ICT Ministry Promises Support To Innovators.
Written by Derrick Asaba on May 12, 2021
The ministry of ICT and National Guidance has promised a continuous support of young innovators across the country in a bid to create more jobs and import substitution.
This was revealed by the minister of ICT and National Guidance, Judith Nalule Nabakooba on Tuesday as she delivered a report on the implementation of the manifesto commitments and strategic guidelines and directives (2016-2021) at the Office of the Prime Minister Conference hall in Kampala.
“The government of Uganda has been supporting the ministry of ICT through a fund called the innovation fund. We almost get about 18M annually to support the young innovators. Last year we managed to support about 40 but ever since the beginning of the programme, about 230 young innovators have been supported,” Nabakooba said.
The ministry is currently working with universities of Muni, Gulu and Soroti to set up regional ICT innovation hubs. In so doing, the ministry hopes that this will give more platforms for young innovators (students) from these respective regions of mentorship and to come up with solutions that can address community challenges.
The same fund has been used to support other universities to create hubs for innovation but also the private hubs to have an opportunity where young people can go and develop solutions that can address the challenges in the country.
Nabakooba affirmed the fact that there are a number of young creative innovators with many applications and that even some of the solutions employed in government at the time, are being implemented because of these young innovators for instance the education management system, academic information management system, and the E-poster which she launched sometime back.
“I went to Makerere University and found people who had done applications of E-five-minute delivery. You simply order items on that application, and they are dropped at your home. They are developing applications for E-waste management, weather forecast, transport and a number of applications have been developed,” Nabakooba revealed.
Government is promoting ICT innovations to create more jobs but also for import substitution and to uphold overdependence on foreign ICT. Against this reasoning, Innovation grants have been given to 132innovators to fix private sector innovation hubs under the National ICT Initiative Support Programme and a national ICT innovation hub for 500 innovators has been constructed in Nakawa and awaits launching by the President.
However, basing on what is taking place right now and for the fact that the ministry is bound to meet costs of maintenance of the ICT infrastructure, some kind of taxation has to be put on some of these services.
She added that these innovations under ICT are looked at as any other infrastructure or service provider and taken as a utility thus in one way or the other services have to be paid for.
The ministry believes that by the intervention that is going to be done in the next phase (phase 5) and the World Bank project, the cost may be shared across. Nabakooba added that the impact is felt right now because the users are few but with ICT and internet, the cost is shared if users are many which equally translates to a reduction in costs for what is required to maintain and run the service, is being shared.
Nabakooba further said that they are looking forward to expanding the infrastructure to have more users on the service and they believe that costs will go down if users are many but also most of these taxes may not be felt along the way.
The government through the Ministry annually releases 13 billion shillings to facilitate grant allocations for ICT innovations; aid construction of innovation hubs, procurement of furniture, consultancies and procurement of ICT equipment among other projects.