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NWSC Urges Engineers To Patent Their Innovations

NWSC officials looking at a prototype of the new NWSC prepaid meter under development by NWSC Engineers

National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) has urged engineers across the country to protect their innovations by registering for their patent, saying there is a lot of theft taking in the country that would risk the safety of their innovations.

The call was made by Eng. Badru Kiggundu, Board Chairperson of NWSC on Thursday during the commemoration of World Engineers Day at a ceremony held at Gabba Water Treatment Plant in Kampala.

Kiggundu kicked off his address by commending NWSC for creating an enabling environment to allow its engineers to make innovations, saying such ventures add value to the world engineering day.

“Once you have made a decisive invention, which has been prevented to the panel of experts, be prepared to patent your idea. There so much thievery of ideas. There is a lot of gambling or grabbing of people’s ideas, so patent your idea before you bring others to go massive production. Somebody will take your idea, fly to Dubai and plan a superior one,” said Kiggundu.

He also encouraged the staff to keep improving their inventions and not to be discouraged if experts don’t pick them up for production. “Don’t underestimate yourselves. Sometimes people come up with their innovations, some people don’t listen to them or undervalue them, but don’t worry. Don’t be shy about inventing what your brain thinks,” he said.

The celebrations were marked with 34 exhibitors under seven categories with top three innovators rewarded by cash prizes.

Sharon Gubamwoyo, an Engineer with NWSC showcased the in house Sanitizer being produced with 60-70% alcohol content, a venture she said has helped the Corporation save Shs116M

Gubamwoyo said that when the pandemic broke out, NWSC was purchasing Shs50,000 on a liter of sanitizer for their Kampala Water office. So far, they have produced 10 batches totaling to 3000 liters at Shs33m as opposed to Shs150m they would have spent purchasing the same quantity at Shs50,000 a liter.

Silver Mugisha, Managing Director NWSC said that this year’s Engineering Day was held under the theme; Engineering for sustainable development and the theme was chosen to highlight the importance of technology in sustainable development.

He added that innovations at the corporation are critical because the needs of customers are increasingly becoming enormous both quantitatively and in terms of quality and there is increasing need to innovate to ensure sustainability.

“What you see is very big demonstration of what NWSC can do. You must find a way of enhancing Technology on one hand and efficiency on another. What you saw is an effort to increase the Corporation’s efficiency through Technology change. If everything we have seen is put into reality it will improve overall productivity of NWSC,” said Mugisha.

He also urged innovators to move beyond having ideas presented at exhibition to move to real physical production of innovation, “We have been moving around with prototype of prepaid water metering, let us put it to physical use. The inputs aren’t many, it’s just the plastic frame which we can produce on mass production locally,” noted Mugisha.

Andrew Muhwezi, Senior Manager Water at Kampala Water decried the dependence on international technology, saying this has increased cost doing business in developing nations.

He said that is still relying on a lot of imported Technology and once the guarantees expire, there is constraint with after sales service a constraint further worsened with absence of highly skilled people in the country to sustain service life of the machinery.

At the moment, NWSC has resorted to building buffer for spare parts and developing capacity of staff so as not to disrupt service delivery.

NWSC is set to construct a water museum that will showcase all the technology the Corporation has used since inception in 1974. The items will come with description and will be open at teaching engineering students on evolution of technology in the water sector.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Environment, Beatrice Anywar has rejected claims that Uganda has the highest water tariff charges in the East African region states.

The Minister’s remarks were in response to a matter raised by Geoffrey Macho (Busia Municipality) who protested the exorbitant water price in Uganda compared to water charges of Kenya.

Anywar said that although the NWSC tariffs were not a cost recovery tariff but Uganda’s water tariff is a pro poor tariff if its compared with the Kenyan water tariff. She said that the Corporation charges only Shs25 per 20 litre jerrycan. 

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