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: Patrick Katagata – Secretary – Strategic Scientific Advisory Council & Think-tank
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” [https://greene.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=370], 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 , 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.
Perhaps many of us are familiar with the landmark stories in science: Archimedes’ Eureka moment in a bathtub, which is at the heart of modern water-based navigation. The discovery of Penicillin. The invention of the incandescent lightbulb. Einstein’s mass energy relation. It is easy to take these discoveries for granted today, but evidently, the human race would be underdeveloped, perhaps even extinct without some of these advances. I have not even scratched the surface. Most of the science, technology and innovation work happens off the glare of the cameras, conceived and executed by people like you and me.
Science enables us to understand the principles governing everything in our world and beyond, develop products and services that solve challenges like disease, and improve quality of life. As we cycle through life, the challenges facing our world evolve as well. In Uganda, we need to reduce poverty and underdevelopment through industrialization, value addition to our raw products and the concomitant creation of high value jobs. This is the target of Vision 2040. Along the way, we need to build better roads, generate more energy, add value to our minerals such as iron ore, and develop our indigenous medicines, to mention but a few.
Human capital is a key component of our Vision 2040 ambition. A well trained and skilled human resource base will improve technical skills, norms, behaviors, and productivity and lead to the upgrading of our standard of living. We need a workforce that understands all aspects of the value chains that we have focused on as a country. It is only human capital development that will enable us to shift into a technology-generating economy, from the predominant technology importation, through Technology Transfer and Technology Development. It is only human capital development that will enable us to generate new designs/ideas/products to spur industrialization. Investment in human capital will thus enhance research and development, promote an increase in physical capital, and improve our economy.
The NRM Government, under His Excellency the President, understands the need for this paradigm shift. This is the reason why we have emphasis for science-oriented institutions, curricula, and a higher pay for scientists. Not because they are more important, but because they will give us the launchpad for the economy.
Suffice to note, scientific learning and orientation does not happen only in schools. It happens in industry. It happens in the marketplace. In the garages. Downtown. In the media houses. What is important is not to lose focus of the scientific method. We solve problems by first understanding what the problem is, creating a plan, seeing the plan through, and looking back to learn from the solution. Good science does not teach what to think. It teaches how to think. It teaches how to sieve through data and arrive at evidence-based empirical decisions. To decide what works and what does not.
Therefore, anybody can be a scientist. One does not require a university degree, but it requires investment of time, effort and requisite infrastructure, to generate the necessary skills in novel areas, or upskilling to solve emerging challenges within areas we are already familiar with. Human Capital Development for Science is thus a staple for every citizen, because the scientific method is inevitable for success, not just in science, but need I say, life.
To achieve the mandate of STI, we work closely with our agencies to build the ecosystem and understand Ugandan needs & develop customized technology solutions to support Uganda citizens.