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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.
Up Accelerate is a one-year initiative implemented by Outbox in partnership with UNFPA and funding from UKAID. It seeks to support young entrepreneurs aged 18 - 30 years that are tackling challenges in sexual and reproductive health in Uganda by providing them with mentorship and seed funding of up-to $10,000 per team and business development training.
The Up Accelerate initiative was developed with support from the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and launched in November 2016 to run until October 2017. The program seeks to support up-to eight (8) startup companies develop their solutions into market ready, scalable and sustainable businesses. Four teams were selected to participate in the first Up Accelerate incubation process. Due to the success of the first initiative, Outbox launched the next call for applications to the second cycle (II). This process involved the identification of opportunity areas the innovators should address, the sourcing and recruitment of applicants through activities that included marketing, boot camps and pitching.
The College of Computing and IS hosted the 4-hour workshop on Monday 10th April 2017. The boot camp was led Mr. Solomon Opio (Capacity Development Lead, Outbox) who introduced himself and laid out the objectives and expectations of the boot camp to the participants.
Some of the objectives of boot camp included:
- Sensitizing and mobilizing young entrepreneurs on the Up Accelerate program process;
- Enabling participants, understand the challenges from the perspective of the end beneficiaries and stakeholders, so that they can act upon them through concept generation.
- Some of the expectations of the Bootcamp included:
- Participants developing an understanding of the challenge areas from the perspective of various stakeholders and end beneficiaries;
- Participants identifying opportunities for change in relation to the challenges identified.
Also shared with the participants were the Up Accelerate Cycle II Challenges whereby a challenge is an area that will have a significant change or impact on the Uganda Health care system. For example;
- How might we improve demand and access to essential maternal health medicines and supplies in Uganda?
- How might we improve the use of data in health care planning, monitoring and delivering?
Concluding the workshop, a debrief on lessons learned and a survey were given to each participant to be able to allow the facilitator’s get feedback about the program.
Makerere University is an implementation partner of the EDULINK II project entitled “Deploying Interactive Online Networking Platform for Improving Quality and Relevance of African University Graduates to Labor Markets”. The EDULINK project member institutions include; Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya), Egerton University (Kenya), RUFORUM (Uganda), and Makerere University (Uganda). The main objective of the project is to see how technology can be used to track graduate supervision and examination and as a result, the project partners developed a Graduate Network Platform.
The College of Computing and IS hosted the team from the EDULINK II Project on the 11th and 12th April 2017. The team from Kenya comprised of Dr. James O. Owuoche PhD., (Project Lead, Egerton University), Mr. Nicholas Kimolo, (Associate Partner, Futuristic Ltd), and Mr. Emmanuel Muthui (Software Developer, Futuristic Ltd.).
The team was welcomed by the Principal, Prof. Constant Okello-Obura who was happy to receive and host them on behalf of Makerere University. During the meeting, the Principal was given an update on the status of the project and the implementation strategies for its future deployment at Makerere University. He also pledged his and the College’s support towards ensuring the project’s success.
The main purpose of the visit by the project team from Kenya was to demonstrate the developed Online Graduate Mentoring and Supervision System (i-OGMSS) to key stakeholders. The stakeholders included representatives from the graduate students, supervisors (Senior lecturers and Heads of Departments), and administrators (Directorate of ICT Services, Directorate of Research & Graduate Training etc.) of Makerere University.
The EDULink team received positive feedback about the system specially on how the system will ease and simplify the work of the stakeholders and in closing Dr. E. Mwebaze (Senior Lecturer) appreciated the system that the team from Kenya developed and thanked them for making the trip to Uganda.
Refer to the attached report and links for additional details on the workshop and i-OGMSS system.