By ABCafrica reporter
First Deputy Prime Minister Ali Kirunda Kivejinja last Week said that local ICT innovations will transform Uganda from a predominantly peasant society to a middle income country.
Al hajj Kivejinja made the remarks while officiating at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the National ICT Innovation Hub at the Nakawa Institute of Information and Communications Technology.
“ICT is one of the key pillars for societal transformation,” he said, adding that it will propel Uganda’s growth as government establishes more infrastructure, especially to enable the youth acquire skills for job creation.
Speaking at the same function, ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze said that the building to cost Shs5.6 billion will provide space for young innovators to share ideas with mentors as they develop ICT products and solutions for sale.
“Without ICT innovations, Uganda cannot reap from the investments in the ICT infrastructure,” he said, adding that local ICT innovations are critical in attracting foreign companies to establish their activities in the country.
Minister Tumwebaze said the ICT hub, the first one to be constructed, falls under the National ICT Initiatives Support Programme whose overall goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem for the ICT innovators and application developers. He also said government is willing to buy innovations that are created locally by local innovators.
“Government will support successful innovators financially to develop and market their products,” Mr. Tumwebaze said.
The hub, which the Minister said will be built by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Engineering Brigade over a six-month period, will cost a third of the money that the private contractors had asked the ministry to pay.
“Some asked for Shs30 billion, the least one asked for Shs15 billion,” he said, urging government agencies to give more construction work to the UPDF. He said the UPDF will finish the project in six months.
Defence State Minister Charles Okello Engola said UPDF Engineering Brigade is well equipped in terms of equipment and human resources to deliver the project.
Meanwhile, Minister Tumwebaze disclosed that Gulu and Mbarara universities have applied to host the ICT hubs, which government intends to establish in every financial year.