Enhancing the Digital Economy through Digital Skilling

Enhancing the Digital Economy through Digital Skilling

Uganda’s ICT Sector continues to play a crucial role in driving the country’s socio-economic growth. Like many other countries, Uganda has experienced a significant digital evolution propelled by advancements in digital infrastructure, increased technology access, growing investments in technology innovation, and a rising entrepreneurial spirit.  

This transformation has led to the creation of a vibrant tech ecosystem brimming with innovation, startups, and skilled professionals across various domains such as software development, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and cybersecurity, among others. 

Last week, Refactory Academia, a software skilling company, in collaboration with partners like the Innovation Village, TekJuice, ICT Association of Uganda, and the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, launched the inaugural UG Dev Summit. A groundbreaking initiative aimed at positioning Uganda’s tech talent for exponential growth in the digital economy beyond its borders.  

Scheduled to take place in July under the theme “Positioning Uganda’s Tech Talent for Digital Economy Growth,” the UG Dev Summit will provide a transformative platform to accelerate IT adoption and create global work opportunities for Uganda’s local tech talent. 

The African technology landscape often remains to be underutilized, evident in the number of developers who amount to 700,000 total, with Uganda contributing 11,003, Kenya 58,175, Nigeria 83,609, and South Africa 118,541, according to the 2020 Google Developer survey. This literately continues to undermine the sector’s immense potential not only to drive its economic growth but also to significantly impact Africa’s GDP through its tech talent. 

According to Michael Nyitegeka, the Executive Director at Refactory Academia, “Uganda’s technology is on the brink of digital transformation characterized by exponential growth fueled by a vibrant urban population and a blend of creativity, innovation, and industry expertise.” Hence, the UG Dev Summit presents an opportunity for talent connection between young and experienced techies to convene, learn, and connect with each other with the end goal of fostering a culture of collaboration and growth for these young people, Nyitegeka said. 

He added, “We will further provide invaluable exposure and interaction opportunities for the local tech talent in the global market. This is intended to showcase Uganda’s tech prowess, significantly contributing to nurturing and advancing the African tech sector. These efforts, combined with attractive regulatory frameworks and policies from the government, can attract more direct investments and position the sector as a launching ground for global markets.”  

Arthur Mukembo, Future Lab Studio Lead at Innovation Village said, “The digital economy mostly relies on the knowledge economy, with software development being a crucial part. This makes it essential to strategically invest in digital skilling and position it for global uptake. Through initiatives like the DevScape Program, we run a digital skilling curriculum aimed at empowering and supporting software developers to excel in their careers and make significant contributions to the technology and development sector.” 

“By bridging this talent gap, we believe the first step is understanding the offerings within the ecosystem, particularly what developers seek. This includes empowering them with skills to leverage technology across various sectors of the economy, creating new pathways that offer a competitive edge, and opportunities to develop digital solutions for untapped markets and enhance service delivery,” Mukembo said. 

Using platforms like the Mavens Talent Network, we connect these young developers to the industry’s market opportunities in efforts to create meaningful systemic changes within Africa’s startup ecosystem. 

Winfred Nankanja, the Communications and PR Associate at the National ICT Innovation Hub said, “Digital skilling plays a fundamental component of Uganda’s path towards digital transformation. She emphasized its pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship within the country which make it a crucial component for young people to thrive in the digital era and contribute significantly to Uganda’s economic and technological progress. 

Adding, digital skilling involves providing training, education, and resources to individuals across various sectors to enhance their digital literacy, technical capabilities, and understanding of digital tools and technologies.  

Nankanja said, “This enables them to leverage digital solutions, innovate, and create value-added products and services. Digital skilling initiatives not only benefit individuals by enhancing their employability and career prospects but also contribute to building a skilled workforce that drives innovation, boosts productivity, and fosters economic growth.” 

In line with the Uganda’s National Digital Transformation roadmap, which outlines strategic objectives and initiatives for leveraging digital technologies to drive socio-economic development, digital skilling initiatives are integral. They empower individuals to harness the potential of digital technologies, bridge the digital divide, and participate actively in the digital economy. “This, in turn, fosters a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, as individuals are equipped with the skills and knowledge to develop and implement innovative solutions that address local challenges and contribute to national development goals,”Nankanja emphasized