Uganda’s new software geeks

Uganda’s new software geeks

Makerere University’s College of Computing and Informatics Technology is trying to get its students to create solutions to real-life problems. On its website, the department praised one team, Cipher 256, for winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup (in the East and South Africa Region). Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello, and Josiah Kavuma make up the winning team. In July, they will travel to compete at the world cup finals in Sydney, Australia. Their college has won this honor for its students five times in a row.

The winning concept is a mobile phone device that can detect ectopic pregnancies in women and monitor the movements of the fetus inside the mother. The application can be used at home, since the user only needs a mobile phone to carry out the scan. Uganda has over 14 million mobile phone users; today, people have phones even in remote villages. The group took its inspiration from the UN Millennium Development Goals for cutting maternal mortality.

I’m excited about this innovation because it can potentially do a lot to detect complications during the early stages of pregnancy. By picking up on these sorts of problems early, mothers will have the time to contact a medical professional who can offer therapy. Maternal mortality rates in most African countries are still far too high, of course, and an innovation like this seems like a great way to reduce them. The application, which is called WinSenga, can be found on both facebook and twitter.

This comes on the heels of an earlier application by Christine Ampaire called Mafuta Go. The app informs drivers on fuel prices at all gas stations in the vicinity: It won the Ring Masters Award in February. Over the past few months, gas prices in Uganda have been extremely volatile, so this sort of app can actually help drivers save a lot of money by helping them get the best deal. And in Uganda, just as in so many other places, fuel prices have a profound impact on the costs of many other goods and services. When gas prices rise, so do the costs of every other commodity, while the net income for most people stays the same.

It’s a great feeling to see Ugandans coming up with solutions to Ugandan problems.