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Bribery Allegations Hit Uganda’s Internet Project

The Missing Links project, which is part of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project, has been hit by bribery accusations involving a renowned Member of Parliament.

Government of Uganda along with its agency National Information Technology Authority- Uganda (NITA-U) through a bidding process is searching for a contractor to complete development of the World Bank funded internet project. Six companies submitted in their bidding proposals for consideration.

Sources privy to the bidding process allege that some firms in contention of the Missing Links project are doing all they can to get the deal including bribing MPs to block the ongoing procurement process.

One of the MPs allegedly targeted by a Chinese company interested in the deal is influential Nandala Mafabi. He was allegedly offered $30, 000. We couldn’t establish if Mafabi accepted the money. Mafabi’s involvement in this bribery act is made known by another MP who preferred not to be named.

The revealing MP says Mafabi ‘was told by Chinese telecom company ZTE, one of the bidders for contract, to delay and disrupt the ongoing World Bank funded internet project, using his influence in Parliament.’

Mafabi appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on ICT recently accused NITA-U officials of taking bribes to give the bid to Huawei, another Chinese company. Mafabi’s statement, according to committee members were not backed with evidence.

It is also alleged that Mafabi has a history of dealings with ZTE, one of the six bidders for the Missing Links project. Mafabi is the landlord of Chinese companies in his luxurious buildings in Kampala and they have sponsored him for several trips to China.

“Mafabi should be thoroughly investigated to establish his motive in this NITA-U project,” the unhappy MP stated, adding, “Otherwise he will continue abusing parliament for personal gain.”

Recently, Mr Nandala was accused of taking bribes during his tenure as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson from 2006 to 2011 by a one Hamidah Nassimbwa, a member of FDC’s Women’s league.

In a leaked WhatsApp chat between the two enemies, Nassimbwa accused Mafabi of taking bribes adding that he robbed more than the PAC culprits.

She further alleges that the bribes Mafabi used to take, he used them to put up mega structures, one of which the Chinese company rents in Naguru, an upscale suburb of Kampala.

The Missing Links project will add more links to the Government backbone network (NBI/EGI) and to further ease operations and have more services go online, including application for passports, Driver’s license, National ID and etc., to increase the efficiency of service delivery and finally integrate our markets with International markets.

The Executive Director NITA-U James Saaka told Parliament that the evaluation is still going on and the successful bidder has not yet been awarded. The project’s bidding document was issued on August 14, 2017 and bids received November 7, 2017. Saaka explained that bidding document was developed by internal expertise resident in NITA-U that has managed the national backbone since 2007.

High Internet Costs: Does NITA-U’s Backbone Infrastructure Offer Solutions?

The National Transmission Backbone/E-Government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project is a government imitative by Ministry of Information Communication Technology of Uganda through its mandated body NITA-U, intended to ensure that high bandwidth data connection is available in all major towns of Uganda at a reasonable rate.

This Infrastructure is also designed to reduce the cost of doing business in government, improving communications between government agencies, and reducing the need for officials to commute for meeting and, thus, increasing efficiency.

This project has so far witnessed approximately 2400km of optical fibre cable laid countrywide connecting 33 towns, 322 government offices, and Free Wi-Fi coverage in 186 locations.

The Project which has been supported by the China government through a concessional loan, has seen the successful completion of 3 Phases, and Huawei was contracted to construct the National Backbone, this has also come with multiple benefits to the Government operations which among the many are some listed below;

  • Lowering the Cost of Internet Bandwidth for Government MDAs and Local Governments therefore lowering the cost of doing business in Government from the traditional costs which were as a result of absence of infrastructure.
  • Provision of high speed connectivity throughout the country to all major towns and District headquarters, fully leveraging the IT benefits into highly efficient operations and governance.
  • Lower of Cost of transportation of Internet Bandwidth from the East African Coast hence the reduction in the prices for the services due to integrated regional backbones.
  • Provision of connectivity to schools, Institutions of Higher Learning (16 Universities and Research Institutions,5 Hospitals to facilitate research, learning and telemedicine) and other target user groups enhancing the easy access of information, learning material which are characteristics of a digitized economy and systems.
  • Provision of high speed Internet bandwidth to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Centers.

 The deployment of the e-government platform as part of the NBI/EGI project has led to the increased transparency of government activities, enabled departments to share public data and enhance inter-departmental coordination, reduced government administration costs, and generally improved work efficiency.

With a dedicated government network, the Ugandan government can more easily construct and maintain its official website and implement a business information platform capable of attracting more foreign investment and generating employment opportunities. Thus, the government could both improve its international reputation and seek to further boost economic development.

These benefits have been exhibited through some of these initiatives;

  • Provision of e-Government Services such as eHealth, online Education, eTax and IFMS IPPS etc.to all this districts and towns across the Country
  • Integrated, Seamless, Secure and efficient Regional Government Communication and information sharing.
  • Improved Service delivery using online services provisioned through the NBI and Integrated, Seamless, Secure and efficient Government Communication facilitating economies of scale in provision of IT services across Government furthermore accelerating e-Transformation initiatives across Government

The Project , through the recently concluded Phase 3 in 2016 has established 3 uplink connections to 3 countries, i.e. Kenya through Malaba and Busia Border points, Tanzania though Mutukula and Sudan through Elegu border point boosting the resilience of the Government Network through the;

  • Provision of redundancy in Regional Communication due to the creation of alternative transmission routes with neighboring Countries through the Border Posts of Mutukula, Busia, Malaba, Elegu, Katuna and Mpondwe, Vurra and Oraba
  • Facilitate Regional System Integration (JLOS, Immigration, Education, Agriculture and Trade etc.), o Foster Innovation and Research through Inter-Regional Collaborations (Regional Info. Security Advisory Groups, Innovation and Research hubs etc.) And access to more shared/On-line services (eHealth, eEducation, eTax etc.) from the Region.

All these have been envisioned to improving the livelihood of Ugandan Citizens through reduction of Internet bandwidth costs and more work is still underway in the Phase 4 of the project to connect more towns which haven’t yet harnessed these benefits,

What is the Significance of the Missing Link Project?

The Missing Links project will add more links to the Government backbone network in the West Nile, Karamoja and the Rwenzori regions connection to the rest of the country, This will further ease operations and have more services go online, reduce unnecessary delays and paperwork and at last Ugandans will be able to apply for passports, Drivers license, National ID, Visa and other important documents online without having to line up in long queues wasting a lot of time, this will furthermore boost tourism in the country though increased usage of IT, Social media platforms, Integration of our markets with International markets and enabling farmers to market their produce easily both inside and outside Uganda.

This automation of processes through the seamless interconnection between different districts, organizations and government agencies through the National Backbone that has been constructed will furthermore boost the economy of Uganda as we harness the benefits of IT and automation thereby bringing a more digitized fast growing economy.

 

China’s ZTE Indicated In NITA-U Contract Blackmail

Uganda’s important National Backbone infrastructure (NBI) has attracted controversy after information emerged indicating that a Chinese company ZTE, is alleging that National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA U) and the Ministry of Information and Communication (ICT) are ‘colluding with the companies that built and maintain the national internet backbone to fleece Ugandans’.

Chinese ICT firm ZTE is interested in completing the project and according to sources is working hard to ‘disadvantage the rest of companies bidding for the final phase of the NBI which seeks to connect government departments with high speed interconnectivity.’

Quoting media reports, sources say ZTE accused President Museveni and NITA-U officials of signing ‘unfavourable internet provision contract with SolitonTelmec, a Kenyan company’. Allegedly, according to ZTE, the deal with Soliton was bad for the country.

‘In so doing, they are positioning themselves as the company which might offer the country a better deal, in the final phase of the NBI project.” A source told this website, adding that ZTE wants ‘government entity NITA-U to be denied its mandate and be offered to a telecom company which they can easily manipulate.’

The president recently said that as part of plans to revamp UTL, he wanted the government to start purchasing data service from the struggling telecom.

The president was told that for every Mbps of Internet delivered to any government agency through a cable owned by government through NITA-U, the Kenyan company Soliton charges NITA-U $200 (Shs725, 400) as transport charges.

But Nita-U strongly dismisses these allegations saying whoever makes such blatantly lies was unhappy about the recent contracts handed to other firms, but theirs.

Bidding Process

To win the right to work on the National Backbone infrastructure, ZTE will have to out-compete Huawei, Klawanchi Telecomm Camusat, Raubex and BCS & Fiber Home. Source intimate that Huawei, another Chinese ICT firm, has a more competitive bid; something that stands in the way of ZTE.

Online publishers Chimp Reports quoting a source this week reported that detractors have been recycling old lies to discredit Nita-U. However NITA-U says that during the pre-bid stage, all suppliers were invited to view the bid specification.

At this stage, NITA-U says that at this stage bidders were asked to register concerns with the bid process and stakeholder involved. No concern or complaint was registered paving way for the bidding process to continue.

NITA-U Communications Manager, Steven Kirenga says the authority didn’t handover any form of regulation of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) to any third party.

“NITA-U outsourced the management of the NBI to a managed services provider, SolitonTelmec, to manage the day to day operations to ensure that we provide a reliable and consistently ‘on’ service to our customers, Ministries, Departments and Local Governments,” said Kirenga.

NITA-U Responds

Government spends about Shs12bn on managing the infrastructure which the whistleblower says is a huge amount given the nature of task at hand.

Kirenga said the contractor’s scope of work goes beyond maintenance.

“The day to day operations include maintenance of all NBI equipment at MDA sites and transmission sites across the country i.e. Network equipment, Generators, air conditioners, CCTV, UPS, Inverters etc,” he said.

The contractor is required to maintain over 2,400kms of fibre, pay electricity bill for transmission sites and the main distribution center, make payments of fuel for generators and meet costs of health insurance and salary of staff.

Soliton also foots the bill of insurance of the Infrastructure; maintains vehicles and fibre network and all NBI equipment; and also run a network operating centre and help desk.

Uganda government did not seek to manage the network hence securing a service provider.

Kirenga says globally, the Managed Services model is the best practice and allows for institutions to benefit from shared value by having a Network partner take over the management and enhancement of highly evolved network process capabilities which leads to significant enhancement in the delivery of a superior Customer Experience.

“The assertion that NITA-U has overseen the financial loss of tax payer’s money is not true as the engagement of a managed service partner is an industry best practice. Reference can be made to banks and telecommunications companies where Business Process Outsourcing has been carried out as testimony to this being, indeed, best practice,” he observed.

Outsourcing is part of Government’s BPO program as outsourced parties provide employment to Ugandan citizens.

While NITA-U is providing high speed internet to Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the cost remains a contentious issue.

The whistleblower said in his/her report to President Museveni that Soliton charges NITA-U $200 per Mbps to a government ministries, departments and agencies.

Kirenga wondered: “Surely, on the face of it, if NITA-U charges $70 per Mbps to a ministry, how would it manage to pay $200 per Mbps for the same capacity to Soliton in transport charges? This is clearly not true.”

He said NITA-U remained committed to digitizing Uganda by reducing the cost of internet connectivity country.

“This effort has been deliberate and we are happy to have led the industry in reducing the cost of connectivity to Government offices by over 84 percent since 2010, when 1Mbps cost a government office $1200 to the current cost of $70 for 1Mbps.”

Technology Minister Applauds Huawei For Technological Transformation

Technology Minister Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye who is also the Chairman of Ntare School Alumni applauded Huawei for technological transformation in Uganda. 

This happened at the Ntare School Alumni fundraising dinner at Sheraton Hotel Kampala on 13th December where Huawei contributed 15 laptops for information technology boost in Ntare.   

“I thank Huawei for this wonderful contribution of 15 laptops to Ntare School. This is a big boost for the school’s technological transformation”, says Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye, the Minister of Science Technology and Innovation and Chairman of the Ntare School Alumni.

Huawei’s Executive Director of Government and Enterprise Business Mr. Benny Bai commended the school’s Alumni for birthing great leaders and influential people in Uganda.

He also added that, “one of our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives this year is to invest in Education, that is why we carried out activities such as: the ‘Seeds for the Future’ training program in China for the 10 selected best university students, the Seeds for the Future internship program that has seen 400 plus students receive hands-on training since 2012 of which many have acquired permanent employment at Huawei. We have this year donated 40 laptops to Kamwenge district schools to boost technology, 5 laptops and 200 school bags to Kireka Police School and today we shall give 15 laptops to Ntare School”. 

Also present at the Ntare School fundraising dinner was the Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance and Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities among Others.

Kadaga Lauds Huawei For Improving Education In Busoga

Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda lauded Huawei for their efforts in improving Education in Busoga Kingdom.

This happened at the Busoga Kingdom Headquarters in Bugembe, Jinja on 21st November where Huawei donated large examination printer, large examination photocopier, office printer and copier, reception chairs, laptop, desktop computer and reception table among others to the Busoga Kyabazinga Examination Board (‘BUKEB’). 

The donation worth 30,000,000UGX was handed to BUKEB by Mr. Bai Chengyu, Huawei Uganda’s Executive Director – Government and Enterprise Business in the presence of the Kyabazinga of Busoga His Royal Highness William Gabula Nadiope, the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga and the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang. 

“I thank Huawei for this wonderful donation that will boost the Education in the Busoga Region. Busoga had the worst six performing districts in the national examinations. But with this boost I believe there shall be a big improvement,” said Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, The Speaker of Parliament of Uganda at the donation ceremony. 

“I also commend Huawei for their Corporate Social Responsibility programs like Seeds for the Future, I however wish that Busoga region is considered in the selection of the participants to take part in the final 10 students that receive technological training in China under that program, let two come from Busoga region,” she added. 

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang also commended Huawei for being a responsible corporate citizen and encouraged the people of Busoga to embrace education. 

“I urge the beneficiaries to embrace education because through it, the world is empowered by knowledge to make the impossibilities possible,” he said.   

Mr. Bai Chengyu, Huawei’s Executive Director – Government and Enterprise Business group noted that the donation will improve the education standard in Busoga and encourage many parents to invest in their Children’s pursuit of knowledge. 

On the same day, Huawei also donated approximately 200 bicycles to the people of Kamuli to improve health, livelihood and also to boost poverty eradication campaigns in the district. The donation worth 100,000,000 UGX was handed over to the people of Kamuli in the witness of the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga at the Kamuli Youth Centre.

Jumia Food Launches Uganda's First Alcohol Delivery App

Jumia Food has launched Jumia Party - a New 1 hour alcohol delivery service App in Kampala. The new app gives users access to a full marketplace of spirits, wines, beers and mixers so that the process of picking the evening's inebriant of choice feels a lot like ordering food from Jumia Food. Just with alcohol.

Jumia Party has partnered with Pernod Ricard, the world's No 2 producer in wines and spirits, to provide on-demand delivery to homes and offices in Kampala. Alcohol delivery orders can be placed through the new app free on ios and android or by visiting www.party.jumia.ug. Jumia Party is also available for selection on the Jumia Food platform -- replacing the Online Bar.

Placing a drinks order could not be simpler. Customers log on to the free app or http://party.jumia.ug by confirming they are of legal drinking age, they select the items they want and add to cart, then checkout after confirming delivery location.

Riders pick customers' orders from the nearest fulfillment centre and dispatch it within 1 hour. Customers pay either with cash or card on delivery or via MTN Mobile Money. ,

"Kampala comes to life at night, which is unfortunately when most liquor shops and supermarkets close," said Ron Kawamara, Jumia Food MD for East Africa.

"Jumia Party is our answer to having popular late night drinks delivered at the tap of an app, and at lower prices than in the supermarket."

"Our mission with Jumia Party is to make sure you always have quick and affordable access to your favourite alcohol brands, whenever you want them. Whether you've run out of wine at dinner, find yourself empty handed at a party, or just want a cold one delivered to your couch, Jumia Party has you covered", concluded Ron Kawamara.

Pernod Ricard Kenya MD, Denis Ochanine noted that the ongoing innovation is at the core of their strategy - flexibility to new trends and understanding consumer expectations makes us the industry leaders. 

“Through our development of Jumia Party we are using the digital space to interact directly with our consumers and provide them new consumption moments. Most importantly it allows us to put forward customized offers tailored to their preferences. As the Jumia Party platform grows we look forward to enhancing it with innovative product offerings".

Furthermore, to celebrate the app's launch and Jumia Food Black Friday, customers will have access to discounts up 50% from November 24 - December 8, 2017 on select popular products.

Jumia Uganda Lines Up 14 Days Of Black Friday Discounts

Jumia Uganda, has announced the return of its annual Black Friday discount sale - but for the first time, the leading online shop will offer Black Friday discounts for a 14 day period instead of just 1 day.

Exclusive discounts of up to 70% will be revealed across all product categories including electronics, appliances, fashion, home supplies, kids products and more, from November 24th to December 8th - on the online shop www.jumia.ug and via the free Jumia mobile app. 

“Black Friday” originated from the U.S. when retailers noticed a spike in sales on the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers decided to capitalise on this trend by offering discounts and special deals - and now, “Black Friday” has grown in to a global movement that Jumia has made sure Ugandans do not miss out on. 

Jumia Uganda’s Country Manager, Ham Namakajjo, advises shoppers to 1) research their desired products in advance as they await the discounts; and 2) take advantage of the Double Shillings voucher promotion.

“We are giving our customers the opportunity to save even more during Jumia Black Friday. If they purchase a 20, 30, or 50k voucher on our website before November 23rd, we will give them double the money to spend during Black Friday,” Namakajjo announced at the Jumia Black Friday press meeting. 

“With the support of our Black Friday partners: MTN, Samsung, Tecno, Infinix, Fero, Bata, Pampers and Kwese TV - we have planned a shopping event that will save our customers a lot of money as we approach the festive season,” Namakajjo concluded. 

As Jumia’s campaign will run for 14 days, alongside other festivities such as flash sales, contests, voucher and prize giveaways, the campaign has been dubbed the ‘Jumia Black Friday Festival’. Not only will shoppers enjoy discounts and special deals that cannot be found anywhere else in Uganda, but those who place an order during Jumia Black Friday also stand a chance to win the prize of a lifetime: 2 flight tickets to Dubai. 

For convenience, orders are placed online through www.jumia.ug or the Jumia app, delivered directly to the customer’s preferred location, with the option to pay cash or card on delivery in Kampala; and MTN Mobile Money across the country. 

Jumia will continue to post updates on its social media platforms to keep fans informed about all things to do with #JumiaBlackFriday. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @JumiaUG

Huawei’s Contribution To Empowering Telco Industry Recognised At AfricaCom 2017 Awards

Huawei, leading global ICT solutions provider received two prestigious awards, “Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience” and “Best Innovation in Broadcast - Broadband Convergence” at the just wrapped up AfricaCom 2017 in Cape Town. 

Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience is a joint award to MTN and Huawei in recognition of the work done in helping more customers feel the brighter side of life. 

The award recognizes MTN’s deployment and implementation of the Huawei Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution in MTN SA. The solution helps MTN proactively manage the experiences of its customers, focusing on each customer and each service level. The CEM solution offers MTN a richer insight into what its customers are looking for right now, and also their future expectations. The solution, as part of MTN Group strategy, is deployed in MTN SA and is also being deployed in other MTN OPCOs. 

“Our customers and our people form the bedrock of our business. We need to make sure we truly understand the needs and experiences of our customers so that we can shape products that will truly brighten the lives of all our many users. Consistent investment means we have a network that is second to none. Through our partnership with Huawei, we can now focus that network on a more customer-centric approach, that allows us to be more proactive and predictive in how we meet our customer’s needs,” said Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer of MTN SA. 

Huawei’s CEM coupled with MTN’s Per Service and Per User platform enables a MTN customer journey or “lifecycle experience” to be captured. That journey can then be measured and analyzed in near real time allowing for a highly proactive engagement with the customer. 

“This is just the first step in our CEM programme. We have made some progress but there is still much to achieve. Our focus remains the continuous improvement of the network and all our customer interactions, and we believe we have a knowledgeable and strong platform in the deployment and implementation of the collaboration with Huawei’s CEM tool,” Chiarelli said. 

The award for Best Innovation in Broadcast - Broadband Convergence is a joint award that Huawei shares with Telkom, for the introduction of the Telkom LIT video service in South Africa. 

The Telkom LIT_ video service is the first of its kind in South Africa and aims to address the need for video entertainment services without the data usage concern. The Telkom LIT_ proposition provides customers with free music and video streaming from some of the world’s most popular content providers on specified Telkom packages. The launch of the product, together with its innovation, has allowed Telkom to provide this service without causing additional strain on its network; and manage its costs whilst providing superior content services to its customers. 

“This innovation is aimed at really transforming the way South Africans consume digital entertainment. By removing the worry of additional data cost we are putting unlimited entertainment in the hands of our consumers,” says Attila Vitai, Telkom Consumer CEO. 

These awards recognise Huawei’s continued contribution to the improvement of customer experience and offerings available in the telco industry in Africa.

Liquid Telecom Partners With Huawei To Deliver 100G Links Across South Africa

Leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Global, has partnered with Huawei, the leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, to deliver 100G upgrades to its network in South Africa.

The upgrade to 100G wavelengths will take advantage of the latest DWDM technology from Huawei, enabling Liquid Telecom to offer additional capacity, faster speeds and greater redundancy to customers across South Africa.

The first phase of the project will see Liquid Telecom deploy Huawei’s OptiX OSN Solution along 1200km of its long-haul network connecting Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The 100G link will support growing demand for cloud-based services and provide customers with high-speed access to Liquid Telecom’s data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town, which are currently undergoing major expansions to meet the needs of global cloud players and enterprise customers.

In the second and third phase of the project, the DWDM core network will be extended to the north west then north east regions of South Africa, providing more enterprise and wholesale customers in South Africa with high bandwidth connectivity.

In addition, the network upgrades will support Liquid Telecom’s new CloudConnect for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute service, which enables customers to create private, predictable, high performance, SLA-based connections between Azure data centres and infrastructure on their premises or in a colocation environment.

“Higher networks speeds and bandwidth will play an integral role in supporting the rise of the African cloud. Through our partnership with Huawei, Liquid Telecom is ensuring that its network is ready to meet the increasing demand from businesses for cloud-based services,” said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO: Liquid Telecom.

OptiX OSN Solution is Huawei’s next-generation core packet-optical OTN platform for 100G/400G/1T and beyond, which is used for building high-performance backbone and metro networks. It integrates Huawei’s advanced Packet, OTN, and SDN-oriented Optics Transport technologies, and offers a high-density architecture with ultra-low power consumption per bit.

We are delighted to be supporting Liquid Telecom with next-generation network technologies that are ready for the new cloud era,” said Li Peng, president of Huawei Southern Africa region.

“The deployment of our OptiX OSN solution in South Africa further demonstrates our technology expertise and commitment to deliver innovative optical transmission solutions, “ he concluded.

What Are Some Previous Winners Of MTN Innovation Awards Up-to?

Today, nine innovations will be recognized at the gala dinner of the MTN Innovation Awards 2017. The first ever MTN Innovation Awards were held in 2015, recognizing several developers for their products that were helping in improving the livelihoods of Ugandans.

The winners from each category were awarded $1,000 dollars each. In 2015, the winners included, ClinicMaster, BrainShare, Yo! Payments Gateway, Intelligent Works, Outbox, Fezah, Lyndsay Handler of ReadyPay - Outstanding Woman in Innovation and Solomon King of FundiBots - Innovation achiever of the year.

As MTN prepares for the MTN Innovation Awards Gala dinner on Wednesday, 8th November 2017, we caught up with some of the previous winners in order to find out what they were up to.

Lyndsay Handler – Most Outstanding Woman in Innovation

Handler is the founder and CEO of Fenix International, a company responsible for the building and selling of the ReadyPay Solar Power System. She won the 2015 Most Outstanding Woman in Innovation for the ReadyPay product. About 150,000 households in Uganda are currently using the ReadyPay system and has since moved its innovation headquarters to Uganda from San Francisco, United States.

In October 2017, Engie, a French-based energy company agreed to acquire 100% stake in Fenix International. Fenix International has invested about $30m in developing the ReadyPay off-grid solar power system and Engie was seeking to tap into this space as and an opportunity to make a return on investment.

"This new investment from Engie will enable us to expand into other countries in Africa. We are looking at Ivory Coast, Nigeria and we recently expanded into Zambia. Power is a means to an end and we want to see more households being able to acquire our kit. It is still unacceptable that people are still using Kerosene. It is dangerous," Lyndsay explains.

ReadyPay is an expandable, lease-to-own home solar system financed through installments over Mobile Money. 

Intelligent Works (now Alien Age LTD)

Nansana Town. That is the location of what was then known as Intelligent Works. Now called Alien Age, this application was the winner of the SME Category of the MTN Innovation Awards 2015. “When went to register the company after winning the $1,000, we found that the name Intelligent Works had already been taken. That is how we opted for a new name,” explains Martin Katumba the founder of the company.

Alien Age is more of a school management system that helps schools generate reports, track student performance, track school fees payments and can run offline. Katumba says that they have about 200 schools using their system that is upgraded every year with new features.

“We are indeed making some money and have two companies that are currently selling our licenses. The company has been growing and we continue to see more schools coming on board,” he adds.

ClinicMaster International

Located along Bukoto Street, in Kamwokya, the winners of the best application in the Health Category at the 2015 MTN Innovation Awards, Clinic Master boasts of growth.

“2016 has been our biggest year in terms of growth. From the numbers we are seeing, 2017 could even be better. On average, we have had 30% growth in clientele since 2015,” Wilson Kutegeka, founder and CEO ClinicMaster explains.

ClinicMaster is web-based health information management and billing system used in several hospitals and clinics around the country. Kutegeka notes that the endorsement from the MTN Innovation Awards 2015 helped them build a company that is known for its good reputation. Importantly, he says that recognition of entities already operating instead of concepts that were still on paper.

Yo! Payments

Inside the UAP Nakawa Business Park, Yo! Payments, a mobile money payment aggregation system. It was the winner of the Financial Services category of the MTN Innovation Awards 2015. As a business, Yo! Payments has expanded its operations, aggregating mobile money for more entities, including commercial banks.

“We’re still delivering the promise of a cashless economy. It requires a paradigm shift and is a constant agenda. We have been growing since the company was started in 2006 and we continue to see the opportunity since cash is still king in the country. That is the opportunity," says Gerald Begumisa the CEO Yo! Payments

Brainshare

The winner of the Education category, Brainshare, at the MTN Innovation Awards 2015, has also continued to expand. Its founder, Charles Muhindo, explains that the student revision platform has been rolled out to more schools in the country.

“The schools understand that there is an opportunity to share knowledge but also a chance for some revenue to be made when their school past papers and reading material are accessed by other schools,” he says.

Muhindo explains that the application will continue to grow in terms of access to more schools get online, computers and understand why knowledge sharing is important.

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