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Uganda’s ICT innovators will prosper through partnerships

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE  | “We are very many players in this sector. We are all trying to do many things that we do best. We are scattered. We need to work together because we are working for the same objective.”

This quote summarizes what Richard Zulu, an official from Start-up Uganda, thinks about Uganda’s innovators in the information communication and technology sector.

Zulu spoke at the recently held Kampala Innovation Week 2019 at Kololo Independence grounds. The week was organized by Startup Uganda, an association of Uganda’s start-up and innovation hubs, with support from the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and other partners.

Officials said that the aim for the innovation week is to convene all key stakeholders in the start- up ecosystem to raise Uganda’s profile in the innovation space, provide visibility to entrepreneurs, locally and internationally. This would later on attract investments and partnerships, create jobs and grow the economy.

Zulu’s comments dominated conversations at the three-day event that was attended by approx.1000 people from Octo.16-18.

His comments are also in line with key partnering agencies like UNCDF which is working on an inclusive digital economy programme that is geared towards ensuring that “no Ugandan is left behind in the digital era”.

“By supporting an initiative like KIW UNCDF is convening and engaging actors within the start- up ecosystem so as to foster inclusive innovation and contributing to growth of start-ups and empowerment of youth in Uganda,” the UN Agency said in a notice.

Similarly, Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of Information Technology and Communications said that the government has in recent years noted the increasing number of apps that are developed by Ugandans which is why the government is ready to support sector players.

He also said the market for IT products is growing. The task that is at hand, he said, is to assure the consuming population that “our products are resilient enough to solve our IT needs.”

Tumwebaze, who is also the Member of Parliament for Kibale County in Kamwenge District said that the government is drafting a law to ensure that Ugandan ICT innovators are given priority whenever government agencies and departments are giving out business.

He also urged international multinationals operating in the country to partner with startups to support them to grow.

He said that apart from heavy investments in roads, railways and electricity, the government hopes to support businesses through the ICT/broadband infrastructure that is being laid across the country’s geographical terrain.

A panel discussion at the innovation week

Elioda Tumwesigye, the minister of science, technology and innovation said that the government is in advanced stages of putting up ICT incubation centres and other facilities to aid the work of ICT innovators.

He said that supporting ICT innovators fits well in the country’s long term development agenda (Vision 2040).

Having started on a small scale in 2017 with just over 150 attendees, the Kampala Innovation Week 2019 edition was attended by start-ups and start-up enablers (hubs, financers, mentors and capacity builders), public and development sector partners, as well as members of the private sector.

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