It has been proven that what drives success in modern government, business, philanthropy, sports, or even entertainment today, is how each organisation harnesses technology.
Uganda is one of those countries taking the path to invest massively in technological infrastructure.
With this infrastructure, which ranges from the national backbone (NBI) by NitaU to the e-passport in the ministry of Internal Affairs, the City Address Model and Mass Property Valuation system (CAMPV) by KCCA to the CCTV project, Uganda is surely marching towards the right direction.
At the centre of these projects is the desire to build a modern, technologically savvy society, whose functions are more efficient and effective. Without claiming prophetic gift, I see a digital Uganda, with a much more efficient workforce, reduced red tape, less bureaucracy and corruption tendencies in government offices, while citizens access services in the shortest time possible. In the process, they will save time and money which can be invested elsewhere.
This will definitely spur growth and breathe fresh air in several government departments, to make life better for Ugandan citizens.
However this jump cannot take place without the inclusion of ordinary Ugandans. And that’s why I believe ICT training should be made complusory at all levels of learning.
Technology should not be seen as coming from the top down, but an ecosystem where every user is a beneficiary.
This is why I believe a more deliberate ICT Skilling program for schools targeting teachers and students, is paramount.
With education being at the centre of building culture and work ethic, a people who appreciate technology services right from childhood, are less likely to vandalise the infrastructure that is costing millions of dollars to the Ugandan government. But also, the general public will take upon itself to value these installations knowing they’re public goods.
It’s sad that there are people out there for example, who have been vandalising solar batteries that power street lights or CCTV cameras. Others steal cables that link the internet, others take street naming boards for scrap. As a society that’s dreaming together for a better future, the job of protecting the common goods goes beyond the police and other authorities, it’s for everyone.
Uganda can take inspiration from Estonia, for example, one of the smallest countries in the world, which has built a digital society beyond anyone’s imagination. They now pride in having an efficient, secure and transparent ecosystem that saves its citizens and other users, time and money.
With any digital device, Estonians can access government services including e-tax, identity cards, vote, health, education among others, as well as other private services such as transport, food, shopping name it, in the comfort of their living or bedrooms.
When Estonia started its information society ambition about 20 years ago, there was hardly no data collected about its citizens. The internet and devices were not in use as it is the case in Uganda today. However, its visionary leadership invested hugely in IT solutions, including the education sector, which has turned around the country’s public and private service delivery systems.
It turns out that every student in Estonia receives sufficient skills to access digital services, but also, the IT path careers are higher per capita than any other countries in the European Union, in this country.
Uganda needs, therefore to invest in the ICT physical infrastructure but should also recognize the need to teach its citizens digital skills and find its relevance right from pre-school through primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
That is how a new tech savvy generation will appreciate the infrastructure investments made in ICT and make good use of them.