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Uganda and Sweden sign five-year USD 32million research collaboration agreement

  • In General
  • 4 Nov 2015 - 7:47pm
  • By Elias Tuhereze
  • 756
The Swedish Ambassador to Uganda (Seated middle) signing the agreement on his right is Hon. Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Makerere University Vice Chancellor  Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu on his left. Standing behind (in red jacket) is Dr. Katri Pohjolainen, First Secretary Research Cooperation

It was a historic moment as the invited guests, Vice Chancellors of public Universities in Uganda, researchers and the media witnessed the signing of the General Agreement between Sweden and the Government of Uganda on research collaboration; the Specific Agreement on Research Collaboration between Sweden and Makerere University; and an agreement on Swedish University Coordination between Sida and Uppsala University/International Science Programme.

The 32 million USD five year (2015-2020) agreement signed on Tuesday 3rd November 2015 will significantly contribute to the transformation of Uganda through supporting the higher education sector, multi-disciplinary research, training of 337 academic staff and institutional development.Vice Chancellor Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Prof. Celestino Obua (L) and Assoc. Prof. Neema Abooki from the College of Education and External Studies, Makerere University.

Addressing the congregation, H.E Urban Andersson, the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda who signed on behalf of the Swedish Government said: “This day will mark the beginning of a new five year period, bringing our cooperation into year 2020. The new agreement included five Ugandan Universities namely Makerere, Busitema, Kyambogo, Gulu and Mbarara as well as Eleven Swedish universities.”

The following Vice Chancellors witnessed the colourful signing ceremony: Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu-Makerere University; Prof. Celestino Obua-Mbarara University of Science and Technology; Prof. Katunguka Rwakishaya- Kyambogo University; Prof. J.H. Nyeko Pen-Mogi-Gulu University and Dr. Kucel, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) - Busitema University.

“The work of researchers gathered here today, with their Swedish counterparts, shall advance and transform Uganda and Sweden in terms of Science and innovation,” said the Ambassador.

Taking stock of the important research results from the 15 year (2000-2015) research implementation period, H.E Andersson pointed out some of the milestones, which included: a method to detect multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, control of African swine fever, transforming organic waste to energy, road safety control, cervical cancer management, and significant strides in malaria vaccine research.

The Ambassador explained that the 2015-2020 implementation phase comprises teams of Ugandan and Swedish researchers who jointly worked on proposals, which after a competitive selection process culminated into 17 multi-disciplinary projects.Prof. Eli Katunguuka- Rwakishaya, Vice Chancellor Kyambogo University talks to Assoc. Prof. David Owiny, the Deputy Director (Training) Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, Makerere University. Dr. Susanne Spets, Counsellor  Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy is seen in the background

“What we see is a rich and promising portfolio which will necessarily open new frontiers, ignite debate, and increase knowledge. Researchers will dwell into subjects such as governance, social protection, climate change, infectious diseases, food security, communication technology, gender, religion and ethics,” he remarked.
At the signing ceremony, His Excellency also emphasized the importance of research, capacity building and institutional support.

“We all agree that a society that does not produce its own intellectuals cannot be independent. But to have a critical mass of intellectuals is not enough. Researchers need an environment in which to operate. Labs and libraries need to be equipped, time for research and outlets for dissemination are key for long-term sustainable research achievements. This is the reason why Swedish research funding has the component of institutional support, which is organically linked to support for graduate training,” he said.

Hon. Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who signed on behalf of the Government of Uganda commended the Swedish Government for supporting higher education in Uganda, health, water and sanitation, ICT and gender mainstreaming. Hon. Kasaija reiterated the contribution of research, science and technology to the transformation of the economy.

“Without research, innovation and technology, you have no Country/University to talk about. It is through support and investment in research, ICT, information, training of academicians that the Ugandan economy will continue to grow. I therefore thank the Swedish Government for supporting initiatives that will bring about the required transformation,” said the Hon. Minister.Professor Buyinza Mukadasi Director, Research and Graduate Training, Makerere University and Prof. Leif Abrahamsson from Uppsala University, Sweden.
Toasting to the years ahead, the congregation reflected on the 2015-2020 multi-disciplinary approach to research focused on the realization of the following specific objectives:

  • Improving the institutional and research infrastructure to support a robust environment for research and innovations at Makerere University by 2020,
  • Strengthening local PhD training in public universities in Uganda,
  • Increasing the generation and dissemination of knowledge and research outputs,
  • Increasing capacity for knowledge translation and innovations,
  • Increasing partnerships and regional synergies for knowledge generation and sharing,
  • Improving the coordination and management of research and knowledge uptake,
  • Increasing cooperation with partner public universities.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu who signed the Specific Research Agreement said that the 2015-2020 phase would include 17 teams/projects comprising researchers and scholars from both Uganda and Sweden, whose work will be based on mutual understanding of their shared vision of strengthening research and training as central forces towards socio-economic development.

“In this new phase, we will work with the public universities in Uganda and several Swedish institutions towards building a body of experts that will contextualize problems and create knowledge to suit our different contexts. In total, 125 PhDs, 147 Masters’ students and 65 post-doctoral fellows will be supported,” he said.
In a very special way, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University applauded Ambassador Andersson and the team at the Swedish Embassy namely, Dr. Katri Pohjolainen Yap and Dr. Susanne Spets, and Professor Buyinza Mukadasi, the Director of Research and Graduate-Makerere University/Coordinator of the Mak-Sida Bilateral programme for their dedication during the two years of preparations that climaxed with the 2015-2020 research collaboration agreement.Members of Management from the different institutions and the Swedish Embassy pose for a photo with Minister Hon. Matia Kasaija.

Professor Ddumba-Ssentamu thanked the Government and People of Sweden for supporting research at Makerere University during the last 15 years (2000-2015).
“During the 15-year period, we have successfully trained 210 PhDs, 95 Masters Graduates and 20 post-doctoral fellows. The Swedish Government has supported learning and research at Makerere University to a tune of US$73million, which comprises a great proportion of research funding at the University. Sida support has played a fundamental role in strengthening our capacity to deliver our core functions-teaching and learning, research and innovations, partnerships and networking,” he said.
Prof. Leif Abrahamsson who signed on behalf of the Swedish Universities urged partners to ensure smooth communication in the research collaboration and coordination.

Story by:   Ritah Namisango, Mak Public Relations Office

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