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Sweden still Committed to Supporting Research at Makerere

Swedish Head of Development Cooperation, Ms. Susanne Spets (2nd L) reaffirmed Sweden's commitment to supporting development research at Makerere during the APM, 10th March 2014, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

The Swedish Government’s freeze on financial support to the Government of Uganda will not affect Makerere University. This was reaffirmed by the Swedish Head of Development Cooperation, Ms. Susanne Spets (Pictured 2nd Left), during the plenary of the Makerere-Sida Annual Planning Meeting which took place on Monday 10th March 2014 at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT).

Ms. Spets said that although the Swedish Government had frozen aid to the Government of Uganda; this freeze will not affect support to development research.

“Our aid is not unconditional. Sweden will hold Government-to-Government support until we reach a decision on the Anti-Homosexuality law. The Swedish Government is concerned by the enactment of the bill into law,” Ms. Spets said.  She encouraged researchers to continue finding home-grown solutions to the problems afflicting the society.

Dr. Pohjolainen Yap Katri, the Senior Research Advisor at the Swedish Embassy cautioned the university not to get excited by the improved research rankings of the university. She advised that the ranking should not be looked at as a singular achievement but rather what this research has contributed to the development of the country. “All countries must have capacity to define their problems and find solutions, and this programme [Sida] is building that research capacity,” she said. She also charged researchers on the programme to always ensure timely submission of reports, noting that these are a prerequisite for the disbursement of funds.

Dr. Katri also said the recently submitted letters of intent for the 4th phase of Sida support would be sent to Sweden where an academic appraisal committee will vet them. “In mid-May, we will know the outcome based on the results of the vetting,” she said.

In the next phase, about 200 members of staff from Makerere and other public universities will get an opportunity to receive PhD training. The Director, Research and Graduate Training (DRGT),Makerere University, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi cautioned that translating research, science, technology and innovation information and knowledge for popular consumption is a must have skill that needed to be provided to the researchers.

The Vice Chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang, thanked the Swedish Government for the continued generosity to the university. Sida has since the year 2000 supported research and institutional reforms. Over 140 staff have acquired PhDs with the support of the Swedish government under Sida. Another 30 members have completed their Masters degrees. “This support has been monumental and critical to the realisation of our core functions of teaching and learning, research and innovations and partnerships and networking,” he said.

He noted that many researchers are now able to write proposals and win research grants owing to the experience they have received under the Sida programme. Sida has also supported laboratory improvement especially for the Biomedical and GIS laboratories as well as The Makerere Library and ICT Services in the university. The University has through Sida support also been able to expand her partnerships with other universities regionally.

“All these achievements have enabled us to contribute substantially to the attainment of the National Development Goals and reduced the degree of brain drain,” added Dr. Okello Ogwang.

Story by:  Ms. Betty Kyakuwa, CEDAT and Ms. Ritah Namisango, Public Relations Office

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