The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden has launched a digital strategy that will enable millions of Ugandans use innovative digital services in their daily lives by 2024.
Dubbed ‘Leaving no one behind in the digital era’, the programme will empower people and contribute to the achieving of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the official launch on Monday June 17, 2019 at Protea Hotel Kampala, Ms Judith Karl, the UNCDF Executive Secretary said the stragegy was one of the best tools to change the financing for development architecture to ensure that sustainable development reaches the last mile by 2030.
“Our strategy will ensure that we are leveraging digital tools to level the playing field—so that we can transform the lives of the underserved by enabling them to better manage their resources, smooth income flows, build assets and overcome shocks. It will also support the economic empowerment of women who continue to disproportionately represent the informal labor force. And it will enable SMEs to deliver the transformative effects they can have in a community when they are able to access capital and scale,” she said.
“Overall, from 2014 to 2018, UNCDF support assisted in growing the proportion of the Ugandan adult population actively using a digital finance account from 26% to 44%. This comprises a market increase of 5 million users. At the same time, Uganda saw exponential increases in the number of digital financial service providers and active agents.”
UNCDF Digital Manager Francois Coupienne also asserted that the strategy builds on the success of several digital finance programmes which the organization deployed over a decade in Africa, Asia and the Pacific-over a decade of experience that has led to more than 18 million people being connected to their financial ecosystems.
“More than financial inclusion as an end goal, UNCDF’s philosophy has traditionally involved using digital services to help underserved communities improve their skills, productivity and marketability in the digital-economy age,” said Mr. Coupienne.
“UNCDF will look to build inclusive digital economies at the country level so that Low Developed Countries’ population can access a range of financial services in order to become active participants in their local economies. We will focus on establishing the digital infrastructure, innovation ecosystem and enabling policy framework that will result in national digital economies that are inclusive and sustainable.”
Mr. Coupienne also noted that they are going to focus on finance, agriculture, Education, health and energy sectors in 14 districts of Uganda namely; Kiryandongo, Lira, Oyam, Dokolo, Alebtong, Masindi, Apac, Adjumani, Yumbe, Koboko, Arua, Nebbi, Zombo and Maracha.
Jenny Krisch, the Swedish Embassy’s First Secretary Development Analyst, Economic Growth and Empowerment said they partnered with UNCDF to improve quality of life, productivity in agriculture, access to quality health care through digitization especially in refugee hosting districts.
She also stated that the programme running for five years will cost USD15 million [approximately Shs555billion].
On his part, Sweden Ambassador to Uganda Per Lingarde lauded UNCDF for the partnership and said the programme seeks to develop and extend digital solutions to vulnerable and demoralized groups such as refugees.
“The focused on sectors are particularly important for Uganda’s economy and human capital development. Sweden’s development cooperation in Uganda has a strong purpose on the inclusive and sustainable economic development of this country,”said Mr Lingarde.
Charles Lwanga Auk, the Assistant Commissioner at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance pledged that government will offer all the necessary support to ensure that the launched strategy becomes a success.