18 February 2013

Uganda: Varsity to Make Phones

Kampala, Uganda — They are known for their first innovation, the Electric Vehicle (Kiira EV) that was successfully launched a year ago and the Kayoola Electric Solar Bus, which they intend to launch soon among other reasons.

This time round, Year Four students of Electrical and Computing Engineering at Uganda's 90 years University Makerere, have embarked on another research to develop a "smart" mobile phone the first to be made locally in Uganda.

This proof of concept project is not only aiming at expertise but it also targets to create space for intervention in the phone industry.

The smart phone, dubbed 'Pearl', is one of the many projects being funded by the Government at Makerere.

Cosmas Mwikirize the associate principal investigator of the ilabs at the university says that its main objective is to move towards a job creating university rather than job seekers by looking at industrialization and to produce something that is originally Ugandan.

"Uganda, like most of the other African nations, has always been a consuming country for foreign technologies. We want to prove that these things can also be done here," said Mwikirize.

Besides him, there are six undergraduate students of electrical and computer engineering working on the smart phone.

He identifies them as Simon Lubambo, Epirus Kuhimbisa, Peter Mugenyi, Patience Bataringaya, Paul Buchana, and Agatha Turyagyenda all students of Engneering at the institution.

"This is a project that is basically a proof of concept on whether we can also locally manufacture phones locally instead of importing from different countries," added Mwikirize.

The research is part of the Ushs 4b ($ 1.5m) that is allocated to the college by the government annually. Other projects include the i-labs in which lecturers and students can conduct scientific research online, which reduces expenses on physical equipment.

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