- National Steering Committee Members
- National Chairperson Speech
- Minister of ICT & NG Speech
- IEEE Africa Brief
The Africa Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge 2021 (Africa IoT & AI) was officially launched during the closing ceremony of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IEEE GCAIoT) on Tuesday the 25th of May 2021.
Uganda is one of the countries that was selected to participate in the regional challenge of the Africa IoT & AI challenge 2021 with the Challenge Official Local Partnership for Africa IoT & AI Challenge being UTAMU Research and Innovation City (UTAMURIC) and the Challenge Coordinator in Uganda for Africa IoT & AI Challenge being Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU). The National Chairperson and Local Lead of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge 2021 in Uganda is Professor Venansius Baryamureeba who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of UTAMURIC, and also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of UTAMU.
UTAMURIC is an umbrella research and innovation non-profit organization whose establishment is to address challenges in research, innovation, and business incubation and startup ecosystems within the African context. UTAMURIC has a mission to nurture the next generation of researchers, innovators and high-tech companies that are globally competitive, thereby creating young billionaires in Sub-Saharan Africa. These young billionaires are trained to drive the economies to effective, efficient and knowledge based success and prosperity that will position the south to a fair level playing field in today’s technologically evolving world.
This year’s Africa IoT & AI Challenge was organized by the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS). IEEE TEMS is a global society engaged in the oversight of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge regionally in Africa, and internationally. IEEE TEMS engagement is premised on the need to advance, enhance, and improve essential management and leadership knowledge and skills of the IEEE members with more focus on management sciences and practices required for defining, implementing, and managing engineering and technology in specific areas of technology, policy development, assessment and transfer; research; product design and development; entrepreneurship; program and project management; strategy; education and training; organizational development and human behavior; transitioning to management; and the socioeconomic impact of engineering and technology management. This great global vision has been extended to Africa as well.
The Africa IoT & AI Challenge was flagged off in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and our very own Uganda on Tuesday the 25th May, 2021 with the aim of building capacity in AI, the IoT, and related fields. The Africa IoT & AI Challenge is focused on university students and young business people in the various countries and aims to create a network to support the digital transformation movement in Africa.
The Challenge is in line with the global trend of attention to and greater utilization of technology in all fields of life. Over the last 30 years, technology has transformed societies in many ways that today the advancing practicality of its application is a global need for all. In this era, societies do not want to be left behind as the 4th industrial revolution continues to envelope nations to stay abreast with global trends and expectations. In this 4th industrial revolution there is urgent need that both developing and less developing nations have no choice but to embrace IT in order to be able to fit and participate in this global economy with identity, recognition and fair placement. Furthermore, technologies based on information and communication technology (ICT) and AI have played a fundamental role in the development of many areas related to applied science, engineering, health, and transportation.
The new wave of technological progress has created new opportunities and put to the test the ability of nations to take advantage of this progress. These innovations provide a large number of opportunities for less developed countries to take advantage of new and changing markets. Thus the Africa IoT & AI Challenge will play a significant role in enabling a fair level of progress and creation of opportunities aimed at reducing the existing inequalities between the North and the South by ensuring that the existing and fast growing digital transformational era is embraced by Africa in a bid to minimize the digital divide between the technology haves and have-nots. To register national success of the Uganda IoT & AI Challenge, UTAMURIC is partnering with highly recognized institutions; Makerere University, Ndejje University, Uganda Technology & Management University (UTAMU), Mbarara University of Science & Technology, Soroti University, Kampala International University, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U), Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Hive Colab, The Innovation Village and the Ministry of Information & Communications Technology & National Guidance, which are nationally and globally acknowledged institutions drawn from the academia, public and private sectors, as well as research, innovation and incubation hubs.
The representatives from these institutions constitute the National Steering Committee for the Africa IoT & AI challenge 2021 in Uganda. This is a reputable team of highly skilled, experienced and knowledgeable experts with diverse exposure, understanding and appreciation of the digital transformation process locally and globally. They are intellectually positioned to identify innovators and/or startups in the area of IoT & AI that will compete at national level so that the winners can represent Uganda at regional and continental levels. They are committed to creating an innovation environment which will transform Uganda’s digital space and ensure the socioeconomic growth of our country and region. The National Steering Committee constitutes of the persons:
Speech by Professor Venansius Baryamureeba at the Africa IOT & AI Challenge Opening Ceremony, 2:00 PM GMT, Tuesday 25th May 2021
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and honour that I speak to you during the official opening ceremony of the Africa Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence (IoT & AI) Challenge that has been organised by Africa IoT & AI Challenge and IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS). As the National Chairperson and Local Lead of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge 2021 in Uganda and the Chairman and Managing Director of the UTAMU Research and Incubation City (UTAMURIC), which is the Challenge Official Local Partner and Organizer in Uganda, I am happy to be part of this important event. I also serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Uganda Technology and Management (UTAMU), the National Challenge Coordinator.
UTAMURIC is an umbrella research and innovation non-profit organization whose aim is to address challenges in research, innovation, and business incubation and startup ecosystems within the African context. UTAMURIC has a mission to nurture the next generation of researchers, innovators and high-tech companies that are globally competitive, thereby creating young billionaires in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As UTAMURIC, we are extremely delighted to be part of this collaborative effort, which is expected to expand the IoT & AI innovations at the national and regional ecosystems, providing young innovators and startups with technical and business capacity building through training boot camps, mentorship, coaching, suitable information resources and online workshops.
In partnership with highly recognized experts drawn from the academia, public and private sectors, as well as research, innovation and incubation hubs, who constitute the Uganda National Steering Committee for this challenge, we are committed to creating an innovation atmosphere whose citizens will be creative and invent great ideas that must live, grow and shine to leverage Uganda’s as well as Africa’s digital economic growth.
Uganda, like many Sub Sahara African countries, is still young in the knowledge and application of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. This was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic which affected many critical services like health, education, and other economic activities, because we were not only unprepared, but also lacked the necessary skills and related infrastructure. However, the COVID-19 pandemic also ushered in many untapped opportunities in the field of Information Technology (IT), with huge potential to stimulate and drive innovations to spur economic growth and internet connectivity in all sectors of the economy, which will lead to effective participation within the region, the continent and globally.
Therefore, The Africa IoT and AI Challenge 2021 is a great opportunity for Africa which we must take advantage of. It is also an awakening opportunity which will bring to light and enhance the various talents, and technical skills which are vital to the creation and formation of critical-thinkers and innovators in the field of Science and Technology (S&T). We can achieve these by identifying, supporting and encouraging all the stakeholders with the ultimate objective of creating positive impacts in Africa and beyond.
Therefore, it is time for Africa to dive into the deep end, embrace the relevant different technologies, participate and capture the 4th industrial revolution and digitalization to effectively, and efficiently, transform the African continent into a global S&T powerhouse. Ladies and gentlemen, as the bastion of global capitalism, the US might seem like the world's most entrepreneurial country but a recent survey - which ranked countries in terms of the percentage of the adult population engaged in entrepreneurial activity showed that Uganda is actually the most entrepreneurial country in the world.
In this regard, this challenge aims at creating a fast journey to an equal playing ground in the realization of the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Agenda with specific emphasis on Sustainable Development Goal 17: “To strengthen the means of implementation and to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development,” which include issues of capacity development, multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary commitments, science, technology and the National Sustainable Development Strategies. The Africa IoT and AI Challenge will therefore contribute significantly towards enhancing the North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing. Therefore, building up scientific capacity and capability will be critical for not only starting but sustaining Africa’s digital space and involvement.
I would like to thank IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS) for partnering with UTAMURIC (https://utamuric.org) as the Challenge Official Local Partner in Uganda for Africa IOT & AI Challenge 2021 and Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) (https://utamu.ac.ug) as the Challenge Coordinator in Uganda.
Several countries across Africa have been selected to organise the National IOT & AI Challenge 2021 where the winners shall compete at regional level and the winners at regional level shall compete at Africa IOT & AI Challenge 2021 finals that shall be held in Dubai in December 2021 as a part of IEEE GCAIoT conference. Training and workshops and much needed support will be provided to the national participants to enable them excel at national level and later be able to compete at regional and continental level.
As I conclude, I am sincerely most grateful to the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS) and Africa IoT &AI Challenge for trusting and selecting UTAMURIC as the Challenge Official Local Partner. UTAMURIC, with support from national, regional and global partners will definitely enhance the research and innovation capacities of our youth in developing digital solutions which are lacking or very weak in our societies. You have our firm commitment and assurance that we will do everything possible within our means to make the Challenge a great success in Uganda, Africa and beyond.
I thank you for listening.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY!
REMARKS BY HON. DR. CHRIS BARYOMUNSI MINISTER OF ICT AND NATIONAL GUIDANCE AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CHALLENGE 2021 IN UGANDA
15th JULY 2021
- The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education And Sports, Mr. Alex Kakooza
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Mr. Vincent Bagiire
The Chair of the IEEE Africa Council, Mr. Vincent Kaabunga
Professor Venansius Baryamureeba, Chairman and Managing Director UTAMU Research and Innovation City/ Chair of the Africa
IoT & AI Challenge in Uganda
All Speakers and Contestants
All those joining us remotely
The Media, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is of great pleasure for me to officiate at the official launch of the Africa Internet of Things (IOT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge 2021 in Uganda. I wish to commend the effort of Professor Venansius Baryamureeba and his Steering Committee for championing this venture to ensure Uganda is well represented at the Regional Contest in Dubai in December 2021. Uganda is already being represented at regional and international Fourth Industrial Revolution fora at the World Economic Forum Global Future Councils, as Vice Chairperson of the African Union AI Working Group, and as a Member of the Smart Africa Working Group on AI Strategy Blueprint.
Government of Uganda has demonstrated its commitment to promote the adoption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Technologies such as AI, IoT, Blockchain, 3D printing, and biological technologies such as bioprinting and neurotechnology by making them key focus areas in the NRM Manifesto and the Third National Development Plan (NDP III). To this effect, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni inaugurated the National Expert Taskforce on 4IR in 2019 to develop the National Strategy on 4IR among others. The Task Force has finalized its report and the Strategy will soon be launched officially. I therefore wish to thank the Chairman of the Task Force, Hon. John Nasasira, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of ICT&NG, Mr. Vincent Bagiire, and the Task Force members for doing a commendable job.
Investment in human capital to reskill and redeploy labour will position Uganda to harness the full promise of the 4IR, while also realising strategic regional and global targets including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In other words, we need a highly skilled labour force to match the changing nature of work and meet the overall needs of the labour market. Studies have shown that some of the jobs of today will be phased out in the medium to long term, with new ones created in the era of 4IR.
The Third National Development Plan (NDP III) for Uganda has identified human resource gaps such as Data Scientists, Data Engineers, AI Engineers and Software Engineers that need to be urgently addressed. I therefore welcome initiatives such as the IoT and AI Challenge to help bridge the gap.
The mission of our National 4IR Strategy is to transform and accelerate Uganda’s development into a creative, innovative, productive and competitive society using 4IR technologies by 2040. Some of the interventions that Government has put in place to realise this mission include the following:
Extension of the national broadband infrastructure to sub-county level with support from the private sector under the Parish Development Model. Appropriate technologies will be deployed to ensure that internet and voice services are accessible at parish level and schools throughout the country;
Establishment of a state-of-the-art Tier III National Data Centre and Disaster Recovery Site, which was commissioned by His Excellency the President. The private sector has also constructed similar facility to ensure the country has enough hosting capacity. I urge our innovators and startups to make good use of these facilities;
The National Innovation Hub at Nakawa will ensure that the usual bottlenecks affecting our innovators such as lack of workspace, high internet costs, and lack of commercialization of ICT products are addressed. We will also use the facility to continually enhance the skill of our software developers on modern, emerging technologies;
The recruitment of the National Personal Data Protection Director has been finalized to spearhead the implementation of the Data Protection and Privacy Act. This will ensure that personal data on Ugandans are not abused by the emerging technologies. For example, the use of IoT exposes a substantial amount of personal data without the user's active participation. This creates lots of potential privacy violations;
The Ministry is also developing an open data portal to address the challenges Data Scientists face in obtaining relevant datasets for their work;
Government is promoting local manufacturing and assembly of electronic devices that are IoT ready. We want to make devices widely available and affordable instead of relying on imports;
To ensure safe disposal of the growing number of electronic devices, the Ministry developed a National E-Waste Management Policy and Strategy. In June this year, the Ministry partnered with NEMA, NEC and other stakeholders to establish an E-Waste
Management Facility in the Kampala Industrial Area;
IoT technologies require secure, safe and powerful mechanisms to connect many thousands of potential devices such as smartphones, wearables, smart meters, sensors and electronic appliances. We are therefore reviewing the National Cyber Security Strategy to address the challenges occasioned by emerging technologies;
The National 4IR Strategy has identified key interventions that need
to be put in place to ensure appropriate and adequate human capital is developed. We are therefore working with Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure that our children start coding early in life. Schools are progressively being connected to the Internet and school labs are being equipped. This support is also being extended to Universities and tertiary institutions such as Muni University, Gulu University and Soroti University. Consultations are also ongoing towards providing children with tablet PCs, and introduction of emerging technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR) for teaching and learning. Furthermore, we have worked with several partners to promote E-learning especially during this time of Covid19. E-learning is also a useful tool for lifelong learning for adults, to transition to 4IR technology skills;
10. The Ministry is working with partners such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to train Uganda software engineers in international best practices. Under this arrangement, five (5) software engineers were selected through a similar coding contest in March this year to visit centres of excellence in Japan. They were also equipped with soft skills such as communication and presentation skills, courtesy, time management, and values such as hard work and integrity.
For our innovators and start-ups to be competitive, they should identify national, regional and business problems that need to be solved and develop impactful digital solutions. The available data should also be analysed for developing new business models to enhance operational effectiveness and customer experience. For many in the public sector, the aim of IoT is to limit costs through various applications, and to make the government more efficient. For instance, smart buildings can automatically detect the need for cooling and heating power, thereby
reducing unnecessary energy waste. Telematics programs via GPS can evaluate and improve the efficiency and management of government vehicles. We also need IoT and AI to track the distribution and use of medical supplies. Healthcaresystems can further be improved by optimization of hospital logistics, leveraging in-home patient care, lifestyle management for disease prevention, improved elderly assistance or automated instant contact back-tracing to better fight
I wish to implore our researchers to investigate and find new and advanced ways of improving efficiency, productivity, and quality of life
of citizens across Uganda using 4IR technologies.
In conclusion, I wish to congratulate the young Ugandans who have so far registered for the contest. I encourage more Ugandans to use this opportunity to show-case their innovation at regional and international level. I also thank Ministry of Education and Sports, the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS), UTAMU Research and Innovation City (UTAMURIC), and the Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) for coordinating the challenge. Last but not least, I wish to thank UN Global Pulse for accepting to give us technical assistance in AI and Big Data.
It is now my singular honour and pleasure to declare the Africa Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence Challenge 2021 in Uganda officially launched.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (MP)
MINISTER OF ICT AND NATIONAL GUIDANCE
Registration to all Ugandans with innovative project ideas in the tracks of GRADUATION PROJECTS and STARTUPS in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is open until the 25th July, 2021. You are welcome to register your ideas at https://africaiotai.org/registration, in the following categories: Automotive, Energy, Healthcare, Education, Smart Manufacturing, Retail & E-Commerce, Smart Buildings, Smart Homes, Smart Agriculture, Smart Transportation, FinTech and others.
The Challenge will be in four phases;
Phase 1: Open Registration
Phase 2: Training Delivery & Mentorship
Phase 3: Local finals. The qualifying top 6 winners
Phase 4: Regional finals in the IEEE Global Conference on AI & IoT in Dubai.
The participants will receive technical training on software development and business training on ideation, design thinking, and business modelling.
The participants will be exposed to opportunities that will open a further door for advancement in their careers which will include:
- Technical mentorship,
- Investment opportunities for the best ideas/startups,
- Networking with Top Notch companies,
- Advanced educational technical content,
- Access to international conferences,
- Access to IoT & AI Africa community,
- Access to local digital fabrication labs and online cloud services,
- Networking with academia leaders, industry professionals & governments representatives,
- Participation is free of charge,
- Winners receive intensive public relations and media coverage and,
- Winners join funded soft-landing programs in different countries and markets.
The Africa IoT & AI Challenge is an opportunity for every citizen and not only for participants because it is the beginning of an open door to invite the country as a whole into a new and vibrant science and tech era that will propel the nation to be globally inclusive. As Nicky Verd quotes “Don’t fight the Fourth Industrial Revolution, embrace it and become part of the revolution!”
Dorothy Wegoye Kimuli
Principal Marketing & Public Relations Officer,
Uganda Technology & Management University (UTAMU)