Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Uganda to invest in IT jointly with private players

By Edris Kisambira , IDG News Service , 11/04/2008

To nurture Uganda's nascent IT sector, the government will be open to joint venture investments with the private sector, according to the national draft IT policy currently being discussed.

The proposal's objective is to provide an enabling environment for private ventures to flourish and to use favorable fiscal policies to make Ugandan IT products and services globally competitive.

Moreover, the proposal is aimed at establishing a joint government and private sector institutional framework for developing advisory standards and quality control of IT products and services and to encourage local capacity-building by providing guaranteed markets in specialized and strategic IT sectors.

The Ugandan government hopes to achieve these objectives by establishing and operating IT parks, which will be free zones, to attract investment. The policy draft says that IT parks will greatly enhance the ease of doing business by providing favorable access to the Ugandan domestic markets and providing incentive for export production.

The parks would be developed to produce hardware and software and to also provide one-window services to domestic and foreign companies that seek to engage in IT business in Uganda.

The draft proposes that the parks provide workspace, utilities, telecom and other infrastructure facilities meeting international standard at low costs, as efficiently functioning parks will attract local, foreign and multinational entrepreneurs.

The Ugandan government would have to encourage the private sector to set up such parks on a build, own and transfer basis and do the same for IT incubation centers, the draft states. Software companies would, therefore, be provided with land on lease at commercial rates to build their campuses.

According to the draft, a National IT Development Fund, established by the government, would provide venture capital finance to SME start-ups in the IT sector.