Innovators and Researchers recognized at the 2022 National Communications Conference

St Mary’s Kisubi (SMACK)

St Mary’s Kisubi (SMACK) emerged the best in the School ICT Clubs Competition and were awarded a cash prize of ten Million Uganda Shillings. SMACK through its innovation, “School Eye” tussled it out with five schools that participated in the National Competition having won at their respective regions.

“The Eye” project is aimed at solving problems in the education sector that include inadequate monitoring of the syllabus, the high dropout rates, failure to meet the goals of the syllabus as well as the imbalances in the coverage of the syllabus.

Tororo Girls Secondary School

The competition and awards were part of the 7th National Conference on Communications hosted by the College of Engineering, Design, Art and technology (CEDAT) and sponsored by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) and other stakeholders.

Tororo Girls Secondary School were the first runners up and their project “Tower TV”, the first High School Television in Uganda that was started way back in 2019 and won them a cash prize of Uganda Shilling Five Million.

St Henry College Kitovu

St Henry College Kitovu were the second runners up and won a cash prize of Uganda Shillings Three Million for their innovation “Vimbo Scholar” an online shopping system for Schools.

During the Conference, prizes were also given out to the winning teams that participated in the cyber security competition held in collaboration with CyLab-Africa picoCTF-Africa’s Initiative. The objective was to raise awareness of cybersecurity and elicit interest in the cybersecurity career path. CEDATs Mak_Team emerged best, earning a cash prize of Five Million Shillings followed by Reconaicense_Red_Team from the College of Computing and Information Science (CoCIS) with Three Million shillings and in third position was UICT#256, from the Uganda Institute of Communication and Technology (UICT) that won a cash prize of One Million Shillings.

Also recognized were the best research papers presented during the National conferences from 2019 to date.

State Minister for ICT and National Guidance Hon Godfrey Kabyanga Baluku

While officiating at the opening ceremony on Monday 20th June 2022, the State Minister for ICT and National Guidance Hon Godfrey Kabyanga Baluku expressed happiness for being part of the event, one of those marking the year-long Mak@100 celebrations.  He said his Ministry through UCC had supported the University in a number of ways leading to ICT skills acquisition. “The theme of the event speaks to the Government vision of leveraging ICT to spur development and it emphasizes the role of ICT in mitigating day to day challenges.  He said Government was committed towards supporting the 4th Industrial revolution through programs like the Internet of Things, and Robotics. “The Digital world is unstoppable. You either go digital or remain backward,” he said adding that with the Parish Development Model, Government was working towards ensuring that internet access gets to Parish level.

Dr. Dorothy Okello, the Dean, School of Engineering (CEDAT), Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Principal CEDAT and Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration, the State Minister for ICT and National Guidance Hon Godfrey Kabyanga Baluku during the 7th National Conference on Communications

Minister Baluku said his Ministry was facilitating all the ICT structures to ensure that they work as expected and lead to improved conditions of living.  The Mission of Government is production, leadership and an enabling environment into a knowledge based economy as indicated in the Vision 2020 he emphasized.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor Makerere University while welcoming the delegates to Makerere University

While welcoming the delegates to Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe the Vice Chancellor Makerere University commended the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) for instituting the platform since 2010, which had enabled academia share their research and link them to the industry.  ‘The conference is an opportunity to showcase work, identify challenges and solutions to problems facing the sector’ said the Vice Chancellor.  He congratulated the researchers who were showcasing their work and while addressing himself on the theme of the conference, “Inclusive Digital Transformation though Innovation”, he noted that this was in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan that emphasized the role of Innovation in development. Nawangwe noted that a number of innovations like Kiira Motors started as student innovations at the University.

The Vice Chancellor said with support from SIDA, NORAD, and the Government of Uganda, Makerere University had the best ICT infrastructure in Africa. He said with this, a lot had been achieved citing Makerere University students that won the Huawei ICT competitions in Africa. He further called upon the Government to create an enabling environment for Research and provide opportunities for Internships for the students. He expressed commitment that the University’s Radio and TV stations were to be revived as a matter of urgency.

Professor Henry Alinaitwe, Principal College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT)

Professor Henry Alinaitwe, Principal College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) the host of the NCC 2022 conference formerly welcomed all other Universities in the Consortium and extended his appreciation to UCC for the central role it was undertaking in the Communication Industry in Uganda. He acknowledged the support from the Industry and other actors through absorbing and providing employment to the graduates.  He said Makerere as a research led University was churning out a lot of knowledge which had to be disseminated through such platforms like the National Conference on Communications.

The Executive Director Uganda Communication Commission Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo

The Executive Director Uganda Communication Commission Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo said UCC was established to strengthen the Communication Industry in Uganda and inspire innovations. She said institutions like The Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) provided a forum for peer reviewed research work to discuss problems and seek solutions to have them redressed, through networking.  She said the theme that was chosen for the conference resonated with the commitment that UCC has in facilitating a robust communication sector in Uganda.  Eng. Sewankambo said COVID 19 led to embracing of virtual engagements, transactions and work and it set a new trend and hence the need to seek out the challenges and have them solved in order to improve the services in the society.

The UCC ED said this year 2022, the School ICT Clubs competition was included in the arrangements of the conference to enable students show case their ideas and enable them develop thinkers able to maneuver through the application of technologies in finding societal solutions.  She said the other area of focus was the paper writing and publishing targeted to master’s students in institutions that include Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara and Ndejje Universities.  The students cyber challenge she said, was aimed at ensuring that ICTs were used safely and productively. she said the academic community was therefore given support in Research and development of homegrown solutions to our problems 

Panel discussions on topical issues

The deliberations at the conference were characterized by panel discussions on topical issues in the sector like Inclusive Digital transformation in Uganda, Opportunities and Challenges. The panelists included Hon. Nyombi Tembo, Director Uganda Communications Universal Service and Access Fund (UCUSAF) UCC, Ms. Stella Alibateese, from NITA-U, The CEO RENU, Nicholas Mbonimpa and Dr. Bello Moussa, from Huawei, South Africa. There were also key note speeches by Dr. Assane Gueye from Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU Africa)

The presentation of Technical papers was done by Mr. Chippa Mayur from ISBAT University, while Mr. Tonny Li from Huawei Uganda presented a paper titled, 5G is coming. How to Build secure and Resilient 5G Networks.

The National Communications Conference 2022 was the climax of a series of activities that included the call and writing of papers, the regional School ICT club competitions among others. It brought together a number of participants drawn from Universities and other Institutions. These Included ISBAT University, Uganda Christian University, Kampala International University and the host, Makerere University.