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Mak’s AirQo Project is a US$1.3m Google AI Impact Grantee

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Google has announced Makerere University’s AirQo Prototype among the best 20 Artificial Intelligence projects that will share $25 million in grants from Google.org. AirQo is an air monitoring project that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and low-cost technologies to generate and quantify data on air pollution in the designated areas in Uganda.

“The data collected is used to inform public policies on reducing, containing and better management of air pollution and its associated health risks. The same data is also used to raise awareness on air quality issues,” said Dr. Engineer Bainomugisha the Project Leader during a press conference held on Wednesday, 8th May 2019. Dr. Bainomugisha is also the Chair, Department of Computer Science, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University.

The AirQo Project is run by a team comprising students and staff from the Department of Computer Science, School of Computing and Information Technology, CoCIS. The project was successfully developed in 2016 with the aim of contributing to the improvement of urban ambient air quality.  It tested and validated a robust, low-cost air monitoring device and algorithm.

With limited funding and support, the project was implemented in places within Kampala and other urban places of Mbale, Manafwa, Bundibugyo and Bududa. According to Dr. Bainomugisha, the required data on air quality within the aforementioned areas is collected through the integration of the AirQo device with a Mobile application.

Dr. Engineer Bainomugisha (Right) shows Prof. William Bazeyo (Left) the AirQo Mobile App that gathers data from the 50 sensors deployed Nationally. The App is available for download on Google Play Store.

“We receive data on the air quality of specific places through a mobile App that is installed on our phones. In areas that are hard to reach we have used the Artificial Intelligence to make predictions based on data collected so far.  We also work with Boda boda riders by installing the AirQo device on their motorcycles to help us reach various places for data collection,” he explained.

Mr. Paul Green, a member of AirQo Project team said that the device is useful in determining the air conditions of institutions such as schools and hospitals. “AirQo can be very beneficial for school children especially those with allergies,” he said.

The AirQo project team will receive a US$1.3million grant to scale up their existing air quality monitoring coverage and to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve forecasting accuracy, raise awareness of air quality issues and inform public policy making in this critical area. As a grantee of the Google AI Impact Challenge, the team will receive credit and consulting benefits from Google Cloud and coaching by Google’s AI experts.

“We are thrilled to be receiving a grant from Google.org to support the AirQo project. With little resources, we have demonstrated that it is possible to build and deploy a robust network of low-cost air quality monitors across Kampala city. The Google grant will make a huge difference to our project and allows us to truly scale up the network up to become an effective resource for all Ugandan citizens and policy makers,” said Dr. Bainomugisha.

The AirQo Project Team (Standing) receives a round of applause from the audience recognising their efforts

Representing the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. William Bazeyo acknowledged the tremendous work done by Dr. Bainomugisha and his team in developing an innovation that tackles community challenges.

“You have joined the line of prominent people whose deeds have left Makerere University shining. With your skills and knowledge, you have raised the institution’s flag high to be recognized by international organizations,” he said.  

Prof. Bazeyo congratulated the AirQo project team upon receiving the Google.org grant to scale their innovation. Noting the increasing population density in the country, Prof. Bazeyo said, “Our population as a country is rapidly increasing and as such additional pressure is being exerted on our cities. Air pollution is one of the biggest threats in this regard. This timely innovation is no mean achievement in as far as utilizing research and technology to the improve lives of our urban population is concerned.”

Prof. Bazeyo also noted that AirQo’s innovation would provide valuable data to the Makerere University Lung Institute; one of two specialists institutes of its kind in Africa.  

The Principal CoCIS-Prof. Tonny Oyana (Right) and Deputy Principal CoCIS- Assoc. Prof. Agnes Rwashana Semwanga (Left) at the Press Conference to announce the US$ 1.3m Grant awarded to AirQo.

The Principal CoCIS, Prof. Tonny Oyana applauded Dr. Engineer Bainomugisha and his team for the persistent hard work that has fruitfully led to an international award and recognition. “With this new funding expert support from Google, the project is going to be seamlessly scaled up,” he said.

The Google AI Impact Challenge was an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions from around the world to submit their ideas that use AI to help address societal challenges.  2,602 applications were received from 119 countries and 40% of applications received came from organizations with no prior AI experience.

Google.org president, Jacqueline Fuller said: “At Google, we have seen how AI can help us accomplish daily tasks and travels, and we believe in its potential to help address some of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges. We are excited to support Makerere University’s AirQo project work to use AI to achieve even greater social impact.”

Next week, representatives from the AirQo project will travel to San Francisco to dive into execution. For five days, all 20 organizations will join Google AI experts, Project Managers and the startup specialists from Google’s Launchpad Accelerator for a program that will last six months, from May to November 2019. Through the Launchpad program, each of the 20 grantees will develop their own OKRs— Objectives and Key Results and set timelines for project completion. Each organization will be paired with a Google expert who will meet with them regularly for coaching sessions. They will also have access to other Google resources and expert mentorship.

Article by Nabatte Proscovia, Mak Public Relations Office

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Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution

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Left to Right: Prof. Gunnar Köhlin, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Amb. Maria Håkansson, Commissioner Julius Mafumbo and Prof. Edward Bbaale posing for a group photo before the opening ceremony on 22nd September 2022: Photo by EfD-Mak Centre.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.

The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.

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Prof. Nawangwe urges Makerere University community to support the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative

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By Bernard Buteera

Makerere University has launched a two million dollar E-learning Project, dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative.  

The launch was held on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at Makerere University, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. It attracted over 200 participants, who included members of University Management, College Principals, School Deans, Academic and Administrative staff, students and the general university community.

While addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), congratulated Makerere University for winning such a huge grant, which will go a long way in transforming the eLearning infrastructure at Makerere University.

“I am happy to be joining you in launching a project that is at the heart of National Council for Higher Education. Online learning is at the heart of the Council, not only because of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the world is now a digital world.” Prof. Okwakol remarked.

Prof. Okwakol thanked Mastercard Foundation and other development partners who have continued to support initiatives that help transform higher institutions of learning in Uganda.

“I sincerely thank the Mastercard Foundation and other partners who have continued to support higher education in Uganda, especially in the area of research and online learning. Globally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly disrupted education systems forcing learners and some schools to shift to virtual learning to curb the spread of the pandemic.” Prof. Okwakol pointed out.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe urged the university community, especially the academic staff to take advantage of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning initiative to develop e-content across all Colleges of the University, to enhance capacity for eLearning at Makerere University.

[L -R] Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative and Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

”I appeal to the Colleges to embrace this project and have as many courses adopt this pedagogy development system, even though students will continue with face-to face and phyisical learning, they should be allowed the option of online learning. The platforms that are going to be built, will give our students an opportunity to interact with international students, scholars, teachers and with each other.” Prof. Nawangwe applealed.

The Vice Chancellor, further called upon all other development partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation in supporting Makerere University and other universities on the entire African continent in strengthening digital literacy, so that Africa is not left behind.

”In 2018 I attended a conference on E-learning in Beijing China, where a critical question was asked; Will Africa be left behind again? This was in reference to many advancements that were taking place in the western world, in which Africa had been left behind.” The Vice Chancellor reminded the audience.

Prof. Nawangwe further emphaised the importance of e-learning as one of the critical modes of teaching and learning in the 21st first century.   

”Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot over emphasise the importance we attach to e-learning the 21st Century, that is why we took a decision to elevate the Department of Open and Distance Learning into an Institute of Open and Distance E-learning with an intention of having e-learning extended to other Colleges of the university.” Prof. Nawangwe pointed out.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, rallied the University community to support the implementation of the project in the University.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative could not have come in at a better time than post COVID19 era. A pandemic, which exposed our systems and methods of teaching and learning. You all recall, when were hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns and closures of institutions of learning, we all went into a panicky mode on how were going to cope with online learning. I therefore call upon every member of the university to give this project the support it deserves.

Prof. Kakumba reminded the audience the importance and relevancy of online learning at Makerere University and other universities in Uganda.

“The online method of learning is best suited for everyone. This digital revolution has led to remarkable changes in how the content is accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared. Office goers and stay home mothers can take up online educational courses too, at the time that suits them. Depending on their availability and comfort, many people choose to learn at weekends or evenings.” Prof. Kakumba remarked.

Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative, informed the audience the importance of the project and the expected outcomes for the University.

One of the Champions of e-learning trained by Arizona State University, Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda receiving a certificate from Chief Guest.

“The Mastercard Foundation e- Learning Initiative is a Project funded by Mastercard Foundation aimed at addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic that constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, research and community engagement activities at Makerere University” Prof. Muyinda pointed out.

Prof. Muyinda further thanked the team that he worked with in putting up the proposal in a very short time that yielded such an important grant for the University.

“I thank the team that spent sleepless nights putting together the proposal that resulted into this project. I must report that Makerere University is privileged to be having the most highly qualified persons in online instruction design and online pedagogy at the IODeL and beyond. It is now up to Makerere University in particular and the Country in general to make use of these persons to transform the terrain of online, blended distance and e-learning education.” Prof. Muyinda remarked.

Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the audience, that the E-learning initiative was one of the many partnerships between Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University geared at supporting the young people to succeed on the African continent.

Members of University Management, staff and students present.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program continues to recognize that in order to enable young people across Africa to succeed, there is need to; Address systemic barriers in Higher education, Strengthen the capacity of Institutions that serve the Young People, and Support innovative solutions across critical sectors.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.

The colourful launch ended with a panel discussion in which panelists digested the importance and opportunities for open distance and eLearning in higher institutions of learning.

Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.

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Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23

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Mak-Undergraduate-Admissions-2021-2022

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, informs applicants wishing to be admitted to Bachelor of Laws Private for 2022/2023 Academic year but failed to submit their application online to submit their applications from Friday 23rd to Friday 30th September, 2022 at a non-refundable fee of 50,000/= (Fifty thousand shillings only).

The applicants MUST have passed the Pre-entry Examinations for Bachelor of Laws.

Diploma/Degree holders should submit certified copies of their academic transcript to Room
315 Level 3, Senate Building.

Applicants who have already been admitted need not apply.

For any additional information, contact Undergraduate Admissions Offices 301/303 for A’Level Applicants and Office 315 for Diploma/Degree holders.

ALFRED MASIKYE NAMOAH
AG. ACADEMIC REGISTRAR
Date: 22nd September, 2022

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