Vodafone CEO’s Q & A for Vodafone Power Talks
Vodafone premiere forum held in April 2015, brought together a cross section of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) who were eager to learn and share experiences on how to leverage the power of internet to grow their businesses. The feedback received was that it was an empowering session and a number of business were keen on how they could individually take their businesses to the next level through ICT.
Vodafone held its second event on 30th July 2015 at the Kampala Serena hotel and this time it had an interesting mix of speakers who tackled some ICT initiatives / best practices to improve agricultural value chains and agribusinesses. This forum presents a unique opportunity for farmers and or anyone involved or interested in agribusiness to interact and network with peers in the sector.
Why did you choose to focus on ICT in Agriculture for this particular forum?
Agriculture remains a key driver of Uganda’s economy and yet there are numerous challenges that could be addressed through solutions ranging from ICT for production systems management, ICT for market access services, and ICT for financial inclusion. In Uganda, one major challenge is access to reliable and timely information. Inequity in access to information allows those with information to take advantage of those without it (often farmers), even though much of the information is technically within the public domain.Vodafone CEO Allan Richardson addressing guests at the second edition of the Vodafone Powertalks dubbed ICT enhancing agricultural production at Katonga Hall Kampala Serena Hotel on Thursday
Globally, because of the ever-lower costs and growing ubiquity of ICT, such as mobile phones and the networks needed to connect them, new avenues have been opened up, offering critical information to farmers, fishers, small traders and business people. This is something that is picking up, perhaps at slower pace, in Uganda. We hope that this forum will be the start of the empowerment journey for agricultural entrepreneurs to enhance production, improve efficiency and profitability for their farms through technology.
Some of the speakers are farmers who have successfully used ICTs on their farms with good results. They will share their experiences of what has worked for them and what has not worked which will be useful for anyone intending to venture into farming or is already into farming but is struggling to integrate technology in farm operations.
What opportunities do you see for integrating ICT in agriculture to improve agricultural production?
Over the past decade, Uganda has witnessed rapid expansion in telecommunication infrastructure and mobile technology which has enhanced the access, affordability, and adaptability of ICTs for development. While ICT is not a panacea that will solve all the issues related to the agriculture value chain development, it is important to exploit the value it offers in providing a better service.
When we talk ICT in agriculture, opportunities generally include applications for production systems management with a focus on improving data collection, processing and reporting through simple and affordable means that help farmers to make decisions that will improve (or protect) their incomes in both the short and long term. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) estimates that there are 19.5 million mobile phone subscribers in the country making it is easier to share and receive information today than it was in the past. As a result a number of innovations have come up that can help farmers to obtain markets for their goods, prices, and provide timely weather information via the mobile phones.
Improving market access is another area. It is becoming imperative that farmers can access information on pricing and availability of markets with ease. Whether it is through a short message sending service or creation of virtual market platforms where buyers and sellers connect over an electronic network, the efficiency of such initiatives cannot be over stated. From the development of Apps to track health of animals, to simple platforms for payment services the opportunities are immense.
With about 80% of Uganda’s the total population directly employed in agriculture, integration of technology to improve agricultural production would contribute greatly not only to Uganda’s economic growth but it will also improve the livelihood of millions of Ugandans involved in agriculture. We believe ICT can potentially create an agricultural revolution in this country.
What are your last words on Vodafone Power Talks?
Vodafone Uganda initiated the Power Talks as a means to create a more ICT literate Uganda by proactively engaging & challenging cross sections of SME’s on the transformative power of technology. The second edition on 30th July 2015 is open to the public and we look forward to having you join us as we interact and share experiences on how to use ICT to improve farm production.