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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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The power of the phone

Written by Thursday, 20 October 2011 15:19 Published in News Details comment

Cellphones have triggered a wave of technological innovation in the developing world. The cellphone has revolutionized life in the western world. Now thanks to plummeting hardware prices and homegrown innovation, the developing world is poised to reap the benefits of this game changing technology read more


Mozilla Firefox now in Luganda

Written by Friday, 30 September 2011 11:27 Published in News Details comment

Mozilla Firefox, one of the internet web-browsers, has been translated into Luganda. This means that more people can now use the internet in this local language. Luganda is one of the widely used local languages across Uganda€„¢s central region. Speaking at the launch on 29th Oct. 2011 in Kampala, the Prime Minister of Buganda Kingdom, Eng. JB Walusimbi pledged the Kingdom€„¢s support towards similar initiatives.

€œThis translation is a contribution towards national development. Businesses are now online and if we are to join in, it is better to do so in a language we understand best. I request you to develop user-friendly terms and I call upon Luganda users to get involved by sharing views or asking questions on this interface. As a kingdom, we shall partner with you,€ he said.

Some of the words one is likely to come across include ebikozeesebwa (tools), wagulu (up), wansi (down) and obuyambi (help). The translation, spearheaded by Avant Garde Solutions, brought on board a number of partners including Makerere University€„¢s School of Computing and IT, CIT, Makerere€„¢s Institute of Languages, African Localisation Network and the International Development Research Centre among others.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Jude Lubega the Head of IT department at CIT congratulated the team for its endurance and urged them to embrace bigger tasks. €œI am challenging you to localize open office. It is virus free and open source. This is the way to go,€„¢Ã¢‚¬„¢ he emphasized.
Other programmes that have been translated into Luganda include VLC Media player, Virtaal for language, AbiWord, Pootle, and TuxPaint.

The Director of Avant Garde solutions, San James Olweny, called upon good Luganda writers to join hands in availing and developing content. Over seventy languages have been translated across East Africa, making the web more accessible. The team is now translating Mozilla firefox into Acholi. Localisation of languages has been embraced by many of the developed nations, but it is yet to receive the recognition it deserves in Africa, as a fast tool for development.


Makerere University 2011/2012 Semester Dates

Written by Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:54 Published in News Details comment

Semester One: Sunday 25th September 2011 to Saturday 14th January, 2012 (16 weeks)
Semester One Vacation: Saturday 14th January, 2012 to 28th January, 2012
62nd Graduation: Monday 16th to Friday 20th January, 2012
Semester Two: Saturday 28th January,  2012 to Saturday 26th May, 2012 (17 weeks)
Semester Two Vacation: Saturday 26th May,2012 to Saturday 18th August, 2012
Recess Term: Saturday 26th May, 2012 to Saturday 4th August, 2012 (10 weeks)
1.The First Semester duration shall be 16 weeks: ( Teaching shall be 14 weeks and the last two weeks shall be for examinations)
2.The First Semester Examinations shall begin on 2nd January 2012 and end on Saturday 14th January 2012.
3.There shall be no usual two weeks of Christmas break. Teaching shall be conducted during this period with residential break from 25th to 26th December 2011 and 1st January 2012.
4.The Graduation dates shall be as planned above.
5.The First Semester vacation shall be for two weeks.
6.The Second Semester and Recess term of 2011/2012 shall remain as planned.
Approved by the Makerere University Senate on Wednesday 28th September 2011.


CoCIS holds 7th ICCIR

Written by Monday, 08 August 2011 15:20 Published in News Details comment

The CoCIS held its 7th annual International Conference on Computing and ICT Research, ICCIR, on the 7th € 9th Augusts 2011 in Kampala. The conference was held under the theme €˜Strengthening the role of ICT in Development,€„¢ and brought together researchers the world over to share knowledge on research breakthroughs.

In his remarks during the conference, the ICT Minister Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, congratulated the College for its consistence in holding the annual conference. He urged public universities to take advantage of the available avenues to disseminate their research findings. The Minister pledged continued government funding towards viable student research projects. Prof. Ikoja Odongo, the College Principal encouraged the participants to ensure that their findings are implemented in initiatives that will transform society. €œThis Conference gives us the opportunity to reflect on the progress we are making as a University and the country at large in terms of contributing to the development of ICT research and infrastructure in our nation,€„¢Ã¢‚¬„¢ he added.

The CIT Dean, Dr. Josephine Nabukenya explained that CIT is expanding its research capacity and has harmonized the initially six research groups to four basing on their areas of synergy and comparative advantage. These include Software and Enterprise Engineering, Networks and Systems Security, Artificial Intelligence and Development Informatics. A similar conference will be held on 5th € 7th August 2012, with participants from the East Africa School of Library and Information Sciences (EASLIS).


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