Call For Information
The Science, Technology and Innovations Secretariat office of the president is searching for innovations that engender meaningful inclusion of persons with Disabilities
The Deadline has been extended to 31st Dec 2023.
The Science, Technology and Innovations Secretariat office of the president is searching for innovations that engender meaningful inclusion of persons with Disabilities
The Deadline has been extended to 31st Dec 2023.
Join us for an insightful training session on how start-ups and innovators can position themselves for investment. This virtual session will be held on December 13th 2023; 1300 Hrs EAT.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Secretariat at the Office of the President (STI-OP) is planning to showcase innovations developed in Uganda, during the National Science Week 2023, Scheduled from November 6-11, 2023 at Kololo Independence Grounds, Kampala.
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THE SCIENCE THAT MAKES DEVELOPMENT
Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza
THE MINISTER OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION AT THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL RESEARCH OUTLOOK REPORT
21st June 2023
SPEKE RESORT MUNYONYO
It is a great pleasure for me to well come our delegates to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and to this 2023 Science Granting Council Regional meeting here at Munyonyo. I hope that your stay so far has been more than what you expected. Munyonyo is a Luganda word which means enjoyment! Since Monday when this conference begun, I hope you have had time to move around and enjoy this wonderful lakeside environment.
This is a timely meeting both in its content and focus. Science Granting Councils have different roles in different countries, acting primarily as catalysts for driving science and its core role of socio-economic transformation. The theme of this particular conference is appropriately titled: “The Role of Science Granting Councils in Africa’s development.” This is not only atimely theme, but the discussion of it is taking place in the right context here in Uganda. Because we have been asking very loud questions, what is the role of Science indeed in our economic development? It is my hope that the discussions you have held so far have been fruitful enough to provide some critical inputs in our thinking so far so that the great benefits of Science, Technology and Innovation do not continue to elude us.
I would like to begin my remarks by focusing on the context of the African continent. As of yesterday, Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the population of Africa, based on the latest United Nations figures, was estimated at 1,435,731,848, now equivalent to 16.72% of the total world population. Africa ranks number 2 among regions of the world (roughly equivalent to “continents”), by population, with a median age of 19.7years.
Most of this population, 56% of it is rural. The same UN projections, show that sub-Saharan Africa’s population will nearly double to more than 2 billion by mid-century and if they are accurate, by 2070, Africa will become the most populous place globally, surpassing Asia.
Now different experts have different interpretations of this population growth. While some predict it as a disaster projected to worsen poverty, other foretell a boon for the continent, with a key input in the algorithm being how countries leverage this young population for economic growth.
I have titled my speech today, The Science That Makes Development, so I can make some specific contribution to the ongoing discussion during this conference.
I started serious engagement on the continent beyond Uganda about 20 years ago. My engagement was mostly about building capacity and responding to disease epidemics. This brought me in direct contact with the application of science on the continent. As I interacted with Universities, governments and development agencies, I began to see patterns. Whereas there was seemingly a lot of knowledge, Africa systematically lacked the systems and organization to apply the knowledge to protect her people from preventable diseases. And this was often reflected in very painful national experiences such as disastrous cholera epidemics which brought national economies and dignity to its knees, the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and Congo, Hepatitis E outbreaks here in Uganda, etc. I also observed that while Africa continued to export raw materials, a legacy of colonization, her shops, up to the deepest village were filled with imported high valued imported goods compared to what we produce. And this goes with squalor, joblessness and sometimes, sadly to hunger and poor-quality life, which has been summed up in the terms: Poverty and Underdevelopment.
My tour of the continent also put me through many airports and visits to almost all continents, except South America, and I witnessed a version of science that seemed to do the reverse. Majority of products in supermarkets made at home, vehicles on the road made at home, laboratory reagents and equipment made at home. There are functional systems and disease threats are responded to with finality of solutions. Actually, most of the things we were learning about control of epidemics were not applied in the developed countries! Majority live in good environments: summed up as Prosperity and Development.
My tour also brought me to many conferences like this, in beautiful airconditioned conference rooms, where African scientists participated in the discussion of science as if they were part and parcel of the global community. They present pie charts, chi-squares and p-values, making inferences and recommendations they very well knew were not going to be applied in their contexts. Most of the bibliography of their publications were in scientific journals their policy makers will never read since they are not subscribed to the high impact journals. The mantra in their academic institutions were “Publish or Perish.” The research topics were either detached from the needs of the communities outside the wall of their institutions or so miniscule to have any significant impacts on the development of the communities they serve; The Scientific regulations were copy and paste from the western counterparts, making it almost impossible for local scientists to do applied research. Generally resulting in what was termed: The Ivory tower phenomenon.
The reconciliation these three general contexts, which I have been privileged to be part of, brought disturbing immiscibility of thoughts about Science that makes development. To me there seemed to be two distinct versions of Science: The one which makes development and the one which doesn’t. And it appears, on the larger part, Africa, and probably her granting councils, which have been on the whole at the forefront of science, adopted.
The climax of my disturbance came when I found myself at three critical moments for us as a continent and Uganda as a country. The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa, the Ebola Epidemic of DRC 2018 and Covid-19 Pandemic. While the first two were viewed as remote problems, Covid-19 brought a very loud gong of a wake- up call.
Ladies and Gentlemen, although the Government of Uganda has always tried to be intentional in our path towards being a science-led country, this has taken on a new urgency since the advent of the of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a 360 – re-assessment of the role Science Technology and Innovation (STI) must play in our development, the form it must take and the measures we must apply to ensure it results in development. I know that this is similar for many African Countries. If not Covid-19, there must have been a situation which has ignited that in your own countries. And if not yet re-awakened, then take this conference as a wake up call. So, if I was to reword the Theme of this Conference, it would be: “Re-designing Science Granting Councils to implement Science that works development in Africa.”
What should that science consist of?
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is only through STI that we can solve the challenges of underdevelopment and poverty in Africa and in Uganda; from meeting the basic needs of our people like food and shelter, creating wealth for our nations and improving the quality of how they leave and do their business. It is important to note that no country has really ever developed fully without investing a considerable amount of resources in advancing sciences, innovation, and industrialization.
In Uganda, there has been a lot of progress made in developing STI under the guidance of H.E President as a champion for STI. Among the many endeavors for advancement of STI, was the establishment of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology in 1990 and subsequent establishment of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2016. More recently, the Science, Technology and Innovation Secretariat has been established under the Office of the President to provide leadership in Uganda’s transformative journey.
Today, I’m delighted to launch this National Research Outlook Report (Uganda) that highlights some of the key imperatives of our growing system. The Report highlights a number of issues defining Uganda’s research landscape at the time. It identifies the drivers, opportunities and challenges. The Report touches of key issues that are defining our systems – like infrastructure, human resources in research and funding among others. While tremendous progress has been registered in STI, research funding in Africa is still inadequate to drive the STI agenda and the investments so far have not yielded the desired outcomes. I must however put a disclaimer that because of the time which has since past and the impetus brought by Covid-19, a number of things in that document may be a bit outdated.
At this point I want to turn to our researchers represented here. We have a big job at hand! Whilst the catalytic role of research is indispensable, we need to do more. I therefore encourage you that at STI-OP we are building a system and we want you to be part and parcel of this journey. Let us look at how we can use STI to unlock the vast opportunities that God has given us to steward over. I look forward to the conversations that this report will most likely catalyze.
I thank you very much.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY
Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza,
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation-Office of the President of the Republic of Uganda
In a significant step towards fostering innovation and driving economic growth, the Science, Technology, and Innovation – Secretariat (STI) team convened a productive meeting with two sets of ingenious innovators; the meeting identified aspects that have a potential of boosting local industries, increasing productivity, and reducing the reliance on imports. The two visionary innovators were Samuel Nyakana and Magara Abdu Tebusweke; Samuel is spearheading innovations in the fields of electrical systems and biomedical devices while Abdu is making of innovative leather products.
Amagara Leather Company’s Innovative Leather Products
Amagara Leather Company, under the leadership of youthful innovator Magara Abdu Tebusweke, is developing innovative leather products of everyday use including leather designer bags (ladies handbags, backpacks, men’s bags, etc), laptop leather holders, belts, wallets, sandles, bottle holders, ear rings, among other items. Specializing in tailor-made leather products, the company has demonstrated a deep commitment to creating high-quality, locally-produced leather goods and leather accessories; some of these have a life span covering over 70 years. The products of Amagara Leather Company have been appreciated by both the local market and export market. The innovator, Abdu, got the idea of making leather bags from his previous business of hawking second hand imported bags in Kampala and he is enthusiastic about growing his leather manufacturing business. He presented a request for STI support to further improve the product quality and production capacity through automation of his production process.
Innovation of an Energy Transformation System and Fluid Pulse Machine
Samuel Nyakana Musiza, an Aeronautical Engineer, showcased two innovations which include a Synchronized Reluctance Variable Generator System for energy transformation and a Fluid Pulse Machine. The STI team lauded Samuel for his interest in innovation of energy and health devices that are useful in society promoting energy access and health service delivery. About the Synchronized Reluctance Variable Generator System prototype presented by Samuel, the meeting highlighted the need for Samuel to focus on enhancing power efficiency of his product. Samuel has already filed for a patent registration with URSB and ARIPO for his Synchronized Reluctance Variable Generator System. The STI team committed to conducting a physical assessment of the technology and analyze its potential for application.
Another notable innovation presented by Samuel Nyakana Musiza is the Fluid Pulse Machine, a multifunctional medical ventilation system, which is designed for patient care. He presented the system layout and the STI team encouraged the innovator to continue with the next phases of the Research and Development journey, recognizing the potential to positively impact healthcare on a large scale.
Empowering Local Leather Industry: Challenges and Opportunities
While applauding the leather innovations put forth by Amagara Leather Company, the STI team also identified key areas where support and intervention are needed. One notable challenge highlighted by the innovators is the lack of locally-produced accessories and tools, such as buckles and other small components. This gap in the supply chain has led to a heavy dependence on imported accesories of high value which is hindering the growth and sustainability of the local leather industry.
In response to this challenge, the STI-Secretariat team proposed a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, the team emphasized the importance of standardizing products and designs, which would facilitate mass production and automation of various stages of the production line. Furthermore, the team recognized the potential of supporting import substitution efforts by building capacity for local manufacture of the leather products accessories, thereby reducing reliance on imports and stimulating local production.
Magara Abdu Tebusweke, the driving force behind Amagara Leather Company, highlighted his aspiration to increase productivity and expand the volume of his products marketed locally and also exported. He expressed his desire for greater access to working capital and improved infrastructure to support the growth of his leather products manufacturing business. Furthermore, he voiced the need for both local and international outlets to showcase and sell the company’s innovative leather products.
A Path Forward: Collaboration and Progress
The STI team’s meeting with Amagara Leather Company has paved the way for a collaborative journey aimed at realizing the full potential of this innovative leather products manufacturing initiative. By addressing challenges related to local production of accessories, automation for improved production capacity, and market access, the team envisions a future where Ugandan made innovative leather products stand out on the local and global marketplace, realizing import substitution and contributing to driving the national economic growth.
As Uganda continues to make strides in the fields of Science, Technology, and Innovation, initiatives like the leather manufacturing, energy access systems and biomedical device solutions can be underscored as contributing to the nation’s agenda of creating a self-reliant and technologically advanced future, ultimately propelling Uganda to new heights as a hub of innovation and excellence.
The Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero, accompanied by a team from the STI Secretariat toured the production works of Uganda’s first engine at the John Lugendo and Company Ltd foundry in Kibuye, a Kampala City suburb.
The engine whose prototype was originally developed by Kevoton Motions Engineering Ltd has now been tailored for application in a 3-in-1 Trike for mobility, irrigation, and power generation under the institutional support of Kiira Motors Corporation.
Dr. Musenero expressed excitement upon this major achievement on the journey to the commercialization of the locally-made engine and the project’s prospects towards the creation of jobs and local content development in the Mobility Industrial Value Chain.
The engine is comprised of 128 parts, 70 of which have been fabricated by the team at the foundry and 58 sourced on the local market.
On the right is the three-dimension render of the 3-in-1 trike in which the developed diesel engine will be fitted after successful ignition. This project symbolizes a major strategy by STI to bring together the immense human resource among the Jua Kali with the Engineers to fast-track development in the country.
By Elijah Turyagumanawe
@elijahtury #UGInnovates #MakingUgandaTheBest
Towards the tail end of High School, as part of the efforts in understanding Economics—one of the subjects we studied, colleagues and I visited a weekly market—Nyakabirizi, in Bushenyi, Western Uganda. We got answers for all the questions we asked except one—market revenue collections. The Market Master, despite relentless persuasion, told us that that was a ‘Council’s secret’ he was not about to divulge to the public just like that! As I put this piece together, I cannot help but reminisce that moment. And it will, in a great part, help me to tell the story of Uganda’s Science, Technology, and Innovations (STI).
Nations and organizations have strategic secrets around innovations, but just like a woman who conceives a baby, in just a matter of time, if she successfully sustains her pregnancy, other people beyond those in her confines might sooner than later know—whether by the big bulge of her stomach or when the baby is born. Uganda’s STI Revolution is here and it’s real; it’s laden with gigantic opportunities for individuals and organizations who will proactively seize them, and Uganda’s socio-economic transformation—and I hasten to add, political fortification from external aggression.
Science is ubiquitous—everywhere and in all things: in the clean and cherished; as in the filthy and trashed. This is the science secret—reality that many people are oblivious to. And for this, many abounding opportunities pass either unnoticed or remain latent and unexplored. Yet people continue to grapple with challenges that, with science, could be pragmatically solved with treasures under their feet and around them. The current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation—Office of The President, The Republic of Uganda, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, is one unquestionably impassioned about her docket. She explains STI with such precision that everyone should ably make sense of it: Science as knowledge—the systematic study and collection of data about how nature works; Technology as the practical application of scientific knowledge to create tools and production of goods and services; and Innovation as the application of knowledge and technology to solve problems. She is ‘pregnant with science’ and with Uganda’s STI Champion, President Museveni’s unwavering support, soon she might birth septuplets in purposeful multiplicity!
Uganda’s President Yoweri T.K. Museveni is quoted to have posed the question, “Why Do Nations Need STI?” and answered it with, “To Solve their Problems of Poverty and Underdevelopment” in many instances. And therein lies the reason as to why many national scientific exploits may not be sounded in trumpets. For nations which have made breakthroughs in STI: America; Israel; Russia; China; Korea; Malaysia and Singapore; etc., how much of their innovation has the world known until inevitably necessary?
And with all this ‘secrecy’, highly expectant citizens are perhaps justified to ask, “Where are your Works?” For obvious reasons Revolutionaries never make their plans known until they are executed! This is what I called, ‘Strategic Secrets’ earlier.
Openness in scientific investigations and innovations is a desirable ethos, but for such fears as relate to protecting countries’ priorities, global competitiveness, protecting intellectual property, compromising national or international security, and suchlike, keeping specific innovations secret becomes a critically inevitable and prudent move. Yes, for accountability concerns where national resources have been spent, it’s ideal, but, for similar reasons as to why national Security and Defence budgets remain classified, some strategic secrets may be maintained about national scientific exploits. Also, akin to conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, STI, too, takes some time from Ideation to Commercialization.
Many people have thought many things about Africa—some true and good; others awfully false. It only depends on one’s direct experience with the continent or even their background and motive in their diverse narratives. While people like Steve Kapena will raise hopes about the continent in songs such as: “All I need is right here in Africa”, others: especially racist foreigners; or internally, self-seeking actors especially uncouth politicians; etc., will present it as a dark and hopeless continent. By no means whatsoever is this article defensive, at least intentionally. Rather, it seeks to explore and illuminate the general obscurity with which Africa—home to my country, Uganda, has for far too long been cast.
Prior to being named so—after Roman Army General, Leo Africanus, for ‘defeating’ Carthaginian [Tunisian] army, present-day Africa was called Alkebulan, meaning ‘Mother of mankind ‘or ‘Garden of Eden’. Indeed, Africa’s abundancy points to Edenic Paradise, and when I consider the description accorded to Eden, I am tempted to think that this Eden said of old is actually Uganda. Despite this, Belgian Franciscan missionary in Congo, Placide Frans Tempels’ 1945 controversial book, “Bantu Philosophy”, unsuccessfully attempts to disdain Africa—of which Uganda is, as a monstrous jungle and her per people as possessive of impotent minds—completely incapable of logical thought, living in caves and trees; dependent on wild honey and fruits, etc.!
But when I consider what, in his 1908 book, “My African Journey”, former British Premier, Sir Winston Churchill had earlier said of Uganda: “My journey is at an end; a tale is told… what message I bring back. It can be stated in three words, ‘Concentrate Upon Uganda.’…it ought in the course of time to become the most prosperous of all East and Central African possessions and perhaps the financial driving wheel of all this part of the world… Uganda is from end to end one beautiful garden, where the staple of the people grows almost without labour… It is the Pearl of Africa”, I am convinced that as a country, we need to embark on an honest journey of self-rediscovery and redefinition in order to reclaim our purpose and destiny.How, then, shall we contrive? Strategic innovation, without doubt, will be an inevitable tool.
Were Churchill’s thoughts just phony or truly representative of Uganda, even as far back as then? If true, do our current development status and trajectory reflect that? If not, what went wrong and what can be done to effectively correct it? I will dwell more on this because, a few human errors notwithstanding, not much has perilously changed to significantly negate Churchill’s observation. Has there been socio-economic stagnation especially in view of the global development scale? Absolutely, yes! Why?
The acclamation with which Churchill marveled at Uganda’s abundance and potential were not just phony, but real! Paradoxically, however, for such bounty, Uganda, rather quite justifiably, did not need to struggle to survive. For many years Ugandans could live effortlessly and conveniently on what God and nature graciously gifted them with.
However, with global interconnectedness—and in some respects, mutual interdependence, Uganda now realizes that it was not only risky to aim for basic survival thus far, but also, for desired internal socio-economic transformation and global competitiveness, it is inevitable that it must do business unusually. The aforesaid bounty provides a good starting place for exponential growth possibilities. Challenges and the desire to overcome them, is what spurs innovation. Except for economic stagnation and disease, Africa—generally, and Uganda in particular, has been devoid of life-threatening challenges, but this won’t be forever! In any case, the recent COVID-19 onslaught should be a timely wake-up call.
With strategic innovation and supportive resolute leadership, Uganda can still leapfrog from socio-economic stagnation and associated ills to coveted transformation. One way of achieving this aspiration will be—and the journey is already underway, in searching around for what resources nature gifted us with—an abundance of highly valuable plants in the wild, conserving them and leveraging on crops such as Cassava and make the most of them. Nurturing strategic innovations will go a long way in bolstering socio-economic transformation.
Innovation, simply put, encompasses conceiving and acting upon a new idea to proffer from existing or ordinary product a novel and distinct technique of creatively, tenaciously, and effectively, in an acceptable manner, solve [a] specific individual or societal challenge[s]. Innovation, accompanied by STI’s Value Chain Approach to industry is a game-changer! Value Chain, when it is seen specifically from industry away from products, seeks to enhance collaboration—downstream, upstream, and sideways connection between stakeholders. Seen from products, the Value Chain Approach enhances easy understanding of industrialization priorities.
Precisely, the Value Chain Approach seeks to systemically explore and put to systemic and gainful utilization of other by-products and processes can be got from the same primary product, firms operating within a given industrial ecosystem in order to determine the quality, quantity, and form of their products, to explore benefits that may accrue from collaboration and interdependence, but also increase competitiveness in each firm’s unique products.
For instance, did you know that more than just for food [including tapioca, crisps, confectionary flour, etc.,], cassava has multiple other products and uses, such as: cassava-based soap; animal feeds and cassava briquettes from cassava peelings; activated carbon; cassava-based fertilizers; cyanide; cassava starch; industrial ethanol (rectified spirit); cassava cement, cassava-based glue; sweeteners; bio-degradable plastics; biofuel; sanitizer; mono sodium glutamate; and lab ethanol; etc.? The same is true for Shea Butter and Honey.
Owing to such untapped Value Chain growth opportunities, as a country, we have embarked on an honest self-assessment, confront brutal facts, and resolve to reclaim lost opportunities. In a timely move, the STI Secretariat recently hosted a stakeholder consultative meeting for the cassava, shea butter, and honey value chains at the Méstil Hotel, Kampala. The aim was to fast-track the value chain, specifically for the aforesaid value chains. The goal was to improve the products of these Value Chains by mapping out each of these commodities. In her bid for National STI Strategy for Industrialization, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero, the line minister highlighted the importance of involving everyone in the scientific process, collecting data, and using it to solve problems. She emphasized the need to utilize knowledge, package it into tools, and then apply these tools to generate revenue.
She further clarified that the President’s focus has been to utilize science to drive the transformation of the country. His vision for the nation is one of socio-economic transformation, achieved through collaboration and problem-solving. The goal is to leverage science, technology, and innovation to address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment, particularly in sectors where productivity has historically been low. By applying scientific principles to areas such as agriculture, Uganda aims to increase productivity and generate more revenue per unit acre and hour. The example of Russia, which sells refined products instead of crude oil, illustrates the potential for value addition through science. This mapping of wealth highlights the need for Uganda to adopt a similar approach to maximize the potential of its resources.
Similarly, in a bid to ensure a holistic innovation development and management agenda, STI also recently undertook high-level Market Creation Innovation training, seeking to understand and adopt a Market Approach to assess local, regional, and international demands for given innovations, identify competitors, and determine barriers to entry, inter-alia. This ultimately helps to avoid duplication and focus on value addition to enhance competitiveness. If one’s—individual’s or country’s innovations cannot stand competitiveness—at whatever level, they cannot possibly transform them.
If such bottlenecks such as relates to science fragmentation, funding, appropriate human capital development, regulatory and governance, packaging, organization and cooperation among stakeholders, mindset among others, are effectively solved, Uganda’s promise for revenues and other accruing benefits from the Cassava, Shea Butter, and Honey Value Chains, is magnanimous. If you are looking for opportunities around these Value Chains and more, I recommend you quickly get in touch with our Support Services. There is far more than is public in store—we simply won’t make noise about it. Sooner than later, the world will be amazed. You don’t want to miss being part of the unfolding wonder. Connect with us.
When I consider what exponential socio-economic transformation has accrued from innovations in developed nations, I am convinced that innovation should be the in-thing for Uganda. True as for a person stuck by an innovative idea, American physician, poet, and polymath, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., noted: “A man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” From then on, preferences change until ideas become reality. Churning a tangible innovation from ideation is achievable only through painstaking strategies transcending the dreamer. Except for mediocrity, no one, however gifted, single-handedly yields functional innovation. The process has manifold and complex demands, but with synergies, work becomes easy!
To elucidate illustrate innovation leadership, let me liken innovation with child conception, birth, through to functional adulthood. First of all, not all women can conceive, go through full-term pregnancy, birth, and raise mature children. Some never conceive or do, but lose their pregnancies, suffer still-births, or infant mortality, etc. To conceive, let alone nurture useful adults is a blessing to be carefully cared for, to yield. The same applies to innovation ideas people conceive: meticulously cared for, they mature; mishandled, die prematurely. In nurturing innovations from ideation to churn tangible or economically viable products, may renowned American author and leadership expert, John Calvin Maxwell’s line, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” suffice.
Innovation Leadership is one specifically focusing on Innovators’ Effectiveness by cultivating strategic fitness to enhance performance. Like general leadership, it encompasses: championing of ideas; goal-setting; planning; organizing; resource mobilization and management, including staffing; showing and motivating others to follow the way, or giving direction. Of course, each of these—and others implied, have extensions, which, humanly speaking, are unattainable through vision-bearers alone. Inadvertently, it becomes inevitable that they work with and through others to achieve their dream.
One extremely important aspect about leadership that many people often ignore is Stewardship. Leadership ought to bolster qualitative and quantitative transformation. Furthermore, the aforementioned John Calvin Maxwell also observed that, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk,”—may not achieve much, if at all. In developing effective functional teams, the Latin maxim, “Nemo dat quod non habet”, which transliterates for “No one can give what they do not have”, becomes very significant. No one can teach others to take charge of their lives, let alone, innovations and/or other projects without first credibly exemplifying it with their own lives. Personal leadership is a critical starting point. It entails taking charge of your own life and responsibilities.
In Uganda, for example, I am amazed at the great strides on electric cars, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), in such a short time compared to other innovations both within and beyond. But it is no miracle. No, it has a lot to do with the originator, Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa’s leadership style and outlook to things. He is proactive and has found the secret in mentoring and selflessly working the youthful professionals, who have ably picked up the vision and run functionally with it. Some originators who cling to their ideas and find power in exercising control may not do as much!
Going back to the conception versus ideation analogy, to sustain pregnancy, birth healthy babies and fruitfully grow them, women need first of all, healthy and supportive male partners (or with innovation, specimens from suchlike). In Science, Technology, and Innovation [STI], these are equated to Innovation Champions, whom at best, should national leaders such as President. In Uganda, Gen. Museveni has done laudably well as an STI Champion! Secondly, such women need strict personal discipline. Pregnancy often demands a shift from usual ways: feeding; exercising; stress management; etc. But they also need excellent obstetricians; baby-seaters—who, in this case, is the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation, plus, the entire Secretariat and Stakeholders.
By Patrick Katagata,
Secretary – Strategic Scientific Advisory Council and Thinktank,
STI Secretariat – Office of The President.
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:
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.