By Patrick Katagata,

Secretary – Strategic Scientific Advisory Council and Thinktank,

STI Secretariat – Office of The President.

Patrick Katagata – Secretary (SSAC&Thinktank)

Further to, “Not everyone does science, let alone, excellently”, a statement I made in my previous article about STI being a key driver for Socio-economic transformation, thankfully published here, I would now like to stress a few more positions in view of the headline to this article:

  • However highly gifted scientists may be, they cannot produce safe innovations—especially those meant for human and animal health such as vaccines, drugs, and therapeutics, without observing strict processes and procedures;
  • From time to time, there will be conspiracy theories, suspicions, and claims regarding STI doers’ motives, security concerns that might accrue, efficacy or the lack thereof of products at hand, and accountability for resources—especially those having monetary value, inter-alia, invested in the churning out of given innovations;
  • Lest conspiracies turn out adversely true, STI doers be unnecessarily misconstrued to be unscrupulous, or out of wanton ignorance, politically-motivated malice, policymakers frustrate STI development and deployment, yet it is, in modern society, indispensable in the socio-economic transformation quest, scientists, policymakers, national security handlers—and other relevant stakeholders, need to form a symbiotic functional synergy to reap from STI.

The media in Uganda has in recent days been awash with controversy between some policymakers and scientists. The former sought to establish whether or not the latter, associated with the Presidential Initiative on Diseases and Epidemics (PRESIDE), duped the President when they reportedly promised him that they would work towards producing a COVID-19 Vaccine, which two years after the pandemic subsided, has not come through! In one of the Accountability queries before the [Parliamentary] Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the scientists attempted without much success, to explain to the policymakers that producing a vaccine needed, at the furthest extension, fifteen years. The media picked it up and it attracted undue mockery.

Vaccines, to be really safe and effective, cannot miraculously produced in a haste. Never, except, of course, if there is existing infrastructure and human capital to build upon. Vaccine candidates must undergo all requisite clinical trials, without flouting any manufacturing process. To this effect, an excerpt from an Abstract by Dr. Jennifer Pancorbo, PhD, posits, Developing a new vaccine from scratch takes considerable time. It depends a lot on how much information is available about the disease itself, how the disease infects people and spreads, and so on. But it traditionally has taken 5-10 years to get a new vaccine.Dr. Jennifer Pancorbo is the Director of Industry Programs and Research at the North Carolina (USA) based Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC).

Unlike other countries such as America which had already built internal capacity—both infrastructure and Human Capital, and easily leveraged on these when COVID-19 broke out, Uganda, was highly unlikely to produce COVID-19 Vaccines before the pandemic subsided. For instance, America quickly came up with COVID-19 Vaccines because it had previously produced one for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which, although different from COVID-19, is also part of the coronavirus family, stemming from a different coronavirus strain—SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1. Therefore, SARS and COVID-19 being in the same coronavirus family, and with existing infrastructure and human capital previously employed to curb SARS, it was easier for America to build upon existing resources and quickly churn out COVID-19 Vaccines unlike Uganda and other nations that had to build from scratch!

In the aforesaid policymakers versus scientists’ stand-off, the latter assured the former that they had embraced the COVID-19 onslaught, given delayed vaccine supplies, and vaccine apartheid, as an eye-opener for Uganda to embark on Research and Development (R&D), and build internal capacity—infrastructure and human capital, to avert future epidemics. So far so good!

Finally, without stern security masterly, a country’s defence system is incomplete and vulnerable, and socio-economic gains at risk of ruin.


Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) is an Indispensable Tool for Socio-Economic Transformation, but only if under Responsible Stewardship.

By: Patrick KatagataSecretary – Strategic Scientific Advisory Council & Think-tank

Patrick Katagata

There has perhaps never been as much debate about science in my lifetime as has been, in recent times, about COVID-19, the contention regarding whether or not it was created; if, yes, why; and the indiscriminate socio-economic gloom it caused the world! Previously, albeit with comparatively less magnitude especially because its onslaught did not extend to all ends of the world, and, at least, not as heinously as did COVID-19, there was similar speculation about HIV. In Uganda today, with talk around LGBTIQA sending reverberating shockwaves, amidst the contention of whether or not inclinations thereof relate to nature or nurture, it is imperative that the road leading to any such scientific innovations as may be suspect to alter and/or interfere with recipients’ genetic constitution or behavioral dispositions, be cautiously trodden.

Unarguably, Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is a hallmark for modern societal transformation, but left in the hands of unscrupulous stewards, it could also, conversely, be potentially obnoxious, more harmful than purge society of ills. In retrospect to the COVID-19 speculations, a March 8, 2023 Washington media relay, “Former CDC Director Robert Redfield Reveals the COVID-19 Virus Was Likely Created by Gain of Function Research Funded by Dr. Fauci and the NIAID” [], furtherexasperates the already horrendous situation. Therein, Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, argues that, If we’re going to look into the origins of COVID, and fully understand where this virus came from…, if we go back to early 2020, when this was just starting…, we’ll see something interesting: that, while Dr. Fauci Dr. Anderson, Dr. Collins, Peter Danzig from eco health…; Dr. Aachen, Closs, and others were doing everything possible to shut down the Wuhan lab theory publicly, even though privately, they told each other, that COVID-19 looked engineered…”

Not everyone does science, let alone, excellently. And lest it turns out disastrous, for science to be functionally effective, there must be uncompromising technical and moral standards to comply with. Accordingly, this article seeks to debunk controversies around STI, and accentuate the inevitability, necessity, and requisite functional precaution. Due to its complexity and sensitivity among societies with varying values, and aspirations accruing from culture, religion, education, and nature, STI, is prone to delusion and/or abuse. It is, therefore, prudent that motives thereof be examined, sufficiently and explicitly elucidated to recipients to allay any suspicions, to pave for efficacy.

In the aforesaid Washington media relay, Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, asks former CDC Director, Robert Redfield, about ‘lab-created’ COVID-19: …did you know of any evidence… to confirm that it was not created in a lab?” He responds, “…unfortunately, I was excluded from those conversations, which I found retroactively very disappointing… I was obviously a virologist, and very engaged… had asked Jeremy Farrar, Tony Fauci and Tedros to have these conversations… When you have a group of people that decide there can only be one point of view that’s problematic… it’s antithetical to science…” If involved scientists disagree thus, how about lay-citizens, mere recipients of closed lab science?

In his “Message” to Omar Abdul Rahman’s book, “The Essentials of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy”, former Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, mentions that as far back as 28 February 1991, he gave a Way Forward to the Malaysian Business Council, nine challenges Malaysia needed to overcome by 2020 in order to develop. No. 6 was: “…establishing a scientific and progressive society that is innovative and forward-looking, not a consumer of technology, but a contributor to the technological civilization of the future.” President Museveni has, amidst frustration, relentlessly advocated STI for socio-economic transformation before Malaysia [1991], establishing Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in 1988. For Malaysia’s steady compliance to STI and Uganda’s lack thereof, the difference is visible regarding our socio-economic transformation trajectories.



By Elijah Turyagumanwe

Elijah Turyagumanwe

Great opportunities often come wrapped in filth, and of course, a myriad people miss them. Have you, for instance, considered what fortunes, people who dare go for the filthy of things, make out domestic waste? In Africa, some of the creatures, citizens would consider lucrative is worms and caterpillars especially due their predatory nature and scary nature. At the sight of them, many an African’s instinct would be an impulsive flight. Only those who have luckily discovered the ‘golden’ silk in them, will harness the opportunity! Sericulture is the deliberate rearing of silk producing worms on a large or small scale.

Fixed in a prosperity dilemma and unquenchable hunger for socio-economic transformation, Uganda’s hope for the future largely lies in her ability to swiftly adopt global competitive trends Science, Technology, and Innovation currently present. The drivers, however, can best be actualized through a consolidated objective of coordination and/or bringing together all players with a common national agenda, which is well in consonance with the mandate of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Secretariat, that is, “To mobilize, coordinate, and provide oversight and policy guidance to scientists and stakeholders in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Local Governments, Academia, Research Institutions, and the Private Sector, along prioritized value chains to increase productivity, import substitution and export of knowledge-based products and services.”

Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza center, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu on the left, Remigio Achia MP Pian, on the right posing for group picture shortly after the sericulture stakeholders’ engagement at Méstil Hotel in Kampala recently.

While speaking during a Sericulture Stakeholders’ Meeting held at Kampala-based Méstil Hotel, recently, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, referred to a speech His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, The President of The Republic of Uganda, made while officiating at the of Makerere University’s Centenary Celebrations, in which while referring to original inhabitants of America and Australia, for their failure to adopt Science and Technology swallowed up by migrants, he emphatically warned, “Whoever fails to adopt science, technology, will cease to exist or be swallowed up ….” On her part, Hon. Dr. Musenero further reemphasized the need to rationalize and commercialized innovations for the country’s social-economic transformation.

Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Seasoned Economist, Politician, and Senior Presidential Advisor on Economic Affairs, said the time is now for the country to intensify the sericulture industry as the global market continues to fall the short of silk producing fabric.

Harnessing Existing Opportunities

Endowed with a tropical climate, a tropical greencover and plenty of natural water from major water bodies like lake Victories and river Nile, cheap labor of young people averaging at 16.7% according to world bank data, hospitable settlements and a friendly political environment for any investment, Uganda’s sericulture industry is set for greater heights once fully embraced.

Despite being largely an agricultural economy, Uganda is yet to exhaust all commercially viable produces for a stable economic trajectory with sericulture as an example.

Interestingly, according to Muhammed Ali, the founder of Iran Agro Industries, the value chain process from egg to active silk-producing worms has a lifespan of only 6-8 weeks. Now, this might be short enough to assure us of steady supply, but might also be perilously short for ill-prepared players.

Global silk production research shows all combined approximately 35 to 40 countries worldwide are involved in the sericulture industry adding world production of raw silk is averaged at 80,000 tons per annum. It should be noted, however, that about 70% of globally produced raw silk is produced in China.

According to a certified data report published in 2022, over 50% of Uganda’s farming population still relies on subsistence farming, which leads to a shortfall in the supply of raw materials for the manufacturing industry. According to macroeconomic principles, this could impede a developing economy like Uganda from making a smooth transition from agriculture to manufacturing, and eventually to a service-based economy.

The good news is that Silk-worms are easily to rear and/or propagate. For instance, the white silk worms are fed on mulberry leaves from which they later construct habitats by producing silk from either ends in oval-like shapes. 

Text Box: Silk worm farmers display a hip of harvested silk before processing

Silk worm farming is projected to be more profitable than Coffee, Uganda’s biggest agricultural revenue earner, hence the call to focus intentionally on silk worm farming.  

Uganda is already producing valuable crafts from home-grown silk as the pictures pasted hereunder may help showcase. Through sericulture a magnitude of fabric products can be produced such as carpets, silk attires and silk portraits.

A display of some of Ugandan silk made products

Resolutions reached at from the said sericulture engagement included but were not limited to: establishing well-structured funding channels; the need to increase of human resource capacity at different levels; provision of land to accommodate more sericulture production by government; formation of a research center and utilization of universities data for research and development purposes; putting in place high quality measures at all sericulture value chain levels; and finally, developing stronger and more coordinated synergies.


Hon. Dr MMM Hosts Italian and Romanian Silk Processors in Uganda

On March 15, 2023, Hon. Dr. Musenero Monica Masanza, the Ugandan Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation -Secretariat, hosted a delegation of leading Italian and Romanian silk processors. The delegation arrived in Uganda to assess the country’s silk processing potential and explore possible partnership opportunities with the government to establish a modern processing factory worth millions of dollars.

Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero (extreme left) with Italian and Romanian delegates presenting silk cloth made from Uganda silk

During the meeting, the delegation handed over samples of Ugandan silk clothes processed in Italy, showcasing the country’s potential in silk production. The delegation invited the Hon. Minister MMM to visit their factories in Italy and Romania for a firsthand experience of their capacity, determination, and expertise in the silk processing industry.

The delegation noted that China has been their main supplier of silk yarn, importing over 7,000 metric tons of raw silk yarn per month. However, with the potential they have seen in Uganda, they have expressed interest in sourcing silk fabric from the country as there is a ready market for silk fabric in Europe. The delegation emphasized that they have the capacity to buy all the silk that will be produced in Uganda.

The delegation also noted that silk production is a delicate process that requires quality eggs, high experience, and costly processing units. As such, expert training from silk production to post-harvest handling and processing is needed to hit the international market with premium prices.

Delegates presenting silk cloth to Hon as they brainstorm on Silk production in Uganda

After meeting with the Minister, the delegation visited various sites of silk production in Uganda. However, due to their tight schedule, they could not visit all the sites. The Hon. Minister MMM asked the delegation to consider investing in cotton processing or linking up with their counterparts in cotton value addition.

In response, the delegation requested for samples of Ugandan cotton, which they will deliver to the Italian cotton cloth processing factory. Thanks to the Cotton Development Organisation, which has availed a sample and the necessary literature about Ugandan cotton, the delegation will receive the sample tomorrow morning before leaving the country.

This partnership presents an opportunity for Uganda to enhance its silk production and tap into the European market. The delegation’s interest in cotton processing is also a step towards the development of the cotton value chain in the country. With the necessary investments, training, and partnerships, Uganda is set to become a significant player in the global silk and cotton processing industry.