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Mak-RIF engages Private Sector, NGOs, and CSO representatives in Uganda Review of the Mak-RIF Research Agenda

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On November 9th, 2023, the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) and Secretariat convened representatives from the Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Civil Society Organizations in the Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences Conference Room. This was yet an opportunity for Mak-RIF to share her achievements to date while reflecting on the guiding Research Agenda. It was also an opportunity for participants to garner feedback from the engagement participants to inform the review of the Mak-RIF Research Agenda.

It is usually important to know who is in the room not only for purposes of knowing who is with you and or accountability but also to enhance networking and collaborations that might emanate from the networking opportunities therein. In this regard, this engagement started with self-introductions.  Participants included representatives from Joint Medical Stores, Uganda Tourism Association, Legacy Road Safety Initiative, Environmental Rights NGO, Uganda Christian University, Pathfinder International, USAID Uganda Family Planning Activity, Uganda Law Society, Save for Health Uganda, Aloesha Organic, Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Radio Simba, Busitema University, International Rescue Committee, Green Herbs Uganda Limited, Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, Uganda Moslem Catholic Bureau, Uganda Manufacturers Association, Zimba Women, Fundi Bots, Water for People, M’Omulimisa, Teenage Mothers and Child Protection Organization, RECO Industries, Uganda Connect among others.

Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, Chairperson of Mak-RIF GMC welcomed all participants noting that for the last five years, Mak-RIF’s work has been guided by the Research Agenda currently under review. “We are looking forward to receiving views from all of you representatives of stakeholders in the country and beyond to further inform the review of the Mak-RIF Research Agenda,” Prof. Masagazi said. He recognized the continuous support from all stakeholders since 2019 during the inception stages towards building the Mak-RIF story. “Several of you or your colleagues in the institutions and organizations in which you serve are part of research teams and have continued to support our researchers in several ways. Some of you have joined in our research and innovation outputs dissemination sessions, thank you all” he added. He highlighted some questions to guide the review of the Mak-RIF Research Agenda including the following;

  1. Has the Mak-RIF met community expectations yet? If not, what else can be done?
  2. Is there a need to develop a new Research Agenda or even review the existing one?
  3. Do the prevailing socio-economic conditions require a new Research Agenda?
  4. What should be included in the new Research Agenda?
  5. Would all our ideas contribute to Uganda’s National Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals, Sector Priorities etc.?
  6. Do our ideas rhyme with the National Development Plan? Can we work together to translate Makerere University into research-led university?
Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, Chairperson Mak-RIF GMC giving welcome remarks

“Our interest is in knowing from you our meeting participants which other areas we can conduct research in. What else can we do together? We still need additional funds to support research, where else can the university source for funding? Can we work together to source more funds because we cannot rely on Government funding alone?” Prof. Masagazi said. He further guided the engagement participants saying that Mak-RIF shall implement all ideas provided they speak and are in line with the National Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals, Sector Priorities as well as the Makerere University Strategic Agenda of becoming a research-led institution. He concluded his welcome note by calling upon all participants to secure time and interact with the Mak-RIF website for additional information about the ongoing research and innovation work.

Vice Chancellor’s representative Prof. Edward Bbaale(Standing) engaging participants.

Prof. Edward Bbaale, Director of the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training representing Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor Makerere University officially opened this engagement and later chaired the discussion session to further generate additional input to the operational Mak-RIF Research Agenda. He thanked all participants for honoring the invitation noting that without such engagements the university cannot easily achieve its strategic objectives and goals. He reechoed the fact that Mak-RIF is currently supporting 1,061 multidisciplinary research and innovation projects (including 117 PhD awards and 41 multiyear projects our most recent awardees). These projects receive funding, technical and non-technical support necessary to conduct development research and generate innovative solutions directed towards addressing diverse challenges in the communities in which we live and serve.

Prof. Bbaale also appreciated all researchers and innovators not only from Makerere University but also from other institutions which were represented in the day’s engagement and embraced all the previously shared funding opportunities, prepared and submitted applications to benefit from the Government Fund, saying that it is the way to go. “Thank you for remaining open to partnering with researchers from Makerere University to apply for funding and later implement the projects.  It is through the Mak-RIF initiative that Makerere University is enabling several university faculty, students, administration, and collaborating institutions including the Government, Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Community Service Organizations to contribute to the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda” he added. Prof. Bbaale also emphasized the need to join efforts to scale research and innovation outputs within Makerere University but also in Uganda noting that scaling research and innovation outputs to the market is a task for all of us.

This engagement was characterized by active participation of the stakeholders

After Prof. Bbaale delivered the Vice Chancellor’s remarks, Dr. Roy William Mayega, the Coordinator of Mak-RIF shared a highlight of how far the Mak-RIF Research Agenda had guided operations since 2019. He noted that the Mak-RIF Research Agenda currently comprised of 14 Themes including the following;

  1. Transforming the agricultural sector
  2. Sustainable health
  3. Re-imaging Education
  4. Water, sanitation and environmental sustainability
  5. Harnessing the social sector to drive development
  6. Harnessing tourism, wildlife and heritage to drive development
  7. Sustainable Planning, finance and monitoring
  8. Leveraging public service and local administration for efficient service delivery
  9. Defense and security: Achieving sustainable peace and stability
  10. Strengthening law, governance, human rights and international cooperation
  11. Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to drive development
  12. Manufacturing, science and technology as tools to accelerate development
  13. Catalyzing business and enterprise
  14. Energy and Minerals as drivers of rapid economic development.
Dr. Roy William Mayega, Coordinator Mak-RIF making the presentation of how far the Mak-RIF Research Agenda has guided operations during the engagement

Dr. Mayega also shared examples of research and innovation outputs emanating from the fund. These include the following;

  • An interrogation of Tax Education Gaps in the Informal Sector and how they can be leveraged in broadening the Tax Base,
  • Another project is exploring to leverage music as therapy for emotional distress of cancer patients,
  • Solar Powered Autoclaves for use in Rural Health Centers, The Pedal-Operated Seed Cleaner, 
  • An electronic partograph for improved monitoring of labor, to reduce maternal mortality,
  • Integration of on – and off-grid decentralized renewable energy systems: Enabling Uganda’s largest distributor UMEME to pilot the integration of off-grid decentralized renewable energy systems with grid systems to extend electricity access to unserved communities,
  • The Organ and Tissue Biobanking project at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences,
  • A project on Transforming Presumptive Age Estimation in Uganda: Methods, Certainty and The Law,
  • The Touchless Hand Washing device currently being used in different hospitals and community markets,
  • Value addition to Sorghum and Potatoes supporting farmers in South Western Uganda to earn a living and avoid wastage of produce among other projects shared on the Mak-RIF Website https://rif.mak.ac.ug/

During the discussion session, several participants applauded the current Research Agenda noting that it was well thought out and should continue to guide Mak-RIF Operations. The engagement participants also shared some ideas to further inform the review of the running Research Agenda. These included the following;

  • Radio stations being the most popular means of communication, we need to carry out audience analysis on television, radio, and even social media, identify and allocate resources to generate the right content, and further leverage technology innovations in both broadcast and print media.
  • Youth unemployment and emerging issues as a result of this including skills development/training, tracking and taking into consideration the changing needs of the business world so as to re align Uganda’s training approaches,
  • Herbal medicines and the indigenous innovators, how can we support processes to establish the efficacy of these products?
  • Can we become more intentional about supporting researchers and innovators through the processes of Intellectual Property acquisition? It is important that Memorandums of Understanding are drafted, reviewed, and signed with relevant Registration Services Bureaus.
  • It was also suggested that there is a need to continue supporting efforts to transform research outputs into economically viable and scalable innovations and to inform policy review and cause impact.
  • Collaborations and partnerships with the private sector to further scale research and innovation outputs. At this engagement, Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, Uganda Moslem Medical Bureau, Uganda Manufacturers Association, Water for People, and Uganda Law Society (specifically supporting Intellectual Property Rights acquisition processes and Revenue and Tax sensitization) among other organizations openly expressed interest in partnering with Mak-RIF to review and move forth some of the innovations within specific and related working areas.
  • There is a need to support product development and packaging efforts to fit the national, regional, and international markets.
  • We need to remain intentional in marketing the work we are doing within and outside Uganda.
  • In an effort to achieve sustainable health, financing health insurance for example is a key issue. How can the National Insurance Scheme be further informed and supported through the work we are all doing? How can we contribute to the Global Health Security-related efforts in Uganda?
  • For the case of agriculture, how can farmers adopt more organic agriculture so that we can even fight some of the non-communicable diseases with organic agricultural products? Could we also explore more involvement of the rural communities in the research and innovations we are working on? This would enable us to further harness indigenous knowledge. Establishing linkages with the informal sector is paramount.
  • Could we also re-look at the various existing themes and integrate some of them that speak to each other? In so doing we are dealing with the replication of efforts and knowledge among others.
  • Can we allocate some resources to further enhance our visibility (showcase what good we are doing) to key stakeholders including the Government of the Republic of Uganda in an effort to solicit for additional funding?
  • There is a need to identify the Research Agenda niche thematic areas within which we can capitalize on to further publicize the fund and attract additional funding. We can harness the low-hanging fruits and benefit from pushing the agenda forth by leveraging these.
  • In Uganda, road safety is crucial given the increasing number of traffic injuries, rescue of crash victims and crash data management are important aspects we should also plan to include in the Research Agenda. The research question could be; How can we have safe roads and attain safe travels for all if not majority of the road users?
  •  There is also a need to relook at and up research on Artificial intelligence in addition to early warning systems for natural disasters, early diagnosis of non-communicable diseases, strengthening community health systems, big data for industry, occupational health and safety, issues of regulation, and community accountability among others.
  • Specifically, under theme 12, innovations developed, tested, iterated, and revised accordingly should reach the targeted end users. How do we commercialize the research and innovation outputs developed to date?
  • What else can we do together to reduce or even avert teenage pregnancy? How can we further support teenage mothers?
  • What can we do to improve the management of poison victims in Uganda? Can we do away with poisoning and its related effects in the country?
  • For tourism, how can we avoid over reliance on international tourism? Can we expound our products range? Strengthen our human resource, explore virtual tours etc.
  • It would be helpful to have a theme on cross-cutting issues for example indicating that fund beneficiaries are primarily Makerere University staff although others can join the project teams, how the 14 themes feed into the overarching country development themes etc.
  • We need to have a theme speaking to research on safe water given the dire need now for us to ensure access to safe water for all.
  • ETC.

Prof. Bbaale thanked the engagement participants for their active participation during the discussion session noting that all the input gathered was going to be further synthesized and made ready to inform Mak-RIF Research Agenda. He reechoed the fact that all input to the Mak-RIF Research Agenda needed to speak to and be in line with the National Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals, Sector Priorities as well as the Makerere University Strategic Agenda of becoming a research-led institution. He wished all participants the very best saying that Makerere University is focused on building for the future for God and our country.

Prof. Bbaale thanked the engagement participants for their active participation during the discussion session noting that all the input gathered was going to be further synthesized and made ready to inform Mak-RIF Research Agenda. He reechoed the fact that all input to the Mak-RIF Research Agenda needed to speak to and be in line with the National Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals, Sector Priorities as well as the Makerere University Strategic Agenda of becoming a research-led institution. He wished all participants the very best saying that Makerere University is focused on building for the future for God and our country.

Media mentions

  1. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation News Bulletin on November 9th, 2023 https://youtu.be/Sbc78ojHu30?si=6fnqIrK_Bi7vGcjo
  2. Bukedde Television on November 10th, 2023

By: Harriet Adong, Mak-RIF Communications Officer

Contributors

Mrs. Phoebe Lutaaya Kamaya, Mak-RIF Deputy Coordinator
Ms. Evelyne Nyachwo, Mak-RIF Research Support Officer

General

Advert: Admission to PhD in Public Health Programme 2024/2025

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The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications from suitable candidates for admission to a Three Year Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (By Coursework & Dissertation) with the following Tracks for the 2024/2025 Academic Year tenable in the College of Health Sciences:

  • Health Systems,
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics,
  • Community Health and Behavioural Sciences,
  • Disease Control and
  • Environmental Health

In addition to the general admission requirements of Makerere University, Applicants should possess the following qualifications:

A master’s degree from a recognized and chartered university in health sciences e.g. Medicine (Human and Veterinary), Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Public Health, etc;

OR

A masters’ degree in Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or Laboratory Sciences;

OR

A masters’ degree in Social Sciences i.e. Social Work, Sociology, Economics, Statistics, Demography, Monitoring and Evaluation with at least three consecutive years’ working experience in a health related program.

Candidates whose first language is not English or did not go through an education system with

English as the medium of instruction will be required to prove that they have sufficient command of the English language to cope with post-graduate studies at Makerere University.

Candidates for the Epidemiology and Biostatistics track should have undertaken both MPH 7103 Applied Biostatistics I and MPH 7203 Applied Biostatistics II, and any other course in statisticswith equivalent content, with a pass grade point of at least 3.0.

Candidates for the Health Systems track should have had at least three consecutive years work in a health related program except holders of master’s in health sciences.

Strictly observe the closing date of 31st May, 2024

Contact the offices of the Dean, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences for any further information regarding the programme.

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Research

11 CARTA Fellows Triumph with Postdoctoral Awards

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Dr. Henry Zakumumpa, Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH). Photo: YouTube/Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC). Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

We celebrate our 11 outstanding fellows for receiving postdoctoral awards from CARTA after a competitive selection process. Among them are four recipients of fellowship grants: Nanfizat Abiket Alamukii, Adeyinka Olufolake Adefolarin, and Blessings Nyasilia Kaunda-Khangamwa. Additionally, seven fellows have received re-entry grants: Skye Nandi Adams, Christine Minoo Mbindyo, Priscille Musabirema, Oyeyemi Olajumoke Oyelade, Eniola Olubukola Cadmus, and Alex John Ntamatungiro. Join us on a journey to explore the topics, significance, and uniqueness of each fellow’s research, deserving of this prestigious recognition.

Fellowship Grants

Henry Zakumumpa

Affiliation: Makerere University, School of Public Health

Host institution: Moi University, College of Health Sciences

What is your research topic?

Leveraging differentiated service delivery models in Uganda to address the syndemics of HIV, hypertension, and diabetes

Why is your research important?

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), we’re confronting a health crisis with rising non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension and diabetes, alongside ongoing challenges in HIV treatment. While diseases like HIV and malaria receive global support, NCDs like diabetes and hypertension often get overlooked. It’s frustrating, but we must bridge this gap to ensure care reaches those in need.

What is unique about your research?

Since 2004, Uganda’s received $5B+ in donor aid for HIV, driving innovations in care and treatment access. Building on this success, my study leverages HIV care platforms to combat hypertension and diabetes epidemics. Exploring community-based drug distribution, I aim to extend medication access for HIV and NCDs in Uganda and beyond.

What can you tell CARTA and your affiliation?

Thanks to CARTA and Makerere University, I can conduct crucial research on rising non-communicable diseases in Africa, contributing to vital solutions. Their commitment to empowering African-led research is pivotal in advancing agendas continent-wide. Grateful for this opportunity!

Source: CARTA

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Business & Management

Study Reveals Taxation Issues in Uganda’s Informal Economy

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Lack of a structured taxation framework for informal businesses - a significant cause of tax non-compliance among traders in Uganda. Underlying factors contributing to the shadow economy and its implications for the national tax system, a collaborative research project involving eight university scholars. Dissemination workshop by Principal Investigator Dr. Ismail Kintu and others, 25th April 2024, Nansana Municipality Council, Wakiso District, Uganda. East Africa. Group photo of the workshop participants.

A recent study by researchers at Makerere University’s College of Business and Management Sciences has identified the lack of a structured taxation framework for informal businesses as a significant cause of tax non-compliance among traders in Uganda. This revelation came from a collaborative research project involving eight university scholars, who examined the underlying factors contributing to the shadow economy and its implications for the national tax system.

The findings were presented by Dr. Ismail Kintu, the study’s Principal Investigator, at a dissemination workshop held in Nansana Municipality Council, Wakiso District, on Thursday. The research, initiated in 2022, aimed to assess traders’ perceptions of fairness within the taxation system and how this relates to voluntary tax compliance.

“Traders said the system is unfair to them,” Dr. Kintu explained during the workshop. “Our research aimed to understand what fairness means in Uganda’s context.” According to the study, fairness in the tax system is crucial for voluntary compliance, suggesting that taxes should be aligned with one’s revenue, and penalties should be applied equitably.

Dr. Kintu the PI of the research project. Lack of a structured taxation framework for informal businesses - a significant cause of tax non-compliance among traders in Uganda. Underlying factors contributing to the shadow economy and its implications for the national tax system, a collaborative research project involving eight university scholars. Dissemination workshop by Principal Investigator Dr. Ismail Kintu and others, 25th April 2024, Nansana Municipality Council, Wakiso District, Uganda. East Africa.
Dr. Kintu the PI of the research project.

The researchers developed a proposed framework for taxing the informal economy, emphasizing the importance of consulting key stakeholders, such as district commercial officers, tax consultants, and leaders from traders’ associations, before implementing tax policies. The framework recommends engaging these stakeholders in meetings with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that new tax policies are inclusive and fair.

The study also suggests the need for flexibility in tax collection, advocating for payment in installments and prior notification to traders before collecting taxes. This approach, the researchers argue, would help build trust and encourage compliance among informal traders.

The researchers’ proposed framework includes annual mapping of policy gaps in the informal economy and developing solutions to address them. This process would involve regular consultations with stakeholders to refine the tax system and maintain fairness.

Mr Festo Tandeka, the Town Clerk of Nansana Municipality. Lack of a structured taxation framework for informal businesses - a significant cause of tax non-compliance among traders in Uganda. Underlying factors contributing to the shadow economy and its implications for the national tax system, a collaborative research project involving eight university scholars. Dissemination workshop by Principal Investigator Dr. Ismail Kintu and others, 25th April 2024, Nansana Municipality Council, Wakiso District, Uganda. East Africa.
Mr Festo Tandeka, the Town Clerk of Nansana Municipality.

Local officials who attended the workshop expressed support for the research findings. Mr. Festo Tandeka, Nansana Municipality town clerk, encouraged traders to cultivate a culture of paying taxes but cautioned against excessive taxation. He recommended allowing tax payments in installments to avoid overburdening traders.

Similarly, Mr. Shaffic Ali Nsubuga, Nansana Municipality Deputy Resident District Commissioner, urged tax officers to approach tax collection with compassion, suggesting that prior notices be given to traders before taxes are collected.

The findings of the Makerere University study arrive at a critical time, as Ugandan traders have recently protested against increasing taxes. Mr. Joshua Mawerere, a youth representative from the Kampala City Traders Association, welcomed the study, noting that it brings clarity to issues surrounding tax policies. He urged the government to raise awareness about new tax systems, like the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS), which some traders mistakenly perceive as additional taxes.

The study’s comprehensive approach to understanding the informal economy’s taxation challenges may pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable tax system in Uganda, fostering greater compliance and reducing the size of the shadow economy.

The research was funded by the government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). Speaking at the stakeholders’ engagement on April 25th, Ms Evelyn Nyacho who represented the chair of the grants committee, congratulated Dr. Kintu and team upon the timely research finding. She said the findings would help URA and the traders coming after a traders’ strike over taxation. She said Mak-RIF was happy to sponsor research that is aimed at solving society issues like taxation. “I was happy to learn that taxes can be pay in installments. I hope traders can embrace this flexibility in paying taxes,” she said. She appreciated government for the research funding to the university. The government commits Shs30 billion annually to research at Makerere University in an effort to spur development of the country.

The research team

Dr Kintu (PI), Prof Eria Hisali (Co. PI), Dr Fred Bateganya, Dr Willy Kagarura, Mr Patrick Lumala, Mr Nicholas Musoke, Ms Marion Atukunda, and Ms Winfred Nalwoga.

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