Over the last few years, the penetration and growth of technology has improved drastically, the digital revolution taking center stage. Just like the industrial revolution, this has marked a complete shift in our society. It has ushered a new era, changed and disrupted our way of life and the things we do. This digital revolution which refers to the shift from technology based on analog and mechanical electronics to digital electronics allows information to be copied and duplicated easily. Due to this technology, our society is now entirely defined by computers, smart phones, internet access, and cell phone communication. The Digital Revolution is a mark to symbolize the beginning of a new Information Age.
Digital technology now guides relationships between customers, workers, and employers. We are now able to transact online and even find partners on dating websites. This change has continued to transcend boundaries between the physical and digital world. It continues to redefine traditional industry sectors and the way we live and work. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to us that the digital revolution is a necessity rather than a luxury. It made social distancing possible by enabling telecommuting and the ability to communicate effectively with people using platforms like Zoom during the stringent lockdown phases that were enacted and implemented by several governments around the world.
The digital revolution has changed the education sector. There was a time we never imagined attending a class without going to a classroom. Today, education has evolved allowing students to attend classes from the comfort of their homes. Students are able to access information and interact with their teachers at anyone time in the world. Several people in Uganda have been able to attend Ivy league colleges like the University of Oxford without going to England. On top of all this, teachers can use Artificial Intelligence and games to facilitate teaching their students. The Edtech Lab at The Innovation Village is championing the move to incorporate digital technology in Uganda’s education sector. It has partnered with institutions like Makerere University to earnestly advocate for design thinking and E-Learning strategies. Beyond education, the search for employment has been revolutionized. Today, people can look for opportunities online. The creation of startups like ProInterns and Hire The Youth are connecting young people to potential employers and unlocking opportunities to great paying jobs.
The Digital Revolution has swept through the financial and banking sector rapidly changing the way industry players interact with customers and deliver services. Today, it is more important for banks to be creative and innovative. Although branches are still popular, and customers like to talk to their bankers face to face, people are increasingly conducting transactions and seeking advice through computers and mobile devices. Take for instance the introduction of agent banking that enables proximity access to cash instead of traveling and looking for an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Additionally, people can send and receive money with just a click on their phones. Our Fintech Lab is focused on the role technology and innovation plays in improving services across the financial sector. We have partnered with big players in the industry like Stanbic Bank to champion the use of technology in the finance and banking sector.
Several companies have become more reliant on digital marketing strategies. The pandemic has challenged all channels related to live events and conferences including exhibitions and tradeshows limiting face-to-face business interactions. Digital marketing has become key as many companies, even the ones that did not have social media platforms and websites have moved to concentrate on social media marketing, content creation, Search Engine Optimization and influencer-led campaigns and e-commerce.
Technology has helped small medium enterprises and startups to grow and operate more efficiently. They have been able to reach their target audiences through the use of online marketing tools, easily communicating with their teams, pitching to investors and communicating with customers due to internet connectivity. One now requires good internet connectivity and a computer to run their start ups effectively with the surge of the digital era.
The rapid growth of telecommunications users and the widespread use of mobile money and visa card payments has spearheaded the digitalization of commerce in Uganda. In fact, e-commerce is rapidly growing in Uganda, and is expected to become the second largest online market in the East Africa region. Our commercial banks have incorporated Mobile Money and visa services which allow mobile phone users to electronically transfer funds to retailers or individuals. Uganda’s e-commerce market offers a wide range of goods and services, including the ability to meet tax obligations. E-commerce platforms like Jumia Uganda have given people an opportunity to purchase food and other supplies online and pay through cashless transactions.
The tourism sector in Uganda brings in the highest amount of foreign exchange but the unprecedented effects of COVID-19 has left the sector struggling. Considering that the virus is still amidst us, we have to adapt. The digital revolution continues to thrive in this industry as the sector derives ways to promote tourism while adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures. In fact the Uganda Tourism Board recently launched a digital campaign to boost local tourism through Virtual Reality.
Technology will only continue to innovate over time, and we will all have to adapt no matter what. As it improves rapidly, more people around the world are embracing the digital economy. We need to think carefully about policies that will allow us to fully exploit these digital revolution benefits.