Digitisation of agriculture, health and education can only be achieved in a functional digital environment, according to a report by United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
The report authored by UNCDF under the theme: “Making digital work: Applying a market systems development approach to build inclusive digital economies”, notes that government and the private sector must resolve underlying market conditions before digital solutions can take root.
“To identify digital solutions to some of the challenges in the social and economic sectors in Uganda, we identified some systemic constraints that could not immediately be addressed by digital solutions,” the report, conducted in northern Uganda with the aim of employing digital solutions to challenges faced in agriculture, health and education, reads in part.
For instance, in education, the report notes, people in northern Uganda suffer high pupil-teacher ratio of 43:11, exacerbated by absenteeism, capacity gaps and financial costs, impacting continuity of learning, among others.
Mr Chris Lukolyo, the UNCDF digital country lead, said there are still a number of challenges associated with an enabling government policy and infrastructure limitation, especially in northern Uganda. In the agriculture sector, the study discovered challenges of lack of market access and limited market information due to low supply of qualified extension workers.
According to UNCDF, adopting a Market Systems Development approach to resolve constraints is important due to its catalytic impact and flexibility in responding to changing market constraints.
A market systems development approach is defined as a module, which seeks to address the underlying causes of market dysfunction by indirectly facilitating the business environment so they can operate more effectively, sustainably and beneficially for the poor.
According to Mr Ronald Rwakigumba, UNCDF consultant on inclusive digital financial services, a market systems development approach is based on working backwards to solve challenges such as lack of access to extension workers and access to credit.
“We discovered that if you were to use digital solutions to address those challenges, there were other issues to deal with such as access to devices,” he says, noting that there must be a realisation of the need to work with other stakeholders such as telecoms for connectivity and devices.