Uganda software incubation centre takes off

KAMPALA, UGANDA – The Makerere University Faculty of Computing & IT has launched the National Software Incubation Centre (NSIC), which is expected to spur Uganda’s software industry.

The realization that Uganda lacks software developers, despite the university graduating computing students, lead to the NSIC’s creation, said Michael Niyitegeka, head of the faculty’s corporate relations.

NSIC is the first incubation centre on any university campus in East Africa. A US$300,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 aided its construction. One hundred students, all graduates of various computing disciplines, are currently participating in the center’s first six-month training program, working on 25 different software projects ranging from applications in vaccinations to mobile telephones, said dean of faculty professor Venansius Baryamureeba.

Housed in a new $8 million computing facility, NSIC is open to graduates of recognized universities working on software development for national use and export purposes.

“It aims at providing an opportunity to young graduates to give birth to their dream software projects and nurture them carefully in the initial critical phase,” Baryamureeba said.

“The center will also help create confidence in the minds of persons abroad outsourcing their business to the Uganda software industry,” he added.

According to Niyitegeka, the next step is to create a deliberate policy that will enable the development and growth of a software industry in the country, as has been the case in India.

India is largely the source of software for U.S., European and Asian technology companies. But India is also becoming expensive, which opens a window of opportunity for aspiring software developers elsewhere in the world, Niyitegeka noted. Already, a number of top technology companies, like Google and IBM, have expressed interest in working with the NSIC.

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