ICT innovation Program registers tremendous success
Government of Uganda through Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in the year 2017 designed an Innovation program called National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) whose objective is to create a systematic and sustainable enabling environment for the nurturing, promoting and up-taking of locally developed ICT products for socio-economic transformation.
The program was specifically created to spur innovation and facilitating development of software applications for purposes of creating employment, contributing to the reduction of the net import of ICT products & services and increasing the development of local content.
The first call for proposals was made in 2017 and 40 innovations were shortlisted out of the 349 applications submitted. Twelve (12) Innovations made it to the final list and were given supported with startup capital. These were; AIMS, Dero, PRISMS, EnerGrow, M-Farmer, Blood up, Xente, KiCare, Ocular, 6th Sense, Wulira, Munu Technologies.
Out the 12 startups supported in the first call, 5 of them have developed mature ICT products. These include; AIMS (Academic Information Management System), Wulira App used to assess hearing loss, PRISMS for newborn care, M-Farmer to enhance farm management and Xente payments gateway. Xente used the support it received to widen product depth. It now has 12 product categories from 4 product categories.
Three innovations supported have developed product prototypes and are in the process of fine tuning their product for the market. These include Blood up, ENERGRO and Wulira App.
The support given was also to help them penetrate new markets. Four (4) of the innovations supported have penetrated the market in Uganda and beyond. Xente used the support given to increase customer base, increase distribution channels to 3 from 1, and access national, regional and continent wide markets. As a result, Xente now operates in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa. The AIMS system has penetrated local market in Uganda and Universities are using their product. PRISMS, M-Farmer have also penetrated the local market.
These successful innovations are already employing people. PRISMS is employing 7 people, M-Farmer has created 33 jobs. AIMS and Xente have equally created many jobs.
These innovative products have indeed substituted imported ICT products. Before Makerere University began using AIMS, it was using an academic information management system developed outside Uganda. PRISMS App for new born care has been rolled out in 4 health facilities, namely; Lyantonde Hospital, Bwizibwera HCIV, Rakai hospital, Kalisizo hospital, Kiwangala HCIV and Lwengo HCIV.
These successes demonstrate the relevancy of the NIISP program in fostering innovation to create jobs, reduce net imports of ICT products, increase export earnings from ICT products, and cause socio-economic transformation.
Today the 26 June 2019, successful applicants in the second call will receive support. A total of 60 innovations will be supported in 2019 compared to 12 supported in 2018. The focus remains innovations offering solutions to local problems.