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AFRICOMM 2011 aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in ICT to discuss issues and trends, recent research, innovation advances and on-the-field experiences related to e-Infrastructure, e-Governance, e-Business, and enabling policy and regulations with a deep focus on developing countries.

Accepted papers were presented at the conference and published by Springer€„¢s LNICST series. AFRICOMM 2011.

The 1st AFRICOMM conference was held in 2009, Maputo Mozambique, 2nd was held 2010, Cape Town, South Africa and now the 3rd AFRICOMM conference was held on 23-24 Nov 2011, Zanzibar Islands. Makerere University, School of Computing and Informatics was represented by Msc. Data Communication Students the names of Mukakanya Abel Muwumba and Okii Hudson who presented papers titled "Scalable Scheduling with Burst Mapping in IEEE 802.16e (Mobile) WiMAX Networks" and ''Providing Some Quality of Service for Secondary Users in Cognitive Radios Using Time Slotted Systems'' respectively. Head Department of Software and Innovations Prof Hugh Cameroon presented a paper '' A Software Business Incubation Model Using ICTs for Sustainable Economic Development in Uganda"

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Vast and Fertile Ground in Africa for Science to Take Root

Written by Wednesday, 07 December 2011 07:34 Published in News Details comment

He might have been content simply to teach thousands of university students in Uganda how to use computers, assemble them into networks, manage them and write basic software programs. In a poor African country with one of the world€„¢s fastest-growing populations and rising Internet use, that alone would have been an enormous achievement.

But Venansius Baryamureeba had bigger ideas. In 2005, when he returned home with a doctorate from the University of Bergen in Norway, he was just one of a handful of computer scientists in Uganda. And his timing was right. The largely agricultural economy had been growing by about 7 percent annually, propelling an enormous expansion of the upper middle class and the urban elite€„¢s aspirations for advanced training in science and engineering..... read more

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CIT research agenda to accelerate development in the region

Written by Monday, 05 December 2011 09:27 Published in News Details comment

The School of Computing and Informatics Technology (CIT) has successfully launched its Research Agenda aimed at providing computing and informatics solutions for development in Uganda, the region and beyond. CIT€„¢s four research groups; Artificial Intelligence (AI), Development Informatics (DI), Wireless Networks & Systems Security (WN&SS) and Software & Enterprise Engineering (S&EE) will address the ongoing national and global challenges like climate change, food security, health and education.

Speaking at the launch of the Research Agenda and Exhibition at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University on 2nd December, 2011, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) said the research conducted by these groups will provide solutions to our national social-economic challenges.

€œAs Government, we derive a lot of pleasure when our own institutions of higher learning exhibit their finished and ongoing projects and innovations. It shows they are dynamic and can help the country cope with the changes that are taking place in the world,€ he noted adding that;

€œI call upon the various stakeholders to appreciate and make use of what the School of Computing and Informatics Technology has researched into and transformed into solutions for the national social-economic problems experienced by Uganda, the region and beyond. I commend their efforts and I assure them that we shall provide all the support we can garner to ensure that together we finally solve some of the stickiest challenges to the development of our nation.€

Rugunda explained that the newly developed €œNational IT Policy€ would among others mobilize funds for research and dissemination in some universities, encourage joint research and dissemination efforts between the private sector and the universities, encourage industries to set up research and dissemination centres at university level through matching grants and focused joint projects.

Rugunda was represented by Dr. David Turahi, an official from the Ministry of ICT. Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, the dean CIT said these research groups will work with several government entities to transform Uganda using ICTs and thus accelerate development. €œIn the past, the government€„¢s efforts have been impeded by limited human resources in the ICT sector but we pledge that the School of Computing and Informatics Technology is ready to fill this gap by nurturing experienced researchers ready to contribute to the country€„¢s development agenda,€ she added.

CIT is also working with national, regional and international partners like Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) National Agricultural Research Organization, the University of Nairobi, University of Dar-es-salaam, University of Bergen, University of Groningen, Microsoft, Google and many others.

The function was attended by Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi of UCC, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police plus officials from Bank of Uganda, government ministries, departments and agencies and Makerere University.

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CoCIS Project Impresses President Museveni

Written by Friday, 25 November 2011 07:42 Published in News Details comment

The CU@School Project that was designed by the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) has impressed President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The President viewed this presentation during his visit to Makerere University today, 24th November, 2011.

The CU@School is a teacher: pupil attendance monitoring tool that uses an OpenXdata application that enables primary school head teachers to report pupil and teacher attendance to their District Education Officers. The collected data is also visible at the national level through a GIS interface. The project was implemented in partnership with SNV in the districts of Kiboga and Mbale and more recently Kyankwanzi.

The President had visited the University for the launch of the KIIRA EV, and two lines of production in Food Science and Technology. He was impressed by the number of innovations going on at Uganda€„¢s premier and public university and asked the relevant ministries to look into more funding for the University and better remuneration for its staff.

The President on arrival first toured some of the innovations from the Colleges which included, the low cost irrigation pump- College of Engineering Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT); the Incubation Centre- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES); the role of natural products in health care delivery: Showcasing herbal/medicinal products in the treatment of Cancer and Diabetes-College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS); Extending HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, TB testing to inaccessible areas-College of Health Sciences (CHS) and a training/education model that aims at universal production and development- College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio Security (CoVAB)

With a smile on his face, the Head of State was then driven in the KIIRA EV from the exhibition ground at CEDAT upper parking to Food Science and Technology, where he addressed members of staff and students.

€œI have told the ministries that in terms of remuneration, Scientists should be remunerated up to near international standards. We are going to increase the support for the Institutions. I have nothing but happiness and pleasure to have been here to launch the KIIRA EV and the two production lines in Food Technology. I encourage you to continue. Do not worry about the money, we shall look for it. With our oil, the issue of money will be nothing,€„¢Ã¢‚¬„¢ he emphasized amidst cheer from the gathering. The President thanked both students and staff of Makerere University for the innovations and promised to come back at a later date to see more.

His Excellency described these innovations at Makerere as a renaissance, adding that the institution has woken up from `a deep slumber,€„¢ that has taken its toll on the African continent. He said Africa regressed technologically during the colonial era, but was glad that Makerere University is taking lead in innovations.

€œI must salute Makerere. I will give you all the support. This is just a small beginning. Africa being out of technology has led to slavery, colonialism and marginalization but we can reverse and go back. I am really happy with what is happening here. You can be sure of all the support from Government in spite of our limited resources,€„¢Ã¢‚¬„¢ he added.

In his address, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, thanked Government for supporting Makerere, adding that the University was committed to graduating students with potential to impact on society. He added that Makerere embraces commercialization and is ready for mass production in partnership with the Private Sector. This however awaits the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) bill before Parliament, to be passed into law.

The Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera asked Government to have a special unit in State House handling Small and Medium Enterprises, so that brilliant projects from students are not frustrated at the implementation phase.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Tickodri Togboa, who was the lead Researcher for the KIIRA EV - was proud that Makerere€„¢s Centre for Research in Transport Technologies was beginning to bear fruit, and revealed that by June 2013, the Centre will have built an electric bus. He thanked the team that had put efforts in having the KIIRA EV take off and asked them not to tire.

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The first Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) in Uganda will focus on skills building, jobs and opportunity creation and fostering innovation. €œThis centre is a major milestone for our country particularly the young people who now have a world-class facility to hone their skills,€ said Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Rugunda, who officiated at the launch of the Centre at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University on Monday 21st November, 2011 added that the MIC would provide support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), independent software vendors and also encourage student collaboration, provide support to new start-up companies, and act as the test laboratory centre for the development of software projects.

The new Innovation Centre, located at the College of Computing and Information, Makerere University is an extension of the global Microsoft Innovation Centre network and is designed to promote the development of innovation and growth of the Ugandan software economy. The facility is a result of a partnership agreement between the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Microsoft, building on UNIDO€„¢s already established technical cooperation programmes in Uganda.

Speaking on behalf of UNIDO, the United Nations Resident Commissioner, Theophane Nikyema, said UNIDO and Microsoft had signed a strategic collaboration in 2006 to tackle the root causes of poverty by promoting innovative uses of ICTs that support entrepreneurship and help promote investment and create business opportunities, especially for SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

€œThis Centre is yet another deliverable within the UNIDO€Microsoft partnership. It will act as an incubator for innovation, technology training and industry skill transfer and actively contribute to economic growth and prosperity in Uganda. I am confident that prospective employers from both, the public and private sector will value the contribution that this Centre can make to skills development, particularly for the youth,€ Nikyema added.

The Partnership Manager for UN/Microsoft, Alethea Lodge-Clarke noted that the centre will provide young entrepreneurs, students, developers and researchers access to expert information and high-tech equipment for testing and developing the latest technologies built on the Microsoft platform.

The Makerere University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, said the facility provides the University with an opportunity to engage in more strategic collaborations with other Microsoft Research laboratories thus benefiting from their technical expertise. €œThis will go along way in fulfilling the University€„¢s strategic plans aimed at strengthening our knowledge transfer partnerships and increasing our research output,€ he added.

The function was attended by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo, ambassadors, officials from the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda and members of the ICT fraternity.

[rokdownload menuitem="140" downloaditem="162" direct_download="true"]Download Press Release[/rokdownload]

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CWG rewards Best Computer Science student and lecturers

Written by Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:42 Published in News Details comment

Joseph Lutaaya, the best Computer Science student for the 2008/09 academic year has received a new Dell Laptop from the Computer Warehouse Group (CWG).

Lutaaya, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.8 beat over 300 students to win the coveted award which comes with an opportunity to undertake a one year internship with CWG.

Handing over the award to Lutaaya on Friday 18th November, 2011 at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Michael Manzi, the CWG Country Manager said the company was committed to promoting education through rewarding excellence. €˜As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, we shall focus on supporting the education and Information Technology (IT) sector. We recognise the fact that the ICT market is resource constrained, but we want to inspire young talent and also bring professionalism into the market,€„¢ he added.

Manzi said the award will be annual and CWG will also reward the best Computer Science lecturers. This year, Paul Bakaki, Joab Ezra Agaba and Azairwe won the prizes.

Prof. Ikoja Odongo, the College Principal thanked CWG for picking interest in Makerere University adding that this showed that the public has confidence in the quality of services the university gives its students. €˜We also pledge to continue partnering with several companies to meet our students€„¢ educational and professional needs,€„¢ he noted.

Dr. Florence Tushabe, the Chair, Computer Science department, urged the students to emulate Lutaaya who only scored A+ and As in all his courses.

Lutaaya dedicated his award to God, his family and friends and pledged to participate in all CWG activities. He was also grateful to his lecturers for giving him the wisdom that enabled him win the award and also to the Madhvani Foundation for supporting his education.

CWG is one of the leading Systems Integration companies, providing hardware and infrastructure solutions (CWL Systems), communications and networking solutions (DCC Networks) and software applications and deployment (ExpertEdge Software) to corporate businesses, government and other private and public enterprises.

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Nokia to promote local mobile applications

Written by Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:42 Published in News Details comment

Nokia is committed to promoting local applications that are relevant to the African market. €œWe shall help the local developers market their applications on our Nokia website and through other media channels. This raises the developers€„¢ platform for marketing their applications and thus exposes them to more business opportunities,€ said Annie Njenga, the Developer Outreach Manager for Nokia East and Southern Africa.

Njenga was speaking during the handover of certificates to developers whose applications were published on the Nokia Ovi Store. The function took place at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University.

She encouraged the developers, many of whom were CoCIS students to customize their applications in order to serve the needs of the Ugandan market. €œMajority of the Ugandans are downloading personalization apps (ringtones, wallpaper), games, news and many of them have Nokia phones. So tap into this market and we shall help you make your apps global,€ she added.

Some of the developers whose apps were published on the Ovi Store praised Nokia for sponsoring their training conducted by the College of Computing and Information Sciences between March and May, 2011. This training was aimed at expanding the capacity of software developers in Uganda and improving the visibility of their applications.

Abdu Sekalala, whose app has been downloaded over 140,000 times encouraged other developers especially the students to embrace such training opportunities in order to enhance their skills. Sekalala has three apps on the Nokia Ovi Store. His colleague, Kevin Opio, developed an app that translates English into Kiswahili and vice versa. Opio also urged the developers to identify and cater for the needs of Africans.

Grace Kamulegeya, the lead trainer advised the developers to also come up with applications for Android phones and to commercialize their applications.

Nokia promised to hold more trainings for the developers next year.

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CIT seeks to improve Computer Studies in Secondary Schools

Written by Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:26 Published in News Details comment

The School of Computing and Informatics Technology (CIT) has held a workshop aimed at identifying strategies to improve the implementation of the computing curriculum in secondary schools. During the workshop held at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, Makerere University on 13th October, 2011, the participants noted that improving the quality of Computer Science education in Uganda can be achieved through the implementation of a comprehensive Computer Studies curriculum for Advanced (A) Level students. This will provide them with a solid educational foundation needed to pursue computing courses at institutions of higher learning.

The participants also called for the re-training of teachers to equip them with skills on how to add value in teaching using computers and other ICTs, the need to sensitize school administration and board of governors on the cost-benefits of Computer Studies and having an ICT policy within their schools. They noted that the Ministry of Education and Sports could work with organizations like Uganda Communication Commission to equip more schools with computers and also avail them with software.

In her remarks, the Dean of the School of Computing and IT, Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, noted that in developing countries like Uganda, many students admitted to study Computer Science in institutions of higher learning lack a formal computing background and this hampers their ability to quickly grasp and understand the subject matter being taught in class. €œMajority of the students admitted in CIT first see computers in the School€„¢s laboratories. This means that CIT is admitting students not on the basis of their proven interests and background in computing but rather on the number of points they score during their final high school examinations,€ she added.

Mr. Boniface Mugisha, the Director of Technical Services at the National Infrastructure Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) said all schools within close location (about 10km) of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) will be connected to the project using wireless network and this will enable the schools access high speed Internet.

The Principal, College of Computing and Information Sciences, Prof. Ikoja Odongo, called upon the government to mobilize resources to equip all schools with computers and also avail them with power. He added that CIT was willing to work with the School of Education and other stakeholders to develop an undergraduate programme that addresses the needs of Computer Studies teachers.

The workshop, facilitated by Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim and Mr. Michael Kizito from CIT is part of the activities under a project titled €œA Grassroots Approach to improve the Quality of Applicants of Computing Programs at the University.€ It attracted Computer Science teachers from various schools countrywide, representatives from NITA-U, Ministry of Education and Sports, the National Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of ICT and the School of Education, Makerere University.

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CoCIS hosts the WaterHackathon Event

Written by Sunday, 06 November 2011 22:06 Published in News Details comment

For 48 hours, seventy (70) software developers (mainly students) and professionals in the water sector worked tirelessly and developed applications that address a number of water problems that Ugandans are currently experiencing like low safe water coverage.

These developers participated in the WaterHackathon Event that was held at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University from 21st to 23rd October, 2011. The WaterHackathon is the first global event of its kind where water experts with technologists gathered to create ICT solutions to water challenges. In addition to Kampala, WaterHackathon was also held simultaneously in Bangalore, Cairo, Lagos, London, Nairobi, Tel Aviv and Washington D.C. It is important to note that Uganda had the highest number of projects developed over the 48 hours and Makerere University was the only participating University in all the 10 cities. According to Mr. Michael Niyitegeka, the College€„¢s Head, Corporate Relations, this was an indication of the potential that we have as a country to solve our own problems.

The hackers developed seven applications to help address problems like lack of water and adequate sanitation. The best overall application, DEWS (Disaster, Environment, Water and Sanitation) is a tool that crowd sources all the water-related problems and visualizes them to give communities a voice, while the best Mobile App; Mazzi Trendz, is an android mobile tool used to help consumers visualize their water usage over time. Other solutions developed included: Loopa, Water Fix, Wash Reporter, Map the crap and Water Crusaders.

During the event, Christine Ampaire a second-year Software Engineering student was nominated the World Bank Water Hackathon Ambassador and will serve in this position for one year to spearhead the implementation of some of the solutions that were developed. Ampaire was also recently appointed as the Google Student Ambassador Makerere University for one year.

WaterHackathon was sponsored by the World Bank, MTN Uganda, Random Hack of Kindness, Ugo and CoCIS.

Visit http://gtugkampala.blogspot.com/for more information on the projects.

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More effective use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by government and other stakeholders to support micro and small enterprises (MSEs) will help accelerate job creation, the growth of business and women entrepreneurs, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Information Economy Report 2011: ICTs as an Enabler for Private Sector Development launched at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University on 19th October, 2011, reveals that the ICT dimension is frequently absent from Private Sector strategies, neither policymakers nor MSE owners in developing countries are harnessing these new possibilities to the fullest and inadequate programmes and policy attention has been given to the application of ICT tools to support women entrepreneurs.

It calls for governments and other institutions to apply ICTs to make Private Sector Development (PSD) interventions more effective in business environment reforms by providing business development, market information and financial services to MSEs.

To be successful, ICT-PSD solutions need to factor in both user needs (in terms of what information and other inputs are needed) and possible constraints (literacy rates, aversion to using new tools, scarce electricity and unaffordable user charges and prices). Involving the private sector in the design and provision of training and advisory services can help ensure that the services are truly demand-driven.

The report calls for the inclusion of ICT modules in business skills training programmes, better leveraging of ICTs in support women entrepreneurship, harnessing mobile money services to make financial markets more inclusive, using ICT tools to reduce the costs of business transactions and to help MSEs bring their goods and services to domestic and international markets. Other recommendations include the need to adopt regulatory frameworks to build confidence in the use of new technologies or new applications of a known technology and developing donor guidelines to ensure that the ICT potential is fully reflected in their PSD strategies.

According to the report, Uganda has embraced its ICT policy and the use of various ICT services to support MSEs and grassroots development. 
Speaking during the launch, Mr. Julius Peter Torach, from the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) said the recent launch of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure/National Electronic Government would aid the private sector development through the through provision of high speed Internet access to facilitate a number of IT enabled services such as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

€œThe National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure comes along with the deployment of  a shared network services such as video conferencing, unified messaging and collaboration services, internet calling (Voice over Internet Protocol € VoIP), which are being piloted in selected Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),€ he added.

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