Up to Shs 6bn has been awarded by government through the Ministry of ICT to a total of 60 startups that have developed ICT solutions to improve service delivery in sectors of health, finance, agriculture and others.
The 60 winners are the second cohort to be awarded under the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) which is under the Ministry of ICT. The successful startups were announced on Wednesday at an event presided over by Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
The first cohort, awarded in 2018, had 12 winners.
Speaking at the event on Wednesday, the Minister of ICT, Frank Tumwebaze said the initiative is in line with the Presidential directives made in 2016 that aim at creating a vibrant ICT sector which involves manufacturing of electronic hardware so as to create employment.
He said that while government needed other value addition points beyond the humongous investment it was making in laying the national IT backbone to deepen internet connectivity.
“The question was – Are we only enabling the consumption of foreign innovations? Because when you are on Facebook, WhatsApp, you are consuming somebody’s innovation. The conversation started rapidly and I am happy that the idea has now matured”.
The Ministry engaged innovators to understand their challenges and how government would intervene to create an enabling environment.
“I am happy to see this program in its second phase take off sustainably. I thank all people who have supported this idea”.
Minister Tumwebaze said the proposal for government to create a Fund that supports ICT innovations was later approved by Cabinet and the first cohort supported 12 innovators.
“We are not supporting people who are still incubating; we are not supporting trial and error. We are supporting solutions that are ready to be consumed,” he said.
He however asked for more government support to this initiative which he said will in the long run create jobs and facilitate import substitution for ICT products. He said there is great potential in technological innovations to spur economic growth as well as employment.
Supplementing on this, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Vincent Bagiire said it is not by accident that the most profitable enterprises globally are trading in ICT, citing companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft which are leading in profitability.
As a Ministry, we are confident that can create enterprises that are not only profitable but also assist government in import substitution in ICT specifically software and applications.
Bagiire said that government is already supporting innovators in addition to the ongoing construction of the National ICT hub in Nakawa, and support to other private innovation hubs such as Hive Colab, Innovation Village, Resilient Africa Network (RAN) of Makerere University.
“This is in order to provide necessary spaces for ideas to flourish, so that Ugandans can create software for Uganda but also to create enterprises that can create employment for Ugandans,” Bagiire said.
Concerning the second batch of the NIISP winners, Bagiire said government is convinced that local developers will continue to win awards globally. Some of the groups that were supported in the 2018 cohorts have already got global recognition. One of the startups ‘Wulila’ was recognized among the top 10 health innovations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Some of the startups that were announced as beneficiaries under the NIISP 2019 cohort were given as much as Shs 250m in cash. Among the beneficiaries is e-Lunda (Shs 74.9m), Travel Uganda (Shs 70m), Jaguzza Livestock App (Shs 100m), Akello Banker (Shs 100m), OWC Tech Solution (Shs 50m), UNEB Services App (Shs 250m), Mwalimu (Shs 50m), Sign Language Directory and Dictionary (Shs 15m), Kaino Africa (Shs 100m) and My Lib (Shs 100m).
Others are Mama Pneumonia Diagnostic Kit (Shs 70m), Mobi Care (Shs 100m), Healthcare for Deaf Patients (Shs 100m), Yonja (Shs 100m) Get a Plot App (Shs 100m) Healthcare for Deaf patients.