ICT minister, Frank Tumwebaze, has advised Ugandan youth not to sell their innovations cheaply for quick money, saying the future is bright.
He was Friday speaking at the 4th Leo Africa Economic Forum organised by LéO Africa Institute and held at Serena Conference Centre in Kampala where NBS TV news anchor, Isabella Tugume, was the MC of the day.
“Let’s all first take away the perception that government isn’t doing anything,” Tumwebaze said while discussing the Impact of disruptive Innovation and development in Africa.
He said Uganda has the ICT innovation programme and it was passed by Parliament to push for innovations while the government allows the private sector to take a lead on data security.
“With increasing Connectivity, the Digital Divide can only get Smaller. Connectivity will bring inclusion. We want to make an intervention of policy nature that is informed correctly as regards innovation,” he said.
“Educate us as government on how to be more inclusive in our policies. Don’t get closed within your hubs,” he called upon innovators.
He went on: “Young people should not be quick to sell their innovations for money. We must protect intellectual property.”
Tumwebaze said as governments, they have a role to encourage innovations and protect consumers and innovators.
“In future, we shall get wider apart offline, yet more connected online. We are also moving towards a cashless society.”
He added: “We are talking of having all government services accessed online. We call this e-government. No one expected Mobile Money, WhatsApp to be part of our daily lives.”
In government, he said, the answer to disruptive technologies must be creating policy labs, adding that what is cutting edge innovation today will be disrupted by new technologies of tomorrow.
“Disruptive Innovation must be provocative and not just improve on existing innovation. If governments are investing in optical fibres, in ICT, what are the dividends of this investment?”
Lucy Biteete, a panellist, said to innovate, one needs to be knowledgeable about the market, target audience and the foundation.
“This goes to government, innovators can’t be procured the way you procure office chairs. Banks and government need to change the way they look at innovation, they need to bring innovators on board.”
She said to develop a successful software project, “you must focus on processes. To innovate, you need to know your domain”.
Lucy Mbabazi, another panellist, said passionate leadership is going to bring change and elevate innovation.
Policy is the enabler for a good environment for innovations to thrive. Private sector too needs to be strengthened, she noted.
“Many times governments are looking outside their countries to find solutions to their challenges,” Mbabazi pointed out, adding, “Where we struggle as a continent is on research and development. With this comes intellectual property.”
CK Japheth, yet another panellist, said innovators face many challenges but connectivity, partnerships with the market and access to credit are some of the major challenges.
Innovations village missed a $6M dollar grant because it didn’t have any history of working with any government institution.
According to him, the Tech-Innovation Industry of East Africa will be a billion-dollar industry by 2019. For innovations to work and be disruptive, public-private partnerships must begin to function.
“Connectivity, Partnerships with the market, access to credit are some of the problems innovators are facing,” he said.
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Uganda Government has constructed a Technology Hub in Nakawa for innovators to work on their ideas and scale them.