Uganda youth ICT innovators receive government funding
Twelve innovators youth groups have today been awarded UGX 2.5bn or US $ 695,000 under the National ICT Initiatives Support Programme or NIIS.
“I can now proudly report to the whole country that Ugandans have solutions of their own on the domestic market. If we can take these to the regional and international markets, then we shall have fully liberated our country from being a net importer of IT systems and solutions. Our IT rankings on the global IT index will automatically go high,” said Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance.
Uganda designed the NIIS to facilitate the creation of an ICT Innovation ecosystem and marketplace for Ugandan innovative digital products. NIISP primarily aims at facilitating growth and development of the software applications and innovations industry.
“As a Ministry, we are positioning ourselves to use ICT innovations to turn youth into wealth creators and job creators,” said Aida Nantaba the state the Minister of ICT and National Guidance.
“I looked at the heavy investment the country has put in the ICT infrastructure and also the huge expenditure we incur on imported IT systems and applications and realized that if we supported our own ICT talents we can leverage our ICT investments,” said Tumwebaze.
“Today we are not just giving you financial awards as just a token of appreciation. We are recognizing and commissioning you to go to the market to sell your intellectual outputs. The government will be the first client of your products,” he told the winners.
Among the winning teams is the Academic Information Management System or AIMS, an integrated information system locally designed and customized to meet the needs of universities in Uganda. The system is designed for computerization of student information, fees, financial and all Other University functions.
In the medical field are KiCare, a non-invasive solution that tests for kidney functionality but does not require a blood sample to perform a kidney functionality test; the Protecting infants remotely by SMS or PRISMS, an SMS based system to assist health workers to provide new-born care clinical management through provision of instant clinical care decisions based on routine assessment findings as well as Ocular, now at prototype level and field tested, a mobile application which enables diagnosis for microscopically diagnosed diseases.
The Wulira app a hearing assessment mobile application that is used to assess hearing loss in patients and Sysimo technologies basically a blood donation system mobile-based application to facilitate communication between blood donors and donation centers so that the appropriate donor can be reached on time.
The Dero energy services application supports the acquisition of localized solar power and the Energrow app aims to grow sustainable electricity demand by means of digital financial inclusion, business training, and increased energy literacy.
Others are Xente an online payment platform, 6th Sense a mobile application which translates Sign language to speech and Munu Technologies Associates or MTA, an IT company offering business processing outsourcing services. The M-Farmer is a software designed to extend technology services to farmers by helping them to keep better records, increase the efficiency of operations and make informed decisions.
“Innovation starts with an idea. What remains now is for you to polish it up further, demonstrate more clearly the problem your solution intends to solve and the market that will consume your solutions. The call for concepts will continue every year,” said Tumwebaze.
Kirunda Kivejinja, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, said the Uganda government and business sector have overly relied on foreign ICT products and solutions. But now given the demonstration of the capabilities of Ugandan innovators, he encouraged government entities and the private sector to give first priority to Uganda firms.
The growth of the ICT innovation ecosystem in Uganda has mainly been private sector led with minimal direct support from the government. Unfortunately, this approach has not been very successful and it has created stand-alone and closed software applications that have not promoted innovation at a national level.
The NIISP seeks to create a digital ecosystem by promoting the development and deployment of applications to create an open ecosystem in Uganda that shall enable the government, companies, and individuals to innovate and reach new markets.