How to innovate in a tech-driven era

Saturday March 10 2018

The high level of technology provides young

The high level of technology provides young Ugandans an opportunity to make innovations that can sustainably employ them . PHOTO by Godfrey Lugaaju  


Dwight Bigala learnt well and got into entrepreneurship at an early age.
Before he completed law school in 2009, he began a company he called CFS and has since built on what started small.
Currently, he is a technology lawyer and Rotarian.
“I sought out a way to prepare early enough for the challenges of life,” he says as he strokes his rimless glasses to put them in place.
“I live by the adage; ‘tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today’. I chose to focus my career on legal-tech, but my current focus is Artificial Intelligence (AI),” he adds.
Bigala holds a Masters in Law from Stanford Law School. He has been working between Uganda and US with a plan to create solutions to different problems through Business Process Outsourcing.
His focus is to mold his artificial intelligence dream into something tangible building on the already existing facilities.
“Uganda has the first Artificial Intelligence Lab in Africa [Pulse Labs Kampala], set up recently by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Africa has the youngest people who have the capacity to cause a technology revolution,” he says, adding that he will leverage on this.
According to Bigala, the solution to some of the current challenges in Uganda such as court case backlog can be mitigated through high-level technology, which creates efficiency.
“We are now seeing disruptions in accounting, legal and almost all other professions. These are areas where technology can play a huge role,” he says.
Technology has had a serious impact on the job market and according to Bigala, it presents software developers with opportunity to tap into the local markets with customised solutions.
“In today’s globalised world, the youth should focus on this field [technology]. We are seeing the traction,” he says.
Uganda, he says, can jump on the innovation truck if it re-aligns the education system to meet new demands.
“We should start from the basics and remember that what the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches,” he says.
However, he argues, innovators must build sustainable ideas that will leverage on the local market before looking out.
This will check the market challenge issue that many companies face.
Other challenges such as lack of capital, he argues, can be mitigated through building Venture Capital initiatives that encourage a culture of risk taking, which defines start-ups.
Most start-ups, according to research, fail because they are averse to risk.
“Start-ups in emerging markets need financers with this mind-set. What we have in plenty are banks, which though ideal for mature businesses are not cut-out for start-ups because they are risk averse and tie entrepreneurship to the limitations of debt finance,” Bigala further argues.
In the face of several initiatives being spearheaded to address the challenge, more needs to be done for Africa to make significant step into technology, one of the biggest revenue streams across the globe.
“Silicon Valley lets out about $1b per day in funding. It is imperative that Africa taps into this. Governments and national industry associations should support private sector led initiatives primarily focused on accessing such funding. Asia is already doing so,” he says.
According to the Approved Index ranking, Uganda is the world’s most entrepreneurial country coming ahead of Thailand.
The country also has a highly ranked business school – Makerere University Business School - that has done so well in molding entrepreneurs.
“We have been leaders in some sectors. For instance, Africa birthed and leads in the Mobile Money revolution. This is a model that was built here. We must take the lead when we still can,” he says.
Uganda and Africa at large, he argues, can own more revolutions, through technology to harness result at jobs.
“Make partnerships work, innovate and size down to niche markets,” he says.