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.
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.
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.
The Celestini Program is supported by the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation.
Communications Officer, RENU
Director of Communications, Learning & Knowledge, RANLab
Marketing & Communications Manager, the Marconi Society
NCHE Celebrates 20th Anniversary: Mak Showcases Research & Innovations
On Thursday 12th October 2023, H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni officiated at the celebrations to mark twenty years of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. The celebrations that started in March 2023 were held under the theme “20 Years of NCHE Transforming Higher Education in Uganda” and climaxed at Kololo with a Mini-Exhibition by various institutions, inspected by H.E. President Museveni and the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni.
Remarks by H.E. the President and First Lady
Speaking at the celebrations, the President congratulated NCHE upon marking their 20th Anniversary. The Head of State urged NCHE to insist on a well-tailored modern type of education that seeks to understand nature and its laws as well as understanding the society and evolution of man from hunter-gatherer to domestication of crops, livestock, and commercial farming.
In her remarks, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni thanked God for the twenty years that NCHE has been in existence as an agency of the Ministry of Education and Sports. She applauded NCHE for the leaps that the higher education sector has made in the last twenty years in the form of quantitative increase of higher education institutions from 67 to 265. The First Lady nevertheless urged NCHE to position itself as a catalyst for the transformation of the higher education system in Uganda so as to make the country a hub for higher education in the East African region.
Recognition of Higher Education Institutions
During the celebrations, the NCHE recognised Makerere University for its contribution to the transformation of the higher education sector through provision of relevant and high quality education. Equally recognized were Uganda Christian University as the first private university in Uganda, the 7th Vice Chancellor and first female Vice Chancellor of Ndejje University Rev. Canon Prof. Olivia Nassaka Banja and the Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI)’s Prof. Micheal Kawooya.
Mak Exhibitors at NCHE@20
Makerere University featured prominently during the Mini Exhibition. Led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the exhibition team showcased research, innovations and services through the following:
- Mak Solar Cooker by Dr. Peter Tumutegyereize (College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) – an appliance that uses electricity generated by a solar panel system to cook food, requiring no add-ons such as charcoal, rocks, gas, kerosene or even mains electricity.
- AirQo by Joel Ssematimba and Priscah Adrine Warigo (College of Computing and Information Sciences) – a custom low-cost air quality monitor that measure particulate matter PM₂.₅ and PM10, the most common pollutants that affect human health deployed across a high-resolution air quality monitoring network in target urban areas in Uganda and across eight African countries.
- Maka Water Purifier – made with a chicken keratin biosorbent,
- Phyto-Nutra Chicken Feed – from indigenous plant species to address Antibiotic resistance and Environmental pollution, and
- Value-Added Nutraceuticals – from indigenous plant species in the form of Veggie Cocktails, Porridge cocktails, Nutra Cakes, Cookies, and Bread by Dr. Alice Nabatanzi’s projects (College of Natural Sciences). Produced with funding from the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF)
- Makerere Regional Centre of Excellence for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) represented by Dr. Sharon Tusiime Mbabazi (Seed Specialist and Ag. Deputy Director) and Ms. Fiona Nyanzi (8 Technology Limited, Mak-RIF Project Partner) – showcased a variety of value-added products produced from sorghum and cowpea. Demo video of how to grow cowpea and sorghum. Digital applications for growing cowpeas and sorghum.
- Makerere University Press under the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training represented by Dr. William Tayeebwa – showcased the latest books authored by Makerere University scholars/researchers. They included;
- Contemporary African Philosophy: A Critical Appraisal by Wilfred Lajul
- The Power of Culture and Identity: Imbalu Initiation Ritual Among the Bamasaaba of Uganda by J. P. Wotsuna Khamalwa
- Modernisation of Luganda Terminology in the Field of Linguistics by Saudah Namyalo
- Runyakitara Language Studies: A Guide for Advanced Learners and Teachers of Runyakitara by Oswald K. Ndoleriire (Ed.)
- Contemporary Issues in Educational Research, Policies, and Practices in the Global South by C. Ssebbunga-Masembe & S.N. Siminyu (Eds.)
- What I Saw When I Died by Jimmy Spire Ssentongo
- Moving Back into the Future by Dominica Dipio (Ed.)
- Countering Violent Extremism in Uganda by Veneranda Mbabazi et al.
- Lulu ya Bara by Innocent Masengo
- HIV/AIDS in Uganda: Achievements and Challenges by James Kiwanuka-Tondo
- Statehood on Trial: Thoughts on the 1966 Uganda Political Crisis by Joseph Bossa
- (Mis)management of Sub-Nationalism and Diversity in “Nations”: The case of Buganda in Uganda, 1897-1980 by Godfrey Berinde Asiimwe
- Department of the Academic Registrar represented by Mr. Justus Karegyeya – showcased the Makerere University online application system and programmes that students can apply to from any location as long as they have an internet connection.
Compiled by Mak Public Relations Office
Inaugural Youth & Innovation Expo a Roaring Success
The inaugural edition of the Youth and Innovation Expo was a roaring success as over 300 innovators showcased their creations and thousands of guests walked through the doors of the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, as well as traversed the surrounding spaces on 6th and 7th October 2023. Organised by Makerere University in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Expo was held under the theme “Fostering Innovation for Uganda’s Transformational Development”. The event was sponsored by MTN Uganda, while StartHub Africa – a hybrid-social venture curated all the knowledge sessions over the two-day period.
Officially opened by Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 6th October 2023, the Expo was graced by the Chairperson of Council Mrs. Lorna Magara, Resident Representative UNDP Uganda H.E. Elsie Attafuah, Ambassador of Italy to Uganda H.E. Massimiliano Mazzanti, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, and the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) Prof. Frank Norbert Mwine among other dignitaries. The Expo was officially closed on 7th October 2023 by the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs Hon. Nyirabashitsi Sarah Mateke.
Delivering an abridged version of his keynote address, Rt. Hon. Tayebwa could not help but appreciate the strides that Makerere University is making as it transitions from producing job seekers to producing job creators, through initiatives aimed at nurturing youth innovations and youth enterprise. “I want to thank the Country Director UNDP, H.E. Elsie Attafuah and the entire diplomatic corp for this enormous gesture and timing to help Makerere transition.”
Recalling with nostalgia his own academic journey through Makerere, Rt. Hon. Tayebwa could not help but appreciate his Alma mater for not only offering the bedrock upon which he built his career but also according him the opportunity to hone his entrepreneurship skills. “The assurance I can give you is that I might have been a son of a peasant, but I’m no longer a peasant and my children will never be peasants.”
The Deputy Speaker decried the perverse poor saving culture especially among the youth today, noting that “the problem we have is, when we get money, we eat and when we are full, we save. You can’t develop that way”. He reminded the congregation that funders like UNDP are providing seed, while the Government is proving the environment conducive for innovation to thrive, and it was upon the youth to make the most of it and develop successful enterprises that can help grow the Uganda’s tax-to-GDP ratio from the current 13.9%.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara thanked H.E. Elsie Attafuah for steering UNDP’s support to nurtur innovation and entrepreneurship at Makerere, noting that the expo was a dream come true. “We are creating a platform that facilitates meaningful engagement between the youth and the various partners to tap into their expertise and experience.”
The Chairperson of Council equally thanked the Deputy Speaker for sparing time to preside over the Expo’s opening ceremony, noting that Rt. Hon. Tayebwa, while serving as a Council Member wrote the first concept to create a business hub for Makerere University. She added that Makerere is transitioning from a second generation to a third generation university. “Third generation universities are those that not only generate knowledge but also have innovation that is then translated into competitive enterprises that impact society.”
Responding to the “why now?” question that could have been lingering in the audience, H.E. Elsie Attafuah shared that since we live in a world of uncertainties such as covid-19, climate change and wars, “we must invest and we must innovate” to enable us overcome the effects associated with these uncertainties. Furthermore, she noted that in the midst of unevenness in development progress, “we must redouble our efforts by investing in innovations and solutions that will help us progress as a country.”
Thirdly on the “why now?”, she stressed that the unemployment in Uganda, Africa and other developing countries ought to concern us all. “We must seize this opportunity to create job opportunities for our young people… we can no longer be exporting our wealth and importing poverty into our continent.”
In her fourth and final response to the “why now?”, H.E. Attafuah revealed that development is being unfunded. “We see the trajectory. While development financing is increasing, it is increasing into other spaces and not necessarily the development agenda of Africa,” she noted with concern, before adding “in fact it is moving out of Africa.” The UNDP Resident Representative reminded her audience that whereas overseas development assistance is catalytic, it will not solve the problems of poverty in any country.
Still on the topic of development, H.E. Massimiliano Mazzanti acknowledged that the need to match his country’s support to national development is often prioritized in discussions with Ugandan authorities. That notwithstanding, of particular interest to the Embassy has been support to the Ugandan youth, whom the Ambassador admitted showcase amazing creativity.
H.E. Mazzanti gave the example of the Start-up Africa Road Trip project promoted by “BeEntrepreneurs”, an Italian non-profit association created in 2017, that seeks to create inclusive and collaborative ecosystem between young African and Italian start-up companies. “We do this training through road trips and select exclusively the best start-ups in Uganda and as a member of the panel of judges, I am amazed by the creativity and capacity of innovation of start-uppers in this country.”
The best three companies are then sent to Italy to develop their ideas together with Italian start-up companies at the expense of the host Government. In the last six years, the initiative has supported 300 African start-ups through workshops, bootcamps and competitions, as well as reached 3.5million youth in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Youth4Climate is another initiative co-led by the Government of Italy and UNDP to raise awareness of climate change and sustain long-term engagement with youth. “What we want is to create a new class of leaders on climate change for the future” added Ambassador Mazzanti.
“The majority of our population are the youth and we must tap into their energies to move our country and continent forward positively” remarked the Prof. Nawangwe in relation to youth and entrepreneurship. “Makerere has resolved to be a leader in research and innovations because we realize that we must empower these youth to create jobs for themselves and for the other people who are less advantaged than them” he added.
The Vice Chancellor therefore thanked the UNDP for partnering with Makerere to organise the inaugural Youth and Innovation Expo. Additionally, he thanked UNDP for supporting the establishment of the Makerere Innovation Hub, which will accord the students and youth elsewhere the opportunity to develop their ideas, “and move out of these gates with companies in their pockets to go and create jobs for themselves and all other Ugandans.”
In addition to the exhibitors from all ten Makerere University Colleges and other participating entities, the Youth and Innovation Expo featured a fireside chat (ekyooto) by H.E. Elsie Attafuah and Mrs. Lorna Magara, five knowledge sessions, and a free medical camp by the Makerere University Hospital and the Nakasero Blood Bank. The two-day event also featured an Art and Fashion Exhibition by the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA), a Fashion Show, Entertainment Corners by various partners and the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) as well as Food Vendor Stalls.
Please click the embedded video below to view proceedings of the Youth and Innovation Expo.
Mak-RIF Round 5 Track 1 Request For Applications
SECTION A: BACKGROUND
A1. Funding opportunity description
Makerere University received special funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, to support high impact Research and Innovations. The Financial Year 2023/24 will be the fifth year of this fund’s availability. The fund illustrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to Research and Innovation as a driver of socio-economic transformation. The objective of the fund is to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. The fund is therefore aimed at complementing available funding to address unfunded priorities critical to accelerating development. Over the last four Financial Years (2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23), government appropriated 105.5 Billion Uganda Shillings. Between the four years, MakRIF has funded a total of 1,028 projects across all sectors critical for development, of which 457 have been completed. During the Financial Year (2023/24), Makerere University expects to receive about 25 Billion Uganda shillings (US$ 6.8 million) under the Government Research and Innovation Fund (RIF). Of this, at least five (5) Billion Shillings will fund new ideas that respond to a widely consultative Research Agenda focused on national priorities while the rest will fund continuing projects from previous financial years, extension of multi-year projects, needs based priorities, and commercialization/scaling of prior funded projects. The Makerere University Research and Innovation Grants Management Committee (GMC) therefore announces the RIF Round 5,
Track 1 (New Research & Innovation Agenda-Based Grants). Available funds are obligated for the Financial Year 2023/2024. The GMC therefore invites applications with original ideas that demonstrate a clear link to key thematic areas of the National Research and Innovation Agenda.
A2. Research for Economic Development
To transition to middle-income status, low-income countries must increasingly invest in research and innovations that provide solutions to persistent development challenges. Universities should be at the fore-front of driving this research agenda. The Government of Uganda is currently implementing the 3rd National Development Plan (NDP) (2020/21 – 2024/25). However, the NDP and sector specific plans require research to fill evidence gaps. The main objective of the RIF is to support R&I initiatives that contribute to better delivery of National Development initiatives in all sectors critical to the economy.
A3. Scope and Technical Description of the Research and Innovation Grant
The RIF GMC’s terms of reference include development of an instructive research agenda as the basis for identifying funding priorities. The GMC conducted a comprehensive stakeholder consultation to identify priority thematic areas of interest for national development. These consultations included meetings with representatives from key government sectors, semi-autonomous government agencies, the private-for-profit sector and civil society. The GMC triangulated this information with that from the National Development Plan III, the Makerere University Strategic Plan and Research Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the critical areas in the National Budget for FY2023/2024. The RIF Round 5, Track 1 (Research & Innovation Agenda-Based Grants) will therefore specifically target research and innovation projects that align with priority thematic issues in the instructive Research Agenda that arose from these consultations. Research and Innovation ideas are therefore sought in the following thematic areas:
- Theme 1: Transforming the agricultural sector to drive development.
- Theme 2: Achieving Sustainable health as a means to sustainable development.
- Theme 3: Re-imagining Education to unlock capacity for economic development.
- Theme 4: Water, sanitation and the environment: A pre-requisite to sustainable development
- Theme 5: Harnessing the social sector, culture and arts to drive development.
- Theme 6: Harnessing tourism, wildlife and heritage to drive development.
- Theme 7: Sustainable Planning, finance and monitoring as catalysts for growth.
- Theme 8: Leveraging public service and local administration for efficient service delivery.
- Theme 9: Defense and security: Achieving sustainable peace and stability.
- Theme 10: Strengthening law, governance, human rights and international cooperation as prerequisites for development.
- Theme 11: Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to drive development.
- Theme 12: Works, manufacturing, science and technology as tools to accelerate development.
- Theme 13: Solutions to catalyze business and enterprise.
- Theme 14: Energy and Minerals as drivers of rapid economic development.
The Government Research & Innovation (R&I) Grants will cover all technical disciplines in Makerere University as long as the research questions align with the instructive research agenda themes above. Particular attention will be paid to unfunded priorities, those for which funding has been inadequate, or for which available funding only covers one or a few of the components needed to inform development initiatives in a holistic way. This grant is not primarily meant to supplement existing research projects that already have funding from other sources. However, researchers can apply on the platform of existing projects if they provide a strong justification that there are important funding gaps in the current research project and the added deliverables expected from the additional support to the existing research effort. This grant also emphasizes a multi-sectoral approach. Research groups are therefore encouraged to work with other sectors that complement their technical focus.
Please see below for full guidelines
Key dates to note:
- First Researcher Support Webinar: Friday, September 29, 2023 at 11:30am EAT using the link https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZckduqupzgsG9PZ7jaShA8V1eHg5p5QdjQP
- Application Deadline: Friday October 20, 2023.
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