It was budget day in East Africa yesterday, respective ministers of finance stood before their parliaments to read out the highly anticipated fiscal documents. It was all about figures with; Kenya’s at $20Bn, Tanzania’s $10Bn, Uganda’s at $4.6Bn and Rwanda at $2.5Bn.
In Uganda, the UGX 13 trillion budget under the theme, “The Journey continues towards socio-economic transformation” was geared at infrastructural development, improving; security, health, agriculture, education, ICT among others.
As technology experts and enthusiasts, we’d obviously look forward to hearing about what the government hs allocated to this industry, ICT being the focal point. Uganda’s finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka, said that ICT had undoubtedly become a backbone to infrastructural development and innovation without it is no longer an option.
Even though the ICT budget was cut from UGX 15.5Bn in the previous fiscal year to UGX 15.3Bn, significant improvements have been made and others forthcoming:
Digitalization of the land titles registration system that will greatly moot fraud and time wasted in processing of land titles. This will save government UGX 54Bn, 7.54% reduction from the previous fiscal year.
The e-licensing platform launched last week with an aim easing the registration procedures as by Uganda Registration Services Bureau, whose implementation would need UGX 32.1Bn.
Also, through the ministry of education and ministry of finace, UGX 5Bn was allocated for the university students’ loan scheme directed at supporting financially handicapped privately sponsored university students. This targets science students especially in the field of medicine and engineering.
Digital migration from analog to digital television broadcasting is underway and to take full effect next year. The e-government masterplan backed by the government of Korea will be improving service delivery in co-ordination to parliaments activities, this follows the current works on laying of the submarine optical fibre en-route Katuna in Rwanda and Mutukula in Tanzania. However, there was nothing mentioned about funding of the recently proposed social media monitoring centre.
The biggest milestone about this budget is that 80% will be internally funded following cut of donor aid because of disturbing corruption charges in the prime ministers office; therefore, the government will generate most of its revenue from taxation. An excise duty of UGX 50 and UGX 200 was levied on fuel and kerosene respectively. Mobile money transaction fees face a 10% increase in excise duty among others. Notably, the top contributors to the economy the previous fiscal year were construction and telecommunications which contributed about 12% while agriculture came last with a paltry 1.4% contribution. This signifies the youths’ continued undermining of agriculture yet it accounts for 80% of the peasantry household income. The government’s pledge to support value addition in agriculture and aqua-processing through advancement of technology hence realising higher foreign exchange as well as creating jobs.
The diaspora too have the mandate to bring in foreign exchange – with remittances of $767M in 2012/2013 — support startups as well as bring in specialized skills essential for economic development.
Passively, technology is a key aspect in many sectors of the economy not mentioned above and it is rather grandiose to explain details in bits as it is the government’s role. From the above explained road map, service delivery and better accountability will surely promote growth in the ICT sector and the whole economy.
Editor’s note: UGX stands for Uganda Shillings. A standard conversion rate of $1 = UGX 2500 is assumed.