COVID-19 may spur innovation

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda has pledged to avail resources to boost human capital development after it emerged that the young population was increasingly being ignored, much so, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This according to the chairperson of the National Planning Authority, Pamela Kasabiiti Mbabazi during the launch of the State of Uganda population report 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on population development.

In her remarks while representing the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda she said that the Government was fast tracking development of industrial parks, recapitalizing Uganda Development Bank and Uganda Dairy Corporation.

‘We shall avail resources in order to harness the demographic dividend and achieve vision 2040 .It is important to note that most Ugandans, 78% are young people who fall under the age of 30. We must therefore work to increase opportunities for young people so that they can become the engine of Uganda’s development for many years to come, Kasabiiti said

The move comes a month after the cabinet approved the national population policy.

In March 2020, Uganda registered the first case of COVID-19 and a lock down was effected countrywide. Being a pandemic the government instituted restrictions across the private and public sector but the extent of the impact could not be ignored.

Country Representatives of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Mr. Alain Sibenaler said it was a good leadership gesture for Uganda to finalize its National Development Plan III while the United Nations finalized its sustainable development cooperation framework which is directed mirrored to the NDP III.

He added that UNFPA had presented its final draft program document that will start in 2021.

However, Alain noted that social economic development cannot happen if 1 out of every 4 girls is pregnant before 18 and when half of Uganda’s girls are married under the age of 18. ‘We have also seen that under COVID-19 pregnancy, sexuality and violence against women and girls were not under lock down. so the issues that we are looking at today; sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, access to basic primary health care and Gender based violence have been exacerbated during COVID-19.’

‘These issues have never been more popular but for the wrong reasons and this report and others is evidence enough for policy and decision makers to make changes in the way they are delivering services.’

Stakeholders were also challenged about the likely opportunities in COVID-19, and questions were asked as to whether the country will be able to take advantage of it as a disrupted or a catalyst.

Keynote speaker, Dean of Makerere School of Public Health, Professor Fredrick Edward Makumbi said in health, there should be an ability to create innovation just like the development of a self-sanitizing mask by Makerere University students which needs to be upgraded, economic innovations in agriculture and in business because entrepreneurs no longer accommodate many people in offices and others have adopted doing deliveries.

Socially, men and women have had time to be with family irrespective of domestic violence a trend that needs to be investigated.

In Education, the 17 million School going children were grounded and now it is a requirement for most institutions to adopt e-learning, which could in turn lead to more enrollment.

So COVID-19 pandemic is a potential springboard for innovations and advancement in Africa and so research is supposed to continue and a lot of data needs to be tapped into to spur more opportunities for development, Makumbi said.

Innovation fund to help with poverty alleviation

By Daudi Zirimala

The government of Uganda has come up with an Innovation Fund Frame work intended to promote innovators work by identifying those scientists who come up with innovations that help alleviate poverty.

This was revealed by the commissioner in the ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations Willy Ofwono Osinde saying the Innovation Fund framework was passed by parliament and through this fund the government will be able to support innovations in the country.

Speaking during the Academia Meet industry conference, Ofwono through this fund the ministry of science will be able to identify who qualifies for this fund most especially those innovators that come up with innovation that can generate household incomes.

The conference is intended to bridge the gap between the labor market and the education sector in partnership with action aid Uganda, silver bullet among others to bring together various stakeholders including policy makers, students, young innovators, employers and scholars to foster a discussion on career and opportunities in science, technology, industry and innovation fields under the them harnessing engineering, science and innovation for Uganda’s economic growth.

Speaking at the official opening, Didas Muhumuza,Extractives coordinator action aid Uganda said that there is visible misalignment between education sector and potential employers on the skill set and workforce requirements.

“Through collaborative efforts such as these, there can be full awareness of the skills the industry needs to achieve its goals to enable targeted actions such as expanding the skills base and inform employee development and hiring program,” said Muhumuza.

“In order for Uganda to fast track socioeconomic development, there is need for expansion of engineering capacity, we want to ensure that the workforce is suitably prepared for the current and future needs of the industry and the country,”said Maryanne Karamagi Executive director of Silver Bullet, the brain behind the Academia meet industry Convention 2019.

According to Vision 2040, Uganda intends to re-orient itself to make innovation the main driver of economic growth and the key pillar of competitiveness in trade and this necessitates drastic change of approach to education sector with full support from government and the private sector so that the linkage between Science, Technology and Innovation and economic development is strengthened.

Speaker Kadaga asks government to support innovative women

By Zirimala Daudi

The speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga says that the government should support women in innovations and creativity skills by including them into the innovation fund.

Reading the statement on behalf of the speaker, the minister of state for Science and Technology Elioda Tumwesigye , the speaker said women and girls constitute a half of the Uganda’s population and 40% of the business registered in Uganda are owned by women therefore its incumbent upon government to put in place policies to support women.

She said the Intellectual property day celebrates the resourcefulness and bravery of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.

The World Intellectual day was organized by Uganda Registrations Services Bureau under the theme powering change; women in innovation and creativity.