Subsidise internet costs for an inclusive ICT growth in Uganda

The growth of the Ugandan cyber space has been deterred by several factors including high internet costs, rigid and poor policy frameworks, high taxes, negligence, low internet speed, low foreign direct investment (FDI) among others. In the state of the nation address made by the president on a calm Friday afternoon of the 4th June 2021 in Kololo, he is overwhelmed by the revenues generated by some fortune US companies like Amazon that are 8 fold the GDP of Uganda.

It’s very important to notice that most of this companies the president mentioned are either technology companies or overly really on technology for their operations. He (President) goes on further in the same address to mention of the reluctance in private sector to adopt the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) business. BPO involves subcontracting various business-related operations to third-party vendors. One of the successful implementers of such a business was Andela, which recently closed its Ugandan office due to a higher demand for more experienced software engineers by its the outsourcing companies based in the US and other parts of the world.

The cost of Internet in Uganda is the apparently the highest in the East African region and 7 times higher than India which the president say is enjoying US$191billion per year from the BPO business. Ugandans doing BPO business could end up working for the Internet Service Providers who would indeed rip big from their exploits. With the rise in remote work due the pandemic scourge, it’s debatable for several struggling businesses to sufficiently afford for their several employees an expensive fast internet to work from home.

The government has always insisted that the ICT sector could be one of the gold mines to drive the country’s economy to the middle class. It’s therefore better that the government feeds the thin cow for more milk than milking the thin cow. If the government was learning enough ICT industry trends, we would not be holding anymore conversation about taxing data bundles anymore. Overall governments input and subsidies are required to keep the cost of internet low and encourage survival and growth of more ICT startups and business depending on the internet.

By: Okiria Oken

CEO, Othware Uganda Limited


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