The inaugural ICT Innovation Expo got off to an impressive start on Tuesday, with the chief guest President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni describing what he had seen as “renaissance” and pledging his government’s continued support to the sector.
Conceived and organised by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, the first of its kind expo that was held at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology (UICT) in Nakawa, Kampala, sought to highlight ICT innovations, opportunities and challenges.
For researchers, service providers, innovators, mentors, partners and policymakers, the expo held under the theme, “Accelerating Investment in Digital Innovation” presented a unique opportunity for Uganda’s digital minds to show what they have to offer.
A key stakeholder in the sector and a government agency under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Uganda Communications Commission partnered with the ministry in organising the expo.
The Commission had its stall where its contribution towards innovation projects, cybersecurity interventions, quality of service and content monitoring, and consumer protection strategies were on display.
Under its legal and regulatory framework, UCC is charged with the task of stimulating cutting edge ICT innovations through the promotion of research.
UCC also encourages product development among licensed operators, allowing for the use of resources like frequencies, spectrum, and codes for innovation and delivery of value-added services.
One way how UCC has helped to support ICT innovation is the annual ACIA awards that ran for seven years and through which the Commission recognised outstanding digital creations, raising awareness of the value of ICTs and inspiring youth to harness ICTs to solve everyday problems.
The Commission has also bankrolled the National Communications Conference (NCC), a collaboration with universities that brings together students, researchers, academics and industry players to discuss developments, research and innovations in the ICT sector.
Besides, through its Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), UCC empowers students by equipping their schools with connected computer labs to boost science and technology teaching and learning thus laying the ground for future ICT innovations.
After his tour of the expo, an excited President Museveni took to Twitter to express his pleasure.
“I visited different exhibition stalls, and I must commend the different Ugandans who are embracing technology as a game-changer in the face of human and global needs,” he saidadding that “technology is no longer a choice but a necessity.”
The President, having heard from Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the outgoing Minister of ICT and National Guidance, directed that all government institutions give priority to local ICT solutions in the procurement of such services.
Still, on Twitter, Mr Tumwebaze welcomed the President’s backing, citing his description of the expo as a renaissance.
“H.E. has officially endorsed and launched to the market the various local cutting edge innovations. He has commended our efforts and called it the new renaissance (rebirth of knowledge). Proud that our ecosystem has matured and now counted among the leading Fintechs,” he said.
The expo was also marked by MTN Uganda’s announcement introducing non-expiry data bundles.
“It is a happy sign out for me from the ICT sector and looks forward to leveraging these innovations to solve gender-related issues in my new docket,” Mr Tumwebaze said of the innovations on display.
Mr Tumwebaze was in Saturday’s cabinet reshuffle appointed Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development. He is to be replaced by Mityana Woman MP Judith Nabakooba.
Below is a pictorial of some of the moments of the day