit. On behalf of Government and the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance(MoICT& NG), I wish to congratulatethe organizers for yet delivering another milestone. It is only in July 2020, that you invited me here at the end of the “40 days 40 Fintechs initiative” under which forty leading Fintech Companies received forty days of nurturing and market preparedness by Digital Impact Awards Africa or HiPipo (U) Ltd.
I, therefore appreciate all the efforts you put in supporting the development of the ICT industry in this country. In addition, I wish to congratulate in a special way the Women in ICTs and Fintech industry who have strongly exhibited their capability to deliver world class services and products!Once again, I am very pleased to officiate at this private sector led initiative that is aimed at promoting the participation of women in technology especially Financial Technology (FinTech).
ICTs for National Development; The Government of Uganda recognizes Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a key driver of efficiency and effectiveness in production processes for socio-economic transformation. Most importantly, H.E. the President Yoweri Museveni, demonstrated this by creating a dedicated Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in 2006.
The Ministry is mandated to provide strategic and technical leadership, overall coordination, support and advocacy on all matters of policy, laws, regulations and strategy for the ICT sector. It also ensures sustainable development; harnessing and utilization of ICT to enable the country achieve her development goals. This is guided by Vision 2040, the National Development Plan and various ICT policies, laws and strategies.ICTs play an important role in National development as they provide a critical communication platform that connects communities and businesses at both local and international levels. In addition, when ICTs are optimally deployed, they also bring about efficient and effective delivery of services to the citizens.
Women and ICTs The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human capital and talent, the skills, education and productivity of its workforce. Women account for one-half of the potential talent base throughout the world, according to ITU’s report “A bright future in ICT opportunities for a new generation of women”.
As a significantly productive work force in any community, it is important that women have access to and use ICTs to enhance and support their businesses and other aspects of their lives.Women in Uganda are increasingly adopting ICT in their businesses which have provided them with the opportunity to engage in online trade to purchase goods and services, to advertise their products online and gain access to regional and international markets. ICTs also provides access to information such as jobs advertised online, information on prices of goods and services, and other vital information to further enhance women’s economic participation.
At MoICT and NG we support ICT startups, innovation hubs and female focused organizations, nurturing and mentoring young girls in ICT fields and careers. Empowering women and ensuring that they reach their maximum potential.4. Achievements of Government of Uganda.
The Government has in the recent past undertaken a number of initiatives geared at promoting the availability and use of ICTs in Uganda. These initiatives include: Creation of a conducive legal and regulatory environment. The GoU has setup a conducive legal regime that has supports the growth of the ICT sector including digital financial services and other services or products offered by FinTechs. Examples of these legal and policy instruments include: The Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019)–aimed at regulating the collection and processing of personal information; the Computer Misuse Act (2011) aimed at the safe use of ICTs and the e-transactions Act (2011) aimed at protecting online transactions among others.
Girl Child Protection; the Ministry is proud to have worked with its Agencies and other Government Entities to establish the Sauti 166 toll free help line which provides a much needed avenue for children to speak up and report violence being perpetrated against them. The facility has counselors and case workers working full time to receiving calls that come from children especially the Girl Child and providing them with guidance and counseling.
National ICT Initiatives Support Programme (NIISP) –this program under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance was established to support the creation of an Innovation ecosystem and marketplace for local ICT products has extended over 40% of the grants to Women Innovators or majority women led organizations. I am reliably informed that Gender mainstreaming is one of the selection criteria for this program. I therefore encourage more women to participate in this program when the next call for applicants is made.
Opportunities for Women in ICTs Employment Opportunities; The diversity of ICTs available today, ranging from the traditional radio and television broadcasting, telecommunications, Information Systems, new media such as Facebook or Twitter and the emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence etc. all have one common thing in that they present immense opportunities to fellow women. For instance, it is a fact that most presenters on TV or radio are women. However, information available indicate that we still need a critical mass of high end skills such as software and hardware engineers among others.
Access to developmental Information; ICTs enable both rural and urban women to access developmental information such as health care, agriculture and trade information which helps them to improve their lot. Also not forgetting that these ICTs help the women to connect with a diverse range of people, thus allowing them to make more and better-informed decisions.
Financial Inclusion;Hither to many women have been un banked. However, the onset of innovative and alternative banking services such as mobile money and money agents have seen more women benefiting from these financial services.
E-services and Citizens Participation; Increasing Government is taking public services online. In addition, theCOVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the need for social distancing thus promoting the use of e-services.
The online delivery of public services has in turn provided a much needed opportunity for women to access these services. Already, both the Government and the private sector are busy exploring more ways of delivering services such as scientific elections, e-learning, e-campaigns among many others.
Way ForwardGoing forward these are some of the strategies that we need to adopt in order for women to benefit more from ICTs: We need to develop and implement strategies that promote the access and usage of ICTs by Women.
As a sector we need to implement interventions that remove roadblocks to access and usage of ICTs by women such as reducing the digital divide between urban and rural dwellers by availing ICTs to the un derserved communities; promoting the digital literacy of Women so that more can use ICTs; Dangers of ICTs; In order to maximize benefits from use of ICTs, we need to be cognizant of the dangers and risks brought about by digitization that include cyber-crimes such as identity theft, online bullying which sometimes culminate into rape, kidnap or even murder.
Therefore, I call upon all of us to promote responsible and safe usage of ICTs so that we avoid these risks and dangers. Increased collaboration among stakeholders–there is need for continued engagement and collaboration among the elite women in the ICT space so as to consolidate our achievements so far while at the same strategizing to leave no body.
Therefore, each one of you has a critical role to play in empowering fellow women to access and use ICTs for their betterment.In conclusion, it is important for all of us to appreciate the enormous opportunities for women in ICTs such as easier access to improved service, increased employment opportunities and financial inclusion for the un banked communities among very many others.
Lastly, I urge you all to continue observing the SoPs as we combat the spread of COVID-19!I thank you all for listening to me. For God and My Country!
Judith Nabakooba (MP)
MINISTER OF ICT AND NATIONAL GUIDANCE