Skilling for the Global Digital Economy


Michael Niyitegeka


March 9, 2023

Over the last three months, I have had the opportunity of meeting entities and individuals that are aggressively looking for software developers. I have met recruiters from the Romania, Estonia, Kenya, USA, UK and of course Uganda where the demand is on the rise as well. The irony is that as a country we are graduating close to 10,000 graduates in ICT related fields. The challenge is that majority lack the requisite skills to thrive in the industry. As such the work that we are doing at Refactory makes us attractive to recruiters that are keen to hire Junior developers.

A bench-making visit from the Estonian Centre for International Development to Refactory.

The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group in a study, Demand for Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa estimates that over 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030, resulting in almost 650 million training opportunities. Of these jobs, approximately 6million will be tech specific. The same report indicates that approximately $130million investment will be required by 2030. The National Development Plan of Uganda NDP III forecasts that approximately 700,000 jobs will be required or developed for the digital economy by 2030.

The World Bank’s Report “Uganda Digital Economy Assessment: Country Diagnostic and Competing in the Digital Age report highlights the need for digital skills if the digital economy is to thrive. A study by Korn Ferry predicts a crisis by 2030 for tech talent shortage that could significantly impact global economies. It is estimated that there will be a global talent shortfall of close to 85million jobs by 2030 and this could cost economies up to 8.452trillion if not addressed. Of the 85million jobs 4.3million jobs will specifically be in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications industries.This could potentially cost the global economy up to $449.70billion. Globally the worker gap continues to widen as the tech industry expands. The demand for skilled workforce is going to determine which countries are well positioned to become global players in the digital enabled economies.


Opportunity for Uganda

The lowest hanging fruit for Uganda in the digital economy is positioning herself as a global talent marketplace for software engineers and other related disciplines. This will attract the big players in the tech industry like we have seen in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya on the African continent. With a burgling youthful population skilling for the digital economy is great incentive to get many young people in employment. The big question in the room is "are we ready for this?". Truth is at policy and other relevant levels the talk is happening, but the translation is rather too slow. If people are willing to spend over 10 million to go to the Arab countries and work as housemaids is demonstration that with appropriate guidance the citizens can make the investment.


At Refactory over the last four years we have trained over 370 in the age range of 18 – 45years with 91% placement rate. We admit any person who has demonstrable interest irrespective of education background for as long as they can comfortably use English. We have ably demonstrated that we can vocationalise software engineering and as such should not be a preserve of universities only.  We are simply scratching the surface.

Some statistics from the Refactory program


We need concerted effort to enable more young people to acquire skills for the future. All hands on the deck!! Refactory was developed as a response to all these concerns that employers had and we are determined to equip young minds with the right skills to allow them one foot in the door of gainful employment.

As we gear up for the new year 2023, we have aligned our program offering and also revamped the previous ones to meet industry needs. In conjunction with Coding Dojo, we have also expanded our advanced certificate courses.

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