Thanks to support from the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology, Makerere University has since 2010/11 undertaken several innovative projects under; the College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology (CEDAT), the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & Biosecurity (CoVAB).
The initiative supports the university’s main priorities in the area of research and innovation as defined in light of scientific challenges, and the role of the universities as change agents in economic development of the country. On 30th and 31st July 2014, hundreds flocked to Makerere University to witness and several advancements made by the Makerere University Staff and Students through Science and Technological Innovations
This was during the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology Stakeholders’ Forum organized by Makerere University to engage Government, Development Partners, Science, and Technology regulatory bodies, Policymakers and Academicians to take part in stock of the progress thus far and discuss the way forward. At the Forum held on 30th July 2014 in the Makerere University Main Hall under the theme: “The Presidential Initiative at Makerere University, an engine for realizing Vision 2040 through research and innovation” participants took stock of the University’s contribution towards the attainment of the Uganda Vision 2040.
The Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology was purposefully started to enhance the development of science and research in the country, working through various bodies including the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST) and other various research stations across the country. The Presidential Initiative has continued to benefit the university by contributing much to its core functions and supporting the two overriding principles of;
- A research-driven university where research and teaching and learning are mutually reinforcing; and
- Knowledge transfer partnership and networking where knowledge production and transfer is two way traffic between the university and the public and private sectors.
According to the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, Science and Technology has created a platform for the university to contribute to national development through knowledge generation, innovations and transfer.
“A number of successes have been realized in all projects under the initiative and students under the technology innovations have produced exciting prototypes with potential for rural community production transformation among other benefits,” said the Vice Chancellor.
Through his speech read by the Vice Chairperson-Makerere University Council, Hon. Irene Ovonji-Odida, the Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera congratulated Makerere University upon the continued contribution to the development of science and technology in the Uganda.
“The progress made in this great institution signals bright future prospects for national development. I encourage all young innovators to continue looking at all developments with an optimistic and broad view so as to benefit both national and international audiences,” Prof. Kagonyera advised.
In her speech read by the Commissioner for Higher Education Mrs. Elizabeth Gabona, the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo acknowledged the impact of Makerere University’s innovations in transforming the lives of Ugandans.
“There has been a need to demonstrate the impact of science and technology on national development, and I am pleased that this has been highlighted by Makerere University. I hope that five years from now with continued support from the Presidential Initiative, there will be even more valuable research products to showcase as has been demonstrated at the exhibition. I thank Makerere University for putting these funds to proper use,” said Mrs. Gabona on behalf of the Minister.
While taking the participants through the evolution of science and technology at Makerere University, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration (DVCFA) Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, appreciated the financial support from the government through the initiative. He noted that prior to the Presidential Initiative Makerere University had engaged in several innovations but encountered a great challenge of inadequate funds, as required to transform these projects into market-ready products.
“I am happy to note that the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has directed a sum of UGX 25 Billion to be spread over a five year period for innovations, with UGX 5 Billion committed in every Financial Year Starting July 2010. Therefore we have been receiving this money every financial year,” said Prof. Nawangwe.
During his presentation on Boosting Technology, Education and Innovation, the Principal, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Dr. Henry Alinaitwe, said the College had so far produced eleven technical innovations including the rehabilitation and modernization of laboratories. These projects focus on the increasing relevance and practice experience of graduates; improving the University’s relationship with all sectors of industries as well as the private sector; development of online laboratories, and utilization of indigenous materials in the production of home-based products.
“The Presidential Initiative supports three components at this college namely; modernization of laboratory infrastructure, industrial training and innovative projects aimed at increasing and retaining a pool of highly trained professionals, and developing business incubation facilities to support commercialization of staff and students ideas,” said the Principal.
Speaking on behalf of the technical team of the Kiira EV project, Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri Togboa, Principal Investigator–Centre for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT), shared that the Centre has a vision to take the Kiira EV project forward and establish the first original equipment manufacturing plant in Uganda and East Africa.
“Our ambitions are to commercialize the Kiira EV and as such we are concurrently working on developing the concept plan as well as a master plan of the facility where the car is going to be made. I am grateful to announce that through the Presidential Initiative, the Government has donated 100 acres of land located in the Jinja industrial and Business Park on which the Kiira Motors Cooperation complex shall be built,” said Prof. Tickodri Togboa.