President Yoweri Museveni has said no one will cut the operating budget of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation as long as he is still the President of Uganda.
He says the government cannot make such a mistake because Uganda currently needs science and innovation more than before to achieve the desired Science-Led Socio-economic transformation.
“The plan of cutting 90 percent of the Ministry of Science budget; I’m not part of it and as far as I’m the President of Uganda, nobody will cut that budget. I don’t know who planned it because we cannot leave what we should do and do what we shouldn’t do; we need to do more in science rather than less,” Gen Museveni said.
Accompanied by the First Lady who also serves as the Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs. Janet Museveni, the President made the remarks today as he laid a foundation stone for the National Science, Technology, Engineering And Innovation Centre (NSTEIC) at Rwebitete, Kiruhura District.
The centre is aimed at enhancing the technological and innovative base of Ugandans to participate in national infrastructural projects and manufacturing industries and according to the President, it is built on a model similar to Law Development Centre whereby it takes in those who have completed the formal training at University or Vocational Training Centres to horn their precision skills in their areas of specialization.
“This is like the Law Development Centre for lawyers. A lawyer is trained academically in the law school but before he goes to courts, he must learn the practical techniques of being a lawyer in Uganda. Even if you are trained wherever you are trained, you must attend LDC in order to operate here,” he explained.
He also assured that the Government will fully fund the building of the foundry at the centre. The President’s assurance followed a statement from the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero that the Exim Bank of China who are supporting the establishment of the centre through a loan, had declined to cater for the foundry.
“We shall build the foundry. If the Exim Bank are tired, for us we are not tired. We shall build the foundry ourselves. The foundry is like a furnace where you heat things or where you do the blacksmithing,” he said.
The Centre is one of the three components under the National Science Technology Engineering and Innovation Skills Enhancement Project and is being implemented by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). Other components include; Technology Innovation Business Incubation Center (TIBIC) at Namanve, Mukono District and the Technical Service Center (TSC) which was launched on 24th January 2023 at Kikuube during the commission of the Oil Rig at Kingfisher oil field.
On her part, Dr. Musenero revealed that the centre will impart Precision Engineering Skills to Ugandans, which are essential for designing, manufacturing, installation, and operation of infrastructural and industrial projects.
“Your Excellency, you may recall that in 2021, you outlined the eight areas where science should focus on contributing to productivity acceleration, import substitution and enhancing value added exports. Among those eight areas was what you termed Infrastructure Innovations – in other words enhancing the Engineering Capacity of Ugandans. This project is designed to contribute to that effort.” she said.
“This is not only critical for enabling Ugandans to participate in national infrastructural development projects, but at the same time supporting the Ugandan scientists and innovators to commercialize viable research and development outputs.”
The Minister also assured President Museveni that they are currently working on the operationalization strategies for the centre which include comprehensive public mobilization and engagement strategies, partnerships with agencies like the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Building Review Board (BRB) and institutions like the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE) and Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA).
“These will recommend Engineers, Technicians and manufacturers to come for the offerings at the centre. The centre will also put-up calls for upskilling and re-tooling to attract potential candidates. The centre will also consider recommendations from special interest groups like the leaders of the Parish Development Model,” she noted.
Once fully operationalised, Dr. Musenero says 1,200 Ugandans are expected to be equipped with precision industrial skills per year hence improved employability and participation in industrial jobs.
“At least 1,300 jobs will be created per year, hence improving the livelihood of the local communities and nationals. Import substitution for many engineering products will be achieved and it will increase local participation in infrastructure projects and reduction in foreign dependency,” she said.
“The centre will among others provide tailor-made programs, targeting high precision manufacturing technologies, such as design and Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Programming that demand attention to detail.”
The construction works are expected to be complete by July 2023 and the facility will be handed over to the Ministry of Science by November 2023.