Participants at one of the workshops in Dubai. Photo by Albert Mucunguzi
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Participants at one of the workshops in Dubai. Photo by Albert Mucunguzi
Participants at one of the workshops in Dubai. Photo by Albert Mucunguzi

The International Trade Center (ITC) has partnered with industry stakeholders in Uganda to implement a project that targets to enhance the export competitiveness of firms of various sizes in the  IT (Information Technology) and ITES (IT Enabled Services) sector in Uganda.

The three-year project, named the “Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF III)”, is being implemented in partnership with Uganda’s ICT Association (ICTAU), National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) and Uganda Business Process Outsourcing Association (UBPOA); and will directly benefit 30 local micro, small and medium enterprises.

NTF III is being run simultaneously in Kenya and Bangladesh, three priority countries of the International Trade Center. In all the countries, NTF III will make specific efforts to increase the number of women in the IT&ITES sectors. Last month, representatives of partner institutions from the three countries held a work-planning workshop in Dubai with Project staff from the ITC. The goal was to define the action plan to increase the number and profile of women in IT as well as to provide a forum for stakeholders to share experiences and insight from their own countries and efforts.

Following the meeting, participants spoke with optimism, owing both to the content of the deliberations and data on past success, specifically in Bangladesh where the NTF Programme has been previously implemented.

Eunice Kariuki (center) at one of the meetings in the Dubai Workshop.
Eunice Kariuki (center) at one of the meetings in the Dubai Workshop. Photo Credit: Trellis.org

Eunice Kariuki, Deputy CEO, Kenya ICT Authority told this website; “I was aiming to identify and create synergies with peer countries on joint initiatives for promoting the role of women in developing ITES in the region: Mission accomplished!”

“We want to build upon the dynamic value proposition of the broader NTFIII programme to make the sector more competitive and through that, open up opportunities for women in the sector.” Eunice went on to say, “I also learned from other countries’ experiences, specifically how to create local capacity for local players.”

Another workshop was this week held in Kampala with a goal of developing the export plan for the sector in Uganda.

Attended by representatives from NITA-U, ICTAU, UBPOA, and companies in the IT&ITES sectors, the two-day workshop discussed, at length, the current status and challenges facing the target sectors, and presented proposals for possible ways to plug some of the existing gaps.

At the opening the workshop, NITA-U’s Executive Director, James Saaka, spoke about government’s commitment to the BPO Sector and the ICT Industry in general, highlighting NITA-U’s role in facilitating connectivity, especially through the National Backbone Infrastructure.

“In partnership with the International Trade Center, we will market Business Process Outsourcing globally, provide training, financial support and exposure,” said Mr. Saaka.

He reiterated the lack of sufficient market information, challenging the ICTAU to come up with a registry of the industry players, especially those in the ‘innovation space’ – in reference to companies/teams working to provide innovative mobile and/or desktop applications.

“We asked the ICT Association to inventorize the players in the innovation space and we’re still waiting to hear from them,” said Mr. Saaka, before adding, “As you can see, it’s not only government that is slow,” drawing applause from around the room.

Lack of data about the sector has been identified as one of the most significant challenges presently, and NTF III will look to address this by helping partner trade-support organizations  “enhance their market intelligence and analysis capacities”. This has been stated as one of the Project Outputs.

Mr Rogers Karebi, the Managing Director of Dial a Service and Secretary General of UBPOA expressed excitement at potential in the region provided by the current outsourcing climate.

“At a time when the waves are sweeping across the global economy grossly affecting the very lucrative outsourcing world, the biggest buyers have turned their attention to alternative outsourcing destinations, most significantly East Africa,” said Rogers Karebi.

“At a workshop organized by ITC, ICTAU and UBPOA, the stakeholders were able to make a thorough needs assessment of the demand side of IT Services as well as mapping the capacity of the supply side from the Ugandan perspective. The workshop further identified the shortfalls of the supply side of IT Services, possible interventions and the long term potential of the export enhancement intervention. We’re very excited about this project,” he added.

Participants were encouraged to invite their associates to participate in the Project.

The Expression of Interest for companies willing to participate in the NTFIII project is published here, and the deadline for application is November 30th, 2014.