Makerere University partners with the UNDP to foster Innovation and National Development.

With a quick transition into the implementation phase, US $ 500,000 (UGX 1.9 Billion) is earmarked for the setting up and equipping a model engineering and creative design University Innovation Pod at the Makerere University with special focus on agro-tech, digital solutions, smart cities, electronics, renewable energy, and creatives.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University with Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the Resident Representative of UNDP Uganda show copies of the signed MOU 

On the 20th of September 2022, at the Makerere Senate building, UNDP Uganda signed a development partnership with Makerere as part of the university’s year long centennial celebrations. This is an effort to, in line with the celebratory theme, leverage Makerere University which is among the institutions that have positioned Uganda as a center of excellence in higher education within the Eastern and Central African region.

Makerere’s partnership with UNDP is based on five strategic areas, the fostering of innovation ecosystems in Public Universities, leveraging the role of universities in grassroots development, establishing regular Innovation Expositions as a platform for youth innovators to network and connect with venture capitalist and investors, promoting research on Resilience, and strengthening gender equality in public institutions.

The strategic plans of both the development partner and the University are aligned in prioritizing  innovation as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and sustainable development. This is why UNDP is collaborating with Makerere to hasten its goal of transforming into a research-led institution with a multi-disciplinary research agenda and an enhanced engagement with industry and business sector.

Over the years, Ugandan public universities, such as Makerere, have successfully expanded their role towards stimulating innovation and invention in their communities. These efforts are in line with the emerging global pattern that seeks to increase the convergence between science, technology, innovation and national development policies.

An example of such an effort from Makerere is the Kiira Motors Corporation. Initially a vehicle design project by a group of students and supervisors at the University, it is now a state-owned enterprise aimed at undertaking the commercialisation and value addition in the domestic automotive industry for both job and wealth creation.

Ms. Attafuah sharing a light moment with the University Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma.

Through the partnership, UNDP will specifically support Makerere University to establish a Model Innovation Pod/Hub that will be financed through the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa’s initiative that was launched this year:

This initiative aims at raising a $1 billion USD youth innovation financing facility for Africa with the intent of achieving, over 10 years, 1,000 high-growth startup enterprises scaled across the continent; improving 50 million livelihoods; and creating value worth US $10 billion.

This initiative is expected to achieve a proliferation of startups from student innovators, a realignment of university objectives and student education with market needs, increased financial autonomy for Makerere University resulting from the monetization of Intellectual Property and equity in business spinoff from student innovation, increased resources for research – a consequence of its marketability, and finally the evolution of overall university curricular to suit market and employer needs.

The UNDP Uganda Country Office is expected to facilitate, through seeding and catalyzing investments towards the design of the University Innovation Hub, connecting and linking the process by connecting learning institutions to private sector actors, policy makers and other key players in the innovation ecosystem; and lastly to broker by facilitating the transfer of knowledge, good practices from other contexts and programmatic areas of the UN.

With a quick transition into the implementation phase, US $ 500,000 (UGX 1.9 Billion) is earmarked for the setting up and equipping a model engineering and creative design University Innovation Pod at the Makerere University with special focus on agro-tech, digital solutions, smart cities, electronics, renewable energy, and creatives.

In line with fostering grassroots development, an additional US $300,000 (UGX 1.14 Billion) was earmarked to support a Policy Lab at Makerere University tasked with designing a National Roadmap for the implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM). The PDM is a Government Strategy to reduce poverty by moving the 39% households (which translates to 3.5 million households or 16.1 million Ugandans) under the subsistence sector into the money economy. It emphasizes the “Whole of Government” approach while also bringing State and Non-State Actors together to ensure increased production, processing and marketing, infrastructure, and service delivery at the community level.

The Policy Labs will support and enable the implementation of the PDM based on sound evidence, analysis and the targeting of beneficiaries through the key activities such as profiling markets, enterprises, and community infrastructure and facilities; stakeholder mapping; data analysis and designing of innovative intervention; stakeholder consultations and participatory programming of intervention.

Former minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu at the press briefing

Under the areas of Research and Resilience, the Government through OPM, in partnership with UNDP is implementing the Strengthening Emergency Response and Recovery to Covid-19 Uganda (SERRU) Project, with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and in Partnership with Makerere University and the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). 

This project aims at complementing existing efforts to respond to COVID-19 through expanding capacity for COVID-19 testing and increasing surveillance and addressing the existing evidence based and knowledge gaps through providing grants for thematic research on disaster risk management and disease epidemics and pandemics.

Lastly, to strengthen accountability for the sustainability and acceleration of gender equality in public institutions, the UNDP is implementing the Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions Certification Program for the Public Sector. 

This programme was introduced as an initiative to recognize performance and gender accountability in delivering transformational results through establishing standards within the public sector aimed at promoting an equitable work environment for men and women. It also aims to enable public institutions to track and meet gender equality goals and ensure that they address inequality and tackle institutional discrimination.

Makerere University and UNDP officials in attendance at the press briefing 


Get Involved

Are you a Member of Staff, Student Body, Alumni, General Public, or Well-wisher? Find out how you can get involved here, or share your Makerere experience with us. 

Related Stories