Untapping Ugandan genius

“Facilitating genius” in Uganda is the startup incubator and co-working space Hive Colab, which proudly has over 350 members, who are a part of the group either in person or virtually.

by Georgia Gilson

We spoke with Brian Ndyaguma, the organisation’s operations manager, to find out a bit more about the project and the tech startup scene in Kampala. He and some of the Hive Colab team were in Berlin for the re:publica conference, presenting at the GIG bus to crowds of participants settled in deck chairs to hear some great international startup stories.

With eLearning Africa just around the corner, there’s a real spotlight on Africa’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs, especially in the host city, Kampala. In general, Brian says there is a buzz and energy around the place, and with so many projects underway, it’s no surprise.

“We have seen different kinds of innovations from very basic to very creative and genius applications,” he says.

“As a hub we feel we are at the point that we actually wanted to see. Where it gets overwhelming is when people are asking for internet of 100MG, which we cannot provide.”

This points of course to the question of access, and – as per the eLearning Africa Debate in 2013 – the question of whether an overwhelming large youth population in Africa and particularly Uganda (around three quarters under 30 years of age) is a risk or advantage.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Brian, “Yes it’s a bit of a risk if these people aren’t employed.”

However, Brian says it is also a positive factor, particularly because the young people in Kampala’s tech startup scene have the energy to ‘start and fail’, but then pick up and start again. Hive Colab believes that success stories are the way to show how projects can work and change the community.

When asked what some of the genius projects facilitated have been, Brian says that particular highlights are a Malaria testing application not requiring pricking by a needle (Matibabu) and another incubation project for pregnant mothers to monitor their health and that of their child (WinSenga).

re:publica 2014 is an event partner of eLearning Africa’s sister conference ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN.


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