Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning once again and welcome to this second day of the 6th SWARM Summit 2024.

I thank the organizing team behind this auspicious gathering of technology players and stakeholders in our ecosystem. Hive Colab, The UN International Trade Centre (ITC), Korea SMEs and Startups Agency of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of the Government of the Republic of Korea, and our very own NITA-Uganda, thank you all for making this edition of the SWARM Summit a possibility. Your hard work is clearly evident. Thank you.

And to all of you here today and those joining us via Livestream, thank you too, for carving time out of your schedule to be here with us.

In line with this year’s summit theme; The Future is Now: Emerging Trends Shaping Startup Ecosystems, I will share with you how Government is playing its part to leverage ICTs to Capitalize on the Entrepreneurial Surge in Today's Digital Economy.

Uganda's current National Development Plan (NDP III) has a strong focus on increasing investment in ICT, and we believe technology is one of the productive sectors capable of improving livelihoods, generating employment and producing goods intended for export and import substitution.

As I was preparing for this address, I took the liberty to check which companies are leading globally in terms of Market Capitalization which is one way of measuring a company's total value, based on outstanding shares of stock. Most of us in this room today will not be surprised by the fact that the top six (6) biggest companies on the NASDAQ (a U.S. stock exchange based in New York City) are all technology companies.
Microsoft, Apple, Nvidia, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, and Meta (WhatsApp’s parent Company) all have a market capitalization above 1 trillion dollars. Microsoft’s 3 trillion-dollar market cap is 65 times our 2022 45.5-billion-dollar GDP. Let that sink in!

The role of technology as an engine for economic growth and creating prosperity is, to say the least, a no-brainer.

Here at home, the ICT Sector is an undeniable enabler for our social economic growth. The ICT sector continues to grow at an average growth rate of 14.8% and contributes 9% to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The growth is a result of a combination of policy decisions and investments that have led to infrastructure coverage, increased internet penetration and roll out of e-services among others.

For example, I believe all you entrepreneurs in the room have interacted with the Online Business Registration System (OBRS). Developed by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, The OBRS is a cutting-edge enterprise platform that provides seamless access to online business registration, insolvency practice, and management services. It streamlines business facilitation processes, reduces the time and effort required for new businesses to register, improves regulatory oversight by the Government, and provides the private sector with access to vital business information to aid in investment decisions.

Entrepreneurs and business owners can now access registration services anytime, anywhere, with just a few clicks. This has immensely contributed to the entrepreneurial surge we’re observing. In fact, since the platform went live about a year ago, the OBRS has registered over 37,000 businesses and over 84,000 companies.

Additionally, the platform has processed more than half a million documents, with total non-tax revenue (NTR) collections to a tune of UGX 90 billion demonstrating its efficiency and effectiveness in transforming the business registration landscape in Uganda. This demonstrates the potential for ICT to further catalyze social economic growth of the Country.
Now, I want to assure all the innovators and entrepreneurs in the room that the Government is not only thinking about you but committed to ensuring we create an enabling environment that fosters growth.

Cognizant of the potential of ICT, the Ministry developed and last year launched the Digital Transformation Roadmap that identifies the key enablers to achieve the commitments set out in the Digital Uganda Vision. The roadmap focuses on how to get there whereas the Digital Uganda Vision sets the aspirations aligned to the overall national agenda set in the Vision 2040.

We believe this roadmap lays out key guidelines that will help us to harness the catalytic power of technology to capitalize on the entrepreneurial surge in today’s economy. Indeed, the purpose of this roadmap is to guide the digital transformation efforts of Uganda, enabling it to capitalize on emerging technologies, enhance economic competitiveness, and improve the lives of all our citizens.

Highlighting some key objectives outlined in this roadmap:

1. Promotion of Digital Services: We are committed to developing digital and electronic services across key priority sectors, ensuring efficient and accessible service delivery to all citizens and residents of Uganda.

2. Enhancing Digital Infrastructure & Connectivity: Investment in robust digital infrastructure, including high-speed broadband networks and cloud computing capabilities, will ensure widespread access to digital services and seamless connectivity across urban and rural areas.

Moreover, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a 10% increase in broadband penetration yields 1.4% in GDP growth. We intend to unlock such growth benefits for our economy.

3. Fostering Innovations and Entrepreneurship: Like I said before, we are thinking about you as the innovators and entrepreneurs in the room.

Creating a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship is paramount. Through collaborations between academia, industry, and government, we aim to nurture a thriving digital ecosystem that drives technological breakthroughs and fuels economic growth.

As I understand, one of the project objectives of the Youth Startup Academy Uganda (YSAU) is sowing the seeds of Unicorn companies here in Uganda and some of the Cohort three entrepreneurs will be graduating this afternoon. I hope we have some of those future billion-dollar companies in the room. We are banking on you!

4. Empowering Digital Skills and Literacy: Recognizing the importance of digital literacy, we will prioritize initiatives to equip our citizens with the necessary knowledge and capabilities. Digital literacy programs, up-skilling, and promoting STEM education will bridge the digital divide and ensure equal opportunities for all.

Some homegrown startups are already making headway in this area. For example, Maarifasasa Limited, an education technology startup operating out of Lira is upskilling Uganda’s youth in employable digital skills and matching them to global remote work opportunities.

5. Promoting Cybersecurity, Data Protection, and Privacy: Establishing a robust framework for digital governance is essential. By ensuring data privacy, cybersecurity, and protection of intellectual property, we will foster trust in digital systems and create a safe and secure digital environment for all stakeholders.

Indeed, this roadmap offers the clarity needed to capitalize on the entrepreneurial surge in today’s digital economy. To realise these objectives, we have devised a comprehensive implementation plan encompassing policy and regulatory reforms, infrastructure development, and the development of digital services across key sectors. Together, these initiatives will propel us towards our shared vision of a digitally empowered Uganda and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As I conclude this keynote address, I want to offer some practical advice to all the innovators and entrepreneurs in the room, those present physically and those joining us virtually.

First and foremost, embrace the power of resilience and adaptability. The entrepreneurial journey is often filled with challenges and unexpected twists. But remember, it's not about avoiding obstacles, it's about how you navigate through them. Stay agile, be willing to pivot when necessary, and never lose sight of your ultimate goals.

Secondly, cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and business, complacency is your greatest enemy. Stay curious, seek out new knowledge and skills, and be open to feedback and constructive criticism. Remember, the more you learn, the better equipped you'll be to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

Next, prioritize building strong relationships and collaborations. No entrepreneur succeeds in isolation. Forge partnerships with fellow startups, established businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions. Collaborations can open doors to new opportunities, resources, and expertise that you may not have access to on your own.

Additionally, don't underestimate the importance of customer-centricity. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Take the time to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points, and tailor your products or services accordingly. Continuously solicit feedback, iterate based on customer insights, and strive to deliver exceptional value and experiences.

Furthermore, be mindful of the ethical implications of your innovations. As you leverage technology to drive economic growth and social impact, remember to uphold principles of integrity, fairness, and social responsibility. This couldn’t be more important in this era of Artificial Intelligence. Build trust with your stakeholders by demonstrating transparency, accountability, and a commitment to ethical business practices.

Lastly, never lose sight of your purpose and passion. Building a successful startup is a demanding and often exhausting endeavour. But when you're driven by a clear sense of purpose and fueled by a genuine passion for what you do, every challenge becomes a meaningful opportunity for growth and impact. Stay focused on your mission, stay true to your values, and let your passion be the driving force behind your journey.

In conclusion, remember that the future is indeed now, and the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in today's digital economy are limitless.

There is no time to waste time. Seize the moment, embrace the possibilities, and dare to dream big. Together, let's shape a future where technology serves as a catalyst for positive change and prosperity for all.

Thank you, and best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!

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