ITC launches Netherlands Trust Fund IV project to increase the competitiveness of technology companies in Uganda
The International Trade Centre (ITC) launched a project to increase the competitiveness of technology companies in Uganda.
The ITC’s Netherlands Trust Fund IV project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda’s information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITES) sectors.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Kampala, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘Competitiveness is not an option. It is a necessity if countries are to seize the opportunities presented by trade and new technologies. With the NTF IV project, we will open up a new chapter in ITC’s support to the development of exports of “Made in Uganda” IT and IT-enabled services.’
‘The NTF IV project is designed to scale up companies, provide more end-to-end solutions, engage more start-ups, and ultimately be one of the key drivers of the development of Uganda’s IT sector,’ she said.
Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda’s Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, said: ‘I welcome this initiative by ITC to support us on the strengthening of Uganda’s tech industry. We know Ugandan companies have the skills to compete in international markets and NTF IV project will help some climb that last barrier and expand beyond our borders.’
NTF IV is a continuation of a long-running partnership between the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) and ITC. The project will run until June 2021 and will be working at different levels of engagement with more than 100 MSMEs in Uganda, of which more than half comprise start-up companies.
Though the NTF IV project, ITC will seek to address wider challenges facing Uganda’s nascent tech industry, including scaling up its competitiveness. There remains substantial unrealized potential for Ugandan tech companies to benefit from engagement in the domestic, regional and global.
A lack of a local venture capital industry prevents young entrepreneurs and start-ups from accessing seed and growth funding. Meanwhile, established companies with an export track record are not able to scale up due to their limited size and resources. In response, ITC will actively be working to connect the participating companies with potential investors and partners abroad.
The NTF IV project will also place a significant focus on gender and actively promote the participation of Ugandan women in tech – especially in leadership positions. Currently, most women in the sector tend to hold lower-skilled jobs such as data entry and image tagging.
During NTF IV pre-launch activities, women-led companies and start-ups have been trained on pitching to investors and two companies have been selected to take part in the SheTrades Global event set for June in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
NTF IV offers 18 of the supported IT and ITES exporters access to advanced advisory services and business-to-business (B2B) opportunities abroad. Two IT companies traveled to Barcelona in February to find partners and clients at the Mobile World Congress 2018, for instance. Three others, led by representatives from the ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) and the Alliance for Trade in Information-Technology and Services (ATIS), took part in Transform Africa in Kigali on 7 May.