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Focus on the Rural, Poor – Innovators Told :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Focus on the Rural, Poor – Innovators Told

Amina Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, says there is a lot of money for innovation, scattered across different agencies in government and the private sector, hence the need to harmonize the sources.

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The government has launched a process to harmonise financing for digital innovation financing sources to ensure that the country’s innovators are assured of access to funding. The lack of affordable and long-term financing has been termed one of the main hindrances to the growth of digital innovation, with many would-be financiers taking the fronted projects as not bankable.

Yet, Uganda is considered among the top ten main digital investment destinations in Africa. 

However, more than half of the investments flow into the continent go to three countries: South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. But Amina Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, says there is a lot of money for innovation, scattered across different agencies in government and the private sector, hence the need to harmonize the sources.

She says that because of the interest the government has in the industry, they have even decided to give incentives to the local innovators who want to access government contracts, adding that to maintain this relationship, the innovators must focus on quality. 

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Zawedde was speaking at the Uganda Innovation Week events that run up to November 24 at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Nakawa.  The week, which also features exhibitions, masterclasses, and lectures, is running on the theme: Adapt or Be Left Behind Opportunities for the Ugandan Entrepreneur in the Digital Economy. 

Zawedde says the theme means that innovators must ensure they focus on all sections of the population. According to her, for example, all government offices will soon be digitized, and this calls for solutions that are applicable and useable by everyone. Some ministries have already launched digital operations, and Zawedde says they are employing locally developed digital solutions, in their journey to improve service delivery. 

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The national event is organized by Start-up Uganda, in collaboration with the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), and the Innovation Village, among other support organisations. Badru Ntege, the Founder of NFT Mawazo, a digital innovation hub, says the innovators should move on from focusing on the urban and rich communities of the country to the poorer segments. 

He was giving a keynote address titled: Uganda’s Digital Transformation Roadmap - What is in it for Entrepreneurs? According to him, the poorer Ugandans are the majority and if they were empowered to use digital innovation, it would rapidly grow, not only the digital innovation industry but the country’s economy as a whole. 

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The entrepreneurs were also tipped to focus on the projects under the Parish Development Model, through which the government and donors are intensifying investments. Ntege says even the donors like the World Bank, are currently including components of the PDM in all their funding packages to Uganda.  It will therefore be advantageous for the innovators to benefit from the funds which are mainly being invested in the countryside targeting the poorer rural communities.

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