Uganda

Makerere University launches Shs1.6 billion research facility

Makerere University launches Shs1.6 billion research facility

Makerere University with support from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) commissioned a Research Private Cloud Computing facility Worth Shs1.6 billion.

The facility is situated in the Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS) offices, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT).

Presided over by the Acting (Ag.) Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Eng. Irene Sewankambo, the ceremony was also graced by Senior Research Advisor, Embassy of Sweden in Uganda-Dr. Gity Behravan and the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe represented by the Director Quality Assurance-Dr. Vincent Ssembatya.

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Mr. Samuel Mugabi lauded Sida for being a long-term supporter of developing the ICT function and capacity at Makerere University, right from establishing the optic fibre backbone network at the Main, Mulago, MUBS and MUARIK Campuses to offering training for DICTS staff.

“We are now moving into the Web 3.0 era where the state-of-the-art Research Private Cloud Computing facility will enable us to do high performance computing, serve as a data repository for all 17 Mak-Sida projects and prepare Makerere University for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

Prof. Oyana, Principal Investigator (PI) of the Mak-Sida Project 381: Integrating ICT-based support in Research, Teaching and Innovations, expressed deep appreciation to Sida for the continued good will and support to infrastructure development at Makerere University.

“We strongly believe that now an opportunity exists for capacity building in DICTS to develop relevant IT knowledge and skills to grow cloud-based computing and storage applications to support Makerere University’s research,” remarked Prof. Oyana.

Project Co-PI, Prof. Uno Fors in his virtual address congratulated Makerere University upon the impressive installation, noting that Stockholm University (SU) had only recently received its cloud computing facility and as such, was not far ahead of its partner. He pledged that SU would support technology-based training of trainers so as to facilitate skills transfer over the internet. “When the pandemic allows, I will come over,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya noted that Sida’s cooperation with Makerere University goes back more than 20 years and was glad that the state-of-the-art facility was being commissioned in the period leading up to Makerere’s celebration of 100 years of existence.

He shared that the University had embarked on implementation of its new 10 year strategic plan, which seeks to consolidate Makerere’s position as the global knowledge hub at the heart of Africa, representing a major paradigm shift. “We have in the past been engaged in a number of activities and we now want to see how best to support other universities and the country through initiatives like cloud computing.”

Dr. Ssembatya sincerely thanked the Swedish Embassy and Royal Government for the generosity and support that took into consideration Makerere’s present and future ICT needs. He pledged the University’s commitment to fully utilize the facility.

In her remarks, Dr. Behravan reiterated that institution-building, postgraduate training, and the existence of an environment that is conducive for research and research training are all part of the holistic effort supported by Swedish research funding to Uganda since the year 2000.

She expressed the Swedish Embassy’s gratitude to Makerere’s Institutional approach to addressing developments in the ICT environment, as shown by establishment of the new facility. “Today we are witnessing the fruit of a cost-sharing partnership between Sweden and Makerere whereby the University has shown a strong ownership in implementation of its ICT Policy and Master Plan and securing the sustainability of the ICT system and services in line with its strategic direction.”

Eng. Sewankambo thanked the project team for inviting her to not only grace but also witness the historic moment. The Makerere University alumna of Electrical Engineering paid tribute to her alma mater for always being a model research and innovation institution. “I applaud Makerere University for being out there and recognizing that we as a nation are growing.”

She shared that Uganda was already implementing her National 4IR strategy and the NDPIII has a specific programme on digital transformation. One of the programme’s objectives is to promote ICT research, innovation and commercialisation of indigenous knowledge products.

“I am happy to note that the National Conference on Communications is going be hosted by Makerere University next month. The Conference will bring together players from Government and Academia to ensure that research developed is relevant to the country” she said.

Ag. Executive Director UCC applauded the Swedish Embassy and Government for the specific support to ICT infrastructure development and urged all stakeholders to ensure that they harness the immense brain power to carry Uganda forward.



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