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Tumwebaze Unveils Plans for 2019 ICT Innovations Expo

ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze has Tuesday launched the much-anticipated ICT Innovations Expo set for December 17 at Uganda Institute of Information & Communications in Nakawa, Kampala.

The expo, according to Tumwebaze, is geared towards showcasing Uganda’s fast growing ability in harnessing technology innovations to solve societal challenges.

“We call upon innovators with products already on market (working alone or with a hub) to use this opportunity to pitch their products to the market,” said Tumwebaze at today’s press briefing in Kampala.

“We cannot really continue to encourage our people to be net consumers of other people’s innovation,” he emphasised.

Ugandan ICT developers a few years ago protested over lack of government support to commercialize their products.

Tumwebaze would later engage innovators, leading to the creation of National ICT Initiatives Support Programme (NIISP).

The initiative has been facilitating the creation of an ICT Innovation ecosystem and marketplace for Ugandan innovative digital products.

Tumwebaze said every year, the Ministry of ICT and its partners call for concepts from innovators who demonstrate capacity that their innovations are ready to go to the market.

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“Every year we award grants. We give them money to acquire intellectual property, improve their products and package their products,” he observed.

“We have so far supported over 70 mature innovations in the ICT space not to mention those supported by private sector,” said the Minister, adding, “Locally, we can proudly say that we can survive on our locally made ICT systems.”

Innovators will have to visit http://niisp.ict.go.ug/ to register to participate in the expo.

ChimpReports understands three ICT hubs – Resilient African Network, Tech Buzz Hub and Hive Collab were among those supported under NISIP.

Records show 150 innovators were attached to innovation hubs for mentorship, and the activities of ICT innovators supported under the first call for Innovations in Financial Year 2017/18 under the NIISP were monitored.

The steel structure and roofing for the ICT Innovation /Incubation Center at Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology (UICT) Nakawa has since been completed.

The structure will provide space and internet for innovators.

ICT Growth

Over the years, the ICT sector’s contribution to the national economy especially in job creation and taxes has increased significantly.

In 2018, a total of Shs 394 billion was realized as tax revenue in quarter four compared to Shs 357 billion realized in the previous quarter 3, signifying a 10.4 percent growth in ICT tax contributions to Revenue.

The sector has also contributed over Shs 14.2tn in direct sector revenues over the last five years to the Ugandan government. This figure is projected to grow to Shs 18tn in the next five years.

Tumwebaze went at length to emphasise the role of technology in facilitating business dynamism, strong institutional pillars, a vibrant innovation ecosystem and the societal well-being of ordinary citizens.

He said generating advanced technologies and leveraging the full productive capacity of a digital economy would not only help in addressing inefficiency and corruption but also see Uganda gain a strategic competitive advantage.

“Services of government are now getting online. And we are thinking of coming up with a compelling law to take their services online,” said the youthful Minister.

“There are many advantages of e-government services in delivery of services -efficiency, time saving and mitigation of corruption. Going online, paying taxes online, applying for a job online, applying for university admission online, eliminates 100 percent of human contact,” he added.

“So digitization is the solution to inefficiencies, corruption and bribery.”

However, Uganda continues to struggle with expensive and unreliable internet even in urban areas, a situation Tumwebaze said government was keen on addressing.

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