In an effort to boost Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Uganda, global ICT services provider, Huawei, has launched a competition that will see local university students develop android software applications aimed at addressing local needs.
This comes as a welcome move to the ICT industry that has long implored government to support the development of local content. Under the Huawei Android Applications Challenge (HAAC) , Makerere, Kyambogo and Kampala International Universities will take part in the competition aimed at supporting creativity and technological innovations that make a difference in the lives of Ugandans.
While sending off Makerere University students for specialized ICT training in Nairobi, Huawei Uganda CEO Mr. Yang Yang said, “We hope that through such initiatives, we can continue tapping and promoting local talents especially in the universities to increase localized content, spur growth and development towards the improvement of ICT in Uganda.”
Statistics by the ministry of information, communication and technology show that there are about 14 million Ugandans who own at least a mobile phone.
Speaking during the ceremony, the State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Hon. Nyombi Thembo said Uganda is poised to become an ICT hub following its efforts to allow more of its higher education institutions to engage in such programs through partnership with ICT companies.
‘I would like to commend Huawei for this initiative to address the challenge for local content. Majority of Ugandans now have access to the Internet, many of whom access the Internet through their mobile phone. It is now time to develop services and products to reach these millions of Ugandans through new media.” Nyombi added.
As part of another ICT partnership between Makerere University and the technology giant to boost ICT in the university, the company will send 10 students and tutors for a one week specialized training in ICT at the Huawei Training Center in Nairobi.
“Uganda has many investment opportunities and ICT is one area. There is potential in Uganda. It has a high population and a market that is growing fast because of the oil prospects therefore the need for more technology,” said Mr. Yang.
He added that the partnership between Makerere University and Huawei Technologies will see more students benefit from it.
The programme will include WCDMARAN System Overview, LTE Systems Overview and Transport Solution Training, IP Network Technologies and service Training and Mobile SoftSwitch Fundamental Training.
Lack of proper training facilities in the ICT sector has been cited as one of the major challenges facing the sector. Government has for long been urged to scale up investment in ICT in colleges and schools to address the country’s educational and technology challenges.
However, little has been done to provide ICT students with opportunities and facilities for innovation. According to ICT experts, Uganda needs to invest heavily in this sector terming it as the strategic drive for addressing increasing challenges facing the education as well as the ICT sector.
Although a remarkable progress has been made in terms of access and expansion of infrastructure for ICT colleges and institutions, the rapid increase in student enrolment has posed a number of challenges because of limited Internet facilities, teaching materials and innovation centers. Relevant local content has also posed an enormous challenge.