The Makerere University Youth and Innovation Expo 2023 that kick-off on Friday, October 06 with the grand opening ceremony presided over by key persons in the country ended on Saturday, October 07, with student innovators exposed to the market and ushered into how they can commercialize their products.
The two-day event attracted student- innovators from all walks of life exhibiting their products for the world to give them a go-ahead after obtaining trademarks.
Prof Anthony Muwagga Mugagga the Principal College of Education and External Studies (CEES) said they are intending to implement the competence-based curriculum in the lower and upper secondary.
“The innovation of teacher trainees is a show of our support to the government in implementing this curriculum. Students have manufactured shoe polish, soap, medicine, and snacks among others. These things are going to be replicated by the school children when they go back to the field,” he said.
He lauded the sponsors including the University, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), MTN, and others for coming up to sponsor the expo.
“We don’t expect poor teachers who beg all the time. We expect teachers who make their own money. And even some are going to be self-employed. The students learn the usefulness of being innovative and how to market themselves. This is like teaching practice; we are monitoring what they are doing.” Prof Mugagga added.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor noted that this is the first ever youth expo in the history of Uganda and showed hope of how this initiative shall breed youngsters helping government to create job opportunities for the poor Ugandans.
“We are all aware Uganda is a youthful country, the majority of the people are youth and we must tap into their energies to move this country forward positively. Makerere University has resolved to be a leader in research and innovations because we realize we must empower these youths to create jobs for themselves and other people who are disadvantaged,” he remarked on Friday.
He said that with youths identifying the problems and going ahead to provide solutions to these problems in their societies through innovations, it will be a supplement to investors and there is hope many people will move out of poverty.
He revealed that they are planning to establish an innovation hub that will provide support to these young innovators to have their dreams come true.
“UNDP is supporting us to come up with an innovation hub, the first of its kind I believe in East Africa and our youth will have the opportunity to come here and develop their ideas and move out of these gates with companies in their pockets to go out and create jobs for all the Ugandans.” He revealed before saying “we have already created the first university-wide innovation hub and young people with their good ideas will come to learn how to keep money, how to improve the products that they have come up with, and to improve the processes.”
The VC called upon all innovators to come and get support from professors to help them until they go out to commercialize whatever they have through their companies.
Patience Afoyorwoth, a student at CEES who came up with a cough syrup said her medicine is 98 percent effective.
“We used mango leaves, guava leaves, ginger, bottle brush and honey. The honey works as a preservative and it also makes it sweet. And it is also an antibiotic itself,” she noted.
She started with 30 bottles of the cough syrup and plans to make more in the future with each bottle sold at Shs2500.
While opening the expo, Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker pledged government support to innovation and lauded Makerere for transforming from training job seekers to job creators.
“I am really excited to see the transition that Makerere is going through,” he said.
He asked other universities to emulate Makerere and revealed how innovation is widening the tax gap of the government as there is more tax payers who are going to emerge out of the institution.
“Makerere you are the leader in youth innovation, let other institutions follow this. Be creative and look at creative funding. Now let us look at commercializing the innovations. Write proposals and we as government, we shall give you money since you are doing a good job,” he pledged.
He promised full support of the young innovators saying: “As government, we are looking at how we can support local innovators, we are going to update the copyright law so as your innovations are well protected under the law such that no one benefits from them.”
Mrs Lorna Magara, the Chairperson of the University Council said Makerere is transforming from a second-Generation University to a third generation University.
“We are fully cognizant of our exploding youth population and the challenges that this poses so their creativity and numbers have to be put to productive use,” she said.
It is our hope that the Youth and Innovation Expo will serve as an annual rallying point to foster entrepreneurship through the provision of master classes, inspirational lectures, access to financing, market opportunities through product launches and game-changing technology tools,” she stressed.
Third generation universities are known to enhance competitiveness of enterprises. And the enhancement is born out of proficiency in the utilization of knowledge, and deeper connection between industry and universities.
Ronald Kiyimba, a student of Distance Education and an innovator from the Knowledge Rethink Bureau Uganda (KRBU) exhibited the mental health knowhow game, an innovation that helps boost mental abilities.
He said the game will help to realize the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number three that deals with mental capacities.
“The game has come embracing knowledgeability and reasonability. There are so many people internationally who do not play any game. They are watchers, they are supporters so we are transforming the greatest majorities who do not play to become active players as the UN wants.” He explained.
The mental health knowhow game has sessions including the vocabulary development. The component ensures that every learner or participant generates 10,000 vocabularies without cramming and copying.