Dr. Aminah Zawedde and Ms. Vivian Ddambya have been awarded national medals for their outstanding contribution to the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Uganda.
They were awarded by President Museveni during the National Labour Day celebrations in Namutumba District on Monday.
The President heralded the two ladies for their exceptional work in promoting and advancing the use of ICT in Uganda.
The National Medal is one of the highest honours bestowed upon individuals by the Government of Uganda for their exceptional contributions to society.
Dr. Zawedde and Ms. Ddambya have been at the forefront of promoting the use of ICT in Uganda.
Their vision and leadership have helped transform the way technology is used in various sectors, including education, healthcare, and Government services.
Dr. Zawedde is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. She holds a PhD in Computer Science (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), an MSc. Computer Science (Makerere University), a PGDip in Educational Technologies (University of Cape Town, South Africa), PGD in Education (IUIU) and a BSc. (Statistics and Economics) (Makerere University, Uganda).
She is a Rotarian and also serves on the boards of Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Uganda Telecommunications Corporation Limited, DFCU Limited and Mustard Seed Junior School.
Dr. Zawedde joined the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) board in 2016 as the youngest member of the board.
She chaired the Digital Transformation Committee and was Acting Chairperson of the board for one 1 year.
At the helm of the NITA-U Board, she presided over the expansion of the Government ICT Fibre across Uganda. Additionally, she ensured that Uganda’s cyberspace became more secure through the enactment of the Data Protection and Privacy Act.
Dr Zawedde is the first female Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
During the 18 months that she has been at the helm of the ICT sector, Uganda’s internet users grew to 23.7million, with mobile phone subscriptions growing to over 32 million users and 40.7million digital wallets being recorded as active.
Solving youth unemployment is at the heart of Dr. Zawedde’s efforts in the sector, and the reason as to why she has prioritized Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) as a solution to unemployment.
She enabled the appointment of a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and Innovation Council. The first of its kind in Uganda, the council is now operational and works with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance to formulate strategies for creating jobs for the youth through ICT outsourcing and Innovation; and prescribe regulatory frameworks/reforms and projects relevant to the growth of the BPO and Innovation industry.
Within her 1st year in the sector, a campaign known as Discover Africa’s Innovation Powerhouse was launched. During the campaign, the Government celebrated Ugandan excellence and industry by profiling Ugandan talent and inviting the world to discover the opportunities abound in the Pearl of Africa.
The campaign saw the participation of Ugandan innovators at the Dubai Expo and the branding & marketing of Uganda as a destination for BPO & Innovation investment, engaging in a global conversation with other innovators from around the world, and job creation through great partnerships.
Following the campaign, it should be noted that in January 2023, the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance onboarded a global partner, Helpware, the largest and fastgrowing BPO company in the United States, to launch a ‘people as a service’ facility in Uganda. Within the calendar year 2023, over 1,000 youth will be employed in this facility to support operations of global brands like Tik-Tok and Netflix.
Dr. Zawedde led the development of the Parish Development Model Information System (PDMIS). The landmark system was locally developed and is being used to collect all parish data across Uganda and is being used by all partnering institutions to track all Parish Development Model implementation initiatives.
Cognizant that the job to digitize the nation is not borne of Government alone, Dr. Zawedde has nurtured partnerships with the private sector. This is in-line with government’s commitment to create a digitally driven economy and realise universal inclusion, sustainable development, economic progress and poverty eradication through digital innovation.
These partnerships include: United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), Airtel Uganda, MTN Uganda, Huawei Technologies Uganda, Centenary Technology Services, to mention but afew.
In addition to the above partnerships, Dr. Zawedde has sought out and engaged the world’s most digitized nations to nourish ICT-centric innovation and generate new job opportunities for Uganda’ young people. This engagement has led to the committing of support from these nations through MemorandA of Understanding (MoU), these nations include: Japan, Estonia, Romania, Vietnam and South Africa.
Aware that Corruption can derail the digitization effort, Dr. Zawedde has deployed various technology types to reduce corruption by promoting transparency, opening government data to public scrutiny, and by automating government processes, restricting discretion of officials and limiting citizens’ interaction with gatekeepers to access key services. The following key Government processes have been automated:
● Electronic Government Procurement (eGP). This system has automated the entire Government procurement life cycle to eliminate use of paper and limit face to face interaction.
● Online Business Registration System (OBRS) – A digital service system that gives users ability to access services such as registration of companies, business names, legal documents and insolvency, among others, online.
● Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) – This system automates records and eases workflows across Government Institutions. The system eliminates the use of paper across all Government processes.
● Education Management Information System (EMIS) – Provides timely statistics and information for policy development planning, budget and evidence-based management practices for education sector.
The other female titan that received the National Honour for distinguished service to the Nation in the field of ICT is Ms. Vivian Ddambya.
Ms. Ddambya is a National Digital Transformation Expert who also serves as a NonExecutive Director on the board of Centenary Bank, Uganda’s largest indigenous bank under the regionally dominant Centenary Group.
It is during Vivian’s current term as Non-Executive Director that Centenary Bank recorded substantial growth in 2022 in profits, deposits, gross loans, and total assets despite challenges in the economy. A key highlight of the bank’s performance is the Profit after tax that increased to UGX 249.6 Billion, a growth of 18.0% compared to 2021.
Throughout Vivian’s 18year career, she has focused on leveraging technology to create a more equitable and inclusive world. Her experience spans both the private and public sectors, where she has had the opportunity to work with diverse teams to deliver impactful digital solutions.
When she worked as Director Technical Services at the National Information Technology Authority Uganda, she led the development and implementation of the country’s digital infrastructure program, which was a key component of Uganda’s Ministry of ICT & National Guidance Digital Vision Uganda.
It should be noted that owing to Vivian’s sterling project leadership skills, she successful delivered Component 2 of the World Bank Regional Communication Infrastructure Program project in Uganda which saw the extension to Government’s ICT Fibre cable to over 4000 Kilometers and providing internet connectivity to over 1000 Government offices and ensured the reduction of the cost of internet from $700 per Mbps to $70 per Mbps.
Another success story that Vivian weaved was leading construction of Uganda’s industrial grade Tier 3 Government Data Centre in Kampala & Disaster Recovery site in Jinja. These assets that Vivian oversaw saved over USD. 60M of tax payers’ money that would have been lost through duplication of data centres across Government.
During her tour of duty in Government, Vivian established a framework for the provision of broadband services to all parts of the country, which was critical in ensuring that all Ugandans could access the internet and benefit from the digital economy.
Before joining NITA-U, Vivian served as Network Manager, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), where she demonstrated unparalleled leadership and expertise in managing the complex network of the pension fund. Vivian was acknowledged as a champion of innovation, leveraging technology to streamline processes and enhance service delivery at NSSF. Her forward-thinking approach was instrumental in ensuring that the pension fund remains at the forefront of the industry.
Vivian’s strategic vision was instrumental in ensuring the fund’s stability and financial security, providing millions of Ugandans with the assurance of a comfortable retirement.
These awards are particularly significant as they recognize the outstanding achievements of women in a male-dominated field.
Despite the challenges they faced as women in ICT, Dr. Zawedde and Ms. Ddambya persevered and overcame adversity, blazing a trail for other women in the field to follow.
Their success serves as an inspiration to young women across the country who aspire to pursue careers in ICT. Through their hard work and dedication, they have demonstrated that gender should never be a barrier to success and that women can excel in any field, including technology.
These awards also highlight the importance of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. The field of ICT has historically been male-dominated, and it is essential to encourage more women to enter the sector and create a more diverse and inclusive industry. This recognition of Dr. Zawedde and Ms. Ddambya serves as a powerful message to the industry, that women can and should play a more prominent role in the development of ICT.