Uganda’s Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Dr Elioda Tumwesigye has said the government is ready to set up two industrial technology Parks one in Sanga, Wakiso district to enhance Science and Technology Capacity.
The Minister was officiating at the second edition of the Economic Mkutano 2019 for which the focus was the role of Science, Technology and innovation in Economic Development at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
“Currently, we are setting up a steering committee that will help us find innovations that lead to job creation. In the future, we shall establish a machining and manufacturing centre, and the National Technology Innovation Centre in Sanga to make automotive spare parts,” said Tumwesigye.
Reprising the spirit borne out of the inaugural 2018 edition, the Mkutano serves to facilitate open debate in which conclusions enable to script Uganda’s own economic story in a manner that fosters inclusive growth.
Tumwesigye said they are supporting domestic value addition to translating innovations into viable commercial projects.
The Second Economic Mkutano 2019, was conducted under the theme, ‘Innovation as a pillar for economic growth.’
It speaks to an important principle of the new Development Agenda for Africa. It is also in line with the 9th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 9) – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure where technological progress is key to finding lasting solutions to both economic and environmental challenges like providing new jobs and promoting energy efficiency respectively.
In Uganda’s National Development Plan II (NDP) under the human capital development pillar, the promotion of Science, Technology & Innovation is identified as a means of enhancing competitiveness. NDP III is expected to prioritize innovation as a component of the country’s sustainable industrialization initiatives.
David Bikhado Ofungi, Founder and CEO of DERO and curator said Uganda has for long been hailed as a highly entrepreneurial society.
“What stands out for Uganda as well is her young workforce and pool of able and motivated entrepreneurs.
“Multiple enablers need to be in place for enterprise to thrive from tax regimes that speak to the form of risk capital being deployed, formal banking products that chart the path towards intangible knowledge-based assets such as Intellectual Property (IP) as collateral, and the homegrown innovation that speaks both to opportunities nuanced on the local dynamic and the international market,” said Ofungi.
He added that the Economic Mkutano comes at a time when headwinds are challenging business convention in the Uganda private sector.
“You either innovate or die. There are more components that inform entrepreneurial success but innovation has the best correlation between the entrepreneurship and the longevity of enterprise,” stressed Ofungi.
Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina who delivered the keynote speech said innovation helps to address social and environmental challenges.
She said innovation also contributes to economic growth and job creation, leads to improved competitiveness and is a major reason why growth rates differ at the firm, regional and national level.
“Impact of innovation varies depending on the development stage. Earlier stages are based on incremental/process innovation aimed at adapting foreign technology for effective use, intermediate stage is based on consolidating previous efforts and aims at duplicative and creative imitation and starting local technological capabilities while the late stage is based on domestic generation of technology aimed at establishing a local sustained technological base and a high-tech industry for competitive advantage,” said Dr. Karuri-Sebina.
She said innovation is the backbone of modern economies through liveability, growth and sustainability.
“Innovation matters because it creates development as Freedom, innovation as Capability and anchors the foundations for innovation.
“This leads to a dynamic business sector, macro-economic stability, trade and investment, competition policy, tax policy, markets that encourage innovation and mobilise private funding for innovation through well-functioning financial markets,” she said.
A Mkutano is a ‘Gathering For A Purpose’ where open debate leads to solutions. The Second Mkutano provided a day of high-level intellectual stimulation along with a wealth of client acquisition opportunities.
BY PAUL TENTENA