Saleh, dons advise government on innovations

Friday August 10 2018

Intervention. Gen Saleh welcomes the Chinese

Intervention. Gen Saleh welcomes the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Zheng Zhuqiang, at the symposium in Kampala on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Risdel Kasasira

Kampala. Scientists from five public and private universities on Tuesday met in Kampala to discuss possible ways to turn scientific innovations into commercial ventures.
The Uganda-China symposium, which was organised by the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme, and the Uganda Investment Authority brought together about 10 science professors from Makerere, Ndejje and Busitema universities, and the Uganda Industrial Research Institute.

The projects discussed include Kyambogo University’s domesticated Triple Helix under which the scientists are working out a concept to melt iron ore for steel. The steel will be needed for the Kiira EV motor vehicle commercial production project, which needs more than $100m to kick off.
Prof Elli Katunguka-Rwakishaya, the Kyambogo University vice chancellor, said Uganda has a lot of iron ore in Kigezi sub-region and Mbarara District that can be used to make steel needed for Kiira EV commercialisation.
“We are working on a furnace to melt iron ore,” Prof Rwakishaya said.

Kiira EV investment
Prof Tickodri Togboa, the coordinator Kiira EV commercialisation, said Cabinet has directed the ministry of Finance to set aside 20 billion ($5.6m) next financial year to kickstart the construction of an assembly plant.
Prof Mary Okwakwol of Busitema University said they are planning to assemble trucks at the university.
“We are also putting up a skilling centre to avoid a mismatch between skills and job market,” she said.

The OWC programmme coordinator, Gen Salim Saleh, said university scientists have knowledge that can be applied to transform society.
Gen Saleh also said poor planning in government also leads to low absorption of borrowed funds.
The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, in a speech read by Mr Moses Belabye, the technical advisor for economic affairs at the ministry of Finance, said the current $10b debt burden would increase because of the infrastructure projects.

“As such, Uganda will increasingly turn to non-concessional financing, although this will be done in a manner that does not jeopardise debt sustainability,” Mr Muhakanizi said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Zheng Zhuqiang, who was the chief guest, said societies that have pursued science have developed.