Makerere University, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recently hosted the first-ever Youth and Innovation Expo, which took place on October 6th and 7th, 2023. The event featured over 300 innovators who presented their creations to a diverse audience, attracting thousands of visitors to the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium and its surrounding areas.
The expo operated under the theme “Fostering Innovation for Uganda’s Transformational Development” and received sponsorship from MTN Uganda. StartHub Africa, a hybrid-social venture, curated all knowledge sessions throughout the two-day event.
Dignitaries, including Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mrs. Lorna Magara, Chairperson of Council, H.E. Elsie Attafuah, Resident Representative of UNDP Uganda, H.E. Massimiliano Mazzanti, Ambassador of Italy to Uganda, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor, and Prof. Frank Norbert Mwine, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), graced the event’s opening and closing ceremonies.
Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa praised Makerere University for its efforts in transitioning from producing job seekers to job creators by nurturing youth innovations and enterprises. He highlighted the importance of youth saving and entrepreneurship, acknowledging the role of UNDP and the government in providing opportunities for innovation.
Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara, expressed her gratitude for UNDP’s support in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at Makerere University. She emphasized the importance of engaging youth in meaningful partnerships to harness their expertise and experience.
H.E. Elsie Attafuah emphasized the urgency of investing in innovation and solutions to address global uncertainties, such as COVID-19 and climate change. She stressed the need to create job opportunities for young people in Uganda and other developing countries.
H.E. Massimiliano Mazzanti highlighted Italy’s support for the Ugandan youth, particularly through initiatives like the Start-up Africa Road Trip project, which promotes collaboration between young African and Italian start-up companies. The project has supported 300 African start-ups and engaged 3.5 million youth in various countries.
The event also featured the Youth4Climate initiative, co-led by the Government of Italy and UNDP, aimed at raising awareness of climate change and engaging youth as future climate leaders.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, expressed the university’s commitment to research and innovation as a means to empower youth in creating job opportunities. He thanked UNDP for their support, including the establishment of the Makerere Innovation Hub.
In addition to the exhibitors from various colleges, the Youth and Innovation Expo included a fireside chat, knowledge sessions, a free medical camp, an art and fashion exhibition, a fashion show, entertainment corners, and food vendor stalls.