Since 2009, when the Bank of Uganda issued a no-objection letter to Uganda’s first mobile money provider, there have been many milestones achieved to bring digital financial services to the population. This report by AFI discusses Uganda’s financial journey. Regulators including as Bank of Uganda and Uganda Communications Commission along with the development sector players such as FSD Uganda and UNCDF are striving to pave the way for digital financial services to expand and serve the needs of the population.
The Ministry of ICT have a Digital Uganda Vision which will provide a unified direction for ICT development for the country. This will align investment and infrastructure and ultimately contribute to the goal of universal inclusion. Also important in the landscape in Uganda is the move by the National Identity and Registration Authority (NIRA) to facilitate Digital Identity with plans for financial services providers being able to access for eKYC purposes and MNOs are already linked (this is discussed further in this World Bank diagnostic).
Kampala is the location of one of DFI’s Community of Practices and Uganda has around 100 DFI alumni. There have been a steady number of students from Uganda on our courses and coupled with the above developments and commitments it makes Uganda a very interesting market. A core group of alumni, led by COP Facilitator Ann Muhangi, decided to come together to form a registered association, Digital Frontiers Association Uganda (DFA) with a vision “To be the platform for digital finance professionals to influence policy and product innovations that foster better financial inclusion practices.”
Uganda is a growing market for DFS and important to DFI, so we decided to visit in September and to host a second event with the DFA. During our visit we met with banks, MNOs, microfinance, central bank, UNCDF and FSDU and discussed capacity, training and plans. Some great connections were made and we hope to see collaborations between these organisations and both DFI and DFA.
We also got to meet some of our aspiring students as well – here are some from MTN:
DFI and DFA’s event was held on 12th September and was attended by around 100 people and snippets from the conference were also broadcast on NTV Uganda. The topic was regulation and Innovation in driving financial inclusion, with a panel discussion featuring Dr. Twinemanzi, Executive Director Supervision, Bank of Uganda and Julianne Mweheire, Director Industry Affairs & Content Development, Uganda Communications Commission. It was great to see the debates and discussions between the regulator and financial service providers and sharing of information so each could understand the other’s perspectives. It is also clear that a number of developments, including a regulatory sandbox and Payments Act, are to be expected shortly from the Bank of Uganda. Dr Ramathan Goobi, from Makerere University Business School, gave a great key note address bringing research and his thoughts regarding the role of the regulator in stimulating innovation. It was great to see an audience from all segments of the DFS ecosystem engaged at the event as well as seeing the familiar faces of our DFI alumni.