PRESIDENT MUSEVENI HAS CALLED UPON UGANDAN SCIENTISTS TO INNOVATE FOR IMPORT SUBSTITUTION AND EXPORT PROMOTION

By  Moses Sserwanga

President  Yoweri Museveni has called upon Uganda Scientists to use innovation to support the country’s  import substitution and export promotion- drive  through value addition .  Gen. Museveni was officiating at a colourful  event celebrate to mark the World Science Day for Peace and Development held at Kololo Independence grounds on November 10,2021.

President Museveni reiterated his determination to have  all scientists who work in government get better remuneration -noting that in a government’s new new strategic direction – to have Ugandan innovations reach the commercialization stage resources will be provided through direct budgetary  allocations and Uganda Development Bank (UDB)- where innovators will access affordable credit at very low interest rates.

He said that the NRM Government has been working to promote science-led industrial development policy for faster transformation.

“Science led industrial development has been our goal in government. With effect from June 2021, I put the Ministry of Science and Technology under the Office of the President so that it can be effectively managed and financed,” Museveni explained while giving an example of some of the ventures he and government have supported such as Uganda’s automakers Kiira Motors Corporation –who are now producing vehicles for the African market  and the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) in developing a diagnostic test for Covid-19 that produces results within 30 minutes.

The Science Day was held under the theme “The future of science technology and innovation in Uganda: Breaking the silos & leveraging synergies for a skilled and sustainable workforce for national economic transformation”  and was attended by among others the Minister for the Presidency Babirye Milly Babalanda, the Minister of Science Technology and Innovation Office of the President ,Dr. Monica Musenero, Minister of State for Education Hon. Muyingo Professor Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa the Board Chairman Kiira Motors among others.

The Executive Director of UNESCO in Uganda, Prof. Eriabu Lugujo said that Africa cannot develop without science. He saluted the President for prioritizing science teachers through improved remunerations.

The Principle of the College of Veterinary medicine of Makerere University Prof. David Kabasa in a keynote address called for collaboration among Ugandan scientists through think tanks to commercialize their innovations .

Museveni saluted the new Minister of STI OP Dr. Musenero for  undertaking several key stakeholder engagements which have led to the identification of six (6) priority industrial value chains to  be  the  core  focus  for  strategic  intervention  in  the short-medium term under NDP III namely: Pathogen Economy, Engineering, Mobility, Beauty and Apparel, Digital Economy, and Agro-Security.

“There will be increased industrialisation, commercialization,    productivity    and    enterprise development  with  the  right  application  of  Science, Technology and Innovation in each of these identified industrial  value  chains. 

The  prioritization  of  the selected  Industrial  Value  Chains  was  informed  by four (4) key attributes based on careful consideration and these include -Need: Items that will transform how our people’s lives  and  do  business  (Supporting  the  Parish Model)-Advantage:   where   Uganda   has   competitive advantage   such as    raw    materials,    localization potential ;Market:   Availability   of   domestic,   regional, continental and global market and potential for growth looking at trends in market size.

Dr. Musenero  explained why they chose  this year’s theme thus, ” We chose this theme because it aligned with the ongoing efforts to address some of the constraining fragmentation, silos and gaps that have characterized STI in the country. It also reflects the progress so far made in building synergies to create a well-coordinated National Science, Technology and Innovation System focused on a common prioritized agenda.”

 The World Science Day for Peace and Development is annually celebrated on 10th November globally. It was initiated by the United Nations Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a bid to recognize and promote Science and Technology in the advancement of societies since 1937.

The exhibition at Kololo which has attracted over 50 of Uganda’s finest innovators across six Industrial Value Chains followed  the first ever  -colourful -green mobility industrial value chain motor parade which was staged around the capital Kampala as part of the Science week.

 The motor parade involved Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC Uganda’s automotive industry champion, Tondeka Metro- Bus Service  , Zembo and  International University of East Africa who are spearheading-electric motorcycle transport in and around Kampala ,other cities and urban centers.

The parade was flagged- off  by the Minister of Science , Technology and Innovation in the Office of the President Dr. Monica Musenero . She was accompanied by the Kiira Motors Board of Directors  Chairman ,Prof. Sandy Steven Tickodri-Togoboa and the Mr. Fred Senoga a Director at Tondeka Metro Bus Service.

Dr. Musenero highlighted the objectives for this year’s Science Week-which  include showcasing- the existing scientific innovations (prototypes), human resource, equipment and natural resources in the country for synergy formation to increase productivity through value chain adoption.

Other objectives are  to create awareness about the new National STI Innovations System including the Think-tanks, Secretariat, the industrial value chain approach, hackathons, multi-sectoralism, Intellectual Property, and focus on industrialization and commercialization.

The NSW is also meant to  advocate for increased government and stakeholder collaboration in commercialization of R&D and science education at all levels of learning; promote domestic scientific literature, publications and books towards a knowledge-based economy.

Several innovators were recognized and received cash prizes including a nine-year-old primary four girl  Trany Ann Mpagi.

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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