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                                                                                                                   Written by Alum Patricia

The System Software Center, in the College of Computing and Information Sciences at Makerere University hosted a presentation on 11thJuly 2017 with the theme “Getting to Grips with National Cyber Security”, presented by the celebrated Eng. Dr. FF. Tusubira, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance for Research and Networking. The aim of the presentation was to create awareness about national cybersecurity, its importance and how best to curb it.  

The presenter focused his presentation on the need for Uganda as a country to concentrate on getting a grip on national cybersecurity by citing instances where networks in different countries were hacked. He cited several instances where IT security was compromised, e.g. August 2016 when a group of hackers known as shadow brokers hacked the National Security Agency [NSA] and released hacking tools that were created by the NSA into the public, a power blackout in the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev in December 2016, and the hacking of Uganda Revenue Authority where the organization lost approximately 2 billion UG shillings to hackers using a computer system.

According to Eng. Tusubira the best way to curb national cybersecurity is by starting on a personal level, creating awareness among children, risk management behavior enterprise, and also understanding where a threat can be induced from e.g. by insiders of an organization, hackers, extremist organizations, investigative journalists, industrial espionage etc. He added that measures can be taken to counter the threat like malicious code protection, effective information security governance, incident management practices, and testing of the system to ensure it is hack proof.  

The presenter concluded by quoting the words of Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist who wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit” meaning that the country as a whole should engage in early cybersecurity measures in order to avoid the effects of national cybersecurity crisis.

A College team that comprised of several heads of department met with Ms. Teresa Mbagaya (Microsoft Education Lead, East & Southern Africa - ‎Microsoft) to discuss how the College and Microsoft can revive their existing partnership and embrace some of the new Microsoft initiatives.

Some of the initiative discussed during the meeting were the on;

  1. Implementing the Microsoft Education Transformation in Higher Education at Makerere University, College of Computing and IS as a pilot project.
  2. Reviving the College’s participation in the Imagine Cup which they previously won three years in a row (i.e. 2012, 2013, and 2014). The Cup is a competition that bring together ICT students from all over the world to display their innovations that critical address issues of the world today.
  3. Setting up of an Imagine Academy in Uganda that can make us more relevant to the ever-changing digital world.
  4. Applying Microsoft technologies across all the learning trajectories with Office 365 as well as azure (a collection of integrated cloud services that developers and IT professionals can use to build, deploy, and manage applications).

All the initiatives were well received and appreciated by the College team and they promised that the College will have students to participate in the Imagine Cup 2017.

The Internet Forum/Public Dialogue was held on 2nd May 2017 at Makerere University, Prof. Buyinza (Director, DRGT) welcomed everyone to the event in particular the Chief Guest, the Honorable State Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze and the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda, H.E Per Lindgarde.

The theme for the public dialogue was “Internet Access and Power: The Case for Uganda” and in his speech, he mentioned how the internet is undoubtedly a powerful technology that has had a tremendous impact on billions of people’s lives by giving access to uncompromised source of information, possibility of communicating directly to individuals all over the globe as well as to millions of people at the same time. He also talked about Uganda being one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to gain full internet connectivity in 1995 and how the current internet connection rate in Uganda stands at 7% out of 38 million Ugandans. 

The key objective of the dialogue organized in partnership with the Swedish Embassy, Kampala (U), Hivos Foundation, Unwanted Witness, and College of Computing and IS was to discuss the relevance of internet to the ordinary Ugandan, how they perceive internet as an empowering tool and share their experiences of their interaction with internet and power.  Other issues discussed in the forum were how low and middle-income citizens can increase access to internet, how efforts to promote both internet freedom and human rights can be made less dangerous, and issues to do with internet access restrictions in Uganda.

The panel to discuss and engage with Makerere University staff, students and the general public was represented by Dr. Aminah Zawedde (Lecturer, Makerere University) who was present to address the academia perspective, Mr. James Byaruhanga (COO, RokeTelkom) representing the service providers perspective, Mr. Osbert Osamai (Systems Analyst, NITA, Uganda) representing government perspective and Miss. Prudence Nyamushana (Blogger) representing the user’s perspective. Moderating the dialogue was Dr. Evelyn Kahiigi but before deliberations could begin a position paper on “The State of Internet Access and Power in Uganda” was presented by Ms. Dorothy Mukasa, (Unwanted Witness).

Key points mentioned during the dialogue were;

“Internet is not only about infrastructure but people should also put into perspective the need for sensitization about the internet as well as train people on the proper use of it.” (Osbert Osamai)

"Telecoms cannot provide universal (wide coverage) internet to also include all rural areas due to the business model adopted by the Telecoms, lack of funding by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), lack of knowledge about the services provided by the Telecoms, lack of access to smartphones etc.” (James Byaruhanga)

"Government may want to control the demand for internet yet the users are requesting the service providers (telecoms) for more. Because of this the service providers are caught in between and so both sides should learn to co-exist” (James Byaruhanga)

"Government has policy, rules and regulations for internet use in Uganda and these are the regulations that all citizens should abide to but also take into consideration that the policies, rules and regulations of internet use vary from country to country." (Dr. Aminah Zawedde)

The moderator and participants also applauded all the women that attended the public dialogue and encouraged everyone to do their part in decreasing the gender digital gap because the internet too is equally an important tool for women’s empowerment.

In closing Deus Mukalazi (Project Lead, Hivos Foundation) was grateful to all the participants the Swedish Embassy Kampala, Makerere University (College of Computing and Information Sciences), and Unwanted Witness for providing and organizing this multi-stakeholder’s platform and looked forward to the next one.

The College organized and hosted the Science Day on the 24th April 2017 at the Makerere University main hall. This day coincided with the Makerere-Sweden Bilateral Research Programme Annual Planning Meeting (24th- 28th April 2017) under the theme, Making Research Work for Regional Development. The objective of the Science day was to give an opportunity to researchers and scientists at the College to showcase their research projects and any future aspirations. Apart from showcasing the exhibitors also got to discuss and exchange ideas about their projects with the participants.

Some of the research projects exhibited were on Epidemiology intervention without Location – a Blind Guess by Augustus Aturinde, HingiCredit - A Big Data Driven Credit Risk Analysis System for Ugandan Farmers by Grace Kamulegeya, A GIS Based Predictive Model for Prevalence of Infectious Diseases in Sub-saharan Africa: Case Study of Cholera by Nagwovuma Margaret, Supervised by Associate Prof. Maiga Gilbert etc.

In addition to the exhibitions the College also organized for Science Day presentations which were chaired by Assoc. Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha and Dr. D. Luyombya. The presentations were on Artificial Intelligence for Development Leveraging computational methods to address developing-world challenges by Dr. E. Mwebaze, Open Data Practices for Health Research Institutions by Edward Mukiibi etc.

The event was sponsored by the Swedish Embassy Kampala (U), with collaborating institutions like Gulu University, The Swedish School of Library and Information Science (University of Boras), Lund University, Kyambogo University, and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).

Attached is a list and additional information on the Science Day presentations and exhibitors.

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