Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Embracing #technology will help #Uganda achieve Middle Income Status


I had to write and rub the first sentence of this article three times until I decided that it should not be the one I had thought to be in the first place. But the inspiration to write it was driven from the New Vision headline "PENSION FUNDS STOLEN BY HACKERS".
To anyone who has been following events in Uganda, you know very well that in the past it has been ghosts that have been stealing people's money. Therefore the fact that we have elevated our stealing to the level of hackers explains how well we are also embracing technology for good or bad.
It reminds me of one organisation I interfaced with in 2012 while installing a Management Information System (MIS) for Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) in Eastern Uganda. This particular SACCO was in the remotest part of Kaberamaido district and I left without installing the system after failing to get the assurance that they will use it. Reason being, one of the founders who has also been Manager since the organisation started is not computer literate. She has therefore stood her ground against any form of computerisation in her organisation since it will render her powerless before the ambitious young men and women working under her.
I spent close to 4 hours explaining to this woman how the computerisation will help her organisation in record keeping and management, reduce the risk of losing vital information, relieve the credit officers to spend more time in the field, enhance their ability to detect fraud and all the goodness of it.

Of course one would ask why she could not enroll for a short course in computers and boy I did. Her answer was, "I am too old to go back to school". She then ended by telling me that they and her organisation was formed, existed and even grown that big without these computers. She doesn't see why we should now inconvenience her with the systems. She even proposed that instead of government giving them a system (because she thought it was government), they should actually give them that money for on-lending to the members.
It is now 5 years since I had this encounter and I was saddened to hear that they closed shop after losing a lot of money in a fraud by some of their employees helped by clients. I would wish to go back to that place close to Lake Bisina and meet this lady not to blame her for collapsing her organisation but thank her for opening my eyes that technology is the way to go. My wish may not come to happen because the road to that place till now has never been fixed!
In my career as an Accountant you would expect me to be having all the International Accounting Standards off head or at least a handbook to guide in my day today activities but do I need them when the Accounting system can do all the work and even give me an interpretation of the results?
That is why we find it laughable when the government appoints retirees to plan for how Uganda shall run in 2040. For a man who worked in the age of type writer with 3 secretaries, 2 accountants, 3 cashiers will find it strange that the same office could now be running more efficiently with 1 person doing the work and the rest automated.
This may explain why it has been difficult to end poverty in Uganda by 2017 as predicted by president Museveni.
A nation that will not embrace technology will not be able to serve its citizens efficiently. A company that will not embrace technology will always lag behind and a person who rejects technology in this age has no place in the future if not even the present.
DENIS WABUYI

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