Reluctance to adopt digital technogy will be costly for SMEs

Some small and medium enterprises have been reluctant to make technology part of their businesses. Photo / Edgar R Batte 

What you need to know:

  • Many small businesses are reluctant to embrace digital technology with many being curious of what the transition is seeking to achieve

The slow pace or reluctance by small and medium enterprises to make technology part of their businesses is likely to cost such entities in the long term, according to Mr Arthur Mukembo, Innovation Village  future lab lead. 

Speaking at the signing of a digital literacy memorandum of understanding between Innovation Village and the Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, which seeks to deepen the understanding of sector players, Mr Mukembo, said as part of their work, they had discovered that small businesses are reluctant to embrace technology, with many remaining curious of what the transition is seeking to achieve.

“For different reasons, adoption [to technology] is slow or it’s not moving at the right pace as we think it should. There are certain barriers. But we think this will be costly in the long term,” he said, noting they had also discovered that many small business are limited by the cost of devices that are necessary in the transition. 

Therefore, he said, there is need for a wider stakeholder engagement that would reduce the price of devices, which have been made expensive by relatively unfriendly tax environment. 

Mr Mukembo also noted that the digital literacy programme will seek to understand the landscape within which small businesses operate as well as get a proper picture around the use and adoption of technology in running small businesses. 

“We want to understand what the gaps are. What Uganda needs to do to fully leverage opportunities in transforming the economy through small business,” he said.  Mr John Walugembe, the Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises executive director, said SMEs recognise that digital technology is nolonger a choice, but a requirement for every business. 

“Many SME owners don’t know how to use their phone to grow their business. A phone is a whole computer you can find all kinds of benefits for your business,” he said, noting that the phone was nolonger limited to just receiving and making calls.