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The Africa Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge 2021 (Africa IoT & AI) was officially launched during the closing ceremony of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IEEE GCAIoT) on Tuesday the 25th of May 2021.

Uganda is one of the countries that was selected to participate in the regional challenge of the Africa IoT & AI challenge 2021 with the Challenge Official Local Partnership for Africa IoT & AI Challenge being UTAMU Research and Innovation City (UTAMURIC) and the Challenge Coordinator in Uganda for Africa IoT & AI Challenge being Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU). The National Chairperson and Local Lead of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge 2021 in Uganda is Professor Venansius Baryamureeba who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of UTAMURIC, and also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of UTAMU.

UTAMURIC is an umbrella research and innovation non-profit organization whose establishment is to address challenges in research, innovation, and business incubation and startup ecosystems within the African context. UTAMURIC has a mission to nurture the next generation of researchers, innovators and high-tech companies that are globally competitive, thereby creating young billionaires in Sub-Saharan Africa. These young billionaires are trained to drive the economies to effective, efficient and knowledge based success and prosperity that will position the south to a fair level playing field in today’s technologically evolving world.

This year’s Africa IoT & AI Challenge was organized by the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society (IEEE TEMS).  IEEE TEMS is a global society engaged in the oversight of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge regionally in Africa, and internationally. IEEE TEMS engagement is premised on the need to advance, enhance, and improve essential management and leadership knowledge and skills of the IEEE members with more focus on management sciences and practices required for defining, implementing, and managing engineering and technology in specific areas of technology, policy development, assessment and transfer; research; product design and development; entrepreneurship; program and project management; strategy; education and training; organizational development and human behavior; transitioning to management; and the socioeconomic impact of engineering and technology management. This great global vision has been extended to Africa as well.

The Africa IoT & AI Challenge was flagged off in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and our very own Uganda on Tuesday the 25th May, 2021 with the aim of building capacity in AI, the IoT, and related fields. The Africa IoT & AI Challenge is focused on university students and young business people in the various countries and aims to create a network to support the digital transformation movement in Africa.

The Challenge is in line with the global trend of attention to and greater utilization of technology in all fields of life. Over the last 30 years, technology has transformed societies in many ways that today the advancing practicality of its application is a global need for all. In this era, societies do not want to be left behind as the 4th industrial revolution continues to envelope nations to stay abreast with global trends and expectations. In this 4th industrial revolution there is urgent need that both developing and less developing nations have no choice but to embrace IT in order to be able to fit and participate in this global economy with identity, recognition and fair placement. Furthermore, technologies based on information and communication technology (ICT) and AI have played a fundamental role in the development of many areas related to applied science, engineering, health, and transportation.

The new wave of technological progress has created new opportunities and put to the test the ability of nations to take advantage of this progress. These innovations provide a large number of opportunities for less developed countries to take advantage of new and changing markets. Thus the Africa IoT & AI Challenge will play a significant role in enabling a fair level of progress and creation of opportunities aimed at reducing the existing inequalities between the North and the South by ensuring that the existing and fast growing digital transformational era is embraced by Africa in a bid to minimize the digital divide between the technology haves and have-nots. To register national success of the Uganda IoT & AI Challenge, UTAMURIC is partnering with highly recognized institutions; Makerere University, Ndejje University, Uganda Technology & Management University (UTAMU), Mbarara University of Science & Technology, Soroti University, Kampala International University, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U), Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Hive Colab, The Innovation Village and the Ministry of Information & Communications Technology & National Guidance,  which are nationally and globally acknowledged institutions drawn from the academia, public and private sectors, as well as research, innovation and incubation hubs.

The representatives from these institutions constitute the National Steering Committee for the Africa IoT & AI challenge 2021 in Uganda.  This is a reputable team of highly skilled, experienced and knowledgeable experts with diverse exposure, understanding and appreciation of the digital transformation process locally and globally. They are intellectually positioned to identify innovators and/or startups in the area of IoT & AI that will compete at national level so that the winners can represent Uganda at regional and continental levels. They are committed to creating an innovation environment which will transform Uganda’s digital space and ensure the socioeconomic growth of our country and region. The National Steering Committee constitutes of the persons:

Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba
Prof. Venansius BaryamureebaNational Chairperson & Local Lead of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Chairman/Managing Director, UTAMU Research and Innovation City Chairman, Board of Directors UTAMU
Mr. Byamugisha Michael Newman
Mr. Byamugisha Michael NewmanMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Manager – Portfolio & Investment, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U)
Professor Chukwuemeka Jude, DIJI
Professor Chukwuemeka Jude, DIJIMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee, Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research, Innovation, Consultancy & Extension Kampala International University
Dr. Nabaasa Evarist
Dr. Nabaasa EvaristMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee, Dean Faculty of Computing & Informatics Mbarara University of Science & Technology
Dr. Philip Ouma Ayoo
Dr. Philip Ouma AyooMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Dean, School of Computing & Engineering Uganda Technology & Management University (UTAMU)
Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha
Prof. Engineer BainomugishaMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Chairperson, Department of Computer Science School of Computing & Information Technology Makerere University
Dr. Johnson Mwebaze
Dr. Johnson MwebazeMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Director, UTAMU Research and Innovation City
Prof. Tushabe Busingye Florence
Prof. Tushabe Busingye FlorenceMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Professor of Computer Science Soroti University
Dr. Robert Setekera
Dr. Robert SetekeraMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Dean Faculty of Science & Information Technology Ndejje University
Mr. Julius Peter Torach
Mr. Julius Peter TorachMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Commissioner, Information Technology Ministry of Information & Communications Technology & National Guidance
Ms. Olga Naiga
Ms. Olga NaigaMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Steering Committee Business Analyst, The Innovation Village.
Prof. Charles Kwesiga
Prof. Charles KwesigaMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021 Executive Director of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI)
Mr. Luboga Jeffrey
Mr. Luboga JeffreyMember of Uganda IoT & AI Challenge 2021, Steering Committee, Programs Manager Hive Colab

Registration to all Ugandans with innovative project ideas in the tracks of GRADUATION PROJECTS and STARTUPS in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). You are welcome to register your ideas at https://africaiotai.org/registration, in the following categories: Automotive, Energy, Healthcare, Education, Smart Manufacturing, Retail & E-Commerce, Smart Buildings, Smart Homes, Smart Agriculture, Smart Transportation, FinTech and others.

The Challenge will be in four phases;

Phase 1: Open Registration

Phase 2: Training Delivery & Mentorship

Phase 3: Local finals. The qualifying top 6 winners

Phase 4: Regional finals in the IEEE Global Conference on AI & IoT in Dubai.

The participants will receive technical training on software development and business training on ideation, design thinking, and business modelling.

The participants will be exposed to opportunities that will open a further door for advancement in their careers which will include:

  1. Technical mentorship,
  2. Investment opportunities for the best ideas/startups,
  3. Networking with Top Notch companies,
  4. Advanced educational technical content,
  5. Access to international conferences,
  6. Access to IoT & AI Africa community,
  7. Access to local digital fabrication labs and online cloud services,
  8. Networking with academia leaders, industry professionals & governments representatives,
  9. Participation is free of charge,
  10. Winners receive intensive public relations and media coverage and,
  11. Winners join funded soft-landing programs in different countries and markets.

The Africa IoT & AI Challenge is an opportunity for every citizen and not only for participants because it is the beginning of an open door to invite the country as a whole into a new and vibrant science and tech era that will propel the nation to be globally inclusive.  As Nicky Verd quotes “Don’t fight the Fourth Industrial Revolution, embrace it and become part of the revolution!”

 

Dorothy Wegoye Kimuli

Principal Marketing & Public Relations Officer,

Uganda Technology & Management University (UTAMU)

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