Kampala, Uganda — Makerere University will be able to sustain its research programmes after government promised to allocate a new sh30billion fund in the 2019/2020 financial year to support it.
This follows the end of a 20-year collaborative partnership between Makerere University and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency-SIDA.
SIDA has been a primary source of funding for training of researchers and research in Uganda under a bilateral research collaboration programme initiated in 2000. This collaboration has given birth to a myriad of collaborations between Makerere University and other 12 universities in Sweden.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice-Chancellor revealed government's new commitment from 2019/20 during the Makerere University -Sweden Bilateral Research Cooperation's annual planning meeting for research support to Uganda held at the University.
The Swedish government has injected up to US$105million approximately Shillings 392billion in public universities in Uganda as of December 2018.
Per Lindgarde, the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda says the current research programme running until June 2020 is the final phase of the programme.
Activities under this phase rotate around 17 projects spread across teaching and the service units in a network that includes five Ugandan public universities and 11 Swedish universities as well as research institutes.
Lindgarde noted that the partnership was aimed at increasing the capacity of Makerere and other public universities in Uganda to generate knowledge and promote capacity for research required for national development.
According to Lindgarde, the link between research and development cannot be over emphasized.
He appealed to the Ugandan government to embrace research as it would help in developing clear action plans and intervention programs directly connected to promoting economic growth and improving people's livelihoods.
Research related activities in the 2017/2018 fiscal year Makerere university budget cost an estimated Shillings 1.3billion while in 2018/2019 fiscal year only Shillings 743million was provided.
"We have learnt best practices from these universities and also benefited from joint supervision which has ensured quality graduates," Prof. Nawangwe discloses.
According to Prof. Nawangwe, the trained staffs need to do research, arguing that the research funding is currently inadequate to utilize the available force of academicians and researchers in the country.
"A number of our staffs have received PhD training through Sida funding. I am happy to report that since 2000 when our cooperation began, over 250 staffs have completed PhDs; 100 masters and 50 post-doctoral fellows have completed their programs," Professor Buyinza Mukadasi, the Director of Research and Graduate training at Makerere University said.
Through the same cooperation, Prof. Buyinza observes that there has been a steady increase in the capacity to conduct research in other public universities including Busitema, Kyambogo, Mbarara University of Science and Technology -MUST especially through training of staff in supervision, mentorship, research management and grant proposal writing.
Dr. Gity Behran, the Swedish First Secretary for Research and Cooperation in Uganda discloses that as an AID agency, they don't intend to substitute the role of government by ensuring funding for research is met.
According to Prof. Buyinza, the withdrawal of the Swedish funders continues to worry Makerere University. He notes that while government has committed Shillings 30billion for research, the money required is much more.
Buyinza says he is currently heading a team at Makerere that is studying key activities that the Swedish funds have been supporting to identify the vacuum and present them to government for funding.