The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expressed interest in supporting the formation of a robotics centre and other new technology initiatives in Uganda.
This was revealed on Sunday by Uganda’s ICT Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze after meeting with Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in the United Arab Emirates.
The duo met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Dubai.
“We are signing partnerships. He (Olama) had already been in Uganda. We invited him and he spoke at our Blockchain conference in Kampala,” said Tumwebaze in an interview with ChimpReports today.
“We have agreed in ways we can support each other. They are very much interested in our innovation support programme in Kampala. They would want to come and look at our hub. They want to support us start the robotics Centre in Uganda,” he added.
The ICT Ministry recently developed a Digital Uganda Vision with Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as one of its core enablers.
The Ministry has also started training its ICT officers in emerging technologies in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) covering wide-ranging fields such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Blockchain Technologies and Cloud Computing.
Associated cyber security and privacy concerns are also being addressed, according to ministry officials.
A national expert task force headed by former ICT Minister John Nasasira has since been formed to develop a Framework for the adoption and promotion of 4IR technologies in the country.
Tumwebaze today revealed that UAE “would want to support our taskforce on 4IR to come up with a white paper that clearly guides government on the various practices.”
He added: “And there is a discussion on how they can support us financially on our innovation funds if we are able to progress with them – to demonstrate what the startups are ready to do.”
Shs 15bn is allocated to ICT innovators annually.
President Museveni recently promised to see that this fund is increased to Shs 30bn.
Experts say for Uganda to leapfrog in the 4IR, there is an urgent need to have the right legislation, skillsets and the infrastructure.
Uganda would as well need to do more to protect innovative ideas from being stolen by foreigners.
Experts say government should have supportive policy guidelines and procedures that cover the entire data development chain/ data life- cycle of collection, processing, storage, and analytics to reap from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In Dubai, the event is being hosted by WEF together with the government of Dubai.
“We are discussing a number of topics. In our area we are discussing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics among others,” said Tumwebaze.
“We are trying to see the global practices that government can domesticate in their respective eco systems such that you don’t have to bother with cyber security issues. If one practice works in Canada, it should work in the Middle East, it should work in Africa. So there are great conversations here from experts,” he added.
Participants will be discussing global, regional and geopolitical issues, as well as topics or challenges that are currently emerging or likely to cut across themes during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Dedicated workshop sessions bringing together different councils include a focus on tech for sustainable development; air pollution; social mobility; governing breakthrough technology, and stakeholder capitalism.
Tumwebaze said there is a lot of goodwill with many participants appreciating Uganda’s policy environment.
“So what’s important with innovation is the startups themselves to prove their innovations are resilient enough and can go on winning and winning more validation in various regions,” said Tumwebaze.
“It shouldn’t be a solution for Uganda but for East Africa, Africa and the world. There is a lot of goodwill from many agencies. Some want to invest.”
With more than 600 experts in Dubai from diverse backgrounds, the meeting’s outcomes are set to directly influence the Annual Meeting in 2020 and the World Economic Forum’s initiatives around the world.