In the Ministerial Policy Statement for FY 2014/15 Uganda’s ICT sector share in 2014 stood at 6.0% and employed over one million people. World Bank data placed exports of ICT services in 2013 at 400 million USD, forming 17% of total service exports. IT services alone were estimated to represent 2.8% of Uganda’s services exports, with a total value of US $2 billion in 2012. These statistics prompted several initiatives of an investment & developmental nature in the ICT sector from players both local and international.
One such initiative being an Export Sector Competitiveness Program called the Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF III), a program funded by the Dutch government, particularly, the Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI, affiliated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The program was established to build export sector competitiveness in key growth sectors in the 4 beneficiary countries of Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar and Uganda. NTF III is being implemented over three years 2014-2017) and one of its key functions is to put in place an Export Plan, see to its roll-out and implementation in the ICT sector in Uganda.
Under the general supervision of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) together with the NFT III project team, with support from the ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) and Uganda Business Process Outsourcing Association (UBPOA), have developed and validated an “IT & ITES Export sector plan” to be launched on the 7th of April, 2016 and rolled out immediately, first to about thirty (30) Small and Medium Enterprise players in the ICT sector and eventually to the rest of the country.
The” IT & ITES Export Sector Plan”
The “IT & ITES Sector Export Plan”, is the presentation of measures that have been identified to enhance the export competitiveness of the Ugandan IT & ITES companies in international markets, whether regionally or globally. In support to the proposed measures, a “Country Marketing Plan” has been developed to be implemented alongside the Export plan, which will identify the relevant marketing communication components that need to be activated to enhance the visibility of Uganda’s IT & ITES industry.
The IT & ITES Export plan will focus on the following five broad strategic objectives to be pursued in order to achieve a successful export drive:
- Enhancing the caliber of the young talent IT & ITES pool.
- Closing the gender gap.
- Instigating a local environment conducive to the IT & ITES industry.
- Developing the export capabilities of SMEs.
- Placing Uganda’s IT & ITES industry on the map.
- Identifying target markets.
Richard Okuti, National Consultant – NTF III Uganda remarked that “this plan will focus on IT & ITES business initiatives with a potential for exports that can be enhanced through targeted measures and will take into consideration the fact that the Ugandan IT & ITES industry’s existence lacks recognition amongst target customers beyond the borders of the country.”
This plan takes into account the specific circumstances of the Ugandan IT & ITES industry, which cannot rely on a thriving local economy to stimulate its growth, ensuring the emergence of local champions. In the absence of a local demand pull, a more prudent business development plan needs to be considered to assist Ugandan companies in their export endeavors.
IT & ITES: The difference?
IT and ITES, are one and the same, having more in common than not. This is correct up to a point: the closer one gets to market considerations, the more dissimilar the two become.
- IT services. These require a broad range of specialized, technical skills typically acquired during studies at a university and are necessary, for example, to engage in designing software architectures, software coding or web design deploying cloud-based services.
- IT enabled services (ITES). These do not usually require specialized technical skills (with the exception of knowledge-based ITES, e.g. medical analysis applications). ITES services include Customer Support Services (e.g. call centres, Recruitment Process – RPO), Policy Maintenance/Management (e.g. human resource), Data Process Services (e.g. payroll outsourcing), and Technical Support Services (infrastructure management, help desk), to mention but a few.
Why “IT & ITES Export Plan”?
NTF III is simply helping a company whose founder(s) has detected a market need. He or she has the vision of how to satisfy that need, and believes the company has something unique to offer. It could be a service (for example, reserving your taxi through your smart phone), which involves developing the application and running the service, or an off-the-shelf software package (for example, a smart phone application capable of detecting certain diseases). These companies will be supported to take these solutions beyond our borders in this Export plan.