THE Government has offered software giant Microsoft land and a go-ahead to construct a software development facility.
Microsoft signed a letter of intent with the Government and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to construct the software economy centre, which will be the second software innovation facility in Africa south of the Sahara.
The signed document, which is not legally binding, will lead to construction of Uganda’s first software centre that is expected to foster entrepreneurship and economic growth.
The information and communications technology (ICT) minister, Dr. Ham Mulira and industry state Minister, Dr. Ephraim Kamuntu, signed on behalf of the Government. Microsoft was represented by its east and southern Africa boss, Louis Otieno, while UNIDO was represented by its East Africa chief Dr. Geoffrey Mariki.
During the signing at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Mulira observed that with such a centre, Uganda would experience a quantum leap in technological development which is in line with the objectives for which the Ministry of ICT was established.
Under the arrangement which is non-exclusive, the Government will offer physical space including land, an enabling environment, scholarships and review of the ICT education policy, while Microsoft will provide infrastructure and other resources like training and technical expertise. UNIDO will test all the products.
Construction and actualisation of the centre is expected to take 12 months.
The centre will be expected to accelerate technical and business skills and partnerships and innovation in software development. The centre is expected to target fresh technology graduates who will be equipped with additional skills to produce high quality software. Mulira said it would also open Uganda’s doors to the wider global market of outsourcing.
The initiative is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by UNIDO and Microsoft in July 2006. Through that MoU, UNIDO and Microsoft set the stage that created a platform for supporting Ugandan businesses, promoting investment and creating business opportunities, especially for small and medium enterprises.
They also agreed to establish of a centre for refurbishing of computers.