Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Monday evening inaugurated the National Task force on fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to provide a platform from which to inspire public-private cooperation and partnerships on issues related to the technological revolution
The inauguration took place at State House, Entebbe.
“Even as we talk about this revolution and advancement in technology, we must not forget that man’s basic needs remain food, shelter, clothes, and now education, locomotion and security. Technology, therefore, must be about serving these human needs,” Museveni said during the launch.
He added, “I call upon this team to think in a holistic manner, not uni-dimensional. I have been watching some speakers suggest that Africa should not engage in manufacturing, instead focusing only on food production. We should avoid such landmines. Africa must manufacture and focus on areas of its comparative advantage.”
The National Task Force has been selected from innovation hubs, private sector, academia, civil society, Development partners and Government.
The team will study 4IR technologies and advise Government on policy interventions, possible implementation areas and the ecosystem for the adoption and promotion of 4IR including human capital development; infrastructure and technological environment.
The 21 member Expert National Task Force on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) shall be chaired by the former Minister for ICT, John Nasasira. It consists of Permanent Secretaries of Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Ministry of Science and Technology, Heads of ICT Departments of Makerere University and Kyambogo University, other Government Officials, Members of the Civil Society, and Development Partners.
The Government Citizens Interaction Centre (GCIC) bosses, Awel Uwihangaye and Duncan Abigaba were present at the launch.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is an expression used in reference to the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterized by a series of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.
“I challenge the team to be practical. Why should we have software engineers who cannot make computers? Ugandan scientists must not just be users of gadgets, they must design and make these gadgets like computers. We should have complete integration from foundation to final products,” Museveni said on Monday.
The Taskforce will therefore consider emerging technologies in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution covering wide-ranging fields such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Blockchain Technologies, Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D/4D printing. The Taskforce will also consider global trends, with a focus on developments and aspirations for Uganda and the East African region.
It is a brainchild of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) has been formed as a follow up to the Blockchain conference held last year at Serena Hotel Kampala.
At the end of the Conference, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, committed to set up a national taskforce to advise Government on the appropriate policy framework to enable blockchain and other emerging technologies support Uganda’s agenda for national transformation.
The Ministry of ICT has coordinated the establishment of an “Expert National Taskforce on the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which will report to the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Ministry of ICT&NG will serve as Secretariat to the Taskforce.
It has been set up to increase awareness of the comprehensiveness and speed of the technological revolution and its multifaceted impact, and a framework for adopting the technological revolution.
According to the ICT Ministry, the Task force will be charged with the following responsibilities.
- To review of policies, legal and regulatory environment and standards for the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies;
- To recommend a comprehensive ecosystem/strategy for the adoption and promotion of 4IR including human capital development;employment opportunities; infrastructure and technological environment; cyber security, privacy and ethics; environmental impact; market for digital products; and funding options;
- To identify challenges and risks for the adoption of 4IR;
- To advise on a framework for research, development and innovation;
- To recommend incentives for the adoption of 4IR technologies; and
- To prepare requisite terms of reference and technical specifications.
The task force will serve for an initial period of one year and their contract will be renewable at the discretion of the Minister of ICT & National Guidance.
It has representatives from the public sector, private sector, innovation hubs, civil society, academia and development partners who have the necessary expertise to advise Government on the appropriate policy framework.