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Briefing: Tumwebaze says Facebook should worry: UCC nabs Hollywood deal; Shs940m for Ugandan incubation hub and more

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Good morning, Briefing reader! Reads the quotes below to warm you up;

“Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions”
– Marcus Aurelius

Tumwebaze positive about NIISP

Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze has said the world will, in a few years, begin feeling the impact of the government innovation fund, driving at the possibility of technology giants like Facebook losing a chunk of their market share in Uganda.

In 2018, the first 12 beneficiaries of NIISP, or National ICT Initiatives Support Programme, a multi-billion five-year project that is being implemented by the ICT and National Guidance ministry, were unveiled.

The overall goal of NIISP, according to the government, is to create a sustainable ecosystem for ICT.

The startups that got the funds are already solving problems in different sectors, for instance, Xente is innovating for the financial technology space and this year it expanded to Nigeria, AIMs is being used by universities, and Energrow, co-founded by business Patrick Bitature’s daughter Nataliey is creating channels for easy access to the grid.

With the first round of investment already showing results, Tumwebaze believes Ugandan innovators can deliver us to the desired land.

“I can tell you in the next 5 or 10 years, if we steadily invest in innovation of these solutions, you’ll see numbers of Facebook or WhatsApp dropping,” the minister said to Cedric Babu who was interviewing him for UBC TV. Why does he hope so? “Because we’ll be getting substitutive apps.”

The government will soon announce the startups that will receive grants in the second round. On April 10, NIISP announced 100 startups that had impressed the selection to qualify for the pitching sessions that were held between April 16-18. More than 600 startups had applied, doubling the previous number.

Frank Tumwebaze, who has been ICT for three years, told Babu that this year they’ll increase the number of grantees to “20 or 30, depending on what the judging committee will give us.”

Can Tumwebaze’s dream be realized? If he means what he says, then why not? Most Chinese firms have succeeded, largely because the government has financially supported the startup ecosystem and the regulatory regime is pro-homegrown content.

For instance, by limiting access to Google, it propelled the growth of Baidu; WeChat has also grown so fast because Facebook was blocked. And firm’s like Huawei, which is now in the middle of a cold war between the largest economies in the world, has been hugely funded by its government.

And with technology, one company can spawn lots and lots of others. For instance, look at firms that been engendered by Alibaba Group, ByteDance, and Tencent.

Well, there’s also an argument that China has been able to achieve that because of its huge population. But some of the most recognized brands right now like Bolt (formerly Taxify), Skype and Transferwise, were created from Estonia, a European nation with a population that is smaller than Kampala’s.

Zipline, now a unicorn, and said to be the first national drone-delivery program at scale in the world, has done more of its work in Rwanda, which is also a very tiny country with a tiny economy in the poorest continent.

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UCC inks Hollywood Festival deal

Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) has signed an agreement with the Hollywood Film Festival that will see Ugandan filmmakers showcase their work at the prestigious event, receive mentorship from top creatives and so on. This was during the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.

Meddie Kagwa, head of Multimedia and Content at UCC, represented Uganda while Bradford Parks, the Chairman and Executive Director for Hollywood Film Festival signed on behalf of the Festival.

This year Uganda was represented at the Festival by a number of movie creators, notable among them Nisha Kalema, Malcolm Bigyemano, Coutinho Kemiyondo, and Angella EMurwon.

MUST incubation hub gets Shs940m

Africa Centre of Excellence for Pharm-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine (PHARMBIOTRAC), an incubation center at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST),  has secured a US$250,000 (about Shs940m) grant from the World Bank.

Only four universities in Africa will benefit from the $1 million grant that supports the establishment of incubation centers for East and South African countries.

Others are from Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Read the full story here

Safaricom to buy M-Pesa patent

Kenya’s Safaricom and South Africa’s Vodacom have offered $13.4 million to acquire the intellectual property rights to M-Pesa from Britain’s Vodafone.

According to Reuters, Safaricom wants to get full control of the mobile financial services platform to facilitate its expansion plans.

Currently, Safaricom pays 2 percent of its annual M-Pesa revenue to Vodafone while Vodacom pays 5 percent in an intellectual property fee to Vodafone from its M-Pesa business, which is mainly in Tanzania.

Both Vodacom and Vodafone have shares in Safaricom, with the former owning 35 percent of the most profitable company in East Africa and the latter 5%.

Read the full story here

Bolt Kenya gets new country manager

Olaoluwa Akinnusi has been appointed the new Country Manager of Bolt Kenya.

A holder of bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Economics, Akinnusi has previously worked with Jumia as the Global Head of Operations & Logistics.

Read the full story here

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