Uganda’s James Kizza named 2019 East Africa CIO of the Year


Uganda Revenue Authority assistant commissioner IT James Kizza is the winner of the East Africa CIO of the Year Award 2019.

He has been recognized for his “crucial role” in the trail-blazing digital development of the URA.

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According to the judges, the role of the chief information officer (CIO) continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, and only those executives who advance in lockstep will enjoy prolonged success and better the enterprises that they dedicate their energies to serve.

The 2019 East Africa CIO100 jury led by Professor Louis Fourie, former VC at the Western Cape Peninsula University of Technology, flanked by Alex Ntale CEO – Rwanda ICT Chamber, Bill Sangiwa, Digital Transformation Expert in Tanzania, Charles Musisi, a senior ICT expert in Uganda and Elizabeth Ochieng, ICT director- Deloitte appreciated the high level of submissions for the 2019 regional CIO100 awards.

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Stressing that incremental steps from sheer deployment of IT are insufficient in the present-day economy, Ms. Ochien’g lauded Kizza’s achievement while speaking on behalf of the jurists who in their appraisal described the 2019 CIO of Year winner as a passionate and consistent talent inspired to uphold the momentum of change in the dynamic digital space by involving the citizens and customers.

Upon receiving the prestigious award from Joe Mucheru, Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, Kizza said, it was an expected win though it took a long walk considering that 26 years in public service.

Mucheru lauded Kizza’s win and noted that governments across the region are opening up for ICT collaboration with a clear focus to serve citizens better and hasten the growth of investments in this era of digital transformation.

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In what was reckoned as a rare surprise, Safaricom’s Mpesa Foundation Academy scooped the Company of the Year Award that was handed over to Paul Githuka, the institution’s CIO, by Laura Chite, CEO – CIO East Africa.

“Kizza has been resilient and has over the years risked his neck for total digital modernisation, so that the Uganda Revenue Authority can competitively serve the citizens of Uganda and by extension the East African community,” said the jurists.

Declared the best in several disciplines of the selection process, Kizza nominated by a number of industry players was given a thumbs-up by a five-bench panel of CIO100 jurists who accorded him top score of the qualitative and quantitative work demonstrated in the intensive of change.

“We chose to celebrate the leadership demonstrated by Kizza since he does not make any distinction between IT, technology and business and has proven that he realizes this region’s digital future depends with what one passionately does today,” said Musisi a member of CIO100 adjudication panel from Uganda.

Kizza the ever-smiling and soft-spoken de facto CIO of URA has drastically improved client interaction for the public and various stakeholders in the various URA digital transformation initiatives.

He envisioned and directed a number of technology innovations, laying a foundation on which many of what URA relies on today, in the process, pioneering major technologies in the region that has enabled consolidation and simplification the underlying delivery environment.

“Currently, digitalization in URA stands at close to 96 per cent of the business and the filing of returns stands at 100 per cent,” said Kizz,  stressing that “without IT the authority would have no business.”

Having served for 26 years at URA and steadily climbing up the ranks, Kizza averred: “Am glad that all major interventions today rely on IT and each year government relies on URA to extend the Tax to GDP ratio and adds an annual increment to our target, which the Authority achieves owing to effective and successful deployment of technology to enable delivery efficient services.”

With this year’s five-fold increase of the target, Kizza said, URA introduced Digital Tax Stamps, Electronic Invoicing – Electronic Fiscal Devices, Non-Intrusive Inspection together with smart gates to better manage its services at the borders and improve client experience from a wait time perspective.

Besides the CIO of the Year winner, Sammy Nyambu(CIO Mwalimu National Sacco), Kenneth Ogwang(CIO, East Africa Breweries), Edgar Okioga, Paul Ngugi CIO, M-pesa Foundation Academy, Joab MakOngul, CIO, Dayliff, Caine Wanjau, CIO Twiga Foods, Peter Kanda, CIO, Getrudes Children’s Hospital, Paul Njoroge, CIO Hand in Hand, Sammy Mwiti, CIO – Standard Chartered Bank, Eric Munyiri – CIO Kengen and David Igweta CIO – HF Group had been nominated for the coveted title.

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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