Tumwebaze to unhappy startups: I don’t decide who wins govt innovation fund

NIISP Uganda Frank Tumwebaze impact of social media tax Minister Frank Tumwebaze
ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze. Courtesy image via Parliament of Uganda/Twitter

If you follow the Ugandan startup ecosystem closely, you must know about the National ICT Initiatives Support Programme (NIISP).

It was introduced in 2018 to create a sustainable ecosystem for ICT innovations and to support ICT innovators and application developers.

At the end of June, 60 startups that are set to share Shs6 billion were announced. This will be the second round of beneficiaries following the first one in 2018 where 12 startups benefited.

But some startups, it seems, believe the system of selecting startups that benefit from the Programme is unfair.

For instance, a one Moses Kadoba recently tweeted the ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze, saying that Public Taxi app, a startup whose founders he knows, tried to get support from NIISP but they encountered “many blocks.”


This prompted Minister Tumwebaze to ask him why they hadn’t participated in the latest round of NIISP.


In response, Kadoba tweeted: “They say they participated but unfortunately were left out!”


Finally, Tumwebaze replied: “They will participate in the next round of @NIISP_ICT and pitch to the judgement committee/panel. Let them keep trying and improving what they didn’t bring out right. It’s not me who decides.”

For the 2019 round of NIISP, 665 startups applied. The selection committee reduced this list to 100.

The Public Taxi app was not on that list.

That list was dominated by applications from the Health sector, with 21 projects, followed by Public sector management (19), then Agriculture (18) and Education (17). The rest were not categorized.

Public Taxi Uganda is an application that can be used by authorities, car owners and passengers can track movements of Taxis to curb crime in the industry.

The Public Taxi Uganda app can be downloaded and used by anyone with an Android phone.

On the app, details of a Taxi are added such that a passenger knows the vehicle they’re traveling with.

The process is similar to what you see with ride-hailing services, whereby when you request for a car or motorcycle, the number plate of the ride is displayed alongside the driver’s name.

But the Public Taxi Uganda app is not a ride-hailing service. The founders want to create a database for cars in the Taxi business so that you’re aware of the people transporting you.

They want you to feel safe when using public means of transport.

This will also help you recover your property in case you forget it in the car. And there are fewer chances of a driver or conductor harming you since you already know their details.


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