Uganda is to enter the world of business process outsourcing (BPO) with a soon-to-be opened IT Park that is expected to create 12 000 direct jobs, 20 000 indirect jobs and spark $200-million a year in the export of IT and IT-related services.
Leading to the Commonwealth Business Forum in Kampala in November, the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) is heavily involved in the IT Park project which will open opportunities for educated, skilled Ugandans and put Uganda on the map of Africa as a beacon for technology.
The project – located off Entebbe-Kampala road, midway between the city centre and the Aarport and covering 500acresl – will provide a comprehensive and secure IT and business services park within a satellite city.
Explaining the reason behind choosing Uganda for the project, Dr Mohan Kaul, director general of CBC, says: "One of the best things about Uganda is its people. The country has a highly literate population, knowledgeable and skilled workforce. It is obvious that we can use the knowledge and skill base available, like in India, and turn Uganda into the Bangalore of Africa. One possibility could be to set up an IT park which is a model successfully implemented in a number of other countries."
The fact that Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will take place in Uganda in November also makes the country ideal for such a project. Timing is crucial for the scheme and with the Commonwealth Business Forum slated for the year-end, project backers are confident of attracting required FDI for the project development.
Mahesh Ramachandran, director of CBC Projects & Finance, comments: "There is a potential for $200-million in annual exports of IT and IT related services. There will be job creation for 12 000 employees directly and indirect labour generation will be to the tune of 20 000."
The project will provide premium and prestige position in IT and offshore services in East and Central Africa.
The park will have offshore development centres, call centres, back office, data processing centres and data centres.
It will also have residences comprising of studios, apartments and luxury condos, hotels and convention centres, malls, retail parks, entertainment centres, schools, colleges, hospitals and medical facilities. It will have high speed Wi-fi enabled internet and data connectivity, IP telephony, high security and controlled access infrastructure, transport links to and within the IT Park and Single Window Government Clearances.
To achieve the objective of a thriving IT Park, the CBC has suggested an IT policy framework to the government including 100% tax exemption for lease income, capital gains and services provided in IT Parks for 20 years from commencement, 100% tax exemption on companies and staff located in IT Parks for 20 years from commencement, simplified & quick clearances of work permits & dependant permits for IT Park staff, no restriction on repatriation of profits/salaries; low repatriation tax on profits/salaries for companies and staff, Single Window Clearance/service for companies formation, operation and labour laws.
In addition, 100% duty exemption on capital equipment imports into IT Parks, IT Act, Intellectual Property Rights Laws & Enforcement, priority Security and Incident Free Security Systems in IT Parks will facilitate the progress.
The CBC will work closely with the government and will be involved in setting and preparing Uganda's IT Policy. It will also be involved in setting up an Africa Regional Association of Software & Services Companies (ARASSC) in Uganda, coordinating with the Ugandan Investment Board to bring FDI, developing a comprehensive IT Park within the satellite city, promotion of Uganda as an IT outsourcing destination in the Commonwealth countries, encourage sharing of best practices on IT exports between the Commonwealth countries and setup intellectual, data protection and privacy framework to be used by Uganda IT Act.