By HOMELAND MEDIA TEAM
The government has started the process of laying down the infrastructure for G6 Internet, which is expected to be implemented in the country next year, amidst concerns that it may not be used to generate wealth.
Speaking at the TechnoServe’s Inaugural Entrepreneurship Stakeholder’s Forum in Kampala, Nyombi Thembo, the Director of Universal Access Fund at the Uganda Communications Commission said, the challenges of connectivity in Uganda will soon be history, but that limitations to IT will remain illiteracy and high costs of gadgets. He said many Ugandans are using their high-tech phones for chatting on social media and not for innovating or looking for job opportunities, even as they demand higher-generation networks.
TechnoServe, a US-based NGO working to help people in developing countries out of poverty, works in more than 40 countries in developing regions, through collaboration with other stakeholders, in different sectors. The forum organized under the theme: “Innovation and Inclusion: Collaboration for Sustainable Entrepreneurship Ecosystem,” was aimed as a platform for stocktaking, fostering relationships, and addressing challenges within the entrepreneurial sector.
Thembo said the government, with the help of the World Bank, is implementing the construction of more than 200 internet sites around the world, on top of establishing fully equipped resource centers in different parts of the country to boost SMEs. To make connectivity and access more relevant to the country’s development agenda, Thembo cautioned that politicians will be compelled to include the issue of internet connectivity in their manifestos, or “they will get problems”.
The micro, small, and medium enterprises in Uganda and other developing countries, have found it hard to march with the rest of the world in innovations due to limited resources, especially finances and skilled manpower. This also arises from the inability for the SMEs, especially in unattractive sectors like agriculture, to access finances to fund their operations.
Alice Warweru, the Director for Entrepreneurship Programs for East Africa at TechnoServe said they are working to empower rural enterprises, especially in farming to be able to take advantage of the digital reformation in the country. However, she says, the farmers and other entrepreneurs, meet challenges of limited resources because they like working as individuals instead of associating.
TechnoServe says their main challenge is the collapse of the enterprises just a few years after they are formed, hence the need to empower innovators and entrepreneurs with skills to manage their ventures sustainably.
Julius Byaruhanga, Director of Policy and Business Development at the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, says the problems with SME development in Uganda are because the country has no Startup Policy. He says they are working with the support of the Trade Ministry to develop one.
TechnoServe has been actively collaborating with Entrepreneurs, Ugandan farmers, cooperatives, suppliers, and processors focusing on dairy, coffee, horticulture, maize, and beans to foster competitive industries. Juliet Kyokunda, Country Director of TechnoServe Uganda, highlights the importance of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to the economy.
Citing the price fluctuations in vanilla on the world market as an example, she said that sometimes the small farmers encounter challenges that they have no solution, hence the need to be helped with alternatives.