Podcast 🎧 & blog: Uganda’s digital transformation

14.06.2023 | Federico Plantera


The all-African panel that took place at the e-Governance Conference 2023 brought into the spotlight country cases of digital transformation from the continent. An enlightening sessions, where everyone attending – both online and offline – got a unique chance to hear, at a glance, the most salient developments in digital taking place in Uganda and Namibia, among others.

In this episode of the Digital Government Podcast, we host one of the speakers of that session – Dr. Amina Zawedde. As the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance of Uganda, we discuss the status of digital transformation in the country, priorities, and the next steps on their journey.

National guidance in focus throughout the digital journey

First interesting thing to notice, as our attentive audience might have already thought, lies in the name of the Ministry – “National Guidance”. It does reflect, however, what information technologies and digital transformation mean to the country’s government. More and beyond plans and digital services, “it is also about incorporating in these ventures the values we uphold as a country, and as citizens,” Dr. Zawedde begins with.

“In some economies or ecosystems, you might notice that – with technology – people change too. You wonder where values or culture have gone. Instead, we want to make sure that we keep track, maintain, and preserve our culture,” Dr. Zawedde says. “In parallel with the natural mindset change that digitalization requires, we try to ensure that such national guidance is kept into consideration as we move forward.”

Status of digital transformation in Uganda, at a glance

Digital transformation, as we know, does not take place overnight. It is a long process, one that Uganda has already embarked on, and with interesting results so far. “We have had good progress over the last years where we now have over 71% of Government mainstream agencies using one form of an e-service. This comes with the much-needed benefits in reducing time taken to access an e-service, costs that would otherwise been incurred in tedious paper based manual processes and also removed the hustle of having to physically move between Government offices,” Dr. Zawedde says.

“As a result, we have calculated that over 5 million working hours have been saved to date over the last 10 years, and the country has improved its positioning in international rankings on digital government development. Uganda’s ranking on the E-Government Development Index has improved by over 5%. As per the World Bank’s recent GovTech Maturity Index, Uganda’s has moved from Group B to Group A of GovTech leaders. This shows that we have improved across all the four core areas considered in the GovTech Maturity Index: government systems, public service delivery, digital citizen engagement, and govtech enablers.”

The most used e-services are eTax, ePassport, automated business registration e-services, and e-procurement. All core components, among others, of a full-fledged and functioning digital government.

Uganda, year 2040 – what will it look like?

All that has been done so far, however, does not represent the final stage the country’s government wants to reach. “By 2040, we have a vision of ensuring that we leverage digital solutions fully, as a country, to improve service delivery. On top of what we have already achieved so far, I believe we have plenty of room for growth. Digital transformation, after all, is a continuous improvement journey. And the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance is taking the lead on implementing this vision.”

“At the operational level, we have a digital transformation roadmap that will help us bring to reality that Digital Uganda vision.” The goals, as set out, see the following:

  • 90% broadband coverage;
  • 85% of government services online (integrated);
  • 70% of industry skills requirements addressed;
  • 60% utilisation of local ICT products and services.

But what Dr. Zawedde cares to highlight, however, is that they are not doing it all alone. Working with international partners, namely the AU-EU D4D Hub, the European Union, and other countries and donors the Ugandan government in achieving the ambitious goals it set.

“The government has made a deliberate effort to partner with international stakeholders. We have done this by entering into numerous Memoranda of Understanding with our international partners, and it is from these agreements that we can benchmark on the advancements in the ICT and digital fields from these stakeholders.” In parallel, the engagement events organized to involve the private sector, other main actors in bringing about Uganda’s digital transformation, also paid off. “Such engagements have enabled us to get onto the development agendas of our partners, and had our projects prioritized,” Dr. Zawedde highlights.

After all, does it make sense to reinvent the wheel, when partners with experience may provide the necessary support? “There is a lot that countries like Estonia have done in order to transform their economy and society. They bring value to the table because of this – they have done it before. This includes mistakes as well, that we can learn from and not repeat, and lessons that will allow us to accelerate much faster,” Dr. Zawedde points out.


This podcast episode was recorded as part of the AU-EU Digital for Development Hub. Learn more about the project: au-eu.d4dhub.eu