Friday, February 28, 2014

Government pledges support for an Incubation Center at CoCIS

The government of Uganda will support the setting up of an incubation center at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) to enable the development of ICT applications in the critical sectors that are driving our economy. This pledge was made by the Prime Minister. Hon. Amama Mbabazi during the launch of the CoCIS Open Day on 27th February, 2014.
“Supporting this Center is in line with our Vision 2040, where we seek to establish and strengthen cooperation between the Academia, Industry, and Government through joint projects and programs of mutual interest to Research and Development centres, Small medium enterprises and large firms to spur innovation and entrepreneurships in order to ensure efficient and effective operation of the innovation system,” said Mbabazi who was represented by Hon. Nyombi Thembo, State Minister for ICT.
“You need supporting infrastructure like computers and bigger band width. We shall ensure that educational institutions are given high priority in connecting to the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) so that faster Internet can ease your work,” added the Minister who was impressed by the projects exhibited.
“I encourage the youth to use government ventures like the Youth Fund to access funds to kick start their start-ups. Also, some telecommunication companies like Orange through their Orange Innovation competitions do provide support for such initiatives in a bid to stimulate research and development in public and private sectors,” the Prime Minister noted.
Kevin Price, the Economic and Commercial officer, at the American Embassy in Kampala challenged the youth to transform the ICT sector in Uganda. “Facebook was founded ten years ago on a university campus, Less than 20 years ago, Google was founded on a university campus, was founded on a university campus. Looking at you, I cannot help but wonder who has the idea that will become the next big thing? Who has the skills, the dedication, and the ideas to create an ICT product that can be used internationally? Which entrepreneurs are willing to take a chance and start a world-class ICT business in Uganda?,” Price asked.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu said the innovations displayed were in line with the University’s strategic core function of Research and Innovations whose goals are to consolidate and enhance the research profile of Makerere University and to enhance transformation and utilisation of knowledge, research and innovations.
He thanked the Government for supporting Makerere University through the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology. “We hope this support can also be extended to the College of Computing and Information Sciences, which has demonstrated its capacity to come up with several innovations that are relevant to our needs,” he added.
“We are also using this opportunity to mentor the youth, especially the females still in secondary school so that they can be inspired to become innovative as well as participate in the development process of this country,” Ddumba said to the gathering that included students from Gayaza High School, Mengo Senior Secondary School, Makerere Modern Secondary School, Kawempe Moslem, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Gayaza and Kibuli Senior Secondary School.
The CoCIS Principal, Assoc. Prof. Constant Okello-Obura said the College was collaborating with a Swedish NGO - Global Business Labs to equip the students with entrepreneurial skills so that they can earn from their innovations. He requested the government to support the Center for Innovations and Professionals Skills Development to enable it come up with local innovative solutions to problems affecting the country. “The government will soon establish a National Innovation System, we request that the College benefits from this initiative and that the government sets up competitive scholarships for best system innovators,” he appealed.
Dr. Josephine Nabukenya appealed to the government to work with the academia in implementing its programmes. “We call for partnerships with government institutions that will enable us leapfrog Vision 2040,” she said.
According to Dr. Nabukenya, the Dean of the School of Computing and Informatics Technology (SCIT), some of the projects exhibited in e-health highlighted how to reduce malaria and HIV infections, support child growth, test for malaria without pricking any body parts and test for tuberculosis using mobile phones.
“Traffic has become a menace in our society but we would like to share with you that these talented youth you see here today have a solution to this problem. Recently this country was thrown in anxiety when the Uganda National Examinations Board experienced some technical difficulties due to constrained resources, however, our students have solutions to this as they have displayed here today,” she elaborated.
“Several farmers are struggling with their produce, not knowing how to market it at the best price possible, but applications like Agro Market Day, Tech4Farmers and many others are here at their disposal.
This function was attended by Prof. William Bazeyo, Chief of Party for Resilient Africa Network, Maggie Linak from USAID head offices in Washington, members of the private sector and the Makerere University Community.
The Open Day held under the theme – Achieving Vision 2040 through ICT: Innovations to Accelerate Uganda's Social-Economic Transformation was supported by the American Embassy in Kampala, Resilient Africa Network (RAN) and Uganda Communications Commission.

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