KAMPALA – The National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) has pledged to work with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to drive Uganda’s systemic transformation through digitisation.
This was revealed by Collin Mugasha Babiruka, the authority’s Director e-Government Services on Wednesday during the launch of UNCDF’s virtual report on the application of a Market Systems Development Approach to build inclusive digital economies.
Mr Mugasha said as NITA-U, they cannot walk the digital transformation journey alone so partners and innovative private sector is extremely key.
“As NITA we are committed to transforming lives through e-service delivery so this is a very pertinent conversation in what we do and what we are doing. So obviously by providing this digital enabling environment is extremely key for us,” Mr Mugasha remarked.
“Indeed we have had quite a journey in the digitisation of service delivery to the people.NITA-U is actually mandated to to take literally about 80 per cent in the next 3 years or so of our citizens online to access services. So how are we going to do ? It means there must be systemic changes within the government itself, within the way we do business, and within the way we operate as government.”
Chris Lukolyo, the UNCDF Digital Country Lead said currently they are implementing a strategy of leaving no one behind in this digital era and they decided to mainly focus on the market systems development approach because ultimately, resources are always limited and they think in order to achieve sustainability in their strategy they had to implement an approach that would sought to catalyze the market by using the resources they have in order to encourage other stakeholders to join in.
“The idea is to show you the approach that we took, the in depth studies that we did and this report that we are launching today really takes you on that journey with us. In this strategy, leaving no one behind in the digital era we focus very much on partnerships, we partner with public sector because both public and private sectors are very important in a Market system development approach,” Mr Lukolyo said.
“The idea really is to unlock constraints. When we did these in depth studies we went into these different markets and tried to understand why aren’t people using these digital services to access education, to access health care. when we identify those constraints we dedicate resources to address them so that once that constraint is removed, different market actors public and private can come in and continue to do the work that they do.And so that’s the focus. The idea really is to try to unlock those market constraints and level of of innovation and technology in order to build this digital inclusive economy that helps us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he added.
Mr Lukolyo also noted that they could not address all the problems in the country but what they did was to go for those sectors that affect large numbers of people.
“For example all of us are affected by Education and the agricultural sectors. We also looked at the health sector, all of us want access to healthcare so these sectors affect large numbers of people but within those sectors there are sub sectors or market systems within them that we felt affect the most vulnerable. I give you an example, market system could be in Education if you have a school and the students, the transaction between the two constitutes a market system and there are rules that govern that system and indeed what are the constraints within that system. What hinders the student from accessing technology? We uncovered a good number of constraints thus prioritizing them. Once we did that we tried to identify why some people are unable to to use such systems,” he asserted.
“So we went through an in depth diagnosis and we were able to develop the strategy we followed. We then looked at having identified the constraints , we looked at the interventions that we can use to address those constraints.”
During the study, UNCDF mainly focused on West Nile and Northern Uganda.
Mr Lukolyo further disclosed, ” Its safe to say that many of these constraints really cut across the country but in order to identify where should we focus our resources, we went through a prioritized exercise. We looked at relevance so as we look at sectors and the constraints. How relevant are these constraints to the refugees, migrants, farmers , rural women , youth; these are the sub sectors that are most likely in danger of being left behind? So we looked at relevance of these different target groups, we then focused on policy environment, feasibility, the resources that we have to leverage digital technology to address the constraints.”
Mohammad Muaz Jalil, a market system and M&E consultant at UNCDF said the Market Systems Development Approach aims at sustainably changing the way the system operates so that the market offers more opportunities and benefits.
Mr Muaz observed that that this kind of approach can benefit marginalized women, youth, migrants, refugees and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by ensuring inclusive growth and access to services.
“Market Systems Development Approach make market work for the poor, and based on how you define the approach , there are between 80-150 programmes , across 40-50 countries following it,” he said.
“It facilitates a more effective and inclusive market systems for the poor and its flexible, multi- faceted interventions to crowd in more market activity, light touch and indirectly facilitative.”
Pamela Tumwikirize, the Monitoring and Results Measurement Manager at the Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) Development said the Market Systems Development approach has been a success in their area of business before expressing optimism that it will yield positive results for UNDCF.
“aBi subscribes to the donor committee for enterprise development (DCED) standard for monitoring results and measuring impact in the private sector. It monitors and measures interventions’ progress towards sustainability and scale. As a result, a few months ago, we conducted a systemic change study to check whether there are any signs of systemic impact happening as a result of aBi interventions,” Ms Tumwikirize noted.
She said the study found some evidence of change introduced by aBi that went beyond the interventions into the wider market systems which could be considered systemic for instance in FSD.
“Tier IV FIs registered impressive growth in membership and portfolio size since the start of the aBi partnership and our partners expressed satisfaction of products and services. SACCOs are establishing additional branches on their own,upgrading their MIS to allow mobile banking and agent banking.
These efforts have in turn generated interest and investment from private sector players. They have also enhanced inter branch network, convenience- remote transacting by members, enhanced women participation because of remote transactions, supervision is remotely done by the SACCO managers, communication with members was eased using the SMS platform, youth embraced the ICT- trendy and user friendly, as well as SACCOs and Uganda Central Cooperative Financial Services (UCCFS) enhanced revenue from the digital platforms,” Ms Tumwikirize concluded.