Experts task government to take digital transformation as top priority

Experts from digital and financial firms have advised government to re-think and take digital transformation as a top priority if Uganda is to realize a digital financial economy in the coming years.

Speaking during the breakfast meeting organized by MFS Africa/Beyonic Uganda Limited to discuss the power of Digital transformation in Corporate Governance on Tuesday, Michael Niyitegeka, the Director of Refectory noted that it’s the right time for experts from both the private sector and government to talk about digital transformation from a holistic side of perfection starting from the grass-root level.

Mr Niyitegeka said policymakers together with the digital solution developers must always work together to make sure their products are fit and can solve the problems of the end-users without fear of incurring high internet costs.

“We must also find out if digital is making more inclusive or putting people out of financial space. As we think of digital transformation strategy, people should not only think about the financial side of it, but they should also put into consideration the enterprise side of the game because that is the basis of everything,” he said.

Mr Niyitegeka added that digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how a businessman operates and deliver value to customers. And it’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.

He however, cautioned that any business or economy undertaking digital transformation without focus and active commitment by the policymakers or executives, there is almost no chance of success because a digital transformation is a business-model reinvention that requires different functions across the organization to work together in new ways and this can only happen through large-scale investments in building an entirely new set of capabilities.

He also advised digital solution developers and businesses to reimagine value and be clear about getting it, make their companies attractive to top talent, become a tech and data business, build for speed and promote adoption across the enterprise.

“Key Elements in Digital Transformation are; Customer experience, Operational agility, Culture and leadership, Workforce enablement, Digital technology integration. Also, one of the main reasons for the thriving global digital economy is digital payments with a rising user base of smartphones, mobile/internet banking, e-commerce and improved internet penetration, however, in Uganda, we still have the problem of internet penetration in rural areas also digital illiteracy. This problem can only be solved by involving both policymakers and private sectors,” Mr Niyitegeka asserted.

Lawrence Micheal Oketcho, the Acting Executive Director / Director of Trade Information, Uganda Export Promotion Board also noted that there is still a bigger gap between the end-user and the digital solution developers or digital financial intuitions. He, however, stated that with digital transformation becoming inclusive, trade is being made easier.

“Role of government is key to industrial policy, and export promotion and funding exports in part of the winning formula for any developing country.”

On the other hand, the Vice President of Global Enterprises MFS Africa, Doreen Lukandwa revealed that since they act as an accelerator to enable other financial Institution make transfers of monies in more than 33 countries, they are working with services providers such as MTN, Airtel to reduce costs of transactions.

“We have done a lot of work in building relationships with FITSPA, UIA and UEPB at the policy level to help create awareness of what is needed and through those relationships we continue to lobby for these companies like network expanding, lowering costs of the internet, increasing access to mobile phones,”Ms Lukandwa said.

She added that internally they are trying to build products that are user friendly to even those that are not well conversant with the digital technology.

“We are doing this with both private sector and government to help create that awareness and continue to bridge that gap as we get to the digital financial inclusion that we want to see thriving in Uganda.”