President Museveni Cautions Ugandans Against Using ICT To Promote Importation

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has cautioned Ugandans against using Information And Communications Technology (ICT) to promote importation.

President Museveni said Ugandans should use the ICT to promote buying of goods and services within Uganda or promote selling to outsiders but not vice versa.

“According to Kariisa of NBS , 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? This ICT of yours, what is it being used for? Is it being used to promote importation? If you are promoting importation, then you are sucking blood from us and taking it outside,” he said.

The President made the remarks today 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 (17th-18th October, 2023) 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.

“That is what we told you from 1986 in the 10 point program,” the President said.

“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. The talking you make, 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 the telephones used for? Is it to buy or sell? The banks are giving loans, loans for what ? For importing or for manufacturing here? Or for internal distribution?” he added.

President Museveni further underscored the vital role of ICT, saying that it makes work faster, more efficient and more traceable and that is why he supports the idea of digitising 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 , security among others, which are part and parcel in building economies. 

“I support ICT.  I’m the one who agreed with Huawei in China with their Chairman to come and do the digital backbone 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 now 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 that has enabled the government to achieve so many endeavours 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 prioritising 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.

“Your Excellency we have a challenge as a country that we have many young people who have limited access to decent opportunities for employment and that explains why we are here,Your Excellency.” 

The Minister of State for ICT, Hon. Joyce Ssebugwawo said the event is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of ICT and 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 endeavour. 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 Permanent Secretary- Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Aminah Zawedde commended President Museveni for his unwavering commitment towards the development of Uganda through ICT.

“Your Excellency, having you here present and having you talk about opportunities that Uganda has to offer is very pertinent and very key,” Dr. Zawedde said.

She also revealed that the ICT services in the country continue to grow at an impressive growth rate of 14.8 per cent.

“It is important to acknowledge that the ICT sector alone contributes 2 percent to the aggregate nominal GDP and that is at the Financial Year 2021-2022 and this continues to grow.”

The Managing Director of Huawei Uganda, Mr. Xie Qiuxiang commended the government of Uganda for creating a conducive environment that has enabled businesses including those in the ICT sector to flourish.

He added that a number of Ugandan youth have benefited from the ICT job fair by getting employment and training opportunities.

“Last year on the International Youth Day Huawei together with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance we held the first ICT Job Fair at Makerere University. Huawei offered 50 internship opportunities and a good number of them have become our full time employees. This year we have continued to offer 50 internship opportunities to the youth,” he said.

“Each year, we train a sizable number of Ugandan students free of charge through the Huawei ICT Academy.”

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the National Water and Sewerage Corporation stalls during the opening of the 2nd Annual National ICT Job fair 2023 at the Kololo Ceremonial grounds on 17th October 2023. Photos by PPU/ Tony Rujuta.

Prof. William Bazeyo, the Chairperson of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) And Innovation Council thanked the President for supporting and promoting the BPO and innovations that have created avenues for employment of the youth in the country.

“I also thank the technical and political leadership for the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and partners for championing the country’s strategy in exploring the opportunities for connecting the youth with appropriate employers and job opportunities, internships, apprenticeships  and trainings in the dynamic ICT sector,” Prof. Bazeyo noted.

The event was also attended by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, the Minister of Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Hon. John Chrysestom Muyingo, among others.