Yesterday, Swarm Summit 2017 - an event that brings together tech and startup stakeholders in Uganda - took place at The Square Place in Industrial Area, Kampala. It was at the event that Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the minister for ICT and National Guidance advised innovators and their supporters to revise their mode of communication.
He advised them to tailor their proposals and communications in a way that government officials and policymakers can easily understand. The minister said this while on a panel that was discussing Creating an Enabling Environment for Innovation in Uganda. Which came immediately after him giving the opening remarks to officially open the two-day summit running from the 7th to 8th December.
"Tell them how your innovations and solutions will impact the GDP, Jobs or something they understand," the minister said.
He said this in defence of the analogy that it is currently hard to engage government ministries, departments, and agencies regarding innovations and local solutions. However, TMS Ruge - the co-founder of Hive Colab, later argued that "actually, how about the government employed people that can understand the language innovators use?"
On the same panel, the minister was joined by Richard Zulu, the founder of Outbox Hub but representing the Association of Uganda Innovation and Tech Hubs - BICU, Albert Mucunguzi, the Chairman of the ICT Association of Uganda, Joshua Akandwanaho from NITA Uganda and Maria Kyamulabye from Andela Uganda.
Richard Zulu and Albert Mucunguzi, being heads of associations, emphasized the essence of unity and coming together to ensure a robust ecosystem is built to support startups and technology. Richard Zulu cited an example of an association like Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) which can access anyone in the government, the president included.
This, however, did not sit well with the minister who thought they were trying to politicize the issue. Instead, he urged them to always ensure they engage him and other necessary parties before any "hardcore" steps are taken. He also cited a few successes that have resulted out of this sort of arrangement.
Several other panels discussing issues affecting the tech and startup ecosystem in Uganda as well as how to forge a way forward wrapped up the day. These included a panel on Building the Connectivity Infrastructure for Uganda’s Digital Economy which was moderated by James "Wire" Lunghabo. Followed by an all-female one on The Importance Of Diversity In The Digital Economy moderated by Barbara Birungi Mutabaazi.
To wind up the day, a Tech Journalist Round Table was moderated by Patricia Kahill. They dissected the top stories of the year as well as their predictions for the year 2018.
The summit will be closing today with panels on Building investible technology Startups in Uganda, Social Media as Change Catalyst, Realizing the Fintech Opportunity in Uganda’s Emerging Digital Economy, and The State of Hardware Innovation in Uganda.
You can find more details about today's agenda here.