Innovation, Technology & ICT



UIS director shares UCU technology advancement plan

By Pauline Luba
Whereas the Covid-19 pandemic made technology a cornerstone in the operations of many institutions, for Uganda Christian University (UCU), the virus and education lockdown afforded an opportunity to ramp up its use. And there is no looking back. 

Rebecca Kangabe and the team she leads at the UCU ICT Services Directorate have set up an ambitious 10-year plan that is expected to see the university become a data-driven institution using artificial intelligence to predict the necessary resources and drive decisions made by management. 

The move by Kangabe and her team come on the backdrop of UCU ramping up online learning after the Covid pandemic affected physical operations. Kangabe says online learning operations at UCU moved from 30% to 80%. For this move, UCU warmed the hearts of many e-learning lovers, with Janet Kainembabazi Museveni, Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, acknowledging the university for the strides it had made in virtual infrastructure. 

During a speech at the October 22, 2021, UCU graduation, Mrs. Museveni noted that the institution has a “robust online education program” and encouraged the facility to “share best practices with other institutions.” 

UCU established a Learning Management System, known as the UCU eLearning platform in 2014, to prepare for an information technology-driven academic landscape. Assessed and approved by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the regulators of higher education in Uganda, UCU eLearning platform’s capacity to host students connecting from all over the continent and beyond has since increased.

Students can attend classes online, access reading materials, do assignments and submit coursework/examinations. Likewise, lecturers can teach in real time, record lectures, upload course materials (video, audio and text) and administer examinations.

In 2021, UCU was named best exhibitor in a fair organized by NCHE, where institutions exhibited their e-learning services that reflected the programs taught and their capacity to admit and facilitate learning for students. They also displayed the technological innovations to overcome the challenges caused by Covid-19.

The university also partnered with the Research and Education Networks for Uganda, a not-for-profit National Research and Education Network, for free student access to the learning management system called Moodle. Lecturers also were trained in how to conduct online classes. 

Expanding Technological Infrastructure and Initiatives at UCU

Kangabe, who has been the UIS director since July 2022, says UCU spent over sh1.6 billion (about $425,000) on new equipment such as servers, HVC systems for the servers, increased internet bandwidth and new software for student management. It is infrastructure like these that UIS wants to take advantage of to help improve technological operations at UCU. For instance, according to Kangabe, the directorate plans to improve its software that detects plagiarism, as well as the person-view software that assists in monitoring students during online tests and exams. 

To support some of these initiatives, UCU emphasizes that every student should own a laptop. For those who are unable to make a one-off payment for the laptops, according to Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi, the university, in partnership with Equity Bank and tech firm CompConsult Technologies, has rolled out a laptop loan product. Through the partnership, “students are able to acquire a new laptop and pay for it over a period of 1-3 years,” Mushengyezi said during the July 28, 2023, graduation.

All students and staff of UCU have access to on-campus WiFi by logging into eduroam. Provided by RENU, eduroam is a Wi-Fi internet access roaming service for users in research, higher education and further education.

Despite technological advancement, the price of Uganda’s internet is still a hindrance to full adoption of online learning. In 2020, during the lockdown, many universities advised students who could not afford internet for online learning to take a dead year. 

A 2019 report by Uganda’s telecom regulator Uganda Communications Commission says Uganda has the highest priced internet in East Africa. One needs sh9,819 ($2.65) to acquire one gigabyte of internet compared to sh8,863 ($2.3) in Kenya and sh8,017 ($2.1) in both Tanzania and Rwanda.


Software engineer’s journey in juggling work, obtaining Masters

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Kenneth Kabinga Musasizi, a lecturer and software engineer at Uganda Christian University (UCU), chose to get a masters degree to expand his proficiency in software engineering and management of enterprise ICT infrastructure.

“I wanted to make a contribution to the body of knowledge,” said Musasizi, who got his advanced degree in IT in July. “I did research on developing architecture that reduces latency in web applications.” 

The best male student in a 2020 undergraduate graduation who started loving computers as an adolescent, Musasizi juggled his Masters studies with teaching as well as software engineering work at UCU.

Kenneth Musasizi was the best male student in 2020 when he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. He started work as a software engineer in 2021.
Kenneth Musasizi was the best male student in 2020 when he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at UCU. He started work as a software engineer in 2021.

“As a software engineer, every day is like an emergency day, your availability is always imperative,” he said. “So, I carefully structured my engineering job to run from 9 a.m. to around 5 p.m., reserving the crucial hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for my academic pursuits.”.

ICT work is critical and integral in the running of a modern university. .

“We always have to make sure everything is perfect every day because there are many people using the ICT system,” he said.

As a software engineer, Musasizi has worked on numerous projects across the world in the domains that include academia, finance, health, science and research.

“I use technology to solve problems in the community,” he said. “That is what we do as software engineers.”

Full-time work while studying was tough, but he was resolute in finding a way to do it all..

“Commencing my day ahead of the usual schedule allowed me to have time for studies without compromising my professional responsibilities,” Musasizi said.

Musasizi’s success journey at UCU

Musasizi commends UCU, specifically his directorate, and workmates for making it easier for him to balance his job and Masters program.

“Since I studied and worked at the same university, I didn’t have to travel to meet my lecturers or to get learning resources,” he said. “I utilized the UCU library and the lecturers around. I was also able to study online with the multifaceted e-learning system of the University.”

Musasizi joined UCU in 2017 for a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. In 2020, he was among the special students who had a physical graduation at the university amidst the COVID-19 lockdown (Only first-class students were allowed in-person attendance on the graduation grounds.). He was awarded the best male student of 2020.

Musasizi started working as a software engineer in 2021. The following year, he started tutoring students. And this year, upon completion of his Masters, became a lecturer.

He fell in love with technology from a young age. At age 14, he had an interest in programming and cyber security.

“As a child, I always loved being on the computer and playing games on it,” he said. I would be on a computer until my parents told me to stop playing and do something else ‘productive.. So, I started learning about cybersecurity and programming.”

Musasizi is passionate about web and mobile development. His focus is on building scalable and high-performance systems using microservices and enterprise architecture.

During his free time, he enjoys exploring the latest trends in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and affective computing. He also searches for opportunities to share his knowledge and experience.

“Whether I am working on a new project or mentoring a team of developers, I strive to continuously learn and grow as a professional,” he said.


UCU’s treatment plant turns waste water into treasure

By Kefa Senoga
Waste from water to flush toilets, take a shower and do laundry is not a waste at the main campus of Uganda Christian University (UCU).  It hasn’t been wasted in 17 years. It’s recycled and used to educate students, primarily those studying engineering. 

UCU constructed a $300,000 wastewater treatment plant in 2006. Two-thirds of the cost of the plant, the first of its kind for any institution in Uganda, was funded by the Diocese of Sidney’s Overseas Relief and Aid Fund of Australia.

About UCU’s treatment plant

The aeration chamber of the plant
The aeration chamber of the plant

Wastewater that is generated from various daily activities is toxic to both humans and the environment, hence the need to purify it, before it’s released into the environment. Wastewater is treated in 3 phases: primary (solid removal), secondary (bacterial decomposition), and tertiary (extra filtration).

According to Arnold Mugisha, a demonstrator at UCU’s department of Engineering and Environment under the Faculty of Engineering, Design and Technology, the wastewater treatment plant that was developed by Prof. Steven Riley, uses a biological process to treat the sewage and clean the water so that it is safe enough for disposal into the environment.

Mugisha says that the plant uses an activated biological sludge water treatment process, where microorganisms are used to break down the organic matter, which would otherwise be hazardous to the environment.

The plant has several sections, with the first having screens, where paper, pads and other similar waste are removed. The screened waste water then drops into the equalization chamber, from where the microorganisms break down the fecal matter. The water is then pumped into the aeration chamber, where more oxygen is supplied to the microorganisms, to enable them break down the waste completely.

A view of the wastewater treatment facility
A view of the wastewater treatment facility

“The waste is broken down by absorption, where the microorganisms eat the waste, and adsorption, where the organic waste sticks onto the body of the microorganisms,” Mugisha explains.

According to Mugisha, this is the most important step of the plant because that’s where most of the biological oxygen demand is reduced.

At the clarifier stage, solid particulates or suspended solids are removed from the liquid. At this point, the deposited sludge settles at the bottom and the clear water remains up, says Mugisha. The sludge is used for both manure and decomposition by anaerobic bacteria to produce biogas. At the time of installation, the plant was able to treat about 350 cubic meters of water per day.

Robert Muhumuza, a plumber, operating the facility
Robert Muhumuza, a plumber, operating the facility

At the chlorination chamber, chlorinated water is used to kill extra organisms that are still in the water. Mugisha says that if waste water is not treated properly, it can pollute water sources, cause illnesses and damage natural habitats. The treated wastewater is used for irrigating flowers, grass and plants in the university compound. People who would want to use the sludge for manure in their gardens are always granted permission to pick it from the facility.

Okot Innocent, a fresh UCU engineering graduate, says the facility provides a platform for engineering students to put their classroom knowledge into practice, learning in practical terms how the processes work. 

“Some of the students who want to become water engineers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the equipment and the systems used in the treatment process,” Okot noted.

In Kampala, the Bugolobi wastewater treatment plant is the largest in the country and serves about four million people per day. The plant is capable of processing 45 million liters of waste daily.

Cricket project

UCU proves insect value in nutrition and alleviating food waste

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences has teamed up with crickets – the insect and not the sport – in a successfully piloted food chain project that alleviates hunger and malnutrition.  The ‘Food Waste-2-Cricket Feed’ enterprise produces cricket feed from food waste and then turns the insects into a nutritious food supplement.

The UCU agriculture research team, led by Geoffrey Ssepuuya, a senior lecturer, established that there is a daily production of 768 metric tons of food waste in Kampala.

Crickets, Acheta domesticus
Crickets, Acheta domesticus

The project aimed at developing a processing protocol for converting food waste to a safe and shelf-stable cricket feed. It was funded by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). Florence Agwang, the grants officer at UNCST, says the undertaking was especially viable because the country has long struggled with waste management. 

“If this project succeeds and is able to get support from the government, we shall be able to greatly reduce the problem of waste in Uganda,” Agwang says.

How cricket food is made

The project involves collecting food waste from the UCU university dining hall in addition to remains from restaurants, hotels and markets.

Collected food waste such as bananas, rice, etc. is heat treated, dried, ground into powder and mixed according to predetermined formulation proportions into feed for the crickets. The crickets are reared in aerated food containers and provided with hide-outs because the crickets are nocturnal (comfortable in dark places).

In a bid to ensure sustainable cricket production in the country, the project is working towards continued production and distribution of this low-cost “protein and micronutrient-rich cricket feed.” The developed cricket feed is nutritious with a performance similar to that of broiler starter mash. With the formulated feeds, the crickets require 8 – 10 weeks to mature, while with local feeds, crickets take about 12 weeks to mature. 

Benefits of cricket

Crickets can be used to enrich the diet with protein and other nutrients when added to daily meals. It is a common practice in Uganda to eat fried insects such as crickets and grasshoppers. In this project, crickets, which have more protein than fish and beef, are ground to be mixed with staple flours for porridge and food. 

Geoffrey Ssepuuya holding the cricket feed. With the formulated feeds, the crickets require 8 – 10 weeks to mature, faster than on normal food waste where they will take about 12 weeks.
Geoffrey Ssepuuya holding the cricket feed. With the formulated feeds, the crickets require 8 – 10 weeks to mature, faster than on normal food waste where they will take about 12 weeks.

“Instead of consuming cassava bread that is only about 2% protein or even less, communities can supplement it with crickets which are 50 – 65 % rich in proteins,” Ssepuuya says. “So, with the feeds now available they can rear the crickets, dry them under the sun, grind them into powder and add the protein-rich powder to their food.” 

The most common sources of proteins such as meat, milk and chicken are not affordable to many Ugandans, yet it can now be redeemed from eating crickets. 

What others say about the cricket project

Dr. John Livingstone Mutyaba, Head of Agriculture (Postgraduate), explained that rearing crickets can be a new source of income for farmers through rearing and selling them. Crickets (Acheta domesticus) lay hundreds of eggs, which makes them multiply in a very short time.

Mutyaba says unlike what some commonly believe, crickets are not demanding in terms of housing and food.

The biggest challenge is feed in addition to proper management of heat and humidity. This is because crickets are more comfortable in dark places, and during cold days, they need heat.

There also is a need for labour and sufficient space to dry the crickets when they reach maturity. This is because they are best when dried before consumption.

Crickets in their breeding tray feeding on food waste. They lay hundreds of eggs which makes them increase in a very short time.
Crickets in their breeding tray feeding on food waste. They lay hundreds of eggs which makes them increase in a very short time.

The project is also supporting research by students like Derrick Kizito Okettayot, a fourth-year student of Food Science and Technology. To Okettayot, crickets are a delicacy.

“When I was young, we used to pick a few crickets hiding under the grass, roast and eat them,” Okettayot recalls. “I used to eat them in small quantities because they were rare, but I am so glad that I have now learned how to rear crickets, and I can now have enough of them.”

He adds that one can even blend crickets with fruits to make a protein shake.

“This is a win-win solution when we use food waste to feed the crickets and later feed on the crickets, so the food waste comes back to us in a different format to benefit us and the insects,” Dr. Rose Mary Bulyaba, the dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Science says.

Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Book

New Book: Dralega, C.A., and Napakol, A. (eds). Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

A Review

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent.

The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, and unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more.

This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.


…Some African responses on media and health issues are examined in this book by a whole new generation of public health communicators who are homegrown, African graduates, sometimes of international research and training collaborations, who are responding to their own particular national environments. Just as African scholarship and health campaign strategy can positively inform global approaches, the support of the big Northern publishers—in this case, Springer—is just as important. Where the earlier generation cut their teeth on HIV/AIDS, the new generation seems destined to deal with successive and increasingly intense and interrelated crises: health, climate change and environmental degradation. Thus this is one book that can speak intelligently to these issues from the perspective of the Global South. And, the task that they are taking on is herculean.Foreword by Keyan Gray Tomaselli– University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

The book cover and contents can be accessed here:

About the Editors


Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Oslo, Norway.


Dr. Angella Napakol is a researcher and Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

How conspiracy beliefs affect COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy

By Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 created substantial fear among communities and countries about the future. It seemed to have come from ‘nowhere’ even after China announced its arrival. Many questions arose as to whether it was deliberately created and released by scientists and their allies for some unknown reasons. 

Governments across the globe launched interventions to facilitate the public’s compliance with preventive and mitigative measures, also known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The measures included physical distancing also known as social distancing, regular handwashing, wearing masks, and vaccination to boost herd immunity

Speculation soon became a common feature of COVID-19, about the cause, the effects, and the people behind it. Theories begun to emerge around these issues. 

Uganda enacted legislations, restrictions, policies and interventions to prevent and mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19. These included, but were not limited to, the Uganda Public Health (Control of COVID – 19) Rules, 2020; guidelines on mass gatherings including social meetings such as burials and weddings; guidelines on meeting at workplaces, guidelines on use of public transport; among others.  

Whereas the world was relieved about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, emergent concerns around safety and effects were prevalent. The concerns and doubts about vaccines were mainly driven by conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccination, sometimes widely shared among the population.  

Conspiracy theories cannot be taken lightly. At Uganda Christian University, Prof. Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, an Associate Prof. of Governance and Development in the School of Social Sciences, with a multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from UCU were awarded a research grant by the university to study how conspiracy beliefs affected COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Uganda. In a three-year project that covers a large-scale online and physical survey of over 1000 respondents, to be followed by in-depth interviews, the team aims at examining the conspiracy beliefs and their implications for COVID-19 vaccination in Uganda. 

The research is guided by five specific objectives, namely: 

(i) To measure the extent to which conspiracy belief about vaccination against COVID-19 is spread among Ugandans; 

(ii) To establish the relationship between conspiracy belief and vaccination hesitancy in Uganda; 

(iii) To explore the interaction between exposure to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and individual vaccination decisions; 

(iv) To examine the gendered impact of conspiracy belief on vaccination hesitancy; 

(v) To examine how the conspiracy beliefs of adults are likely to affect decision to vaccinate children for COVID-19.  

The researchers note that, whereas in developed countries studies have already established the significant relationship between conspiracy theories and decline in vaccination rates, such studies are very few in developing countries. For instance, Maftei and Holman in 2020, in their study, ‘beliefs in conspiracy theories, intolerance of uncertainty, and moral disengagement during the coronavirus crisis’ highlighted that conspiracy beliefs had significant impact on disobeying the social distancing regulations seeking to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers are aware that in countries like Uganda with a population highly characterized by low education and poor access to information, beliefs in conspiracy theories and impact are expected to be high.  Still, little is known and done to minimize the impact of misinformation on COVID-19 prevention. In addition, with more people owning smartphones, conspiracy theories are likely to flourish as a result of high exposure to various ideas. 

Some of the examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The belief that the G5 cellular network is responsible for causing COVID-19,
  • Bill Gates’ plan to depopulate the world,
  • Vaccinations having microchips that can be used to monitor behaviour. 
  • Others include the belief that those who get vaccinated will die in a few years, and that the whole COVID-19 pandemic was a political stunt.  

The primary outcome of this study is to understand how conspiracy beliefs affect the individual willingness to get vaccinated. Findings from this study could be used to improve on the efforts geared towards pro-vaccine attitudes and interest in COVID-19 vaccination. The main outcome will be a change in behavior towards vaccination for COVID-19 despite the existence of conspiracy theories and management of future vaccination drives.

The research has gone through both institutional and national ethical clearance processes. The first phase has been completed and will soon be made public. 

UCU partners with German-based universities on renewable energy and more

KTN Factory

By Jimmy Siyasa

“Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today,” once remarked Francesco La Camera, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This is a fact. Not only that, but they are also the most eco-friendly forms of energy humanity can have today.

We live in a time where the ecosystem is under daily attack; being sacrificed on the altar of development/industrialization, and needs a “saviour”.

An April 2022 study this year by the World Economic Forum found that by 2020, only a slight “9% of all energy generated in Africa came from renewable sources,” yet the continent has massive potential to be a leading player in the global renewable energy sector.

Germany: Prof. Mushengyezi meets with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences, Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer.

In response to this challenge, Uganda Christian University (UCU) has embarked on the pursuit of partnerships, especially with various institutions of higher learning in big-player countries regarding renewables. The latest are German-based universities.

Early this week, the UCU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, met with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer, in Germany. They discussed the possibility of joint projects, among other mutual pursuits.

Prof. Mushengyezi and Prof. Feser also agreed to renew the partnership agreement focusing on research and student exchange.

UCU and HNU have been implementing a project on renewable energy (solar project) in the Koome Islands, led by Dr. Miria Agunyo, Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Kizito, Dr. Stephen Kyakulumbye and Dr. Jeremy Waiswa; who are all UCU researchers and some senior academic administrators.

The solar power project named the “Implementation of Solar Mini-Grids for Digital Learning Models in the Rural Areas of Uganda,” seeks to provide access to reliable electricity and clean energy for the islanders who have known darkness for years.

The UCU team also visited Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Munich. It specializes in agriculture-related disciplines and renewable energy. Discussions with the university management focused on the possibilities of partnerships in agricultural, food science, and renewable energy areas. Thereafter, the UCU toured the KTN Factory, based in Bavaria, Germany. It is one of the industry partners of HNU.

  • Prof. Mushengyezi exchanges a gift with Prof. UFeser,
  • KTN FactoryUCU team visiting KTN Factory, one of the industry partners with HNU.