Three students from the Makerere
University College of Computing and Information Sciences have won
the Microsoft Imagine Cup Grant
worth $50,000 for their project WinSenga,
a smartphone app that performs ultrasounds on pregnant women and can detect
problems like ectopic pregnancies and abnormal heartbeats. The winning, Team
Cipher256, consists of Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello, and Josiah Kavuma.
The Daily Monitor reports:
Apart from the cash prize, the three will
receive software, computing services, solution provider support, access to
local resources, among others. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of
investors, NGO partners and business partners and will work with the grant
recipients to tailor individual support as needed depending on the progress
each team has made so far with its project. The program is expected to reduce the maternal mortality rate, which
currently stand[s] at 16 mothers a day in Uganda...
The purpose of the Imagine Cup is to bring
together and support student innovators from all over the world. These days
many Ugandans are choosing to focus their endeavors on mobile technology. Mobile
technology is one of the fastest-growing
industries in Africa, and young Ugandan techies are tapping into this
potential. Telecommunications companies like Orange Uganda have held
competitions to encourage the creation
of mobile phone applications. Every year, Orange Uganda organizes the "Community
Innovations Awards", a competition which recognizes the most impressive
ideas in mobile app developments. These awards allow young developers in Uganda
to create new technologies that can be used in agriculture, health, or
Earlier in the year, another student from
Makerere University, Abdu
Sekalala, gained international prominence with the success of his mobile
phone applications on the Ovi Store.
Wordbook, one of his nine applications, has been downloaded over 300,000 times.
Wordbook is a 99-cent dictionary download that
provides its user with a randomly chosen word of the day, including
definitions, examples, and a selection of related words. He had participated in the Nokia East and Southern Africa competition at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) in 2011. He has
been featured in local and international media (including FP -- I blogged
about him in April).
Another group of students -- Christine Ampaire, Samuel Remo, James Muranga, Gerald Odur, and Jjingo
Wasaka Kisakye -- won
$10,000 for their mobile phone applications, MafutaGo. The application assists motorists in locating the
nearest petrol station in their vicinity selling the cheapest fuel at the time
and also related car facilities like washing bays.
29-year-old Solomon King is
another young tech entrepreneur and businessman. He has founded several
startups and business including animations for lead companies in Uganda. He was
featured on the BBC for
his company Fundibots, a robotics company that uses locally available materials
to build miniature robots.
Young and upcoming Ugandan
tech entrepreneurs meet at Hive Colab, an
open collaborative space. It offers them the opportunity to meet with others of
similar interests and to learn. It also offers mentors and helps in the start
up and growth of businesses through networking.
Jonathan Kalan captures
the tech-hub boom in East Africa for the BBC in a photo essay. He writes that
there over 50 hub labs, incubators, and accelerators across the region.
Innovative entrepreneurship is on the rise
in Uganda, especially in information and communications technology. Makerere
University's College of Computing and Information Sciences is working hard to
raise the profiles of its students. It is important to note that the general
atmosphere in supporting start-up techs is on the rise, with young tech gurus
having access to facilities and international competitions. Many young
people are developing applications that are relevant to the communities and
address social needs. WinSenga is an example of an app that can be put to great
use within the health sector in Uganda, and clearly shows that supporting
entrepreneurs financially to fund innovations can lead to the greater good of
While the Ugandan government is keen on
supporting science and technology at universities, and claims to be
prioritizing these areas, it is important to note that most of this technology
development is funded by organizations. Governments throughout the region should
be working hard to promote technology. But so far they don't seem to be doing
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