Following the success of the 2019 RAN ICT Innovation Katale on July 24th 2020, a second edition of the event was held virtually via Zoom owing to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak. During this Virtual Innovation Katale, participants listened to and later engaged with 8 inspiring presentations/presenters. These presenters were female and male innovators sharing about their ventures which have benefitted and continue to benefit from incubation at RAN. The incubation period ran between October 2019 and July 2020 as part of the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance’s National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP). ‘There is power in partnership and collaboration’ said Dr. Roy William Mayega, RAN’s Deputy Chief of Party. 

Prof. William Bazeyo, RAN’s Chief of Party set the pace for these innovators and officially launched the 2020 RAN Virtual Innovation Katale. He welcomed all participants to the digital convening, which was jointly organized by Makerere University’s ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) together with partners from United Social Ventures and the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. He thanked all for setting aside time to join the online engagement.  He shared the purpose and background of the digital convening noting that it was three-fold; 

First, that it was through the Katale that RAN together with her partners showcased progress made by 8 out of the 14 ICT Innovation teams currently being incubated at RAN, with support from the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. Prof. Bazeyo noted that through financial support from the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance’s National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP), RAN (among other hubs) was assigned 14 innovative projects to support through to scale. 

Key highlights from Prof Bazeyo’s remarks included; 

    • That this was the second cohort of innovators assigned to RAN under the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP). Great strides at RAN towards supporting creativity and job creation. 
    • All these projects were registered by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, as this was a prerequisite for receiving the funding. These innovators and received grants between the range of six million to one hundred million through the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. 
    • These ventures were assigned to the RAN lab to receive technical support, management of their finances, and guidance towards the realization of their transformative digital solutions, which we have successfully accomplished in collaboration with our partners, United Social Ventures. 
  • The teams responsible for these ventures had been taken through an intense incubation program that introduced these teams to the Human-Centered Design Approach of Business development, guided them through the development of their business models, and a market and user-outreach plan. Teams were also offered one-on-one coaching and mentorship support and given specialized attention during the COVID-19 Pandemic partial lockdown.
  • It is fulfilling to note that each project is now at a different stage of implementation although as expected some of their activities were greatly affected by the current pandemic. 

Secondly, the virtual Katale aided identification and initiation of some preliminary discussions around possible partnerships with the various ventures, particularly those that are at the stage of being broadly marketed. 

Thirdly, during the Katale participants among whom were players in the ICT innovation ecosystem engaged in a discussion on ‘How we might work towards seeing more successful ICT start-ups in Uganda’. Prof. Bazeyo noted that ‘It is important for us to embrace an ecosystem approach to supporting these ICT start-ups while providing a conducive regulatory environment for them to thrive’.  These start-ups many of which are initiated by our youth need to be incubated and supported to reach their goals,’ he added. That is where hubs like RAN come in- offering training on financial management, human-centered design, marketing, financial planning and management, the business model canvas, as well as in conducting market research to inform their product design and providing the necessary connections to potential partners.

Mr. Richard James Mukaaga, the Program Coordinator for the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance’s National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP), represented the Ministry at the digital event and reaffirmed their support for creating an enabling environment for locally developed ICT solutions to flourish.

Luke Kyohere, the Founder of Beyonic, gave the keynote address on ‘How might we have more successful ICT start-ups?’ He encouraged entrepreneurs to mitigate risk with every action and grasp opportunities where they are found.

The 8 presenters were chosen from a cohort of 14 start-ups who had collectively been granted more than UGX 700M under the NIISP scheme. They had also been through 30 hours of training, as well as bespoke one-on-one coaching in partnership with United Social Ventures. The 8 presenters included the following; 

Akatale Fresh offers customers a ‘green carpet’ online shopping experience for the delivery of the best quality fresh groceries to their doorstep! Grocery orders can be placed either via the mobile application, which is available on the Google Play Store or through their website

Jaguza an online and offline, cloud-based livestock management system that incorporates the use of sensors, drones, livestock collars, and GPS trackers to gather real-time information about location, speed, body temperature, and stress levels of livestock. This information is processed using advanced algorithms using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and machine learning.

MyLib an interactive digital curriculum tailor-made to suit the Ugandan curriculum for primary pupils for the subjects of Science and Mathematics. The platform seeks to level the playing field between rural and urban schools by adopting a blended learning approach that combines face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instructions with animations and illustrations.

SignTapp which seeks to ease the linking of Deaf persons to with interpreters. The platform thereby enables Deaf persons to access social services and other opportunities while also creating opportunities for Sign Language Interpreters to be able to vend their services and get economically empowered.

The Sign Language Dictionary and Translator an innovation that has been designed to enhance communication and learning of the impaired deaf and dumb individuals in our society.

Blind Assistant Application a mobile App that uses Artificial intelligence and Machine learning to assist the blind and visually impaired in reading text as they go about their life.

Farm-Lite a farm management system software tool built to facilitate record-keeping on commercial farm entities.

UniCare comprised of an expert team of counselors and computer scientists that are working to develop a mobile app that provides e-counseling services and information through voice, instant messaging, 

The Agro-VCM platform offered both as a mobile app and as an online tool and facilitates the way different stakeholders interact and access information about the agro-trade cycle.

The Mobile Tax Returns Filing System an industry-standard mobile app that will enable the taxpayer file their tax returns compliantly, with less complexity, and in a timely manner.

The MyLC1 team which is seeking to develop an application-based directory for Local Council 1’s through which they can be easily accessed and to facilitate their support to the community

Sample Tracker a mobile-based application platform that can be adapted to track the whereabouts of medical samples, agricultural inputs, among others.

AgricMo a Mobile app and USSD platform supported by biometric and drones. It is being designed to support the tracking of funds allocated to government beneficiaries under the Operation Wealth Creation program and other similar programs that might be rolled out in the future. The main objective of the innovation is to minimize funding losses through OWC extension workers fraud, as well as to identify potential users and track inputs and outputs. 

The people’s choice award (UGX 500,000 only) went to the team working on the Blind Assistant App after gaining over half of the 449 online votes. Congratulations to all the teams. 

The ResilientAfrica Network is grateful to all the partners that joined the digital event and to the teams for their tireless efforts in ensuring they put their best pitch forward. We are committed to continuing supporting and working with the teams.