UGANDA has started reaping big from hosting this yearâ€™s Commonwealth Summit after the Commonwealth Business Council earmarked over $ 100m (about sh175b) to implement two huge business projects in the country.
According to James Mulwana, the chairman for the 2007 Commonwealth Business Forum, the two projects include setting up zip-money centers (small banks) in all rural areas and an ICT Park in Kakungulu Estate (Wakiso district)
He said the two projects would officially be launched during the Commonwealth Business Forum, which begins today.
Mulwana said out of the $100m, the business council would use $30m to establish over 500 financial centers in the different rural parts of Uganda.
â€œThe project is an ideal platform that will link banks, consumers, merchants, mobile operators and service providers.â€
The financial centres will offer advice to the public and serve as the local branches for the major banks and financial institutions, he said.
Mulwana explained that the initiative was born out of research, which identified a vacuum in the microfinance and co-operative sectors.
He said the money centers would boost savings and investments.
Mulwana revealed that the financial centers would also make it easy for direct money transfer from abroad to the rural areas.
According to the Commonwealth Business Council, the $70m ICT park project is intended at making Uganda Africaâ€™s technology hub.
Speaking about the project and its potential, Mahesh Ramathan, a council director, said: â€œThere is a potential for $200m annual exports of IT and related services. There will be job creation for 12,000 employees directly and indirect labour generation will be to the tune of 20,000.
â€œThe project will provide premium and prestige position in IT and offshore services in East and Central Africa.
Exports of services will represent 20% of current total exports ($961m) and high skilled IT facilities.â€
The park will have offshore development, call data centers plus a back office processing centre.
The business council in a report recently stated that Uganda is Africaâ€™s best place for IT companies because it has a strong English-speaking young workforce, who constitute over 40% of the population like India.
Uganda, the council noted, is in the process of formulating IT ploicies and developing a body equal to Indiaâ€™s Nasscom, which regulates technlology and computer policies.
Commonwealth aids projects