Minister Amongi Calls For Increased Cooperation With ICT Leverage IT Solutions For Social Security.

Hon. Minister of Gender, Betty Amongi Akena calls for increased cooperation with ICT to leverage IT solutions for Social Security as she officiates at NSSF Meeting.



The Hon. Minister of ICT, Permanent Secretaries present, The Acting Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission, the Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund and his Executive team, distinguished guests, government officials present, Ladies and Gentlemen.  I welcome you all to our partnership conference with the Technology & Communications sector. 

We started this partnership strategy by engaging the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) on the issue of industrial parks – where we found evidence of serious violations of workers’ rights. We moved on to the road construction sector through our partnership with UNRA and then convened the Oil and gas sector under our partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. We are now mobilizing workers in the Information and Communication Technology sector.  When we combine these efforts, we see a worrying trend: 

• So far, in these 4 engagements, we have identified about 630 businesses (most of them SMEs).

• The number of workers covered by these businesses is about 35,000.

• But the average compliance rate – those making their full NSSF contributions on time – is just 51%. 

And this is just the tip of a large iceberg of non-compliance.  

As you digest these statistics, we should be conscious of the fact that according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), labor productivity in Uganda is $3.53 (UGX 13,200), per one hour of work. The productivity average for low-income African countries is $2.93. Despite being above average, Uganda’s labor productivity is noticeably lower than that of Kenya ($4.75). Contrary to what many might infer from these statistics, they do not necessarily mean Ugandans are lazy. Instead, what this means is that:

• Uganda has a lot more informal work in the economy – which means a lot of the work is not captured via formal monetary systems.

• Secondly, it also means that Uganda has a very low adoption rate of technology in work – another reason for partnering with the Ministry of ICT

Let us discuss the first issue – informality. We have numerous workers who are working but lack contracts. And this is the simple differentiator between a formal and informal worker. The absence of contracts encourages employers to disregard labor regulations and increases the number of workers that we categorize as “vulnerable”. As Uganda continues to industrialize, we will see a rise in the trend of workers without contracts.  

This trend was evident as well in the United States and Great Britain in the first and second industrial revolutions. Workers eventually acted and mobilized to protect their rights – leading to the formation of the Labour Party in Great Britain, and the Democratic Party in the USA.  This kind of labour activism reached global appeal, and today in Uganda we see a lot of workers organized under various unions like the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), and Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU). Originally, these movements focused on the formal and skilled workers. But we are now seeing an increasing number of informal sector workers joining Unions. This tells us that Uganda does not lack the means to mobilize workers. 

What is missing is empowerment.  And this has to start with a major shift in mindset !!!   The avoidance of formalization is going to keep workers in Uganda poor. So, at a later point in our partnership strategy, we will be engaging with these Unions on this aspect.  For now, however, as we engage regulators like the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), and National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U)  today; we can’t be seen to be abetting poverty.  You must encourage the businesses that you regulate to formalize their operations – including compliance with the NSSF Act. 

Now let’s discuss the second issue - the role of technology in enhancing labour productivity. According to the World Bank, Information and Communication Technologies help create and sustain jobs.

We are aware that the Ministry of ICT has a major plan around Business Process Outsourcing to create jobs. I encourage you to take a “whole-of-government” approach to such initiatives.  Are there opportunities to work with NSSF’s Hi-innovator program, for example? How can we leverage technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship to attract investment and create successful startups? This is the challenge I am placing before the Ministry of ICT. Convene the various actors in this space to accelerate job creation. The MD of NSSF mentioned Vietnam in his speech. Vietnam is now the 8th largest provider of IT services in the world. Its digital economy grew from USD 3 Billion in 2015, to USD 9 Billion in 2019, and is forecast to reach USD 30 Billion by 2025. Jobs in the ICT sector are higher paying than in manufacturing and agriculture.  We therefore need a very deliberate strategy to attract more investment in IT services – and we can do this through stronger collaboration with the Uganda Investment Authority and the various entrepreneurship and investment programs that NSSF is supporting.

I would like to end by reiterating what I said earlier - that the biggest hurdle we need to jump to overcome poverty is mindset.  Especially the mindset that it is okay to remain informal. Informality equates to indiscipline, and indiscipline stalls progress and keeps us poor. Let us pay our taxes, let us save with NSSF!!

For God and My Country. 

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