Government Moves to Guide Growth of Business Outsourcing Industry

The National Business Process Outsourcing Policy draft is complete and has been developed with the intent to streamline online employment and job creation.  

The policy developed by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance aims to guide the operations of investors and workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, as well as provide a suitable work and business environment.  

Business Process Outsourcing is an economic model where a person or group of persons are employed for tasks to be conducted remotely, either within the country or anywhere in the world. In Uganda, the government recognised the new form of employment as early as 2010, but it has been without specified guidelines or regulations.  

The Policy aims at enhancing efficiency and effectiveness through the introduction of ICT-enabled innovative solutions to support business processes and promote the Business Process Outsourcing industry as well as a service export.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019/2020, online businesses gained tract and so did online outsourcing. Amina Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary of the ICT ministry says the policy will help the government provide another solution for jobless young people.  

One of the major hindrances to faster growth of IT-related activities in the country has been the high cost of accessing the internet. This is likely to continue suppressing growth unless resolved.

Dr Zawedde said that the government is aware of the high costs and the effect of doing business and that they are tackling it by encouraging Memoranda of Understanding between the government and telecom service providers.  

Silas Ngabirano, the Assistant Commissioner for Information Management at the Ministry explains that during the analysis, they found several strengths and weaknesses for the country. He said that Uganda’s young and resilient population, cheap labour, and good spoken English are part of its strengths or advantages over other countries.  

“Given the high growth potential of the Telecom sector in Africa and with a 14 million plus customer base of mobile and fixed line in Uganda alone the Telecom sector becomes a key focus area for Uganda’s BPO sector.

Utilities and Essential Services Utility companies and Essential Services around the world are looking for ways to address the evolving needs of their customers,” he said while introducing the policy. Among the main areas of opportunities, the draft names major power distribution and energy firms outsourcing many services like billing, call centre support, statement generation and remittance processes.

“This provides an outsourcing opportunity to provide auxiliary services associated with National ID, driving permits, passports, and civil registration documents such as follow-up, collection, access to information and customer service,” among others.

The government has allocated land for ICT parks and has set up Incubation Hubs. The draft encourages local and foreign companies to take advantage of these facilities and set up business outsourcing centres there.

Prof William Bazeyo, the Chairperson of the Business Process Outsourcing and Innovation Council says this should be one way of reducing skills flight, especially to the Middle East where Ugandans are subjected to undignified labour.

Zawedde also said the policy will not only protect Ugandans but also foreign investors coming to invest in the sector.

This policy will also work with other laws so as to give confidence to owners of copyrights and trademarks that the same shall not be abused in Uganda. The Policy promotes among others, infrastructure sharing which in turn reduces the cost of doing business in Uganda and lowers the cost of internet-based services. 

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