“Empowering Uganda’s ICT Sector: A Journey Towards Innovation and Intellectual Property Protection”

By Nancy Emily Nagujja

Kampala. The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance developed comprehensive ICT Intellectual Property (IP) guidelines to foster innovation and economic growth by facilitating and adopting Information Technology (IT) innovations nationwide.

During an Expert Review Engagement aimed to reflect the specific needs of Uganda’s context and contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development and global competitiveness held on 6th March 2024.   The growth of the ICT sector in Uganda has primarily been private sector-led, resulting in the emergence of various sub-sectors, including innovation.

According to officials, these guidelines are crucial for promoting innovation, creativity, and economic growth in Uganda by safeguarding the rights of innovators and creating an environment conducive to knowledge-sharing.

Ahead of implementation, the Ministry organized an expert review engagement of these guidelines to enhance the management and protection of Intellectual Property within Uganda’s ICT sectors. 

“The objective is to reflect the specific needs of Uganda’s context and contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development and global competitiveness. The growth of the ICT sector in Uganda has primarily been private sector-led, resulting in the emergence of various sub-sectors, including innovation,” reads an official statement.

Previously, government support for local applications and innovations was limited, with young graduates and skilled locals often left supporting imported ICT solutions. However, the government has begun investing in indigenous technology development, enacting laws to protect innovators, and supporting initiatives like the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP).

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) play a crucial role in ensuring the success of such initiatives.

The government has enacted various laws, including the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006, the Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2009, and the Industrial Properties Act of 2014, to protect different forms of IP in the ICT sector. The National Intellectual Property Policy passed in 2019, aims to facilitate innovation, productivity, competitiveness, and technology transfer and development in Uganda’s economy.

The ICT IP guidelines aim to strengthen the legal protection of innovations owned and funded by MOICT & NG. These guidelines provide a framework for managing, owning, and commercializing IP rights in contracts between MOICT & NG and its suppliers. They cover areas such as IP management, commercialization, procurement of digital assets, and funding and grants towards innovation development.

Overall, the ICT IP guidelines aim to establish a consistent structure for regulating, safeguarding, and embracing domestically created ICT solutions in Uganda. They seek to promote innovation, improve ICT solutions practices, enable shared infrastructure, and protect the Intellectual Property rights of innovators and inventors.

Speaking on behalf of the commissioner of Research & Development and the Ministry, Christopher Yikii, a senior ICT officer, noted: “In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements and globalization, the significance of protecting intellectual creations has never been more crucial.”

“As we embark on this discussion, let us consider the profound impact that intellectual property has on innovation, creativity, and the overall progress of societies,” said Yikii.

In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements and globalization, the significance of protecting intellectual creations has never been more crucial. As we embark on this discussion, let us consider the profound impact that intellectual property has on innovation, creativity, and the overall progress of societies.

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