James Byaruhanga on Data

#360Mentor is a continuation of the #40DayMentor series. In this episode, Robert Kabushenga (RK) speaks to James Byaruhanga  (JB) on Data.

RK: Welcome to #360Mentor, Byaru. Let’s go straight into this, what do you guys exactly do at Raxio?

JB: Thank you Robert, Tony and the entire team for having me here. I need to say, there might be areas in this conversation which may seem tech heavy. But I am open to conversation where we can simplify it.

Let’s go to the basics: how does the internet work.

Most of us think; I go to my phone or connect Wi-Fi. That’s just the last piece of the puzzle. The way the internet really works, we have something we call the access network which is the place where we connect the gadgets. The gadgets connect to a network access point. It can be a cyber-connection by a service provider. It can be a Wi-Fi access point near you. However, from that point to the internet itself is a big gap. There is something called a distribution network. In power terms, it’s what we see as UEDCL; that is the one that brings power to the village up to the small road that comes to you house. Networks work the same way whether it is a road network or water or power network, it is the same design. What happens is that the power gets to the highway which is called the transport network and then it gives access to the customer. That is what Umeme does for power. There is the distribution network and the access network, there are different technologies you can use. The idea is get me closer to the access and on the outside get me closer to the backend or the core of the network.

Now if you have a fibre network or the distribution network, it connects to what we call the backbone. It is on the backbone that you find servers which have content on them. You also find routers.

RK: Byaru, let me ask you, which one is the Kiira Dam? Which one is the substation, and which one is the transmission line and which one is the Umeme wire and which is the socket?

JB: This will be a nice way to explain it. Umeme is the access network

RK: So that is the MTN, Airtel or the Roke Telecom?

JB: No, these companies also have a combination of them. None of them is only doing access. They have others which do these services. For example, when you see Kabushenga close, that’s an access road. We call that the last mile.

RK: So that’s the Umeme line which comes to your house?

JB: Yes. The solido line they talk about. That is the connection. If the connection is not good, you will have a problem anyway. So even if there is no problem with the network but you have a problem with the last mile, you will have a problem.

RK: If this is not stable, you will have a bad internet?

JB: Yes. Unfortunately, with the internet which also works with the road network, a problem at any point of the way will affect your experience. If there is a traffic jam in Bugolobi, you cannot get to Mutungo early. The Bugolobi to Mutungo is the distribution network.

RK: If the distributor has inefficient gear, they will not deliver a good experience?

JB: Absolutely. It can be gear or capacity or congestion. They are unable to deliver what a final customer expects.

RK: Or- I am trying to understand what you are saying- they are unable to deliver because you have a bad connection at your home, you are unable to deliver?

JB: To put it in plain terms, if someone lives in a place without many cars, they don’t have traffic jam. If someone stays in a place with multiple cars and boda bodas, you will have traffic jam and struggle with it wherever you are going.

RK: And its worse when the road is narrow

JB: Yes. In the internet, narrow is for example the size of the spectrum you are using to the fibre you are using. So when you are complaining on the quality of internet you receive, there are multiple factors leading to that. But we shall get back to that later.

So there is distribution network. An access network and a backbone. A backbone is what takes you to the core network.

RK: Is that the transmission line?

JB: Even in power terms, there is something called the substation.

RK: Yes. We have Lugogo.

JB: Anha. There is also Kawanda, Mutundwe and others. Now those stations are points between distribution and access networks. Now all this stuff can only work if at the power generation point, whatever is found there is working.

Just like the oil and gas industry you hear about, there is upstream and downstream. In internet terms, upstream is the source.  It is where we get the link to either Dar-es-salaam or Mombasa to get you connected to marine cables which are under the ocean. So you lay them under the seabed and you can use a different direction depending on what you are looking at. For example, from Mombasa, you can go up north to Djibouti and extend to Sudan then to Egypt to Madrid and then London and breakout to the backbone network. Or you can take the southern side, you can go to Maputo, to Cape Town and go round all the way to West Africa and back to Europe or the US. That is where most of the bigger networks are.

The reason we go that far is because the content we need/ search is sitting in the middle of some facilities in the middle of Europe or the Americas or the Far East.

RK: Like Iceland?

JB: Iceland is great. Ireland is great and Poland because e of the temperatures. So what are you looking for in these places? We are looking for content networks. Everything is there right now whether checking on amazon, Facebook, twitter or Google, it is all there.

RK: So our spaces are currently like in Ireland?

JB: Right now it’s Cape Town actually. I did a trace route before the conversation to see where we are breaking out from. Now, we don’t need to do that. The reason we are doing that, is because we don’t have facilities in the region to attract Twitter, Facebook, Google to come and be resident here.

You may ask, why do they need to be resident here? First of all, there is something called latency which is the delay to breakout into the internet. Now the closer you are to the eyeballs, the lower the latency. Right now our conversation is running n 30 mega seconds. You can’t tell because it is too little to tell in actual conversation. Audio is slow. But so many transactions require much higher mile seconds.

Also there is a cost to it, because we are breaking out in Cape Town, the cost for everyone on the spaces right now to be able to connect to Cape Town and back in seconds is a cost per pay. If we were breaking out of this conversation from Mombasa or Nairobi or anywhere nearer, we would probably get this conversation for free. Your data bundles would not be affected because it would be sourced locally. The conversation about local content is actually derived from internet where you have local content and everything is local. This goes to the internet exchange point. Every country has an internet exchange point. All the ISPs or the companies that provide internet or the mobile operators. Or the local companies that are willing to bring to latent to the eyeballs, will set up the internet access point to be able to receive the content in the same geographical area.

Now how does it work? Through the servers. Where will they put these servers? They need a home. We have an internet siting point in the communications house basement. It has been there for about 18 years. I happened to work on the building of it with a couple of people. At the time, there were four or five ISPs at the time, now there are 27 connected to it. But it cannot grow because it does not have space and a facility and power to be able to allow the big players to come and establish themselves there.

So from the internet perspective, how do you keep as much internet content in the country to be able to fix faster and fix the latency and keep the cost lower?

RK: Let me stop you there. If you did that, would it lower the cost of doing business in the country?

JB:  100%. The price of the internet drops, the quality is good. The people you transact with come closer to you. The challenge right now, is that we are breaking out of the internet in the satellite side to be able to get the content. It is costly. It is slower. What we need is the content to be in the country.

Think about the better side of things. Think about having the serve closer where Ugandan content stays in Uganda. Ugandan data stays in Uganda. If you tell me as a bank or telecom or an insurance company and probably I belong to an international firm, and you tell me all that should stay in the country as data sovereignty, you have to be able to tell me that I can keep my data somewhere where it gives me the service level availability that I need. That place is most likely not there. People try and do that in house.

The other thing is if lose power in my office, what happens. Take the example of New Vision, if you lose power at New Vision, no one can access the online papers. You cannot check the accounting platform and emails go down. As a place with a radio, TV and printing press, you cannot afford to go down. The same goes across different companies and those that are all trying to be available 24/7. You need your infrastructure to be up and running all the time but should also have date recovery to ensure business continuity. Think about online schooling. You cannot say that I was offline. What you need is that your infrastructure must be up and running all the time. But you should also have data recovery to ensure business continuity. You need a place you can call home. A place that gives you affordable power and connect you to a global eco system that the internet is; because the internet is an interconnection of networks and be able to deliver a service. That is what a data centre is. And that is what Raxio does. And Raxio is the data centre.

RK: How did you know all this stuff?

JB: It’s been a long painful journey. It’s a 22-year journey so far and I started from the internet service provision side of things. I started my internet journey in Africa on Line. Then I came to be a systems administrator at DFCU which ended in tears. I had also done a gig in CISCO trying to roll out the Local Government Development Project (LGDP). Surprisingly, these are things that the government was rolling out that required internet but they were rolling them out as standalones. Remember IFMS2 and LGDP? There were no computers then in sub counties. I have travelled this country to sub county level to be able to roll out the project. After DFCU, IFMS and LGDP, I found myself at Africa on Line which was trying to roll out internet.

First, I did Uganda Africa on Line then I got an opportunity to go to Ghana as Africa on Line. I was also setting a lot of fibre cable network in Kumasi in the goldmine. I also got a chance to travel to Tamale, Takoradi and all those cities.

I started by learning a lot about Internet Protocol (IP). Around that time, I run into this Lebanese dude who was running a voice network in Accra. It was more like an undercover grey business. It was about being able to call to Europe but cheaply. I spent a lot of time supporting him on the connectivity side and I started to realise what he was doing. I realised that voice was not necessarily about mobile and sales, it can be done on data what is called IP.

I came back to Uganda and tried talking African on Line into going into that direction and it was tricky because the company had just been acquired. They were downsizing and they were not looking for these new ideas. I told my friends Samuel Kaggwa and Sam Gitta who talked me into joining them at MTN where they were working at the time. I actually started working before even getting my employment letter. We started laying fibre cables on top of UCB towers with guys from Data Fundi and it was such a hectic experience because the dish was against the wall. You had to climb up with the aid of a rope. I remember asking myself, why am I doing this when I don’t even have an employment contract.

When I joined MTN, I met Donald Twesiga and Herbert Olowo who we are still seasoned generals in this IT space and we started taking IT to the next level. MTN had the budget and we had the interest. We spent about 5 years building MTN networks working with IT and the network group, working with the ISP building the MTN ISP working with groups and in the process we learnt a lot. I was traveling a lot to Asia learning what the Asians were doing, the spaces were blowing up and I was learning a lot from them.

I was slightly advantaged because I was initially so many back steps from my peers so I had to catch up. But then when I learnt quite a bit I was able to move also because I had an entrepreneurial side so it was easier to get around a number of things. The journey ends up in Roke Telecom. I met Rodger Sekaziga and Kenneth Kiiza in a place called Katch The sun who threw a challenge at me. They said they wanted to do a voice IP network to one international minute. Now this other guy I had met in Ghana years ago had done a set up like that. We were also converting our call centre into a voiceover IP, and Donald Twesiga had given me the task to supervise and I was very conversant with the solution.

They asked me to make a requisition of the equipment that was needed around Independence Day. But looking at their office, it looked like a money lender’s office, I doubted they would buy it. To my surprise, they bought the equipment.

I got colleagues from MTN with whom we had done most of the work and we began building Roke Telecom. I brought in all the knowledge from all my previous work stations and together with Timothy Musoke, Simon Kaggwa and Tracy Kamahoro we went in. On the 24th December, I was in London, I had gone to visit my girlfriend then, my wife now. I had to keep escaping from the house to go and work in an internet café. I had to come up with an excuse every single day of what I was going to buy and that is when we made the first successful phone call across UK and Uganda; that was the beginning of Roke Telecom.

RK: Wow! So the journey to Raxio, how does it come about?

JB: After about 12 years of building Roke and we are reinvesting all the money that comes out. Roke is a combination of Rodger and Kenneth; they were the main shareholders. I came on board as the third. We managed to convince other guys to come on board as well. They were investing everything they had as we were investing everything we were making. Initially we were all working on the house. It was a very painful struggle. I had just gotten married when I signed up and it was such a very big risk. It is a conversation I still avoid to date. But the partners really tried to back it up and made sure we were okay despite the fact that were not earning what we commanded. We had the passion for the business and we did not like the idea that there was no Ugandan telecom company.

As we built on, I needed a side hustle to be able to make ends meet. I used to drink with a friend called Tendo Kaggwa. I knew him through his brother Gaetano with whom we had been friends for long. We were throwing parties but we were never getting paid. That is when I suggested to Tendo that we should be paid for this. I teamed up with Tendo and another friend Seanice who was then at Radio Sanyu to jump on this wave of DJs becoming bigger than musicians and we started something called the House of Deejays. It worked, the DJs became more popular than the house. We were still not getting paid. So we started looking for concepts that we could turn into lifestyles.

Along the way, I attended a wedding in Kenya with a friend Petet and we bumped into this crazy drama queen called Muthoni The Drummer Queen. She was running a movement called Blankets and Wine in Kenya. So we say why don’t we import this and customise it for Uganda? But she had even a broader vision, she suggested we make an African movement. First we were to try it out in Uganda then Rwanda and then other places in Africa.

In Uganda, it was an overnight success and it was even bigger than Kenya. We had more numbers. Because of the plans to roll out in Africa, Muthoni found partners who were venture capitalists. Partners who were willing to invest in the African rollout.

This one day, I was invited to Rwanda to speak at a conference called Transform. My panel had a lot of big hitters I really wanted to be in good company of. We are talking of people like Strive Masiyiwa. Muthoni calls me for a meeting in Nairobi and I had to leave the conference and run to Nairobi. I was with a friend called Owen from Bakiga Nation.

So while waiting for Muthoni The Drummer Queen, I meet one of the guys we were supposed to meet with; Washington, who asks me about the future of Roke Telecom. I had spent some time pushing my bosses at Roke for a data centre but it was not coming through. So I tell him how I want to invest in a data centre. He was like actually, I also want to invest in one. I already have a plan. And he asked, is this something you would want to do with me? I told him upfront, I don’t have the money. He asked me to find partners with whom to invest in Uganda and that’s how I approached Rodger and Ken and told them about it. They jumped on board but they asked me to lead it.

I had seen a South African guy like me; we had been with at MTN who had launched into a data centre and he was not so big. That is how Raxio started.

RK: So Byaru, I want to switch you up to the opportunity, explain to me, what actual opportunities does data provide on the internet? How valuable is it and what opportunity does it provide?

JB: The other day when the fountain of honour was talking about the focus for his next five years, he categorically stated the areas he is looking at. He talked about agriculture, oil and gas and ICT. Strangely enough, a couple of days, I had given a talk about the 4th industrial revolution and how it plays out. And he also talked about the 4th industrial revolution in a similar way. I couldn’t help to think; either I am on the right track or they had banged sasi on my head.  

Data is the hot cake and I will and break it down. Let’s look through the things that have changed the world.

The invention of the steam engine completely changed the world of transport. Transport changed the movement of goods from place to place. The person who could get their goods faster to the market was the winner.

The second industrial revolution was built on industrialisation. The idea was; can you make your products faster than me? When you have factories start to make products in a manufacturing manner, the people who were at the factories became bigger.

Then came the people who thought they would computerise things. The computer kicked off the third industrial revolution. Systems now became more predictable.

But that was not enough. The need for automation has driven a whole new era. You have Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bizos, the era of garage boys. They brought in a new argument that life was more about improving the economies of scale, reducing the cost and optimisation. That is when the 4th industrial revolution becomes an item.

What makes the 4IR work?

The first thing is what they called the internet of things. Being able to connect every device of your livelihood to be able to use it.

RK: So a case in point, my fridge is connected to the Wi-Fi and can send a message to the supermarket that I have run out of milk? Then the supermarket talks to my bank which talks to I don’t know who…

JB: That is exactly the biggest problem. It is another issue when someone removes my milk and puts it somewhere else.

Think about it this way, even now when we have not, they automated to this level. Think of your normal day to day lifestyle, I can tell you, over 80% of the people here wake up to their phones.

RK: Before even finding out how the person they slept with is?

JB: Because they are also on the phone. And the kids are also on the phone. We are running a risky lifestyle. Think about it, you leave your bedroom to go and bathe. These days there are so many smart solutions even around the bathrooms. Then you have CCTV around your house. You jump into your car and the phone connects to your Bluetooth and the story goes on and on.

We are living a smart lifestyle and leaving a digital footprint.

But where does all this data go?

This data needs to go somewhere in what we refer to as the cloud. It can be a public cloud like Google cloud or Microsoft cloud, but it can also be a private cloud. It can be wasted data. You can decide to waste it or use it to your advantage. When it grows, it becomes so large hence the name big data.

For this data to be able to help you in your life, you need to analyse the data and make reports from it from which you can make brilliant decisions hence big data analytics.

Imagine you are two guys running two different businesses. One has big data and the other knows the big data analytics. The one with the analytics knows way more than the one who only has the big data. He will, for example know that Byaru runs out of milk on Friday at 2pm. I will receive a reminder that I need milk. It’s because this person understands my pattern of life.

As a business you take the trouble to understand and know your customer but are you going to do this every single day? You will have so many Byarus to follow up with and it becomes very hard. You need to automate so that Byaru gets his deliveries of Friday. The business owner can do this by asking his staff to follow up with Byaru and all the other customers or, he can use artificial intelligence (AI) that will know that on Friday, Byaru’s order has to be made.

RK: So it’s scheduled?

JB: Yes, it is scheduled and automated. The AI will tell my boda guy to pick up my delivery. The boda guy will just receive a phone call asking his to pick up the delivery. This is what we call machine learning. I will programme the system to call the boda guy to deliver at 2pm. Once that is done, the payment will be made online.

Compare with the other guy who has to make sure they advertise and are trying to keep a personal touch. I am currently struggling with this at one of my businesses. We are trying to stay traditional yet automate at the same time.

So the 4IR is talking about big data analytics, cloud computing, machine learning, AI and in all this there is someone who is trying to take your money all the time and take it legally. But that does not take away the fact that there is someone trying to hack into your security system, your e-wallet which calls for cyber security. This is what makes up the 4IR.

If you think about the whole thing, you can commercialise at every point of it. You can commercialise at every step either as IOT, cloud computing, AI, machine learning or cyber security. The choice is yours and the data is very valuable. The only thing they all have in common is data. The smart life is based on data.

RK: Your argument has been that it is of national security for us to have that data in our own country?

JB: Not fully. This is the thing; what data comes out of spaces for example? How can one you use it? This is something you have done out of passion. Tomorrow if I convinced you to commercialise it, what are the tools you have to work with? The first question is to ask who logs on. Or alternatively, you log on Twitter to get the analytics.

RK: I have someone who is already doing that.

JB: Now that is someone who is forward thing and they are thinking about the future. Now, think of how many other people don’t have that person. For you this is a pro bono service. Now think about it as a commercial service. How much money are we leaving on the table?

Because now, I am leaving my meat customer with the option of either buying their meat from the internet or Byaru’s butcher shop. You have to influence the consumers’ behaviour because you have the analytics that can give you analytics on how they behave already. That is the money right there.

RK: I would like to switch the conversation a little.  All this you have described, how is it going to affect the future of work?

JB: I don’t have to bother with answering that question because covid did that for everyone. Before March 2020, our biggest problem was to wake up early and get to office, be able to navigate through the traffic and be there in time. I once had a chance of visiting my friends in Najjeera, it’s a whole day’s work to get there and leave.

The first spanner in the works was the work from home. There was nothing new about this. In western countries they had been doing this already. Before it was a relief to have the kids go to school as you remained to work from home. Now they are there with you. They are studying, you are working. Enter businesses like Rocket Health who made it easy to access health care remotely. Then online banking. We love going to the bank. I am one of those people who loved going to the bank. That is no more. Think of delivery guys like Jumia. They were struggling. They can now go beyond the usual boda guy. We have been forced by circumstances to live a smart life. If you had initiated this program before, we would be somewhere at Serena and I would be smartly dressed addressing all these people, but we can now get the same audience even bigger without moving a muscle. No one needs to preach to the choir anymore about what needs to be done.

The question then becomes, how can we get ahead of anyone else?

What makes you better than the other person? How do you stand out? It is too much work and people get lazy. To analyse your pattern for example, is too much work. I might give up. But the guy who won’t give up on you is the guy who makes the money.

Embracing what is the inevitable is what is going to make the difference. It is one of those things where you can do everything there is in life by your own, but the truth is you can’t because we are in the middle of a computer revolution. There is something that my mother used to say when you’re going stray: when everyone is going right, and you are going left, haven’t you lost your mind? That was always followed with a slap.

These days the slaps are financial. It is up to you. You can try and be stubborn. Covid equalized the economy of the entire world. With a fully equalized world, what does it mean? Think about tourism, agriculture, imports and exports, the balance of trade everywhere. It comes down to who is getting off the blocks first.

Traditional things as we used to think of them have changed. We used to think coffee comes from Brazil, in South America, today that is no longer the case, even Ugandan coffee you can get on the market the same way as the Brazilian. Look at tea. Before, if Sri Lanka was selling tea, everyone else would sit back and wait. We have been put in a situation where everyone is trying to recalculate and rebuild.

Now, how do you compete on a global scale?

You have to be playing a global game.

Global can be national for you, regional or international. It’s your ambition that limits you. But the truth is you have a levelled playing field to start playing from now. But you cannot play on the global scale by playing a small boy game. We have to think about the quality and standards, what do people buy?  What do they want? If you see right now, everyone is running into agriculture. Thanks to people like you who are encouraging many to join. There are so many export opportunities.

RK: Birungi told us about the opportunities from Kilimo Trust. Everyone now has access to the market.

JB: I will give you an example. I run a butcher shop. My wife is blessed with understanding something called quality. We started making sausages from home. We got in pig farming about a year ago when covid hit. Now we realised the biggest item on demand was pork. An uncle had a pig sty that they had given up on, we took it up and started rearing pigs. When we were selling just the pork, we were not realising the margins, a pig only has a few ribs but to explain that to a client is hard because everyone wants ribs. This is because ribs have been traditionally well marketed. When people call, they ask for ribs or skewers, no one asks for chops.

So we realised that the other parts of the pork do not have as much demand. We then decided to go into the sausage business. We played around with a number of recipes until we got the current formula that we use.

And there is one common feedback we got a lot. That it was better than farmer’s choice. For me, the message there was that farmer’s choice becomes the SI unit of sausages. Farmers choice are big exporters of their sausages and so we asked ourselves how do we become like them or even better? But how do you get there?

You have to listen to the customer, get their feedback, get the analytics. Look at how many people are ordering and the number of repeat orders. Repeat orders are very important. They show you that customers are interested in your product and they want it.

RK: That is what sustains business anyway.

JB: Absolutely. Most importantly, the customer product is no longer assumed but expected. For example, I can now talk to the customer and ask them: would you like me to inform you when we have made more sausages? If the customer says yes, then you can bombard them with advertisement. Where we are headed with data privacy, you cannot just bombard a client with messages. Because you possess my private number you should not send me messages. I need to accept you to send me messages.

This is important because pre-covid, we had moved the market place to Facebook, Instagram and twitter. We would be able to post anything we want and be able to send people WhatsApp messages anyway we wanted. But now with the new privacy data policy, I need to accept for you to be able to communicate with me. Think about the adverse effects of that. I can sue you Robert for sending me an unsolicited message of Rugyeyo Farm. This becomes very critical. This is something that is not out there in the market. We still wake up in the morning, make art work and we send.

Comrade Otoa: Recently, Byaru was talking about organising events online, could you talk about that and the internet of things. How safe is our data with you? What is there about the future of education?

JB: Like I said, cyber security is a very critical thing. Our centre works in such a way that our clients come with their own equipment and secure their own equipment. Have keys to their own racks. The security is on their part. This was very deliberate because of the details which come with it. We pushed the possibility of cyber security to them. We provide logical and physical security. We have seven layers but the idea is to allow every customer to be in charge of their own security because everyone has their own security requirements. From a facility perspective, we are allowing the customer to be able to be in charge for their security. The customer himself has this challenge you are talking about, which is how do I maintain my customer’s data. How do I make sure that it is unlawfully intercepted?  That is where the cyber security element of the 4IR becomes very critical. As a facility owner, you have to critically think about protecting the customer’s data. What we have done for our own data is to put our own cyber security systems in place. There is nothing like one size fits all. Getting into that is a problem. What we have also done is that we enabled partners who provide cyber security as a solution to be available at the data centre for customers who may not be able to afford the service for themselves. The data centre ideally is an eco-system. You want people who have the different services that other people need to provide a solution.

I will speak about Roke; the company I am involved with. Two months ago, Roke guardian. Children are now studying online and they are always on the internet, so they are feeding on whatever the internet is providing them. Some of my children are on tiktok and games. And gaming is massive, it does not allow communication. Roke built a cyber-security platform where you can block unwanted information from being accessed. The whole thing comes down to; can you enable other people to be able to build solutions that the market really wants. Our partners work with our customers to deliver the solutions they want.

2) On education. That is my current biggest headache. I want to ensure that I am doing my work while making sure that the kids are studying. But there are kids in public school who do not have access to computers, laptops and tabs. They don’t have an online curriculum and it is going to be a bit of a mess. However, like said earlier, you can’t fight a revolution. It is like fighting a pig in the mad. While you are fighting, the pig is having fun. The internet is here and it her to stay. I think it’s going to be a hybrid situation. We are still going to see online class being an option because it’s going to take a while to vaccinate all the teachers. Who knows which variant or other virus is yet to come. But we have now seen that we can almost get the same results with online class. That does not address the public school question. Government has to come up with a policy. The government has to take a deliberate decision in terms of extension of the national backbone network and the education network and get into collaboration with people like Ubuntu to be able to get as much connectivity to schools to be able to have the online classes to work. This you can’t avoid. What covid has triggered is the beginning of multiple other triggers that will happen in future.

RK: We are going to need a lot of mind-set shift with time.

Opio: How do you deal with selling data to third parties?

JB: There is a huge difference and at the same time a small gap between data mining and data analytics, the safeboda situation which was a data mining situation, was flagged by NITA and it was audited. Data mining in a regulated economy is a huge business, and if I am a business man in a business which has opportunity, I will make the money. After all we are in the business for money. Data mining should be done outside personal private details. It has not been done in the country. But at the same time, it is an issue that there is need to fix. Is it okay to d data mining, probably not? Does the opportunity exist? Yes. There is a need for education which NITA is taking it up. We are going to see less of the data mining in the future.

Cephas: Are there opportunities of rolling out the card payment industry with owners of card payment systems.

JB: Covid gave us the opportunity to go cashless. Cards and mobile money have blown up whether you want it or not. Personally I don’t remember the last time I had cash. It is a learning curve. It has to be regulated. The opportunity to work with card operators is there. Fintech is going to be among the fast growing sectors. At Raxio, we are open and willing to aggregate these types of solutions.

We are a liberalized economy; we have think of how to innovate. There is a promise of oil and gas. You have to think about the youth. What do they spend on? Create a service that the youth will actually consume. Keeping company of young people has shown me that whatever I plan is based on today. Don’t invest emotionally. Don’t invest in only things that you are good at. Invest in things that are actually relevant and transferable to what the future wants.

 RK: Thank you for taking us to the future.  Byaru!

JB: My pleasure!

2 thoughts on “James Byaruhanga on Data

  1. Have been following your articles about internet connectivity. We have an American wireless and fibreless broad band company that wants to set up a data center in Uganda. Would appreciate an appointment to share with you details and seek your collaboration

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