By Paul Ibanda
Remember the Makerere University student who made headlines last year when he made teargas from what he claimed were locally available materials?
While some praised Samuel Mugarura’s ingenuity, others tried to stay away from him. In fact, Makerere University even disowned his innovation.
Well, it turns out Mugarura is winning minds after-all. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation has revealed that government is ready to support the innovative young man.
Speaking at the Open day and exhibition held at Makerere University’s college of engineering, design, art and technology on October 20, the minister said Mugarura is going to benefit from the innovation fund.
“There was a student who developed teargas, but we found that he could also develop some other chemicals which can be used for other purposes, like if a girl is going to be raped, she can use it as pepper spray. We are going to support that student,” he said.
Tumwesigye said more than Shs400m has been set aside to support Mugarura’s projects. The minister also revealed that government is set to support several other projects at Makerere University such as the solar pumps, sanitary pads, and food technology among other projects.
“Government through Parliament has appropriated Shs30b for the innovation fund and about Shs7.5b of the fund is coming to Makerere,” he said.
The minister encouraged the participating students to be more innovative and make more products.
“Produce products of artificial intelligence like robotics to help revolutionalise our economy,” the minister said.
He was, however, disappointed that the university does not organize competitions for the innovators beyond the showcases.
“I was asking the principal that after here (the open day), what next? Do students just shelve their innovations, go back to sit exams? I thought there would be some sort of competition here with judges so we see how we can support the best three,” he said.