How can Uganda’s advances in science and technology be harnessed to boost the local economy and wellbeing? This is the question that will be debated as national and international experts descend on the northern town of Gulu for a two-day science policy dialogue tomorrow and Friday (23-24 September).
The meeting, hosted by the Ugandan National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) concludes Uganda’s fourth ‘Science Week’ – a showcase of national scientific expertise and a platform for discussion about the use of technology in everyday life.
Uganda needs tech transfer. The liberalisation of the country’s economy since the 1990s has resulted in many international companies setting up shop in the land-locked country. This kick-started economic growth after decades of political turmoil.
But the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, wants to see more local companies thrive, in particular small- and medium sized companies run by entrepreneurial Ugandans. In a development plan for the country, published in April, the government sets out an ambition to boost innovation and technology transfer.
The Gulu meeting will discuss the implementation of this plan. But there are other considerations: What will happen to Ugandan science funding when the money from its World Bank Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) loan runs out next year? Will Uganda’s government pass a law to regulate the growing and selling of genetically modified produce in the country?
Watch this space.
Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist