The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the body which oversees the premises of Uganda institute of ICT has officially handed over land for construction of a government innovation hub to the ICT Ministry.
The piece of land, located at UICT campus in Nakawa, was Monday inspected by a team of ICT Ministry officials led by Minister Frank Tumwebaze and Permanent Secretary Vincent Bagiire.
According to Tumwebaze, ground breaking of the construction project will take place before the end of August 2017 and construction process will last for a maximum of 6 months.
The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) engineering brigade will be in charge of the construction works as directed by President Museveni, “to minimise costs and save enough money that will directly go into supporting the qualifying innovators.”
Speaking to ChimpReports, Tumwebaze revealed that the UPDF engineering brigade has so far produced the building designs and soon they will be presented to KCCA for approval.
“Construction will last for a maximum of 6 months,” he said.
The hub is part of the ICT innovation support programme initiated by minister Tumwebaze who immediately after getting appointed to the docket convened an ICT innovators forum.
Innovators in Uganda suffer with lack of working space due to high rent in commercial buildings and high internet rates.
During the forum, free Work spaces with Internet was one of the support areas that innovators requested from government among others.
“Once completed the hub will offer free work space to about 200 to 300 innovators who are currently finding it difficult to pay rent in town at commercial rates,” Tumwebaze said.
The Minister further revealed that the hub will also house a mentorship auditorium where different experts and tech firms will be coming to interact and mentor the innovators and help them to develop products to the end.
“A strong Server room and Space for exhibitions will be provided within the hub. When the building is completed, the ministry of ICT will equip it with work stations and Internet,” he said.
Tumwebaze is optimistic that once completed, a number of technology firms and institutions like IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Huwaei among others, will get attracted to set up offices there to interact with young innovators since the future of tech firms depends solely on taking up many young talents with ability to innovate new digital solutions.
“Who knows, this could be the beginning of a new “Uganda Silicon Valley,” said Tumwebaze.
“I am pleased that despite the small money we got in the budget for ICT innovations (13billion – Cut by parliament from 15b), we are beginning to move and we have a clearly defined digital plan,” he added.
“We hope more money from government and even private seed funders will come. Money follows ideas and innovation is about generating and processing ideas into sustainable solutions.”