More than 250 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have attended a two-week digital literacy training program, which started on 15 July, 2019 and ends on 26 July, 2019.
An initiative of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) represented by the Rural Communication Development Fund (RCDF), in partnership with the Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises-Uganda (FSMEU), the workshop is hosted by the Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT) at Nakawa, Kampala.
The rationale of the training is to support the SMEs to harness the opportunities that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer their businesses, through improving their skills and capabilities. The acquired digital skills, UCC and FSMEU believe, will foster entrepreneurship, innovation and boost competitiveness among the participating SMEs.
The initiative follows a realisation that many of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda, which are said to employ in excess of 3 million people, account for more than 90% of the entire private sector, and contribute 20% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to Uganda Investment Authority, are unable to leverage ICTs for improved performance and profitability.
Widely described as the engine for economic growth, the MSMEs, which are critical in job creation, poverty alleviation and rapid industrialization of Uganda’s economy, are incapacitated by numerous challenges, causing between 70 to 80% of them to fail within two years of establishment. The obstacles include digital illiteracy.
A study conducted by FSMEU found that 72% of SMEs in Uganda suffer from a digital skills gap; two thirds didn’t know how to use a computer and three quarters had no functional websites.
The study concluded that SMEs are generally slow or even averse to embracing ICT in their business operations. With limited digital capability, the affected SMEs are unable to access many online services, including digitised government initiatives as URA’s e-tax, KCCA’s e-licensing, NSSF’s e-return and URSB’s e-registration.
Thus the UCC-FSMEU intervention aims to give SMEs basic digital literacy skills and enable them to take advantage of business opportunities presented by the digital economy.
The workshop was officially opened by the Head Technical Services RCDF Mr. Geoffrey Sengendo, who represented the Executive Director and the Director RCDF at the function also attended by the Principal Uganda Institute of Communications Technology, FSME executives, UICT trainers and the trainees.
Similar trainings have so far been conducted in Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara, and are expected to be further rolled out to other areas.