The Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has urged the ICT minister, Hon. Judith Nabakooba and the Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo to establish an ICT research fund to help improve the quality of ICT in the country.
Prof. Nawangwe was speaking at the opening of the two-day National communications Conference on March 3, 2021. The conference was opened by Hon. Judith Nabakooba.
The Vice chancellor said researchers are ready to partner with the government in innovations. “We have a formidable force of researchers at Makerere University who are willing to partner with government to conduct research to improve whatever you (govt) are doing at a low cost,” he said.
Prof. Nawangwe said universities have researchers that the government can tap into at low costs, rather than hiring consultants from abroad.
The vice Chancellor also asked them to give the university licences for a television and radio.
Organized under the theme ‘Connectivity, Resilience and Innovation in the Covid-19 era’, the conference put focus on challenges and opportunities presented by the covid-a9 pandemic, the 4th industrial revolution, Artificial Intelligence, 5G cellular networks, internet of things among others things.
Prof. Nawangwe said the university would be able to pay for the licence of the radio that the university previously had.
“There is a lot of bad news. Makerere can convey good news but we lost the licence to our radio. If you can give us a TV licence, we can propagate correct news against fake news. The two can be used to disseminate the massive research at Makerere, which hardly goes out to the public,” he said.
Minister Judith Nabakooba said the Covid-9 pandemic had increased the use of ICTs in the country but also noted that the misuse of social media had increased. She said the government was committed to putting ICTs at the centre of development. “Our desire is to see the whole country connected to ICT infrastructure; this market Uganda and make it competitive globally,” Hon. Nabakooba said.
Both the Minister and UCC director Irene Kaggwa welcomed Prof. Nawangwe’s proposal for a research fund, saying it would be discussed at the ministry.
During the two-day conference, various research innovations were exhibited, some of which included Bulamu ventilators, Low-cost decontamination equipment of masks, A contactless machine learning based humanoid robot, an interactive voice response (IVR) system for cancer awareness in Uganda and a Covid-19 key work spotter for Luganda Broadcast Radio, among others.
The National Conference on Communications (NCC) was established in October 2010, by the Uganda Communications Commission to among others, strengthen communications’ research and innovation, particularly of locally relevant solutions through discipline-specific conference series in communications
The Conference thus offers students, researchers, application developers, innovators and practitioners a platform to identify new research challenges, share solutions and discuss issues relevant to the communications sector of developing countries such as Uganda.
The NCC has been held five (05) times; in September 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 and in October 2019. The Uganda Communications Commission was the main event sponsor for all the last NCC events.
The first two conferences were hosted by the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology (CEDAT), the third NCC, held in 2014 was hosted by Ndejje University, the fourth NCC, held in 2016 was hosted by Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and the fifth NCC, held in October 2019 was once again hosted by the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology (CEDAT).
The Host academic instituitons are competitively chosen after expression of interest.
The National Conference on Communication attracts over 500 participants annually consisting of students, researchers, academia, and industry players, among others.