The Africa Report: What has been missing in ICT education in Uganda and how have you addressed this at Makerere??
Professor Venansius Baryamureeba: Most universities in Africa produce graduates who are more orientated towards working in academic or research institutions than in the private sector. In Uganda, professional courses in computing and ICT were almost non-existent before 2001. What was missing, and what is still missing in most African universities, are curricula that meet both national and international standards. [At Makerere] we set up state of the art computing facilities. We recruit and train computing professionals, design good curricula for degree programmes that address private sector needs and run professional courses that are needed in the workplace and are accredited by Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Oracle.?
What impact has this had on Uganda’s ICT sector??
In 2001, most of the technical employees of the two existing telecoms companies [MTN-Uganda and Celtel (now Zain)] came from outside Uganda. Ugandans with a bachelor’s degree in computing were earning three times more than a university professor. Today our faculty has produced more than 1,000 degree-holders in computing and more than 10,000 certificate-holders in its professional programmes. As a result of well-qualified human resources, the sector has stabilised and today we have more than six telecoms companies operating in Uganda with more than 90% of their technical staff locally-trained. Because of this boom, other sectors like software development, business process outsourcing and e-commerce are picking up fast. ?
How can Africa provide more skills-driven curricula?
?We must train for the market, otherwise we shall have a situation where graduates have no jobs and at the same time companies are crying out for skilled graduates. Studies must be undertaken across Africa, and across the world, to document the skills needed for tomorrow’s private sector. As for spreading these courses across Africa, it has to be demand- and policy-driven. Countries must come up with policies that require their academic institutions to run such courses. At the same time, there has to be an organ or institution that ensures graduates from these courses find jobs, or are able to create jobs.