GoU’S Growing Opportunities in ICT Through Partnerships -By Moses Watasa
Globally, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is currently integral to all aspects of public and private endeavor – and will be, into the future. In Uganda, ICT is listed among the core development enablers, under our key policy documents – the National Vision 2040, National Development Plan (III) and the Government Manifesto, 2021-2026.
By way of leadership, President Museveni remains unequivocal, in articulating ICT, as an essential pillar for service delivery, private sector growth and wealth creation. So huge is its potential that ICT already employs over 1.3 million in Uganda, across the value chain.
Thus, through Ministry of ICT& National Guidance (MoICT&NG), Government (GoU) espouses a policy framework that guarantees a versatile ICT industry in Uganda. And, through our ICT Sector, and the Digital Transformation Program, GoU continues to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure, around the country. GoU has, in the last 6 years, invested about USD 500 million in ICT infrastructure. GoU will lay an additional 4,000 km of fibre within 5years, and deliver internet services to more unreached parts of Uganda.
GoU also continues building ICT incubation hubs, setting up and equipping ICT labs in institutions of learning and funding ICT innovations. GoU delivers targeted functional ICT skills for business actors, youth, women and persons with disabilities. Last year, MoICT&NG also supported Ugandan ICT start-ups, including Fin-Techs, to show-case their innovations, and gain international exposure at the Global ICT Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Currently, MoICT&NG is also promoting Uganda as an innovation and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Hub, to create more wealth and job opportunities, particularly for our youth. Alongside the head-way towards reducing the cost of the internet, GoU is promoting domestic manufacturing of ICT equipment like computers and smart phones, which are more affordable.
To keep-up with the fast-paced dynamics in the ICT sphere, GoU continues to harness partnerships that augment our adaptability to emerging trends. Areas of include telecommunications, information security, broadcasting, electronic information, Next Generation Networks, broadband roll-out and convergence networks.
Others are Artificial Intelligence, digital governance, digital economy, cyber-security, intellectual property aspects in ICT. Of interest, also, is managing Data Centres, BPO and possibilities from digital services including Fin-Techs.
MoICT&NG is already registering progress around the above and other ICT-related areas through partnerships with the likes of UNDP, Microsoft Corporation, HUAWEI Technologies, Telecom Corporations, Fin-Techs, Academia and ICT Research Entities, the Republic of Estonia, among others.
And, GoU continues to explore more such possibilities, for collaboration. In November 2022, President Museveni led a GoU delegation to Vietnam, to thrash out a broad partnership, with the East-Asia nation, including collaboration in the ICT space. Part of our haul from trip includes an understanding to share opportunities in areas, including the above.
We seek to further deepen the up-take and use of ICTs, to drive rapid economic growth in Uganda and Vietnam, and to optimize the opportunities there-from. MoICT&NG is, on behalf of GoU, following through with our counterpart Ministry in Vietnam, to implement the actionable areas, as jointly agreed upon.
ICT is, indeed, a key driver of GDP growth and socio-economic transformation. In so doing, ICT enables greater efficiency for purposes of E-commerce, E-Government services, automation/ digitization, communication, processing and sharing information, among others. The Parish Development Model, GoU’s current flagship community/household livelihoods’ enhancement program, is itself, hosted on an ICT-system, which according to feed-back, thus-far, has eased implementation, documenting and monitoring, at various levels.
The outlook is inspiring. And, we have a solid case for GoU to continue investing in ICT and harnessing productive partnerships, to grow and further unlock the immense possibilities, there-from.
Commissioner, Communication & Information Dissemination
MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE