Kampala -Uganda’s National Task Force on Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has this
Monday released its draft report to guide government on harnessing emerging
“The draft strategy we are presenting today covers a comprehensive national ecosystem for adoption and promotion of 4IR such as human capital development; employment opportunities; infrastructure and technological environment; research and innovation; international partnerships and collaboration; cyber security, data protection, privacy and ethics; results framework; and delivery mechanisms,” said the national taskforce chairman, Eng John Nasasira.
The report shows Uganda has the opportunity to become a leading global player in harnessing 4IR applications to solve its development challenges with a concerted effort and a strategic focus on its areas of competitive advantage.
This will require the country to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to creating opportunities and managing risks inherent in this new 4IR world.
Harnessing 4IR opportunities for growth, competitiveness and human development will require a coordinated effort, not only among government but also the private sector and civil society.
This effort includes targeted support for the process of local innovation, the localisation of 4IR technologies applied in specific domains, developing an agile governance framework, upskilling the population and ensuring 4IR connectivity so that all Ugandans can participate in and benefit from the 4IR economy.
The report provides four priority areas of opportunity which cover a variety of sectors and processes that will be critical to Uganda’s ability to navigate powerful forces of change such as climate change, rapid urbanization, the youth wave, and the global dispersion of production.
“Building and scaling the opportunities across these zones will be instrumental in Uganda’s ability to realise structural transformation, harness the demographic transition, and mitigate the risks in the global economy,” the report reads in part.
It further says the deployment of 4IR technologies in Uganda’s agriculture sector can drive commercialization and unlock the value of approximately 2% of GDP each year.
It also notes that 4IR technologies can create tremendous gains in human capital development by rapidly assessing and responding to the weak links in both education and the health care system.
For example, digital tutoring and ICT in education can be used as channels to deliver quality education to populations who remain hard to reach.
Improved visibility of, and data on, student performance and presence can improve the performance of the sector.
The report also roots for the use of blockchain to enhance the integrity of medical supply chains and overcome current challenges of counterfeit medicines by facilitating proof of authenticity.
Key to accelerating Uganda’s growth is enabling access to foreign markets for emerging and established industries.
By adopting new technologies, the report observes, Uganda could as well see enhanced supply chains and access to digitally traded services to create 300,000 new earning opportunities.
Global evidence suggests that Uganda can generate significant growth in jobs and export earnings by capturing a share of this demand for digitally-traded services.
The report also indicates that the deployment of digital technologies can improve customer experience as well as ensure the sustainability and quality of the tourism sector.
“Emerging technologies are furthermore critical to ensuring the sustainability of the industry by improving conservation capabilities such as the use of IoT for monitoring poaching, predictive modelling of poacher activity and drone monitoring and response,” the report observes.
By embracing new technologies Uganda would be able to manage rising pressures on urban settlements by supporting the extension and delivery of critical urban services, tripling the uptake of e-government services and halving the current number of manual government processes.
It is estimated that 24,000 person-hours are lost to traffic congestion every day in Kampala, the heart of Uganda’s commerce. Slow progress in paving the road network, a lack of integrated planning and insufficient data are among the key reasons for continued congestion cited in NDPIII.
However, analysing big data from cell phone towers and geographic information systems will reveal trends and patterns of mobility and inform the intelligent design of public transport routes.
Uganda hosts a small domestic market where there is limited access for remote communities to domestic supply chains, and consumers have low buying power.
The national taskforce’s report shows that Ugandan businesses can scale through access to eCommerce channels which reduce barriers to entry by providing a low cost means of accessing non-localised markets.
In addition, the use of frontier technologies can enhance SME access to online sales, overcome challenges in delivering to hard-to-reach communities, and be used to improve customer experience.
Uganda’s landlocked status incurs significant additional costs and time for trade relative to its peers.
The East African country has made significant progress in reducing the time and cost of cross-border trade, however there remains room for improvement.
Emerging technologies can increase efficiency and reduce the costs of cross-border trade processing.
Technologies that facilitate the real-time tracking of cargo have had substantial successes in Uganda.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) deployed a real-time electronic cargo tracking system (RECTS) which has been pivotal in improving supply chain visibility and trade efficiency of high risk and sensitive cargo.
The report says the success of the RECTS system illustrates how emerging technologies can be replicated by the private sector, however, there is a further opportunity in VR, AR and blockchain.
Nasasira today said the main objective of the Expert National Task Force was to domesticate the Fourth Industrial Revolution and “advise Government on the comprehensive ecosystem and interventions required to harness these emerging technologies for our country’s socio-economic transformation.”
The 4IR relates to the combination of virtual, physical and biological interactions facilitated by technology.
The digital technologies include cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain, physical technologies such as autonomous vehicles and 3D printing, and biological technologies such as bio printing and neurotechnology.
This convergence of technology is creating new opportunities by changing the way societies produce, distribute and consume goods and services. However, it also creates a range of risks that need to be monitored and managed.
Speaking at the Stakeholders’ Validation E-Workshop, Nasasira said potential opportunities for Uganda are “facilitated among others by an educated youth base, a fast-growing middle class, access to global value chains and the ability of our innovators to capitalize on new technologies.”
In his address to the World Economic Forum in January 2019 in Davos, Switzerland, President Museveni said for Africa to succeed in the 4IR, there was need to address gaps in areas such as infrastructure development, ICT and human resource development which were not addressed in the previous revolutions.
The National Task Force included members from innovation hubs, the private sector, academia, civil society, the media, development partners and Government.
The Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU) provided the technical assistance provided through Genesis Analytics of South Africa.
After validation, the report will be handed to government for implementation