KAMPALA – Makerere University and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have on Tuesday morning launched the Youth and Innovation Expo 2023 through which the youth will showcase their outstanding innovations and enterprises.
Under the theme, “Fostering Innovation for Uganda’s Transformational Development” the two-day expo runs from 25th through 26th August 2023.
Mrs. Lorna Magara – The Chairperson of the Council commended the partners for great strides in nurturing innovation, creating jobs, and fostering entrepreneurship.
She noted that without innovations, the myriad of challenges the university and the country face can easily wipe out all the gains they have made to date.
Study shows that by 2050, Africa would constitute 25% or 2.5 billion of the world’s population, expected to be about 10 billion and Uganda is amongst countries growing at the highest rate.
Magara says that there is a need for an immediate action to mitigate the effects of this alarming prediction including the capacity to provide the infrastructure and education systems necessary to harness economic growth potential fully.
“Our ten-year strategic plan, currently in its third year of implementation, sets out to respond to present and emerging challenges through four overarching goals, namely: A research-led university responding to national, regional, and global development challenges; Innovations in teaching and learning that respond to the changing environment; An engaged university with enhanced partnerships with industry, the community, and international institutions; and A professionally governed, equitable, inclusive and gender mainstreamed institution.”
She re-echoed the university’s commitment to creating think tanks and gradually increasing engagement with industry, business, and other research users, developing a framework for packaging and marketing research outputs for appropriate adoption and adaptation, and using new products and technologies to influence policy and address emerging social needs positively.
“At the heart of all these aspirations are our students. We take cognizance of the fact that our youth are desirous and willing to make a meaningful contribution to shaping the century ahead,” she said.
The Expo 2023, she said will cause meaningful engagement between the youth and various actors to tap into their expertise and experience.
“In so doing, we aim to initiate viable forward and backward linkages that will facilitate the creation of jobs and foster entrepreneurship.”
Ms. Elsie Attafuah – Resident Representative, UNDP Uganda noted that this initiative is timely for so many reasons but firstly to build resilience from crisis and shocks of COVID-19, climate change, natural disasters, global conflicts and wars, youth unemployment, and rising inequality.
According to her, the world off-track in on mission to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to end poverty, reduce inequality and ensure that the planet can sustain future generations.
This, she said needs “rapid and ubiquitous innovation.”
“Only by thinking outside the box or perhaps throwing the box away, being adaptable in our approach and harnessing cutting-edge tools, platforms and services, can we achieve the SDGs by 2030 and Uganda’s development agenda. This means, new and innovative approaches that effectively embrace the complexity of the 21st century development challenges to enable transformative change need to be introduced and tested,” she noted.
Ms. Elsie also said there is a need to position universities hubs as spaces for creating, developing and sharing development solutions.
“Universities are the breeding ground for the kind of innovation, forward-thinking policies, and solutions we need to tackle 21st century challenges and reinvigorate the SDGs.”
She explained that during the Expo, the youth will leverage on Makerere University’s innovation, and UNDP’s development expertise and global innovation network to provide a platform for learning and sharing of information on the emerging opportunities to harness science, technology and innovative finance to take on the complex yet fast-evolving development challenges of the 21st century.
What to expect
The Youth and Innovation Expo 2023 will bring on board activations from its partners like MTN Uganda and House of Djs and various crucial partners that the University has had over the last 100 years such, as Stanbic Uganda, Centenary Group, Absa Bank, Vision Group, Next media to mention but a few.
The two-day event will consist of a very comprehensive, insightful, and engaging program with a conference, a student-inspired fashion show, a showcase of student innovations, exhibitions from all University colleges, exhibitions of Innovations turned enterprises from the Youth4Business program, food courts, blankets and wine activations, MTN Pulse activations, Government of Uganda, one-stop service center to mention but a few.
Expo will also:
Showcase innovative social interventions and development approaches to accelerate the attainment of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs in Uganda,
Demonstrate the potential to commercialize youth innovations for job creation and livelihoods generation,
Provide an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of Makerere University and UNDP to Uganda’s development journey, and
Equip young people with information, knowledge, and skills in sustainable entrepreneurship, employability, and health
The Expo will also provide a platform for youth and innovators to draw on UNDP’s global experiences and lessons, learn new skills, explore and share innovative ideas, forge new partnerships and network with like-minded individuals who are passionate about innovation for impact.
It will provide a forum for a diverse range of both local and international participants including policymakers, diplomatic corps, academia, and investors to exchange forward looking ideas on stimulating.
In 2020, President Yoweri Museveni launched the Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility (Y4BF). The programme was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda to address the problem of youth unemployment in Uganda.
Through this program, UNDP has directly supported over 400 youth businesses and indirectly impacted over 6,000 youth through partnerships and outreach programs with partners like BRAC and the National Association of Student Enterprises (NASE Africa).
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