A view of an African Technologist.
By Muhumuza Faizo King.
Growing up I always wondered why we import Computers, Electronics and almost everything. Economically, I at all times agreed that we lack the financial muscle to invest into manufacturing. Today with our Country’s new resources such as Oil and other minerals and a highly capacitated human resource which in my view is the most important resource, I believe now is the right time for Uganda to manufacture even Computers and Electronics.
In a recent Computer/ Electronics Assembly/ Manufacturing workshop organized by Intel, Ministry of ICT and Microsoft, Government represented by Mr. Vincent Waiswa Bagire the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of ICT and Senior officials from Uganda Investment Authority, Ministry of Education, Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Ministry of Trade just to mention but a few pledged to lead the start of the first of its kind Computer and Electronics Assembly and Manufacturing plant in Uganda. Intel requested Government not to treat this project as a plan but a project with timelines and progress.
I call upon all stakeholders to support this innovative project because we are at a stage where we must solve our own challenges by designing local Solutions. Besides, in this article I support assembly and manufacturing of Computers and Electronics because I do not see a day when consumption of such products will come to an end and when the same products will be less important to our country and the world at large. This fact offers us a very good opportunity to start now and I believe that we can be even more innovative than any other Country has ever been for the reason that our challenges are different from their challenges and to solve ours, we must be more innovative in our own way.
Our initial success at this point in time will depend deeply on the Government investment because according to case studies from other Countries like Rwanda and Kenya where Computer assembling is already a reality, their projects have succeeded because they are fully funded by their own Governments, in other words in such countries local manufacturing of Computers and Electronics is a Government policy and in some way a presidential project.
But manufacturing or assembling of devices and gadgets alone is not our only objective, actually the produced device is just the means to achieving the powerful goal of digital transformation which must be achieved as soon as possible and as appropriate as we can.
Just a moment ago the First Lady and Minister of Education Hon. Janet K. Museveni put it clearly that Government is ready to make ICT mandatory for teachers and Students in order to improve our pedagogy which is supposed to be as inclusive and as innovative as possible. This means that while we manufacture Computers, we must bring the National Curriculum Development Council on board in order to provide us with the entire curriculum for all subjects that should be loaded on the locally manufactured/ assembled Computers to enable students to digitally access School content. I think that would be inclusive and creative.
Generally, Local Original Equipment Manufacturing and assembling comes with it so many other benefits such as; Job creation, Cheaper support and maintenance costs, among others.
For would be investors in the local manufacturing sector, I have only three reasons that explain why you should invest in Uganda; Uganda is resource rich and this varies from minerals in our land to the highly talented human resource which is abundantly available, Uganda is strategically located for exports to both Central and East Africa, Ugandans are welcoming people; in fact, you feel comfortable when dealing with them. For the question whether our environment is an enabling one to do business or not? I boldly answer YES. Currently Government is setting up 22 industrial parks and the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) plans to setup 4 Science, Technology and Innovation Parks in Uganda according to S.K. Mugyenzi the Ag. Director, Investment Promotion at the UIA.
Any Country which is committed to technology and innovation is almost unstoppable.
I therefore request Uganda to stay committed to this new dream.
For God and My Country.
The writer is a Ugandan Information Technology Specialist and a YALI member.