On November 12th 2018, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) was part of the partners that witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Information Communications Technology and National Guidance (ICT & NG) and Microsoft Corporation, a global technology firm to enhance innovation and skills in the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Microsoft is a productivity and platform industry leader for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, whose mission is to empower every person, organization and government to achieve more and realize their potential.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT & NG, Vincent Bagiire Waswa signed on behalf of the government of Uganda while Microsoft General Manager for East Africa Mr. Sebuh Haileleul signed on behalf of Microsoft. The signing ceremony was presided over by the Minster of ICT & NG, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze. In his remarks, the Minster noted that the Innovation program under the ministry was instituted on the following cornerstone objectives:
- To coordinate all units involved in innovations at all levels (ideas, incubation, near to the market products and services. This would create a central home for all the innovators and thus a physical lab is being set-up at Nakawa, a suburb near Kampala’s Business Center.
- To link with multi-national agencies present in the market that sell solutions like Oracle, Microsoft etc.
- To develop digitized solutions for sectors like Agriculture, Transport, Foreign affairs among others.
The Minister described this endeavor as access to technological innovations and noted that it will make Uganda’s Vision 2040 a reality. He further noted that Microsoft, a technology multinational partnering with Uganda is a milestone because they will transfer skills and improve the quality of the local innovators so that the country can also export innovations.
“We recognize that in today’s ever-changing environment, successful implementation of initiatives requires additional support from government departments and partners alike. As an established leader in productivity and platform technology, it makes sense to partner with Microsoft as we share common goals for empowering organizations and individuals,” Mr. Tumwebaze said.
During the question and answer session, the Permanent Secretary Mr. Bagiire unveiled the objectives of the MOU; that government is collaborating with Microsoft to build the next generation applications, garner and share technical expertise, and spur innovations through the Microsoft App factory programme and supporting commercialization of innovative products by Ugandans through development of online intellectual property registration prototype for Uganda. He urged that patenting intellectual products of Ugandans, is a critical step towards commercialization.
In his brief speech, the Country manager Microsoft East Africa, Mr. Haileleul, said they will provide the necessary tools and skills necessary to develop technical excellence in Uganda. He added that key in rolling out the partnership will be bringing initiatives such as Microsoft’s Partner Skills Hub and identifying the correct AppFactory model for Uganda.
“We have committed to provide technical support to the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in equipping the government innovation hubs with the necessary tools and skills that will harness a 21st Century developer ecosystem in the region,” Mr. Haileleul said. He said that Microsoft is excited to partner with government of Uganda in assisting young innovators who have ideas but lack infrastructure to develop them and see them to the next level.
RAN Innovation Lab is already working with the Ministry of ICT as an implementing partner to support 26 potentially transformative solutions/innovations that were allocated to the lab for skilling in innovation and entrepreneurship skills. The partnership of Microsoft as a process partner is indeed a remarkable step to nurture the diverse skills of Ugandans to develop versatile ICT systems.