The Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and National Guidance, in partnership with the GSMA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have held a high-level round table on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Uganda.
The event, graced by the Rt.Hon. First Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali drew the participation of ministers, leaders from mobile network operators – Airtel Uganda, Africell, MTN Uganda and Uganda Telecom – as well as development partners, who discussed how Uganda could advance the national and global sustainable development agenda through mobile-enabled digital transformation.
During the event a report was launched, which was prepared with the guidance of a multi-institutional technical committee, the above partners, as well as UN Capital Development Fund and Pulse Lab Kampala.
The report examines the transformative opportunities presented by mobile-enabled digital services in Uganda.
Accompanying this report is a draft action plan to be implemented over the next two years, outlining strategic mobile-enabled activities, which will address a range of challenges across sectors.
The round table reiterated the value of collaboration between the public and private sectors to harness mobile technology to deliver digital and economic inclusion.
It was agreed that the growing mobile connectivity presents an opportunity to accelerate development by enhancing the efficiency of public service delivery and introducing inclusive, integrated and innovative solutions that improve people’s lives.
While officially opening the event, General Moses Ali, noted that “To benefit from the fourth industrial revolution in which the key technology is mobile ICT, we need the right partnerships and a conducive legal and regulatory environment.
“ I am happy to note that the National Broadband Policy is an important step towards creating that environment. National dialogues like this one also show that we are moving in the right direction regarding partnerships.”
Vincent Bagiire, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance noted, “Mobile technology is evolving rapidly and shaping the way everyone conducts business.
“To the Government of Uganda, this presents an opportunity to not only reach everyone and provide consistent services but also involve them in identifying and solving problems that matter to them and will enhance their lives in the future.”
“Few other technologies have grown as fast as mobile. Offering the most widespread and inclusive means of accessing the internet and digital services, which is vital to the Ugandan economy and its growth in an increasingly connected world,” said Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA.
“Mobile is the key to maximising the impact of digital transformation and I am very excited about the future potential and to see our member operators building on the good work already started, through the dialogue they have undertaken today. It is crucial that all stakeholders build a collective vision to deliver on the vast opportunities mobile can deliver.”
Almaz Gebru, the UNDP acting Resident Representative emphasized that “We are living in a very dynamic digital era where technology can be leveraged for transformational change; we should, however, ensure that we bridge the digital divide so as to leave no one behind.’’
She highlighted the recently launched accelerator lab that UNDP has established in Uganda, which will contribute to action agreed under this partnership.
The lab is one of the next generation UNDP initiatives designed to strengthen innovation in development through identifying, building on, and investing in local solutions, to step up efforts to explore more agile, novel and responsive approaches to development challenges.
- Mobile is the primary form of internet connectivity for most people in Uganda with 20 million unique individuals, 44 per cent of the population, owning a mobile.1 Nearly half of these also access mobile internet services;
- By June 2018, there were nearly 10 million mobile internet connections in Uganda, a penetration rate of 24 per cent compared to just 174,000 fixed-line connections, representing a fixed line penetration rate of less than 1 per cent;
- Key platforms such as mobile money and Cellular IoT (Internet of Things) enable the creation, distribution and consumption of a wide range of digital services. For example, mobile money is now the main driver of formal financial inclusion in Uganda, with 22 million registered accounts compared to just 5 million registered accounts in traditional banks; and
- Mobile technology is having a notable impact in Uganda in:
o Productivity and efficiency
o Service delivery
o Good governance and social justice
o Climate change and the environment
o Digital entrepreneurship and emerging technologies.