Developments in the ICT sector are changing the way we consume information, shop, pay our bills and bank. The speed is unrelenting and in 2015, expect the developments in this sector to be the biggest drivers not only of the economy but also of our lives. Michael Niyitegeka examines how and makes some fearless predictions for the New Year
The information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Uganda has had tremendous progress from a usability, development, innovation, and adoption context. There is an increase in the level of awareness with regard to the value of ICT in enhancing institutional growth.
Many people are interested in how ICTs work and how they can be integrated in their business lines.
In the Sunday Vision of November 23, 2014, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Minister of Internal Affairs, wrote an article on the need for an integrated database for national data. Therefore, in 2015, the following will shape the ICT sector in Uganda.
We shall see an escalation of battles for the telecom space. The telecom market will be disrupted with the entry of Vodafone Uganda, no doubt about that. They have the muscle to disrupt the space. The Ugandan market is not that big, however, it has the potential to grow. Voice will take a new twist, what Warid introduced as pakalast will become a minimum expectation.
Voice bundling as it is referred to will be the battle ground. We have seen MTN enter this space with their latest promotion on voice bundles. With Uganda’s unique demographic trends, the need for innovation in approaching this market will be required more. The regulator will be required to bite when these battles spill over to the consumers.
As we gear up to the 2016 elections, social media will be elevated. We shall see more politicians take on social media and hire social media ‘consultants’ to support their campaigns. My recent discovery of the level of penetration and usage of Facebook zero www.o.facebook.com in Kyarusozi and Kyenjojo on basic mobile devices left me in shock and excitement at the same time.
A man working on a laptop. ICT experts will be on high demand for their skills
Our appreciation and desire to be part of the social media reality will grow. These platforms will be used as sources of information and news. At a corporate level, we shall see more corporates integrate social media as one of their mainstream communication channels.
The Government will continue to struggle getting social media to work, with pockets of success in some MDA. Persons with knowledge and technical competence will be sought after as leaders seek to get a grasp of these issues.
2014 has seen major players enter the market, like Google, Seacom, Afrimax (Vodafone Uganda) and Liquid Telecom. These players will rock the boat and Internet pricing will take a big nose dive in 2015.
Mobile devices will continue being the main source of access to the Internet and therefore, we will see more juicy bundles hitting our devices in 2015.
We are likely to see lucrative offers for fibre connections to homes within organised settings like flats or housing estates. The war will capture the home users, I am sure the office consumers are reducing by the day.
The traditional mobile phone manufacturers will continue losing ground or market to the generic device manufacturers. The likes of Techno, Itel, Huawei, and Konka will continue disrupting the market. They will deliver smartphones at great prices.
Uganda is a price-sensitive market and for anybody who can deliver. Samsung and Microsoft will be called in to bring their A-game to this market.
One of the most difficult things to access in Uganda is great data. In 2015, we are likely to see the quest for big data grow. Data will begin having a price point, especially with the integration of the East African Community.
Visualisation of data in the digital space will be essential when it comes to digital positioning. Digital content 2015 will see substantial demand for digital content especially in the key growth sectors of agriculture, health, oil and gas and tourism.
A number of apps will be developed for online shopping
Having a website will not enough, there will be need for it to be functional, with updated content.
The current approach of outsourcing website development and management is bound to change with the positions of web administrator and content managers becoming an integral part of many organisations.
As more people and organisations go online, and because of the increasing incidences of online fraud, investments in Internet security will increase. Organisations will invest in robust infrastructure to safeguard institutional data and resources. The need for certified IT security talent will increase across private and public sectors.
Mobile money banking
Mobile money will play a significant role in our digital money space. The interesting bit will be to see how the telecoms and banks tussle it out as they fight for legitimacy in the mobile money space. We are yet to exploit the full potential of what is possible in this space.
Looking at how Safaricom has demystified the mobile money and integrated it in almost all businesses, the least we can do is copy. Banks will invest significantly in mobile money payments and transactions, we shall see solid investments by the telecoms in increasing their sales.
New telecom companies will be introduced to the Ugandan market this year
Harnessing the power of the mobile phone
In 2015, we shall see an increase in the number of mobile applications locally developed. The corporate companies will invest part of the communication budgets into their digital presence and apps will be one avenue.
Shopping will be one major activity with the mobile apps, and we can already see it with apps like #PearlGuideUganda, #HelloFood and #OLX. Being part of the mobile revolution, especially in the sales cycle, will be a major decision organisations will have to make.
Voice of the consumer
In 2015, the voice of the consumer will be enhanced with the use of ICTs, and specifically on social media. The rants will be pronounced. Gone are the days when letters to the editors would be trashed. Just one tweet will get the attention of the service providers.
Online brand reputation will be critical and the ability to resolve the concerns at the speed of light will be a minimum expectation.
2015 will see many government business processes going online and this will be championed by Uganda Revenue Authority, the Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Assets Authority and the Kampala Capital City Authority.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs might join the bandwagon and if it does, it will be more of a soft launch. I am optimistic that the Uganda Registration Bureau Services and the Investment Authority will join this approach of doing business this year.
In the private sector, the financial institutions will be the champions of this drive.
The launch of the government's first Strategic Sector Investment Plan might trigger some potential investments. However, I think this might be realised in 2016, knowing how our processes work.
The demand for professional ICT human resources beyond degree qualifications will increase. You can only be part of it, so get ready and play along.
The writer is an accredited IT practioner
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ICT 2015: telecoms will battle, social media will be elevated