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Innovation

Press Release: Growing Uganda’s Next Generation of Technology Leaders: Applications Open for Cutting-Edge Student Training Program

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May 3, 2021—The Marconi Society today announced that applications are open for the Celestini Program, a workforce development and STEM education initiative that pairs underrepresented students with training, mentorship, funding, and meaningful opportunities to use new technologies to make a difference in their local communities. 

This project is a partnership with the Research Education Network for Uganda (RENU), a cooperative research and education network of Ugandan institutions, ResilientAfrica Network (RANLab), a research and innovation partnership of 23 African universities that nurtures and scales innovations from its member organizations, and Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), a global leader in network technology and workforce development. 

“We envision a future where practitioners of communications technology are as diverse as the population they need to serve,” says Samantha Schartman-Cycyk, Executive Director of the Marconi Society. “Through this partnership, we bring together decades of experience in networks, mentorship, and workforce training to provide hands-on experience to students who will define the future of STEM.”

“Our vision is to create a national research and education environment in which Uganda’s researchers and scholars effectively contribute to knowledge creation, dissemination and application in solving society’s problems through local and international collaboration,” says Nicholas Mbonimpa, RENU’s Chief Executive Officer. “ This partnership provides a very good opportunity for students and researchers of our member institutions to acquire skills and develop their concepts and ideas into solutions for our community.”

“Our mission is to strengthen resilience in Africa through University-led local innovative solutions using evidenced-based approaches,” says Professor William Bazeyo, RAN Chief of Party/Lab Director. “This partnership is yet another opportunity for our students, innovators, and researchers to positively contribute to addressing diverse and complex challenges in the communities in which we live and serve. As we implement this project activities, we shall also largely leverage RAN’s innovation management expertise and experience to grow community members including ICT faculty and students’’, Prof. Bazeyo added.

The program consists of two tracks:

  • The eduroam: Expanding Remote Access to Information track will provide job training and opportunities in network services management while vastly expanding student and faculty access to university resources on- and off-campus. 
  • The LoRaWAN: Sensor Networks Solving Local Problems track offers students the chance to learn about and use the cutting-edge Long-Range Wide Area Network technology, exploring the solutions this network could offer to community problems. 

All student applicants must be enrolled at a RENU member university to be considered.

eduroam: Expanding Remote Access to Information 

Applications due May 28, 2021

This workforce development initiative is for undergraduate students entering their final year of university and provides the opportunity to gain skills in identity management and database administration, mentorship from global leaders in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and post-program engagement managing their university’s rollout of eduroam.

By deploying and maintaining this technology across universities in Uganda, this project aims to develop a more robust infrastructure of interconnected higher education institutions by widening access to educational resources and communications. The program runs for eight weeks, after which students will be required to support the ICT team of their university during their final year to manage the ongoing administrative and technical responsibilities of the service, possibly leading to future jobs in these areas.

Students must be enrolled in and pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or telecommunications engineering at the time of application.

Applications open May 1 and are due by the end of the day, May 28, EAT. The program runs for eight weeks, from Monday, June 21 through Friday, August 20 . Participating students must attend an on-site training in Kampala at the RENU Secretariat.

LoRaWAN: Sensor Networks Solving Local Problems

Applications due June 18, 2021

This initiative is for graduate (Master’s or PhD) student proposals to use a LoRaWAN (Long-Range Wide Area Network) environment to create technology proofs of concept that address local community needs, with guidance from mentors who are global leaders in ICT, technical and equipment support from NSRC, and funding up to $5,000 per project from the Marconi Society. 

NSRC will partner with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy to provide technical support, training materials, and assist Ugandan faculty researchers and students with procuring sensors and LoRaWAN gateway equipment to enable sustainable deployments in the field.

The goal of this track is to allow students to get hands-on experience using new technology while partnering with the community and thinking creatively about user-focused applications. In order to ensure community input, each project should include collaboration with at least one community-based organization. 

Applications open May 1 and are due by the end of the day, June 18, EAT. The program runs through the 2021–2022 academic year, beginning August 1, 2021. It is designed to be compatible with a full course load. While student applicants are not required to be enrolled in technical programs, it is suggested that applicants outside of ICT-based fields enlist a collaborator with the skills to use LoRaWAN technology.

History of the Program

Celestini: Uganda is an extension of the Celestini Program, the Marconi Society’s experiential learning initiative developed by its Paul Baran Young Scholars. It aims to create a strong and diverse engineering profession by pairing students with resources to gain hands-on technical experience while pursuing projects that address community needs.

Past student-led projects include using sensing technology to monitor air quality in India, addressing water waste in Colombia using Internet of Things technology and machine learning, and increasing civic engagement in Rwanda through a mobile application.

The Celestini Program operates using a partnership model, wherein a local institution collaborates with leaders in the Marconi Society’s network to empower students to use new technologies to address local problems with guidance from leaders in ICT. 

About the Marconi Society

The Marconi Society envisions a world in which everyone can create opportunity through the benefits of connectivity. The organization celebrates, inspires, and connects individuals building tomorrow’s technologies in service of a digitally inclusive world.

About the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC)

The Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) works directly with the indigenous network engineers and operators who develop and maintain the Internet infrastructure in their respective countries and regions by providing technical information, engineering assistance, training, donations of networking books, equipment and other resources.

About Research Education Network for Uganda (RENU)

Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) is a nonprofit National Research and Education Network (NREN) that offers affordable services uniquely designed to enable collaboration among its member institutions and their global partners. The network is a cooperatively owned and community-driven service provider that helps to facilitate research and education networking among its member institutions.

About ResilientAfrica Network (RANLab)

The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), funded by USAID, is a research and innovation partnership of 23 Universities across 16 African countries led by Makerere University. RAN strengthens and builds the resilience of African communities by identifying, nurturing and scaling cross disciplinary innovations to respond to community most pressing challenges.

Support

The Celestini Program is supported by the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation.

Contact:

Caroline Tuhwezeine
Communications Officer, RENU
communications[at]renu.ac.ug

Harriet Adong
Director of Communications, Learning & Knowledge, RANLab
hadong[at]ranlab.org

Taia Pandolfi
Marketing & Communications Manager, the Marconi Society
taia[at]marconisociety.org

Innovation

Call for Code Fair Work Case Competition

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A user in the Computer Laboratory, Main Library, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

UNITING STUDENTS TO DESIGN SOLUTIONS FOR A SUSTAINABLE AND EQUITABLE
GLOBAL ECONOMIC FUTURE

How can technology address the challenge of making decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and fair, sustainable labor a lifelong opportunity of economic growth for all?

On October 6, Call for Code, presented by IBM and the Clinton Global Initiative University, will launch the 2022 Call for Code Fair Work Case Competition. The competition calls on collegiate-level students around the world to imagine innovative solutions that advances the future of work.

The challenge will run October 6-20, 2022 and asks both non-technical and technical university-level student teams to devise innovative business cases that can advance inclusive, scalable workforce development. The competition theme is inspired by the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goal 8. Solutions should address one of the diverse challenges aligned to this theme and demonstrate how technology can help communities in need. While solution submissions do not need to include working code, teams will need to describe the technologies required and how those technologies fit into the solution.

SGD 8: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal8

ANSWER THE CALL

As current students, the world needs your expertise, empathy, and unique perspective. Get mentored by entrepreneurs, technologists, and leaders during the competition. Network with other university students from around the world, and compete for prizes from a total pool of $22,000 USD, which includes a $12,000 USD grand prize!

Register for the Case Competition today and help design the fair work of the future. Learn more and get started

Answer the call: https://callforcode-case.bemyapp.com

IBM Skills Build: https://skillsbuild.org/

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Innovation

UNDP to set up state-of-the-art Innovation Hub at Makerere

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The Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) and the UNDP Resident Representative for Uganda Ms. Elsie Attafuah (Right) show off the signed MoU on 20th September at Makerere University. Second row are: Makerere Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma (Left), Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu (2nd Left), Prof. Eria Hisali (Right), Associate Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze (2nd Right) and other officials.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to build a state-of-the-art innovation hub at Makerere University that is aimed at skilling students in various sectors with a view to empowering startups and creating jobs.

The Makerere Innovation hub will be established through UNDP’s Timbuktoo initiative, a US$1 billion youth innovation financing facility for Africa which aims to scale 1,000 high growth start-ups, improve 50 million livelihoods and generate US$10 billion in value creation.

UN Resident Representative in Uganda Ms. Elsie Attafuah said the partnership with Makerere is anchored on five strategic areas; fostering innovation ecosystems in public universities, leveraging the role of universities in grassroots development and establishing a regular innovation expo as a platform for youth innovators to network.

Others are; promoting research on resilience, and strengthening gender equality in public institutions.

UNDP is establishing the University Innovation Hub/Pod where ten (10) other African Countries are also beneficiaries. Makerere is well placed to host this innovation pod which will be interdisciplinary in nature bringing together students, academia, and partners from all fields, she said.

She added that the University Innovation hub will provide University Students with: Maker-Spaces that accord service to both engineering as well as creative design projects, with a standard set of equipment; a Design Lab that offers a host of programs in design thinking.

“The hub will support students to apply design principles toward solving any problem they are tackling; Collaborative Working Spaces to enable students create business ideas and host product demos, training events, speaker talks, other community and collaboration building events,” Ms. Attafuah added.

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the partnership with UNDP.

“I am delighted that Makerere will finally host an innovation hub to facilitate the transformation from research to commercial projects,” he said.

“The innovation hub will help us incubate the ideas developed by our students to ensure that they form companies that will create jobs for the many students we graduate every year,” he added.

The Makerere Vice Chancellor said the Parish Development Model Policy lab will hopefully rescue the well-intended program from the public naysayers.

Prof. Ezra Suruma, the Makerere University Chancellor, also welcomed the partnership

He said the partnership is going to support the implementation of the Parish Development Model that will help to increase income in a bid to fight poverty.

“When I was in the Office of the Prime Minister, we focused so much on the problem of implementation. As Makerere, we have to focus on making sure the Parish Development Model trickles down to the people at the grassroots to ensure poverty alleviation,” he said.

“As we sign this partnership, I hope this will set the ball rolling for innovative programs for societal transformation in the next 100 years of Makerere University,” he added.

The innovation hub, will be headed by Dr. Cathy Ikiror Mbidde, a Lecturer in the School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS).

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Health

Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa RFAs

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Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa (DHPI-R) Open Call for Request For Applications (RFAs). Deadline: 16th September 2022.

The Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa (DHPI-R), a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project that is implemented in Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) Senegal is thrilled to announce an OPEN CALL FOR REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS. This will foster widespread, sustainable adoption and application of Digital Financial Service innovations within the health sector of low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Focus Research Areas/ Research Themes

DHPI-R is seeking applications for studies that address the evidence gaps listed.

1) Campaign Effectiveness
2) Digital Financial Services’ effects on financial inclusion, safety, and security of payments
3) Health worker performance and retention
4) Payment experience and financial behavior

Funding Information

For any request made in this call, the budget goes as follows;
Large studies:12 months $200,000
Medium studies: 9 months $100,000
Small studies: 6 months $60,000

Eligibility

All Institutions within sub-Saharan Africa

Funding Restrictions and Terms

The award will be a fixed fee agreement, and the total amount of the award will be stated in the award letter. The funding is intended to support the collection, analysis, and dissemination of research. The allocation of program funds will directly correspond to the monetary figures presented in the final Budget and disbursement of funds will be initiated upon the timely receipt of invoices, financial reports, and expected deliverables.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted in English or in French.

Applications must be submitted through our website: Submit applications here.

Application deadline: 16th SEPT 2022

Award decisions: All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their submission by 30th October 2022.

For more information and application details, see; Call for Request for Applications

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