Romania is offering to give both technical and market linkage support, while Uganda should be be able to develop it products for the market.
NITA-U Executive Director, Hatwib Mukasa says Romania’s partnership with Uganda will open up the foreign market for Ugandan IT innovators or developers in Europe because it its status as a hub of innovation in Europe.
Romania seeks to enhance Uganda’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector’s capacity so as to be able to access the lucrative European market.
Uganda has at least 500 IT companies registered with the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) involved in different fields including app and software development.
This, according to the authority is a big number that might not be accommodated by the Ugandan economy if they were fully productive yet education institutions continue producing more IT graduates.
Hence the need to diversify the sector’s market. Now in an effort to optimize the growth potential of the IT Sector to fast track economic and social transformation; Ugandan and Romanian IT sectors have hatched a plan to work together.
The two are supporting the Alliance for Trade in Information Technology Services (ATIS), a Ugandan IT trade support organisation working to promote IT exports, and Cluj IT, a cluster based organization formed by Romanian research institutions, universities and IT analysts, to work together.
The two institutions have established a framework to jointly implement common activities for the exchange of information and good practices, among others. NITA-U Executive Director, Hatwib Mukasa says Romania’s partnership with Uganda will open up the foreign market for Ugandan IT innovators or developers in Europe because it its status as a hub of innovation in Europe.
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Romania is regarded as one of the most attractive markets in Europe for technology investment and outsourcing, with a highly skilled and diversified workforce, competitive prices, and a stimulating business environment with a sector worth as 40 billion EUR.
Romania is the leader in Europe, and sixth in the world, in terms of the number of certified IT specialists, with density rates per 1,000 inhabitants greater than in the US or Russia.
According to information of Wikipedia, there are about 100,000 specialists in the IT sector in Romania, while a third of the 40,000 engineers graduating every year are trained in ICT.
In terms of software exports, currently, Romania controls 5 percent of the offshore software development market and is the third leading country, after India and China.
These achievements have been largely attributed to the high level of government support to the sector, according to Stelian Brad, the President of the Cluj IT Cluster.
Brad says it is not only important for the government to put in place regulations and money in the sector, but that there is need for the public sector itself to take the lead in the IT revolution. Early next month, Uganda and Romania are due to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which will create a platform of cultural and professional exchange in the IT sector.
“This initiative we believe enhances the national capacity to mainstream digital transformation agenda leveraging the competence and success registered by Romania. We intend to fully leverage the knowledge transfer to fast-track the digitalization of government services delivery,” said NITA-U ED Mukasa.
Romania is offering to give both technical and market linkage support, while Uganda should be be able to develop it products for the market. Mukasa says that NITA’s support will largely involve ensuring international standards in the innovation so that the services and products offered are marketable.
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ATIS Chairperson, Patrick Kagenda says as private sector players in IT, they are upbeat that this development will go a long way in expanding the sector and making it more production. Kagenda admits that that the Romanians are far advanced IT, but says that that is why the two are partnering.
On the capacity of Uganda to compete internationally, Kagenda says the country had unique advantages like language, time zone and the demographic structure which, which together with government support will help the country fit in.
Kagenda says one of the main areas where Ugandans are losing heavily is in the music and arts industry where the works are being exported illegally with no income at all to the owners.
He says that currently, the local innovators are highly organized than they were three years ago and can even meet the requirements of the international standards like ISO.
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Labong Grace Achire, who is also the CEO of Vantage Communications Group Uganda has young and trainable talents, but they are however disadvantaged by the low capacity to meet the quantity, quality consistencies required by European markets.
But she says they will leverage the proximity and cultural relations to increase participation on the global market stage, and benefit the Ugandan economy.