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May in Uganda: Recap of major tech news

A mast of Africell located at the company headquarters on Clement Hill Road in Kampala

A lot of developments (both negative and positive) happened in the technology ecosystem in the month of May, and before we go deep into June, SautiTech brings you a roundup of some of the biggest things that occurred this month in Uganda.

Blockchain Conference

Uganda was lucky to host the first ever African blockchain conference in Kampala. The two-day event started on May 23, and more than 700 guests from 23 countries around the world attended, according to organisers.

Experts in the blockchain were invited to enlighten the attendees on the latest developments in the technology and debate has since been swept across the country as people inquire more about the mystery that is blockchain.

President Yoweri Museveni, who was the chief guest endorsed blockchain, and ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze promised to roll out a national taskforce to advise government on policy formulation and regulatory framework for blockchain.

The Chairman of the Blockchain Association of Uganda Kwame Rugunda announced on the final day that Uganda will be hosting another blockchain conference in 2019.

Mobile money, social media taxes

After weeks of speculation and debate, Members of Parliament on Wednesday approved the proposal by the finance ministry to impose Shs200 daily on every Ugandan that uses social media and another 1% for every transaction made on mobile money.

If assented to by President Yoweri Museveni, the taxes will be charged under excise duty effective July 1 of this year.

Government hopes to generate Shs115 billion by levying 1% for every mobile money transaction and Shs284 billion from taxes on social media, according to the finance ministry.

Africell survives license loss

In the middle of May, the communications regulator, UCC announced that it would suspend Africell’s two operational licenses for selling sim cards in ungazetted areas. After engagement between the two parties, the decision was withdrawn.

MTN mobile money storm

Just towards the end of May, a Makerere University lecturer attacked telecommunications company MTN Uganda over its policies on reversal of erred mobile money transactions.

The issue has since attracted public and international attention. UCC revealed on Wednesday that they would soon roll out a committee to investigate into the matter.

Cybersecurity clinic

Uganda is currently hosting the East African Cybersecurity Clinic, and officials from different African countries and across the world have discussed several ways in which they can formulate a policy to solidify the fight against cyber criminals.

Participants include governmental officials from East African Community members countries such as Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda, and representatives from other countries of the region like Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria and Somalia.

The clinic will lay the foundation to support regional integration of cybersecurity protection, according to officials.

Loan

Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze recently announced that Uganda is going to borrow a loan amounting to US $84.73 million (about Shs318.9 billion) from the Exim Bank of China to finance the National Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation Skills Enhancement Project (ENSTEI-SEP).

According to the minister, the money will be used to establish two projects, that is, the National Science, Technology and Engineering Skills Enhancement Centre (NSTESEC) and Technology, Innovation and Business Incubation Centre (TIBIC).

These projects, the statement continues, are to enhance skills development and promote science, technology, engineering and innovation-based enterprise development.

K2 Telecom closed

Telecommunications Company K2 Telecom was on the bad side of the news after the revenue collection body announced that it had closed it over failure to pay taxes totalling to Shs95.8m.

According to URA officials, the company owes Shs77.8m in pay as you earn (PAYE) and Shs17 million in local exercise duty. It will not be opened until the debts are cleared, according to the revenue authority.

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