President Yoweri Museveni has directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to first procure local ICT solutions before purchasing foreign systems.
He said billions of shillings spent on buying foreign ICT systems must be channeled to Ugandan innovators.
Museveni made the directive while officiating the ICT Innovations expo at Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Nakawa on Tuesday.
The President made an order after listening to concerns raised by outgoing ICT Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze.
Tumwebaze said Government should take a lead in creating a sustainable market for locally developed Applications.
“For us to deliberately create market for locally developed applications, government must take lead in procuring them. That is why we need a law,” said Tumwebaze.
For MDAs to comply with the directive, Tumwebaze said they are introducing the “Local Start-Ups Bill” which will require all accounting officers to first exhaust the local market products before procuring ICT solutions from abroad.
Tumwebaze also decried failure by government agencies to take services online which he said should not be optional.
“Gone are the days of transacting manually. That you are a Ministry, you are an Agency, you have zero presence online. Gone are those days. Take services online, reduce on human contact, create efficiency and mitigate corruption.”
“Automation, digitalization is the path to a corrupt free society,” he emphasised.
Tumwebaze also announced that an innovation hub will be opened in three months’ time and will be a center of knowledge transfer.
“You will never develop your economy by investing in people from abroad. People from abroad who come are welcome but they should come and enhance our knowledge. That is why we are building that hub. It will be a centre for knowledge transfer, it will be center for mentorship, it will be a center for business networking of IT tech-entrepreneurs.”
Meanwhile, the minister expressed gratitude, saying he was proud to be signing out at a time when the sector has attracted a lot interest from partners.
“It’s a great milestone. It will not only reduce our import bill of IT systems; it will create jobs. When President had been saying that ICT is another sector for job creation, it became our duty as a Ministry and Agencies to give a definition and meaning on how jobs can be created. You can create by supporting innovators to commercialize their products, by taking products online, by introducing integrated ICT solutions in every sector.”
Tumwebaze further said of Shs 13bn given to start-ups by Government, half of it was taken to build a hub.
Asked how the challenge of cyber security will be mitigated, Tumwebaze said government Agencies such as URA, NITA and Banks are data users and must be regulated by law to ensure privacy.
“Government capacity is there because if you don’t adhere to regulations, you will be outlawed, your business will be tampered with. You must adhere to the law but also most importantly, the most resilient systems of cyber security is innovations. Because innovations solve problems so the innovators must provide solutions to solve a problem,’ said Tumwebaze.
“So take more services online, create vulnerability or what they call technological disruptions, create a problem deliberately but also induce the solutions by giving the innovators more work to do. That is the beauty part of it.” he added.
President Museveni assured the start-ups that if Shs 13bn is put to good use, more money will be given to them.
“The Shs 13 billion fund given to innovators is just a starter. If you show that you are using it very well, you shall get more money,” said Museveni.