Uganda, Russia Sign Partnership to Cooperate in Science and Innovation

MOSCOW – The two governments of Uganda and Russia have entered a partnership that will facilitate development and realization of mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation.

It follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed this week between Uganda’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The MoU was signed on Friday in Russia’s capital, Moscow, by Uganda’s Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Elioda Tumwesigye and Mihail Kotyukov, who is Russia’s Minister of Science and Higher Education.

A statement issued by the Ugandan Embassy in Moscow stated that; “The purpose of this Memorandum is to contribute to the development and realization of mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation”.

Both Uganda and Russia will contribute to the development and realization of cooperation in technologies for exploration and development of mineral resources; ecology, research in the field of agriculture, biotechnology , chemistry and research.

The statement added that the two parties identified areas of cooperation and implementation should begin by July 2019.

Minister Elioda Tumwesigye arrived in Russia this week with a delegation from the Ministry and held numerous meetings with strategic partners in the field of science and innovation. The delegation also visited Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas which is the national research university.

The delegation met the Vice Rector for International Affairs, Alexander Makesimenko and had discussions on possible areas of cooperation including training, research and attracting oil and gas companies to Uganda.

A draft MoU was prepared by Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas for consideration by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Uganda.

Kadaga Applauds Agriculture Innovations at NARO’s Crop, Livestock Institutes

Speaker of the Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has lauded the initiatives being undertaken at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) crop and livestock institutes at Namulonge and Nakyesasa commenting that “it is possible for us to move the 68% of our Ugandans into the cash economy”.

Kadaga on Monday led a team of leaders from Busoga region to the NARO’s Crop and Livestock Resources Research Institutes in Namulonge and Nakyesasa on a learning mission of smart agricultural practices intended to boost agricultural production and productivity in Busoga sub-region.

The team of over thirty leaders was received by Agriculture Minister, Vincent Ssempija Bamulangaki together with the NARO Governing Council Chair, Prof. Joseph Obua and Director General Dr. Ambrose Agona. The delegation toured the Biosciences facility and the Confined Field Trials before heading to the Livestock Research Institute in Nakyesasa.

At Biosciences, Speaker Kadaga toured the on-going research from laboratory to confined field trials. While at the Confined Field Trials, the Speaker was exposed to the improved cassava progenies generated through crosses with farmer preferred varieties displaying high resistance to cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease notably to combat the ravaging effects of cassava virus.

“Annually, Ugandan farmers lose an estimated Ugx.100 billion to major cassava virus diseases,” said Dr. Asea the Director of Research at the Crop Research Institute.

NARO is also applying biotechnology tools in the development of potato varieties tolerant to potato blight disease, maize varieties tolerant to drought, maize stock borer and the fall army worm, banana varieties enhanced vitamin A content and with enhanced resistance to banana bacterial wilt, banana nematodes, banana black sigatoka.

At the Livestock Research Institute, Kadaga toured the vaccine evaluation platform where clinical trials for NARO produced (4) tick vaccines are being conducted in line with the World Health Organization procedures for release of a new drug. The NARO vaccines being produced include three tick-specific vaccines and one cocktail vaccine that has the potential to protect Ugandan cattle and beyond from the three most prevalent ticks.

According to the NARO Director Genereal, Dr Agona, once on the market, this vaccine will save this country over Shs 3.2 trillion which is the current expenditure on imported ticks and acaracide treatment for livestock.

The team also visited the Dairy circular production facility which houses a new breed of Viking jerseys that are considered appropriate for the local market in the current climatic conditions, a milking parlor, biogas and bio pesticide production facility.  

“The model that you see here today, Rt. Hon. Speaker is available for interested commercial farmers to adopt and replicate on their own farms. As a Research Organization, we pride ourselves in bringing the smartest agricultural practices closer to the people for increased production and productivity,” said Dr. Agona.

At the end of the tour, the Speaker welcomed the initiatives and smart agricultural practices that her team was shown and commended the National Agricultural Research Organization through the Ministry of Agriculture for the leadership they are providing the Sub-Saharan Africa region in Agriculture Research.

“It is possible for us to move the 68% of our Ugandans into the cash economy and I implore my colleagues the elected leaders to make use of the knowledge resources available to us through the Zonal Agricultural Research Institutes to enlighten our people on how to do it,” said Speaker Kadaga.

Speaker Kadaga Concerned by Inefficiencies in Govt’s Youth Programs

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has highlighted the need for government to make the necessary interventions to improve the livelihood of youths in the country.

Speaker Kadaga said this on Monday while addressing the second Uganda Youth Business Forum at Kampala Serena Hotel in Kampala which was organized by the Parliament Forum on Youth Affairs.

The forum ran under the theme ‘Building Strategic Partnerships for Sustainable Youth Entrepreneurship and Development’.

While she acknowledged there are numerous Funds targeting youths, she said that they haven’t exhaustively benefited the youths.

Kadaga cited programs such as the Youth Livelihood Program, the Youth Venture Capital, the Youth Fund most of which have not benefited the youth sufficiently due to a poor approach.

“There is alot money in this country scattered here and there and if we were to manage it, we would all register victory. Let us use the budget framework paper to influence better allocations to the youth,” Kadaga said.

“Sometime you wonder what is wrong with people in government, because the Student’s Graduate Scheme Bill was tabled in the House, but the Minister refused to give us a certificate of financial implication. However, I recently ordered that we proceed with the Bill without the certificate,” Kadaha said.

She faulted the Minister for Finance for dragging processes that serve to benefit the young population. Kadaga as well wondered why numerous innovations by Ugandans and mostly the youth continue to go unnoticed.

“This is what prompted me to organize an innovation week at Parliament to enhance the work of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT),” Kadaga mentioned.

As is the case in the other Funds, the Speaker said that majority of the youths have no idea how to access the Innovation Fund which was established to support innovations in Uganda.

“I don’t know how to access the Innovation fund, and if I don’t know, how will the youth know how to access it? As government we should style up,” Kadaga said.

At the event also attended by the Youth MP for Western Uganda, Mwine Mpaka, the Speaker launched a report on the state of youth in Uganda.

MP Mpaka appealed to government to consider more investment in programs targeting the youth and supporting sectors like entertainment.

Minister Elioda Roots for Research Tailored to Solving Societal Problems

Minister for Science Technology and Innovation Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has asked students to take interest in research projects that can solve problems facing societies within the country.

He said this on Friday while closing Mbarara University Science and Technology (MUST) 14th annual research dissemination conference which was held at Lake View Hotel in Mbarara.

“We don’t do research for purposes of doing research or for purposes of only publications but research must be aimed at solving pressing societal challenges,” said Minister Tumwesigye.

The Minister challenged students to undertake research that will leave a positive impactful in the area.

“Work on simple innovations. Let’s not think of splitting the atom. There are many things that we can work on to improve the lives of people,” he said.

Dr Tumwesigye who doubles as the Member of Parliament for Sheema municipality says research should also be able to influence government policies.

“Sometimes you find people have done research in this institution but people come to know this wonderful research when they meet their colleagues in international meetings. Such research is not helping the country”.

He hailed Mbarara University of Science and Technology for being a hub for multidisciplinary research. He noted that some of the presentations made on Friday had the potential of tackling real problems in the society especially in the area of health and environment.

Tumwesigye pledged total support to different fields of researchers in the country.

“You need to let me know what more we can do to make it easy for you to conduct your research. In my Ministry, we have created a whole department for innovations to recognize all the inventions and register them. There is also a Fund to support inventions,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor for MUST, Prof Celestine Obua applauded the Minister for being the pioneering head of the new Ministry of Science and Innovation.

At the same event, the students considered to have had outstanding research projects were rewarded with grants.

KAINO Africa Launches EdTech to Boost Education Sector

Kaino Africa has launched EdTech school management solution, a digital product development and innovation of educational resources in Uganda so as to improve the education sector in the country.

Kaino delivers a complete content management system that includes curriculum aligned lesson guides, well prepared lesson notes, learner’s workbooks, digitized textbooks, assessment tests and fully integrated Student information system to support intelligent data-driven decisions.

During the launch, Kaino Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Cedric Namakoola said that the new e-learning platform ensures that a smooth and unlimited learning experience happens for every school going child anywhere in both rural and urban areas.

“We at Kaino Africa believe that empowering a teacher is empowering Africa; both the tab and the application will save both time and money so you can better use your resources in ways that directly benefit your students and their ability to excel academically,” Namakoola said.

Namakoola said that the product uses the KAINOtab, Web and Mobile Apps to empower teachers by aggregating academic content like, lesson guides, assessment tests, lesson notes, learner’s workbooks from the best educationalists and digital textbooks from book owners and publishers which enables us to leverage this content so that teachers, students and other users can use this platform to easily access this content.

Namakoola added that children in the rural areas will have a chance to acquire the best education since the platform will enable content providers spread their content across Uganda at a low cost.

“We are looking at affordability of textbooks, enabling self-assessment by learners; we are also targeting the refugees and shall give them tabs at free of charge so that they can also access learning at a very accessible manner,”
he added.

“We shall give out tabs freely to all teachers in schools that enroll for the system and we shall avail free data”.

The system will also address the issue of absenteeism by teachers, through the geo-fencing technology, were when a teacher enters the classroom, it automatically detects that they have signed in and when they move out it automatically shows he has signed out.

William Ruto Awarded by Ugandan Youth, Underscores Innovation and Technical Education

Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto has called on young people in Uganda to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship which he said is the only way through which Africa will achieve its development agenda.

Ruto was speaking Saturday at the 7th edition of Young Achievers Awards at Kampala Serena Hotel where he delivered a keynote.

At the same event, he was recognized and awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award for championing the economic empowerment of youth in Kenya and consistently positioning youth as vessels for social change.

“We recognize your pesonal leadership story that embodies the dreams of ordinary young Africans whose own dreams often times are stuck against the odds. You’ve broken barriers to social and economic empowerment to emerge as a leading light of your generation,” read part of the citation of the Award.

Ruto who was accompanied by his wife and two children along with a delegation of officials from the Kenyan government said the Award was an honor.

“I’m deeply honoured. Your recognition humbles me to the core. I accept this recognition from you because the spirit represented by this event is one that must be lauded,” he told the guests at the event.

“The idea that Africa must learn to celebrate and validate her own rather than wait for external approval from others is a liberating mindset which I fully endorse”.

He congratulated the organizers of the annual Awards which he described as a wonderful innovation.

Ruto used the evening to rally young people in Uganda behind innovation, stating that enterprise, creativity and innovation pays much more than hard work.

Unless education is reformed to emphasize the primacy of science, technology and technical education, the potential of Africa’s youth will not be unlocked, he noted. Failure to prioritize these three areas, he added, will slow down the continent’s efforts to catch up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He said that putting the youth at the centre of development explains why Kenya boasts of 11 national polytechnics and 203 technical training institutions churning out 180,000 students in such institutions.

“I have seen the possibilities and freedoms that come when young people cease the opportunity to be part of history,” Ruto said.

“I want all the youth to know that a new day is on the horizon and when than new day dawns, it will be because a number of daring young people born of commoners will be the leaders to taken the mantle to deliver Africa’s agenda 2063 ahead of time”.

He encouraged the youth to discover the enterprising attributes that lie within them

“In the world we live in today, everything is possible. Impossible is a word with diminished application and relevance. Ideas only fail only because they have been done before or when our imagination is not bold enough,” he added.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who attended the event congratulated H.E William Ruto upon his recognition.

The Awards ceremony was also attended by Minister for Trade, Amelia Kyambadde, State Minister for Finance, David Bahati and former UIA Executive Director, Dr Maggie Kigozi among others.

Twitter Photos

“We’ll be Driven by Your Priorities” – PM Modi Outlines India’s Agenda Towards Africa

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has said that India is ready to partner with Africa and that this will be done on terms that seek to liberate the continent not to constrain its future.

Prime Minister Modi affirmed that India’s efforts will be driven by Africa’s priorities.

Modi who is visiting Uganda was Wednesday addressing Parliament alongside host, President Yoweri Museveni, in a speech that largely outlined India’s agenda towards Africa and key support areas.

Quoting from Indian rights champion, Mahatma Gandhi, the Prime Minister stressed that India’s freedom remains incomplete as long as Africa is still in bondage.

“India is proud to be Africa’s partner and Uganda is the centre to our commitment to the continent. Our efforts will be driven by your priorities. We shall work for and with you, and stand in solidarity with your endeavors, in the principle of equality,” Modi said.

He said that India has already committed 180 lines of credit worth USD 11 billion across 40 countries in Africa and that 18 new diplomatic missions will be opened on the continent.

Modi outlined 10 areas in which the Asian country seeks to cooperate with Africa, among them “keeping our markets open and making it easier and attractive to trade in India”.

He also said that India will support industrialization on the African continent as well as programs in education, health, digital literacy in order to mainstream the marginalized.

“We will work with you to improve Africa’s agriculture, and we shall work with Africa to ensure we preserve biodiversity including use of clean energy,” he added.

Furthermore, Modi stated that also central to the India-Africa cooperation will be defence and security through initiatives to combat the threat of terrorism and extremism.

Regarding the demographic dividend, Modi pointed out the similarity between Africa and India both of which have two thirds of their population being below the age of 35. He said that the future belongs to the youth especially in the current digital age and that India will leverage African talent and skill to building local capacity.

Modi said; “The world needs cooperation, not competition. On top of our priority, we will intensify and deepen our engagement – it will be sustained and regular,” adding that “it will be on terms comfortable for you, terms that will liberate your potential and not constratin your future”.

In his remarks earlier, President Yoweri Museveni said that Africa’s growth was stalled by the fragmentation of the continent, coupled with an array of bottlenecks like ideological disorientation, weak states, undeveloped infrastructure and interference with the private sector.

“We have not solved all these problems but we are dealing with them one by one. The recently signed Common Free Trade Agreement for Africa will deal with the issue of a fragmented market,” Museveni said.

He assured PM Modi that India has a reliable partner in a rising Africa.

American Tech Hub, Andela Launches in Uganda, Jackie Ochola Named Director

Andela, the American company that specializes in training software developers, has officially launched its operations in Uganda.

The official launch was held Wednesday with the unveiling of the Andela offices housed on Plot 103, Bukoto Street. The launch was attended by over 100 prominent tech players, Andela staff and key stake holders in the technological sector.

Andela looks to equipping the next generation of technologists and innovators in Kampala with the required expertise needed to accelerate the advancement of their local communities through technology.

Present was the Andela Community Manager Maria Kyamulabye, and Software Developers Caroline Nalubega, John Seremba and Nigerian-based Tolulope Komolafe who shared their journeys as tech leaders.

Also in attendance was Albert Mucunguzi, Board Chair of the Uganda ICT Association who delivered the Keynote address.

“We are happy to see Andela’s presence in Uganda and the expansion of our tech industry. If we have 100,000 developers with the support of Andela solving one problem each, then we have 100,000 problems in Africa solved,” Mucunguzi said.

Andela’s operations in Uganda will be headed by Jackie Ochola​ who is the Country Director. Ochola boasts of vast expertise given her previous roles in the tech ecosystem.

She has previously been Managing Director at Nokia Uganda and brings nearly 20 years of experience in managing and scaling engineering and tech teams across Africa.

With this new role, Jackie Ochola will be responsible for building the team and developing Andela’s growth in Kampala by providing strategic leadership and direction in Uganda.

“It is an honor to host every one of our guests for such an auspicious occasion. Their support means a lot, not only to Andela, but to our young developers looking to gain a foothold in the tech ecosystem, as they begin their careers,” said Ochola on the launch.

She further stressed that Andela has a deserved reputation for building elite tech teams, by providing the tools that aspiring young technologists need to be globally competitive software developers.

Ochola thinks that as a country, Uganda will have a strong position to leverage on the growth opportunities that the country has to offer with a call to welcoming all brilliant minds to Andela Uganda.

“I am very excited about being part of a movement to create opportunities for young Ugandans, to build out our country’s tech ecosystem and to ensure that Andela is at the forefront of developing the leaders of the future in Uganda,” she said.

Since its inception in Uganda in 2017, Andela has grown to over 100 hundred team members, a portion of whom are working as full-time engineers at high-growth technology companies, Ochola revealed and as such,

Also present at the event was Kwame Rugunda, Chair of the Blockchain Association of Uganda, who said, “This is a dream come true to see how code can change the world one line at a time. Congratulations to Andela.”

With citizens under 25 years of age constituting 70% of the country’s entire population in the world, Uganda is home to several tech hubs and incubators.

Andela’s office launch and appointment of Jackie is an opportunity to further equip the next generation of young Ugandan technologists and innovators in Kampala, with the expertise they need to accelerate the advancement of their communities through technology.

Earlier this year, Andela extended its ​Andela Learning Community [ALC]​, a program that provides aspiring technologists with the tools to become globally competitive software developers, to Uganda. Implemented in partnership with Google and Udacity.

The launch seems to come with more opportunities for Ugandan youth to explore with a plot by Andela hold its inaugural Andela Uganda Developer Conference at its premises under the Themed ‘​Powering Today’s Teams on Saturday 28 July 2018.

The said conference will bring together 150 of Uganda’s top tech influencers for ​a one-day event, comprising of talks, panel sessions and hands-on workshops; all with a goal of igniting and refuelling the passion of techies to continue building solutions that solve for both local and global challenges.

Ugandan School Drop Out, Nkaheza Injured as Own Invented Plane Crash Lands

Primary seven school leaver Nkaheza Joseph, the ‘inventor’ from Mwizi in Mbarara district, is currently admitted at Ruti clinic after a horrific plane crash.

The aviator and engineer sustained head injuries on Monday while testing his locally made plane along Mbarara -Kabale road.

It’s not the first time engineer Nkaheza has sustained injuries during a test flight. He once hurt his arms when the plane crashed during an earlier test flight.

Nkaheza–coined from his own name Joseph Nkaheza – is Uganda’s first private and locally made helicopter.

Nkaheza also made a 12-feet motorbike called “Rubarusimo” [loosely translated as it is a prize]. The bike uses only steam not fuel. It is 12-feet tall.

The helicopter

Nkaheza used steel to make his helicopter after failing to purchase aluminium materials which he said were too expensive.

“I needed Shs 56 million to buy aluminium. I didn’t have the money, so I decided to use only steel which cost me Shs 21 million,” Nkaheza told SoftPower News.

“In the end, I was able to make the first plane in the world to ever fly without aluminium components in its make.”

He used the engine of a maize mill and sprockets or cogs from motorcycles.

“A motorcycle has only one sprocket which aids it to climb a hill. My chopper has 12 sprockets which allow it to fly in the air.”

Nkaheza also used wood to guard against short-circuits or lightning. He says the wood enables lights and the battery to operate without touching the steel that would in the end cause a short-circuit.

“I also used plastic and rubber materials as mountings to keep the engine in its right place. Nkaheza is the first plane to fly without computer generated power. It only relies on pipes.”

The ‘inventor’ says many people have tried to do what he did before but failed.

His chopper uses five litres of petrol to fly a distance of 200km.

“The first time I flew it, it crashed and broke my two arms.” That was in 2015 in Mwizi Mbarara district. He would spend a year in hospital.

Dreams come true

“I was repairing a fan once, it fell but somehow stayed suspended in the air. It was then that I got the idea of making a plane,” he explained.

His first plane took off properly but refused to land. It was made like a fan. “I removed the switch and then fell.”

Nkaheza then changed and made a new plane that could fly and land easily.

“I remodelled the first one. I noticed I needed to reduce on its head [front]. I launched in 2016. It flew up and moved smoothly but while landing, it lost balance and landed hind-first. The helmet cut my forehead.”

When Nkaheza tried to fly the plane again, his neighbours protested—afraid it would kill him this time round.

Need for training and funding

I don’t have anyone to help me in this great endeavour, Nkaheza intimated, saying only media has tried to market him.

“They [other people] just promise. I even lost my wife two years ago because of my inventions. She wanted me to stop but I couldn’t.”

Nkaheza and his wife have two children – all boys.

If the government can help and train me more in technological innovations, that would be great. I also need capital to fund my inventions.”

He only stopped in Primary seven [P.7] at Bugarika school.

“I would have done great things if I had a chance to study further.”

Minister Elioda Calls for More Female Innovators as URSB Marks Intellectual Property Day

Uganda has Thursday joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World Intellectual Property Day celebrated annually in a colorful event held at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

The event hosted by Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) brought together experts in the areas of agriculture, health, environment, music and arts industry who discussed, shared ideas and inspired women to be change makers as elaborated in this year’s theme ‘Powering change, women in innovation and creativity’.

“Let’s celebrate the resourcefulness and bravery of women who are driving change in our world and helping shape our common future” said, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister of State for Science and Technology who represented Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.

Dr Elioda Tumwesigye revealed that innovation is very crucial for Uganda to realize economic growth because through innovation, specific community needs are met and addressed in a more comprehensive way.

According to Elioda, with less than 30% of women involved in science and research as per UNESCO findings, Uganda needs to work hard to beat the odd with better education and plans for the girl child in reference to science and technology.

“I am impressed and happy to report that 40% of registered business in Uganda are registered by women. The rest is attributed to the men and we feel more women need to take up the tools available in their space to challenge the gender gaps,” the Minister said.

The URSB Registrar General, Bamanya Twebaze acknowledged the value of women as innovators with creative capacity but was quick to say that many have not fully exploited the available opportunities. He explained that those engaged in small and medium size enterprises still lack awareness on intellectual property rights or protection required for their intervention, brands and designs.

“URSB on this day has chosen to rewrite the story by providing training, availing women with mentors and sensitizing them about the benefits of Intellectual Property protection while utilizing the available platform with the summit being just of the several to encourage innovation,” Twebaze said.

With most of the message focused around women and how they can use their position to transform, inspire and be an example to the young generation, SoftPower News spoke to Kyomuhendo Phyllis, co-founder of Mobile Scan Solution Uganda (MSCAN-Uganda), a digital mobile Utra scan service helping reduce child mortality among the rural poor in Uganda.

MSCAN is aimed at giving an end to maternal mortality regardless of the conditions of the beneficiaries, we have tried this at Bugembe Health centre three in Jinja and saved three at risk kids from dying by diagnosing their problems and referring them for further medical support with the help of our mobile scan and laptops.

“For us as innovators, this is the most affordable, accessible and portable utra scan system yet to storm the Ugandan market as opposed to the conventional Ultral scan technology, however the challenge of pessimism and funding continues to hinder their progress level,” Kyomuhendo said.

Minister Elioda said this will be addressed with the current proposed innovation funds and creation of an innovation café where innovators will take advantage of free work space and save cost.

Eminent women who have played a critical role in inspiring other women in Uganda graced the occasion, notable among them; Maria Ndagire, Ms. Joanita Kawalya, Iren Namubiru, Ms Halima Namakula all from the music and film industry, Dr Gudula Basaza an agriculturalist, Santa Anzo and Silvia owori from the fashion world.