The Prime Minister of Uganda; Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda and the Minister of ICT and National Guidance; Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, on Wednesday officially handed over a shared UGX6 billion grant to the second cohort winners of the National ICT Initiatives Support Programme (NIISP).
The award ceremony was held at the Ministry of ICT with the Prime Minister as the Chief Guest of Honour.
In his opening remarks, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, said; “Today we’re celebrating the creative capabilities of Ugandans especially the youth using ICT to provide useful products/services and solutions that are helping our economy.”
The 60 winning startups emerged out of the 100 finalists that were selected from 350 applications. Initially, a total of 650 applications were received but 350 were found complete and subjected to evaluation.
Rt. Hon. Rugunda said the large number of applications shows the extent to which the youth have taken up ICT to develop innovations that helping their(our) communities.
He emphasized that if there were enough resources, more innovations would have been supported. He on the other hand noted that in 2018, 12 startups benefited from the program, and this year sees 60, then more startups will probably be supported in the next cohort.
“If last year 12 startups were supported and this year it’s 60, if we continue at this rate, we’re likely to cover as many innovations as possible,” he said.
NIISP a body under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance aims at creating a sustainable ecosystem for ICT Innovations and support ICT innovators and developers at large in Uganda.
The program looks at tackling bottlenecks to creating a digital ecosystem by promoting the development and deployment of applications to create an open ecosystem in Uganda that shall enable the government, companies and individuals to innovate and reach new markets.
Hon. Tumwembaze has emphasized on many occasions for innovators and developers to innovate products for the markets.
“We’re proposing a law to the cabinet and eventually to the parliament that will compel government procuring entities in the field of ICT to give preference to local solutions before outsourcing multinationals,” said Tumwebaze.
He stated that will the law in place, the ICT sector will encourage more innovators to innovate for the market.
Before thinking of innovating for the market, you need to have the skill to innovate a solution. Tumwebaze said universities today should skill its students, a skill that will help/allow them innovate and finally to earn.
The ICT Minister noted that the 60 startups selected for the NIISP grant were startups/solutions ready for consumption.
“We’re not supports startups that are still in incubation, or trial & error, but we are supporting solutions that are ready to be consumed,” he said.
The NIISP looked at Education, Health, Agriculture, and Public Sector Management as the key priority sectors innovators had to concentrate on. However, other innovations from different sectors were as well considered.
The winning startups shared UGX6 billion — each receiving a different grant. We haven’t yet been given access to the list of the winning startups.
Of the few startups, PC Tech Magazine managed to get of; Jaguza received UGX100M, Elunda (UGX79.5M), Travel Uganda Monitor (UGX70M), Akello Banker (UGX100M), Akatale App (UGX70M), Mama Ope (UGX100M), Dagala App (UGX100M), among others.