As I type this, most people have already broken off for the end-of-year holidays. Having kept our ears to the ground all year, here is a list of the top 10 people we feel stood out in Uganda’s ICT “department”.
1. Michael Niyitegeka
Here is the short version of Michael’s contribution to the ICT Sector in Uganda: inspired, motivated, involved. (That is to borrow Stanbic bank’s slogan!)
I don’t remember how many presentations and keynote addresses he has delivered at product/service-launches, seminars and conferences. He has actively worked with teams organizing various start-up events including Garage48 and Random Hacks of Kindness; and through his office as the Head of Corporate Relations at Makerere University, helped bring Microsoft’s Innovation Centre to the University.
He is also a consultant trainer in a wide range of areas in both Business and IT, but is specifically passionate about Digital/cyberspace branding and visibility, IT Stratefy and Management.
Again, that’s just to mention the few things we got to hear about.
2. Boaz Shani
Fairly quiet until the August 2011 launch of ugo.co.ug, Boaz Shani has almost single-handedly led the campaign to “get Uganda online.”
Through the initiative, “Uganda Goes Online” – an online portal that seeks to be the gateway to all Uganda-based internet activities, Shani has invested time and money in helping companies, large and small, seize the opportunity the internet provides.
In the last quarter of the year, he and UGO were visibly the leading sponsors and promoters of apps challenges for youth in Uganda, an effort that has bred an unprecedented number of apps developers in the country.
3. Edouard Blondeau
He is the Chief Strategy Officer at Orange Uganda. If you’ve kept your eyes open and ear to the ground, you’ll have identified Orange as a major supporter of local ICT events, challenges (including the recent Orange Social Venture Prize).
They have lead the 3G revolution by covering a wider scope of the country then any other at the same time, posting very high QoS (see UCC reports).
The Orange Expo 2011 is outstandingly the biggest tech-event of the year – and Mr. Blondeau was seen physically at the scene and making sure everything is going according to plan.
4. Simon Kaheru
Simon, who describes himself as the Professional Communicator, is the Director of Business Convergence at SMS Media and lead analyst at Media Analyst. He has been outstanding in the battle to promote Ugandan content – in all formats, as well as his passion for promoting young developers and entrepreneurs.
Kaheru has been a frequent contributor to online forums, especially i-Network and PC Tech Forum.
Through his company, he has supported young ICT entrepreneurs throughout the year.
SMS Media is a Ugandan based company that provides state of the art SMS based serviceswith a mission to provide the most advanced value-added SMS services in East and Central Africa. They describe themselves as the “largest SMS content providers in Uganda and have been so for the last 8 years.”
5. Bas Hoefman
Bas is the founder and leader of Text to Change, a not-for-profit that utilizes state of the art mobile phone technology to collect and disseminate health information.
Earlier this year, they announced that over the next five years, Text to Change (TTC) will be expanding its Mobile for Development programs to a further 11 African countries.
TTC is able to set the platforms up via the relevant country’s mobile operators, quickly and efficiently, and program participants will take part in the various programs by accessing a free zero-rated short code or at a reduced calling rate.
6. Ham Namakajjo
Appointed Google Country Manager back in April, Ham has presided over a period in which Google has been most involved in day-to-day tech activities.
The company introduced a SMS Service that allows GMail users to send and receive messages from email to mobile phones – for selected operators.
Throughout the year, the company has also invested money in training both entrepreneurs and developers to use key Google products that will improve their businesses and careers respectively. Key among these include Google Webmaster tools and Maps.
While they also announced plans to help reduce cost of internet and increase speed, through processes that involve working with local Internet Service Providers and government, it remains to be seen how the recent launch of a local domain for YouTube will affect the fortunes of local content developers.
Either way, we feel under the leadership of Mr. Namakajjo, Google has taken some important strides in making our web and internet better.
7. Paul Isaac Musasizi
He was the team leader of the team that build Uganda’s first Electric Vehicle, Kiira EV, at Makerere University, and also doubled as the Vehicle Project Technical Director. Others on the team were Richard Madanda (electrical), Fred Matovu (mechanical), Jonathan Kasumba (Fine Artist), Gerald Baguma (programmer/ communications), Nasser Gyegenda (mechanical), Pauline Korukundo (programmer) and Nancy Ssenabulya (programmer/research assistant).
I had trouble deciding whether to give this vote to Musasizi or Prof. S.S Tickodri Togboa, who was the overall head of the project. The renowned professor of electrical engineering and computing also doubles as the university’s deputy vice-chancellor.
8. Dorothy Okello
Dr. Dorothy Okello is a Ugandan technologist and engineer, known for her work in the Women of Uganda Network or WOUGNET.
As the Director of WOUGNET, Dr. Dorothy has worked to get more women and rural communities engaged in the information society.
WOUGNET (Women of Uganda Network) is a non-governmental organization initiated in May 2000 by several women’s organisations in Uganda to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively.
They seek to promote and support the use of ICTs by women and women organisations in Uganda, so that they can take advantage of the opportunities presented by ICTs in order to effectively address national and local problems of sustainable development.
9. Albert Mucunguzi
Recently awarded the Ericsson ICT Award at the Young Achievers Awards, Mucunguzi is the Executive Director of PC Tech Magazine – a 2-year-old print and online technology magazine.
The publication has been a leading source of technology-related content, and its website, pctechmagazine.com, reached #7 among Uganda’s most popular local websites midway through the fourth quarter.
During the year, PC Tech also launched ConceptBay, and an internet TV initiative called Viva Africa.
Recent registrations of Kenyan and South African domains is an indicator that the publication is set to spread wings across the continent, following earlier an launch in Ghana.
10. Daniel Stern
Back in 2010, Mobile Monday Kampala was a small-scale event that attracted just a handful of successful business leaders in the ICT sector in Uganda. Vacant seats were a common sight at the venue throughout each of the monthly episodes.
But as we come to the end of 2011, MoMoKla has grown to be the single most popular monthly event in Kampala. Thanks to the efforts of the soft-speaking Daniel R. Stern, the event now hosts a mix of successful entrepreneurs, apps developers, professionals and students; and discusses topics around financial inclusion and mHealth among others.Hits:9299