President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has cautioned Ugandans against using Information And Communications Technology (ICT) to promote importation of goods
President Museveni said Ugandans should use ICT to promote the buying of goods and services within Uganda or promote selling to outsiders but not vice versa.
“I am told I can now use my followers on social media to advertise and then I’m paid but now the question is, whose products are you advertising? Are you advertising Uganda’s products or are you trying to convert Ugandans into importers? If you are promoting importation, then you are sucking blood from us and taking it outside,” he said.
The President made the remarks while officiating at the 2nd Annual National ICT Job Fair 2023 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
Running under the theme: “Navigating the Digital Horizon”, the two-day event organised by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in partnership with Huawei Technologies Uganda, serves as a platform to connect employers in the ICT sector with talented job seekers. The event brings together a diverse range of stakeholders, including employers, job seekers, policymakers, and industry experts, thus fostering meaningful networking and collaboration opportunities.
President Museveni explained that ICT is a huge step for the human race but Africa, like all the other scientific innovations, must use it in the right context to build an economy that is independent, integrated, and self-sustaining.
“If you integrate your ICT with imports, then you are a liability, not an asset to the country; the same with the banks, telecom companies like MTN. When you talk or chat What are you talking about? Are you talking about importing human hair? If that is what you are talking about, then you are a liability. What are telephones used for? Is it to buy or sell? The banks are giving loans, but for what? For importing or for manufacturing here? Or for internal distribution?”
President Museveni further underscored the vital role of ICT, saying that it makes work faster, more efficient, and more traceable, which is why he supports the idea of digitizing government processes.
He, however, noted that Ugandans and Africans at large should not over-emphasize electronic technology and forget about other basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, health, and security, among others, which are part and parcel of building economies.
“I support ICT, but I don’t want you to make the mistake of getting lost again because Africans are likely to get lost. Have you ever eaten a computer?” The President inquired.
Gen. Museveni further urged that Uganda’s digital effort should be used to support the independence of the country in acquiring the basic human needs.
“The digital effort that we are doing, is it supporting the independence of Uganda or the dependence of Uganda in acquiring these basic human needs? These needs are the ones transforming economies. In Uganda, we are stable because we are a bit independent in the area of food, some of the areas of shelter items like cements, steel, bars and so on,” he said.
“You can imagine that until recently people were importing furniture from Dubai, but I think that one is also changing; leather was being imported; now we are making it here in Kawumu from your cows, mobility; we have been using Japanese cars for all these years. And in the past we used to tell them to come and assemble their cars from here, but they were not interested. Recently, some of them wanted to assemble vehicles from here I said no; I no longer allow anybody to assemble vehicles here; we shall make them here ourselves.”
The Vice President, H.E. Jessica Alupo, lauded President Museveni for his unwavering support and commitment towards the ICT sector, which has enabled the government to achieve so many endeavors as far as the sector is concerned.
“Your Excellency, I would like to specifically thank you because you have already directed the Ministry of ICT to conclude the establishment of the National ICT Backbone Infrastructure together with Huawei. Your Excellency, the National Backbone Infrastructure is a lifeline that will propel Uganda into a digital future, and by prioritizing connectivity and investing in this critical infrastructure, we can bridge the gap and also empower our citizens to thrive in the digital age,” H.E Alupo said.
The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, described President Museveni as a great champion and advocate of ICT in the country.
“We want to appreciate your personal efforts and the efforts of the government because, in all your speeches, you always stress the need to create employment opportunities for Ugandans, especially your bazukulu. You have attracted very many investments, and there are factories and industries which have been built here in Uganda that have created many jobs,” Dr. Baryomunsi noted.
The Minister of State for ICT, Hon. Joyce Ssebugwawo, said the event is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of ICT, National Guidance, and partners, and it reflects the country’s collective commitment to address the issue of unemployment in Uganda, particularly in the dynamic field of information and communication technology.
“It is important to underscore the significance of this endeavor. Uganda boasts of a young and vibrant population. The National ICT Job Fair serves as a bridge connecting our talented youth with the many opportunities this sector offers,” the Minister said.
“The ICT sector is a driver for economic growth and innovation, and our government has made substantial investments in creating an enabling environment for development. However, this growth can only be sustained if we ensure that the workforce is equipped with the right skills. This is where the job fair plays a pivotal role.”
The ICT sector alone contributes 2 percent to the aggregate nominal GDP and that is as of the Financial Year 2021-2022 and this continues to grow.