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By: Jacky Achan & Prossy Tulinomubezi

Over 20 Librarians from select countries across Africa undertaking a Masters in Information Technology (MIT) have completed a two weeks research study at Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

Assoc. Prof. Constant Okello- Obura, the College Principal says the study is as result of a collaboration between Makerere University East African School of Library and Information Science (EASLIS), University of Pretoria and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under the Master of Information Technology (MIT) Carnegie-supported programme.

“This training has boosted the knowledge base of the students who had to interact with professors from Makerere University and their supervisors from the University of Pretoria. We value and will continue the collaboration,” he said.

The MIT programme designed to expose students to the latest technologies applied in teaching, research and information management is run online with scheduled sessions for face-to-face lectures at the University of Pretoria, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA) University of Illinois and EASLIS.

Professor in Information science and Head of Department at the University of Pretoria in South Africa Theo Bothma says research and presentations made by the students during the trip to Makerere University is both academically and socially worthwhile in terms of networking.



Dr Marlene Holmner a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Science at University of Pretoria South Africa and MIT as well as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course Coordinator says they currently have five intakes with one intake to go. “We have guided them on how to go about their research, the methodology and data collection tools to enable them finalize their dissertation,” she said.


Students were drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Uganda.

The MIT Masters aims to build capacity within sub-Saharan African countries to empower the next generation of library and information professionals with knowledge and skills to apply modern information communication and technology (ICT), in order to support academics and research in Africa


LISTEN IN: http://cis.mak.ac.ug/index.php/contact/audio-news



Written by Monday, 07 September 2015 13:19 Published in News Details comment

By: Prossy Tulinomubezi

Gender dynamics are to be addressed through the WIMEA-ICT project by devising strategies that support gender equality if access to weather information and weather information management is to be achieved.

Dr. Juliane Sansa-Otim is the Principle Investigator of the NORAD WIMEA-ICT project, says that prior to the task, research was conducted in Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan and short comings which range from decreased agricultural productivity, weather related diseases and weather related accidents which can be solved if gender dynamics are worked on.

Assoc. Prof. Constant Okello-Obura, Principal of the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS)Makerere University said focusing on gender is relevant because there are many gender dynamics that bring about imbalances in access to weather information.

“When we bring in the component of gender when talking of weather information management, it is very relevant because in East Africa, both men and women who are directly involved in agriculture need weather information,” Obura said.

He was speaking at a WIMEA-ICT workshop held last week at the College of Computing and Information Sciences Makerere University.

“When it comes to information access, there are various social, religious and cultural issues related to gender in terms of access to information which challenges the WIMEA-ICT project intends to address,” Obura added.

Fred Kindi a gender expert from the Department of Gender and Women Studies Makerere University says that gender determines resource distribution, access and control, access to benefits, opportunities, and education among others. The WIMEA-ICT project thus arises to address such challenges.

“Women are discriminated when it comes to resource distribution, decision making, education and when it comes to employment, preference is always given to men which unfairness WIMEA-ICT project intends to solve,” he said.

The WIMEA-ICT project has four main components of; Numerical Weather Prediction, Weather Station Network Density, Weather Data Repositories, Weather Information dissemination which are to be implemented through research and teaching.



Written by Monday, 07 September 2015 13:18 Published in News Details comment

By: Jacky Achan

Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) is to partner with familysearch.org to boost usage of its Family tree platform that helps people create a lineage of their families.

A team from familysearch.org recently met the Principal CoCIS, Assoc. Prof. Constant Okello- Obura to discuss a working partnership.

The familysearch.org platform will use innovations in ICT from CoCIS to make it widely adopted and used in Uganda.

Francis Ssekito a Lecturer at the East African School of Library and Information Sciences (EASLIS) Makerere University, will spearhead the student innovation in this project.

Group picture of Family tree officials and the team from CoCIS Makerere University at the end of a meeting to establish a working relationship.




By: Jacky Achan


Researchers in the field of Science have been asked to help the Ugandan media fully understand their trade and file informative reports on their projects other than indulge in politicking.

Patrick Luganda a Global Media Trainer and Communications Advisor on the Geneva based Commission for Climatology in the World Metrology Organization advised while speaking to the WIMEA-ICT Researchers at Makerere University.

“You have had people who are probably researchers/scientists, who are all the times in the media talking about politics or social issues. Surely they are such powerful brains they should be giving society the benefit of their knowledge,” he says

“Scientists must take advantage of the knowledge they have, to better inform their society to make informed decisions,” he added.

Luganda explained the channels for Science communication is there but the challenge is the personnel to communicate.

“We have Science journalists in Uganda but those same journalists are court and sports reporters, they are a jerk of all trades very few of them have taken the initiative to up their skills or have received specialized training and that’s the big challenge,” he explained.

Luganda says there is a need now to build a critical mass of Science journalists and to use the existing media channels just like business and political sectors do, to promote the understanding and use of Science.

“The critical mass of media personnel who make the Science sector functional is not there and the few who are there are either poached by NGOs, go for better paying jobs or have to divide their time in other sectors within the media,” he said.

He adds: “Science reporters are either too stretched or too few and people who are in journalism school where specialization should start graduate without knowledge on how to report on science, or are not comfortable reporting science altogether.”

Luganda commended the Introduction of communication as a course unit with Science disciplines at Makerere University

“At school is where the training should start followed by in-house training within the media houses and then linking or pairing journalists with scientists. A journalist will work with a Science institution for six months, one year and within that period fully build their Science communication capacity,” he elaborated.

“In Science communication we need people within the Science community help the media report better,” he adds.

But Luganda says building Science communication needs long term programs to achieve the set goal.

Scientists need to have communication inbuilt within systems so that even if you are developing a project the communication component particularly media communication is there.

“Scientists will build widespread capacity where they are able to communicate and where even journalist are able to easily pick out what to report,”

Luganda emphasized that Scientists cannot stand alone because they serve a society best understood by the arts.

“The arts do their research and daily work in society while the scientists do their work in the labs or work with machines. To transfer what scientists are doing in the labs to benefit the common person or for it to be internalized by the common person/public they need the arts where journalists fall,” he explained.

Luganda said if projects can pick interest in the communication component, build it from the very beginning of the project life cycle to it known through public awareness and the project being informative and beneficial to society, in building communication from the very beginning will help realize this goal.





By: Jacky Achan

Tech innovators undertaking an incubation challenge at Makerere University have been braved to first understand client needs before leaping into new software development in their field of specialization.

Michael Niyitegeka an ICDL Africa Accreditation Consultant for Uganda (a world leading computer skills certification institution) says the innovator must always be in sync with client needs for their newly developed software’s to get a good reception in the market.

“Many times we spend a lot of time developing technology for an imaginary client, spend a lot of time in building applications, building softwares all for a consumer that does not exist in real life or if the consumer exists the need is totally different,” he said.



Niyitegeka is an expert in Leadership Development, and Business Technology Strategy with a cumulative 16 years working experience in private and public sectors.


He says the time wastage risks calls for innovators to be more engaging with clients and were an agreement is reached the technology will follow in form of software development.

30 ICT students from Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara and Kampala International Universities are undertaking a Mendix software development challenge at Makerere University’s College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

The training that takes ten weeks is conducted annually so as to empower the students with different skills they can use to engage clients in the entrepreneurship world of technology and this involves software development.

Niyitegeka says the innovators need to first engage their clients and fully understand their need and their chances of undertaking the job.

“For me, if my chances of doing the job after consulting with a client is above 70 percent I will invest my time, If its open competition I have other things to work on,” he says.

Niyitegeka broadly shared ideas on how the innovators undertaking the Mendix challenge at Makerere can engage their clients and understand their need before they go into developing technology.

Mendix is a rapid tool for software development that does not use a lot of codes. $10m has been set aside by its parent company Mendix USA and Mansystems Netherlands to improve its applicability on PCs, mobile and tablets.

The training is being supported by Mansystems, Mendix, Smile communications and Makerere University’s CoCIS.





By: Jacky Achan, Geoffrey Nyerere & Prossy Tulinomubezi

Success in the field of technological innovation is possible for young innovators to achieve were talent and novelty is combined with a profitable business plan.

Professor Gregg Pascal Zachary of Arizona State University USA tipped a group of ICT students from various Ugandan Universities in Kampala Tuesday.

“To turn into a successful entrepreneur in the Ugandan environment is difficult when you compare to other countries, but you still have to try,” he said.



Prof. Zachary speaking on entrepreneurship and innovation said having a new idea is most vital for young entrepreneurs to become successful  in the tech business.


30 Computer Science students from Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara and Kampala Internal Universities are undertaking a Mendix software development challenge at the Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

The training that takes ten weeks is conducted annually so as to empower the students with different skills that they can use to engage clients in the entrepreneurship world of technology which involves software development.

Mendix is a rapid tool for software development that does not use a lot of codes. $10m has been set aside by its parent company Mendix USA and Mansystems Netherlands to improve its applicability on PCs, mobile and tablets.

The training is being supported by Mansystems, Mendix, Smile communications and Makerere University’s CoCIS.


Listen in: https://soundcloud.com/cocismak/innovation-and-entreprenuershipmp3





By: Prossy Tulinomubezi 

Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) staff  have discussed ways of corporating with The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) so as to incorporate their work in boosting the agriculture sector.

Dr. Moses Osiru, Deputy Executive Secretary RUFORUM says they offer various opportunities to member universities and also support the various roles that universities play in contributing to the well‐being of small‐scale farmers and economic development of countries throughout the sub‐ Saharan Africa region.

"We modify the way they train students and do research, links universities and institutions to sources of funds and warrants that students finish on time. We also intend to see how Makerere University work with other universities to strengthen them since our major target is to bring more universities together,” he remarked .



RUFORUM also has an Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Program and a granting mechanism that focuses on strengthening the ICT capacity and supporting member universities to effectively connect to ICT opportunities which exploited, CoCIS can momentously benefit from it.


“Our programs supports member universities to implement technology-mediated learning, teaching and research, create and use open educational resources, and above all using ICT to publish and disseminate agricultural information and knowledge effectively,” Osiru added.

Dr. Paul Nampala, Program Manager-Grants RUFORUM says they also enhance networking and close cooperation, inform curriculum development, build outreach and engagement platforms for increased reach, address commodity value as well as a vibrant platforms that links universities to non-academic stake holders at the National and International levels which opportunities may be of value to CoCIS.

“We work with institutions and universities dealing in processes like research, procedures, teaching methods, research outreach and community engagement using different categories of competitive grants which help in putting up development projects for member universities,” he said 

Dr. Evelyn Kigozi-Kahiigi addressing visitors on behalf of the college thanked RUFORUM for exposing the college to such an animated opportunity. “We appreciate this opportunity and the next time you will come here will not be for training but to address us basing on the proposal we are going to write,” said Kahiigi.

The RUFORUM Secretariat views ICT as a strategic tool for effectively servicing the growing membership and it strives to ensure that ICT opportunities are used by the network to rationalize training and research infrastructure.


Indigenous methods of farming to be prioritized

Written by Monday, 07 September 2015 13:09 Published in News Details comment



By: Nyerere Geoffrey and Tulinomubezi Prossy


Makerere University’s College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) in collaboration with College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)and South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) came together on Monday June 29, 2015 to evaluate theAgShare Toolkit.

The toolkit is designed to provide resources which can be used and referred to by trainers, faculty, staff and graduate students.

It will guarantee that outputs for research and farm communities will follow best practices.

AgShare II, an Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge (IAK) project aims at improving agricultural teachings, sharing and empowering farming stakeholders so that they can use the indigenous methods to boost farm production.

Speaking at the workshop Andrew Moose a project manager at Saide categorically stated that modern knowledge washed away the IAK methods that farmers used and therefore there is need for its revival.

The project is aimed at understanding how IAK methods like the use of human urine by farmers can be used to prevent banana weevils, other methods including the use of cattle urine to enhance soil fertility, the use of red pepper mixed with ash and water to control Coccidiosis in birds.

Assoc. Prof. Constant Okello-Obura said that researches should come on board to understand how the use of IAK methods works effectively ‘Researchers should understand the real component that is contained in the urine that kill weevils and extract the component for efficient use.’

The workshop is aimed at collecting information that can be used to better the project and make it easy for the farmers to access information through mobile phones directly from the server

The AgShare II project is sponsored by the Bill Gates foundation alongside Saide in South Afric





By Nyerere Geoffrey & Jacky Achan

Disease prevention, vaccination, health education and reestablishing family links have been identified as key areas that need critical innovations. This came to light in a humanitarian innovation event organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday 19th June 2015 at Makerere University to address areas of access to safe water, access to health care and reestablishing family links.



“These areas of health are not as effective as we want them to be, innovators must start thinking in that direction,” appealed Dr. Roy William Mayega Deputy Chief of Party Resilient Africa Network (RAN) and Lecturer at the School of Public Health Makerere University.


Attendants drew lessons from successful students from the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS)College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) and the School of Public Health Makerere in collaboration with Resilience Africa Network (RAN) who showcased their innovations that can be used in tragedy situations.

Among the showcased novelties was the Ceramic Organic Filterwhich is used to decontaminate water without boiling it first, which is a good innovation that people in areas with hardships can use to disinfect water and bar water borne diseases.

An emergency Telemedicine system (E-Musawo), a mobile appliance used in examining patients’ pressure was also exhibited along withMusawo Drugs, a mobile app that helps to authenticate drugs, show drugs details, identify the cheapest drugs and the nearest hospital from which people can access those drugs. This is to help people to access quality medical services at affordable prices.

Other innovations include a Blind Mobile user app, RootIO -a community radio which uses a mobile phone to broadcast-Low Cost Solar Pump and Gasifier Stoves for purifying water.



Mary Nsabagwa Assistant Lecturer and supervisor final year projects for students at College of Computing and Information Sciences Makerere University said other than teaching and research they are to ensure community outreach is strongly undertaken by lecturers.


Speaking at the conference, Dr. Mayega, Team leader of the next generation Ergonomic tent design and laureate in 2015 of the International Grand Challenge for development to target Ebola organized by USAID revealed that innovations in the area of policy is still lacking. He also said the environment of innovation must move with the community for the developed systems to work.

“Look at the case of Bududa, locals are being told to leave their homes to be safe from  mudslides but the question that lingers in their mind is who is going to take over my land,” Mayega explains.

Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi a Senior Lecturer at CEDAT Makerere University equally stated budding innovators in the humanitarian must involve end users.
“You must innovate for or with the people or both if your work is to be embraced. Go out there, experience what people go through and involve end users to come up with successful solutions,” he emphasized.

While commending innovations in the humanitarian front, the Acting Director Disaster Risk Management Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) Simon Peter Anyanzo Lenin called for novelty to ensure aid is accessed by all in need.

Zoran Javanovic the head of the delegation ICRC in Uganda said that the youths should be mentored and given a chance to take part in the innovations that can see humanitarian aid reach the people in emergency situations.

But Dr. Mayega called for the innovations to cut across disciplines from production, conservation, processing and marketing. 
Adding that the innovations must be global and competitive if it is to be sustainable, attract private sector partnership, save time and improve service delivery.

Dr. Okello speaking on behalf of Associate Proffessor William Bazeyo Dean School of Public Health and Chief of Party RAN part urged young innovators mostly students to take responsibility for pushing through their innovations.

Other panelists included Onen David Ongweh Program Manager Gender and Sexualit, Refugee Law Project School of Law Makerere University and Florence Okatch from Doctors without Borders or Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF)

For the ICRC the innovation initiative rotates around pillars of Catalysis and Aspiration, Exploring, Testing, Validation and Replication, Open Innovation, and Identifying the right model for innovation which enable innovation to continuously take place.


MAK scientists urged to communicate

Written by Monday, 07 September 2015 13:04 Published in News Details comment




By: Geoffrey Nyerere & Jacky Achan

Ugandan Scientists have been urged to develop effective communication skills, if they are to ably share their innovations with communities that stand to benefit from their works.



Patrick Luganda a Global Media Trainer and Communications Advisor on the Geneva based Commission for Climatology in the World Metrology Organization says scientists need to benefit society with their knowledge and encourage informed decision making.


“Communication is the epitome of science or any other discipline. What is communicated is what is believed,” he said.

Luganda remarked during media training for Makerere University Researchers and PHD students held Thursday at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

He assured the Researchers working on the NORAD project on improving Weather Information Management in East Africa for effective service provision through the application of sustainable ICTs (WIMEA-ICT) that the existing communication gap can be bridged.

“Journalists can be paired with scientists to work together over a period of time to build their capacity to clearly report on new innovations in the science sector,” he advised. [Listen in]

He also added: “The communication component needs to be built within all science projects to enable scientists share their innovation with society who mostly benefit from their innovations.”  [Listen in]



Prof. Gregg Pascal Zachary of Arizona State University USA, at the same media training said with complexity of science, valuing communication and taking risks is key to efficiency and making known new innovations to society by scientists.


Dr. Juliane Sansa-Otim is the Principle Investigator of the NORAD WIMEA_ICT project, a partnership led by Makerere University, together with the University of Bergen Geophysical Institute in Norway, Dar es salaam Institute of Technology and the University of Juba.

The project seeks to advance all aspects of meteorology in East Africa from increasing the density of weather stations, trainings in weather prediction and analysis, to innovative ways of disseminating forecasts.

“This project will provide real answers in forecasting and disseminating properly package weather information to the grassroots people who mostly engage in agriculture,” Otim says. [Listen in]

Dr. Otim also added that the project will enable the rollout of 30 weather stations in Uganda, another 30 in Tanzania and 10 in Juba at its conclusion by 2018. [Listen in]

Uganda has some infrastructure in place, but its weather services still uses analogue weather stations which are manually monitored.



One of the goals of the project is to develop and deploy small autonomous weather stations powered by wind turbines or solar cells and increase station density by 70 to 100 stations across the three countries.


This part of the project will receive input from the University of Stockholm with its expertise in electronics and electrical engineering.

The weather stations will cost about $2,000 per unit, compared to the official weather station of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) at $50,000 per unit.
The project also hopes to link these national networks of weather stations in order to further increase the accuracy of forecasts.

Though the national meteorological services control all national weather data and have monopoly on giving forecasts, Dr. Otim says they are working closely on this new project and the authority could allow free access to data and welcome innovative approaches to publishing forecasts.


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