By HILLARY TURYASINGURA
H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has directed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) of government to first procure local ICT solutions before purchasing foreign systems. He said billions of shillings spent on buying foreign ICT systems must be channelled to Ugandan innovators.
According to H.E the president, this would help to reduce the cost of expensive foreign ICT systems, as well as supporting and boosting domestic creativity, which would help to create more jobs in the long run.
The president was responding to the request made by the outgoing Minister for ICT and National Guidance Hon. Frank Tumwebaze (MP) who presented to the president that the innovators wanted predilection in the market. The President also asserted that buying foreign ICT solutions would be donating wealth, money and jobs and limiting the young innovators an opportunity to make new discoveries that would help in solving problems affecting society.
President Museveni made the remarks while presiding over the first ever ICT Expo held at Uganda Institute of ICT in Nakawa on 17th December 2019. He promised to increase government funding to ICT Innovation if the 13 billion ICT innovation fund is to put to good use.
The Expo was organised by the Ministry of Information, Communications, Technology and National Guidance to showcase the achievement of its National ICT Initiatives Program (NIISP) which began more than 2 years ago.
The outgoing Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze (MP), informed the audience that government will soon introduce a local start-ups Bill which will require all accounting officers to first exhaust the local market before procuring ICT solutions from abroad. He asked all MDA’s to take their services online, reduce human contact, create efficiency and mitigate corruption.
Government of Uganda designed the NIISP project to facilitate the creation of an ICT Innovation ecosystem and marketplace for Ugandan innovative digital products. NIISP primarily aims at facilitating growth and development of the software applications and innovations industry.
The project awards grants to selected ICT start-ups as seed capital, provides business development services and training, and is to provide working space to innovators at its Innovation Hub in Nakawa.
At the same expo, a locally made scan that tracks the foetus stages inside the womb was exhibited to the president.
The president commended the work done by the innovators of the scan adding that the environment in Uganda that allows ICT to flourish should be used to solve problems affecting people and create more jobs and consequently wealth.
According to Dr. Ahimbisibwe Prosper, who is behind the innovation, the scan is less costly, can be operated using cellular phone, tablet , and laptop to detect risk factors of maternal mortality among pregnant mothers in resource limited settings .
The MTN -Uganda Chief Executive Officer, Wim Vanhelleputte rewarded the ICT innovators and users of its internet with non-expiry date data bundles that was launched at the expo.
The writer is an Information Officer at Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
This article was co-authored by Mr. Yona Okoth Gongo