By Paul Tentena
Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has officially launched the Huawei DigiTruck project in Uganda to provide free digital skills training for more than 10,000 beneficiaries over three years.
The DigiTruck project falls under the umbrella of Huawei’s TECH4ALL initiative, the company’s long-term action plan for driving inclusion and sustainability across the globe.
“I have launched the Huawei DigiTruck project in Uganda. Aproject that will benefit over 10,000 Ugandans in a span of 3 years especially jua-kali, enterprise owners, women, young girls aand students through Digital Skilling,” said President Museveni in a tweet shortly after the Launch.
“Digital transformation is one of the key drivers of effective human capital development, it therefore gives me pleasure to launch this Huawei Project,” he added.
“Digitization of Jua-Kali enterprises will create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the informal sector as it will enable small businesses to participate in regional and national trade. It will expand the customer landscape and allows businesses to provide clients with a greater range of services and products.
The training will also improve financial inclusion through improved ability to operate mobile money operations. The training will expand employment opportunities especially in rural areas, where some youth can start enterprises such as mobile money, secretarial services among others.” Said Col. Rtd Okello P. Charles Engola, Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations.
Running in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development and an international social enterprise Close the Gap, the Uganda DigiTruck project is aligned with the nation’s 2040 vision, National Development Plan, and Education Digital Agenda Strategy.
The focus of these initiatives includes promoting digital foundation skills, digital communications and information, digital transactions, using the Internet for problem-solving, online safety, civic responsibility, and data privacy, which will promote digitalization of the Informal Sector (Jua-Kali) enterprises for productivity & Job growth in Uganda.
Alongside women, other intended beneficiaries of the Uganda DigiTruck are youth, people with disabilities, and those involved in ‘Jua Kali’ businesses – Uganda’s informal sector of micro and small enterprises.
“As an international social enterprise that exists to bridge the digital divide, Close the Gap believes that access to digital skills is key to empowering individuals economically and socially,” said Francisca Muema, DigiTruck Project Manager from Close the Gap.
“To reach underserved communities in remote areas where there is no power and connectivity, we designed the DigiTruck: a state-of-the-art mobile classroom that’s solar powered and fully connected.
The DigiTruck program is coordinated with development and training partners globally to close the access and knowledge gap in digital literacy so that no one is left behind.”
Converted from a used shipping container, DigiTrucks are mobile classrooms mounted on trucks. Fully solar-powered, their mobility enables them to be driven to remote and underserved communities that lack training facilities and, in some cases, a power supply.
Each 40-hour course trains students in digital literacy skills such as how to use devices, office software, and the Internet, alongside soft skills such as writing a resume, applying for jobs online, and running an online business.
Connected by 4G, each DigiTruck can accommodate 20 learners in one session and comes equipped with the Huawei IdeaHub smart screen, 21 Huawei smartphones, and 21 Huawei laptops, all of which run on solar power installed on top of the truck.
The project is also part of Huawei’s broader approach of building ICT skills capabilities in Uganda with its partners.
“The Huawei DigiTruck project aims to transfer ICT skills to the jua-kali enterprise owners in the 4 main regions of Uganda.
This project will enable people in the most rural areas of Uganda to obtain ICT Skills which will boost their already existing enterprises and ideas to tap into e-commerce platforms like marketing etc.
ICT is a key driver in for economic empowerment and with this we will be able to contribute towards narrowing the digital divide in Uganda.” said Gao Fei, Managing Director for Huawei Uganda. “This is why we have our slogan ‘A better You for a Better Uganda’ and ‘Leaving No one behind’ because it starts with you to have a better Uganda and we need to ensure that we are all leaving no one behind as we all promote the digital agenda.”