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ACIA Awards 2015 Report

Saying that Friday, May 22, 2015 went down as the date when Acia became a signature of Uganda’s innovation industry would be an understatement. However, the Awards gala of the 5th edition of Acia that was held in a King-size marquee in the luxurious gardens of the five-star Sheraton Hotel lived to the billing.
The décor and organisation in general, entertainment, food and drinks, and list of invitees set the celebratory mood in high octave right from the word go. The day-long ICT Exhibition that preceded as the Awards gala was equally electric! In short, nearly the public mingled and rubbed shoulders with Uganda’s budding innovators during this premier event.  
There are four major categories in Acia 2015:
1. YOUNG ICT INNOVATORS: The Young ICT Innovators category is divided into three sub-categories:
1a) Uganda’s ICT Explorers (for Primary Schools)
This subcategory recognised the best illustration that tells other children how telecommunication services can help in meeting the basic needs of the local people. St Lucia Basic School in Kirinya, Bweyogerere emerged national winners.
Accordingly, the school received a trophy, a cash prize of US$1,000; an Edu Tab for each team member; UGX 400,000 worth of internet access for each team member (sponsored by Vodafone); a Mifi router for the head teacher (from Smile Communications); and, a further set of text books gifted by Fountain Publishers. 
Each pupil from Happy Hill Junior Academy (Masindi), who were the first runners up, received a certificate and gift hamper. The school also received a further set of text books gifted by Fountain Publishers. A similar text book donation was also given to Parental Care Primary School (Bushenyi), who were the second runners up.
1b) Uganda’s Rising Stars (for Secondary school students)
This sub-category focused on the most outstanding ICT solution proposed to address an existing problem that is experienced in transferring money for business purposes in Uganda today. St Peter’s S.S., Pallisa won this award. In addition to the trophy, the school got a cash prize of US$1,000; a laptop with one year of IGb internet for each team; and text books donated by Fountain Publishers. The headteacher received an HTC Desire 616 mobile phone. 
Each team member from Dr Obote College, Boroboro (Lira), the first runners up, received a certificate and scientific calculator. The school received text books donated by Fountain Publishers. A similar gift of text books was given to Arua Public S.S (the 2nd runners up).
The regional winners were:
  • Bushenyi Primary Demo of using a television for information Secondary Introduction of electronic mobile money service machine, 
  • Arua Secondary Innovation of mobile money application (app)/website for smart phones /PC-tablets, 
  • Masindi Primary Skit on establishing a community radio station based at school, 
  • Masindi Secondary Helping the visually-impaired people in our communities to carry out safe money transfers for business by use of mobile devices with audio voice prompts, 
  • Lira Primary Identified the communication services and how they are used to meet basic needs. 
  • Secondary Money transfer Obote College, Lira 
  • Pallisa Secondary Solution to the mobile money problem in transferring money for business. 
  • Mityana Secondary limitation of service to physically (dis)abled persons 
  • Kampala Primary Proposed a ICT Camp to train business people in Wakiso District Secondary Safer Transacting Card 
  • Kako Secondary School B.ATM Kako Secondary School
The following secondary schools got special mention for their creativity:
  1. Kings College Budo who created a web based platform that allows a user to congregate and review and control all their financial info on one page.
  2.  St Kalemba S.S who made a money transfer app that is network agnostic and allows for money transfer and purchase of goods.
  3. Ediofe Girls SS proposed to replace SIM cards with Plastic Cards (SIM without voice and internet capabilities)  and readers to enable students access mobile money services.
  4. Obote College proposed a mobile App that detects fake “Mobile-Money-Sent messages”. 
  5. Lira Town College that developed a mobile Money App in English and Luo to overcome the language barrier.
1c) Uganda’s ICT Visionaries (for youth aged 18- 28)
This sub-category focused on the most innovative ICT research project that improves the lives of Ugandans in any aspect of their daily lives including leisure and entertainment. It was won by the quartet of Costance Nabimanya, Linda Kiroshaba, Richard Kimera, Ronah Nyakato and Sande Emmanuel under the group name Vital MOBIE. 
In addition to the trophy, they received a cash prize of cash prize of $1,500; incubation services from an Incubator worth US$5,000; and a seed funding of US$2,500. Kiiki, the second runners up, received a US$500cash for their innovation of a dynamo-powered USB charger with an incorporated rechargeable LED flashlight.
The best ICT solution that has been developed to address any of Uganda’s challenges in education, health, agriculture, environment sustainability, government services, and ICTs for the disadvantaged. Airtel Weza, a promotion of Airtel (U) Ltd, took the day for their ICT innovation for the rural disadvantaged. Accordingly, they received a trophy, a US$1,2500 cash prize, and a US$7,500 implementation grant.
The runners up, Breast IT (there were no 2nd runners up), walked away with a cash prize of US$2,500, and an implementation grant of US$3,750.
Most innovative locally-developed ICT solution aimed at improving the performance of an organisation (small, medium or large) in terms of efficiency, effectiveness or both. The judges found e-Citie Project of Kampala Capital City Authority as the best submission (for coming up with an Electronic Platform for Citizens) worth of the trophy. In addition, UCC will sponsor a member of the team to the International Broadcasters’ Conference/Mobile World Congress 2016.
In this category, emphasis was put on the most innovative approaches in the compilation of local text, images including video, or sound into a programme, application or product that enhances the value and use of communication platforms in Uganda (telephony, SMS, USSD, internet/data, radio or TV). 
Accordingly, PM Live today of Wizart Media, scooped the winner’s award of a trophy, a cash prize of US$2,500 and an implementation grant of US$7,500. On the other hand, Yaaka Digital Network (enhancing teaching and learning) bagged a cash prize of an implementation grant of US$1,250 and a US$3,750 product development funding. There was no 2nd runners up.
KIIKI won the Judges’ Choice trophy. In addition, they received a Mifi router (sponsored by Smile Communications); and, Team Dynamo won the People’s Choice trophy.
Innovation Fund mooted Hon John Nasasira, the Minister for ICT, said ICT ranked high in Uganda’s national vision of transforming our society from a peasant economy to a modern and prosperous country. “As Government, we are committed to creating an enabling environment for ICT towards the transformation of Uganda to a knowledge-based country.  
ICT has itself been recognised within the Vision 2040 as an enabler; an industry that can enable job creation, facilitate economic growth and increase productivity,” he said. 
Hon. Nasasira, who was the Guest of Honour, said the Ministry of ICT has an Innovation Fund, to assist young innovators, would be established under the new five-year ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan. He called upon the private sector to join government in supporting ICT innovation and start-ups in Uganda. 
Uniqueness of Acia 2015
The Uganda’s ICT Explorers was a novel idea aimed to inspire and nurture a culture of innovation among primary school pupils. In this way, through the Acia awards, the young generation of Ugandans will grow their understanding of ICTs and the opportunities ICTs offer. For the first time, the Primary and Secondary school participants competed at a regional level and winners from which level of competition they competed nationally.
Growth of Acia 
The Acia Awards have been held annually to reward outstanding ICT innovations since their inception in October 2010. The event has become an important signature and calendar event in Uganda’s ICT sector with the support of various industry stakeholders. Winners have benefited from a pool of prizes that have enabled them acquire the resources, linkages and capacity to enhance their innovations. As a platform that provides exposure, participants have had a platform to showcase their innovations to diverse audiences.
Steady growth has been achieved peaking at 281 entries for Acia 2014, compared to 159 in 2013 and 54 the year before. Accordingly, Acia has become bigger, better and more competitive.  This year the Commission received 398 entries for Acia 2015 as indicated below: Business Excellence Award (28), Digital Content Award (44), ICT for Development (157), Rising Stars (92), Uganda’s ICT Explorers (20) and Uganda’s ICT Visionaries (57). All said, Acia 2015 was worth celebrating.

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