While addressing the nation on December 31, 2021, President Yoweri Museveni lifted the two-year lockdown and fully opened all sectors of the economy.
With most of the business returning to normal operations next week, start-ups within the education, creative and transport sectors received this announcement with joy and optimism, and would not hide their excitement.
Andrew Lema, the Chief Executive Officer of Easy Matatu, a startup that uses a mobile application to connect commuters to safer and more reliable transportation said, the economy fully opening was like a new year’s gift from the government to us.
Lema said, “The initial government directive on 50 per cent passenger capacity for public transport, including commuter taxis, affected the business’ targets. While their goal was to provide an affordable alternative to regular professionals, the limitations on the capacity forced them to hike prices and negatively affected their main offers. With the reopening of the economy, we have been able to lower their prices once again.”
“Last year, many people had stopped using commuter taxis because they were no longer a cheaper option. They had started using boda-bodas,” Lema said, adding that, “There is an opportunity right now to reclaim this population of commuters as well as take advantage of schools’ reopening to provide solutions. After all, Easy Matatu rides can be accessed digitally and are faster, cheaper and safer.”
However, the transport sector currently struggles with the challenges of high fuel prices which has greatly affected our operations and price setting. Regardless of this challenge, we hope that the government can resolve this issue so as to ease transportation for more commuters.
Sharing the same sentiment, the Co-Founder of KAINO AFRICA, Lyndah Kembabazi said, reopening the education sector was a big sigh of relief especially after having been shut down for two years. KAINO AFRICA, one of the startups innovating in education, during the closure of schools, provided a centralized academic content-based Smart School Management System for African schools.
“Much as we had extended our product wing to cater to homeschooling, we are back to solving the bigger problem as our mission of revolutionizing the early childhood education sector in Africa,” Kembabazi says.
Kembabazi said, “The lockdown crippled the education system and the various innovations also in part created a wider digital divide, leaving most of the children behind. She believes that the lesson for entrepreneurs in all of this, especially in the EdTech sector, is to innovate around the causes of the problems affecting the education system and not just the symptoms”. In her view, this is the only way to stay relevant.
“The world around us is changing and technology is evolving, so the education sector must adopt and lead, not just follow. With schools reopening, we anticipate challenges around a regression in the uptake of EdTech. What is needed is a paradigm shift for them to understand the vital gaps technology can narrow down,” Kembabazi said.
Regardless of the challenges, EdTech players believe they will remain relevant as long as they solve a pain point for the customers. “The pandemic has given us a quick glimpse into the future, integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and online education will eventually become an integral component of school education,” she concludes.
Susan Asiimwe, the Future Lab Associate at The Innovation Village added, “We know the journey to recovery for entrepreneurs may be long. Through programs like the Next Wave Programme, and the COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program will continue its work to support startups towards recovery through mentorship, skilling and linkages. “We will continue to support businesses that are solving the pain points in every sector by leveraging technology to create solutions, collaborate and co-create with stakeholders in the ecosystem to escalate each sector’s recovery.