Successful partnership enhances ICT capacity in Uganda
Engineer Bainomugisha, project coordinator, Swaib Dragule, PhD-student, Michel R.V. Chaudron, project coordinator.
The BRIGHT-project started in 2016 with the aim to further socioeconomic development in Uganda by enhancing the ICT capacity. One of the main objectives is to educate ten doctoral students, which is well underway with PhD-projects within e-health, translation and industry collaboration.
The SIDA funded project, called BRIGHT, is a partnership between Makerere University and Mbarara University in Uganda, and the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers. The project will enhance the academic capacity of the two universities in Uganda by educating ten doctoral students.
“Recruiting the PhD-candidates was one of the most critical efforts for the project. We did the interviews in Uganda and found suitable candidates, and also two supervisors for each candidate, one in Sweden and one in Uganda.” says Professor Michel Chaudron, project coordinator at University of Gothenburg and Chalmers.
Seven of the PhD-students are spending half their time in Sweden and are now half way through their doctoral studies with an already ambitious number of publications.
“The project has received very positive feedback. In terms of publication output we’re one of the leading projects among SIDA’s partnerships. We have around 25 publications, which I think is a good result.” says Michel Chaudron.
Socioeconomic growth in focus
The intention of the partnership is to enhance the ICT capacity in Uganda to enable socioeconomic development. Associate professor Engineer Bainomugisha is the project coordinator at the School of Computing & Informatics Technology, Makerere University in Uganda.
“Some of the PhD-projects have the potential to improve the service delivery in healthcare, other projects may have impact on the local software industry. One of the students is working closely with some of the industry in Sweden, and hopefully that experience will be usable in the local context after the project.” says Engineer Bainomugisha.
Another project is looking at automated translation from one of the fifty local Ugandan languages to English.
“All official communication in Uganda is in English, so key documents like the constitution and the laws are all in English. To be able to automatically translate some of that key information into a local language would have a big impact on the information reaching the community.” says Engineer Bainomugisha.
Building an international network
The project also arranges so-called summer schools, a one-week training course open to anyone interested in software engineering topics. It’s been arranged three times in Uganda, with another one coming up next year.
“We choose topics that we think are academically interesting or relevant for society, like quality of healthcare IT, agile development, machine learning or text mining. The summer schools have attracted people from other local universities and even neighboring countries. That’s a nice benefit.” says Michel Chaudron.
Another objective of the project is to enable African researchers to connect to the global research community.
“That’s why we organized a mini conference focusing on software engineering in Africa. It was held in May in Gothenburg, together with one of the largest software engineering conferences in the world, ICSE. Science is for a large part a social activity where you discuss your results, and even share data, methods and tools with other professors. So, just knowing people personally is a benefit.” Michel Chaudron explains.
The BRIGHT-project have received praise both from the Director of Research at Makarere University, and representatives of the Swedish Embassy, as well as in the external evaluation.
“In our mid-time evaluation, our project was picked out as one of the very well performing projects in terms of mid-time expectations regarding student progression, publications, communication and other activities to grow our network.” says Engineer Bainomugisha.
Facts about the BRIGHT-project
25 million SEK over five years (2016-2021) from The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
- School of Computing & Informatics Technology of Makerere University, Uganda
- Institute of Computer Science Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda
- Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
- Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
- Engineer Bainomugisha, associate professor at the School of Computing & Informatics Technology, Makerere University, Uganda.
- Michel R.V. Chaudron, professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.