Pulse Lab Kampala opens, mobilising a data revolution for Uganda’s sustainable development

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On Thursday 29 January 2015,  The Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Rt. Hon, Ruhakana Rugunda officially marked the public opening of Pulse Lab Kampala, a big data innovation lab in Uganda, part of United Nations Global Pulse's network of Pulse Labs. 

In a keynote address (full remarks available here), the Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda said: 

“Global Pulse will enable us to harness new data and technologies to better monitor the effects of epidemics, natural disasters and other problems that affect the people of Uganda,” 

“The importance of obtaining critical data in making decisions for development cannot be underestimated. With the mobile phone revolution in Uganda, it is now possible to reach people and find out what [ugandans'] main concerns are. This capacity will be even more enhanced with this initiative which we are launching in Kampala today."

he added:

“As the Government of Uganda, we are now more convinced than ever before that development challenges need to be addressed with data innovation. More strategic partnerships are, therefore, needed to improve the policies, regulatory frameworks and capacities to handle crises and make sustainable development work for all,”

Resident Coordinator Uganda speech

The Prime Minister was joined by the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, Ambassador Dan E. Frederiksen of Denmark and Swedish Ambassador Urban Andersson, each of whom delivered remarks as key supporters of Pulse Lab Kampala. 

Pulse Lab Kampala is set up as an interagency initiative of the UN in Uganda. Speaking at the grand opening event, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, highlighted the strategic relevance of Pulse Lab Kampala to support the UN Uganda’s Delivering As One process, and noted:

“When a doctor is taking the pulse, he's listening. And now, with these new data innovations, we as the UN and as development partners have a real chance to listen to the population that we are here to serve.”? 

UN Resident Coordinator of Uganda, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie

The event featured interactive presentations of projects that Pulse Lab Kampala has already undertaken with collaborators ranging from the Ugandan Ministry of Health, UNFPA in Uganda, WHO in Uganda, UNICEF U-Report, Makerere University, and Ugandan start-up ThinVoid, among others.

Showcased projects included examples of leveraging news and social media, data mining community radio for sentiment analysis , mobile-based crop disease monitoring, mobile phone data analysis to strengthen vulnerability mapping, and satellite data analysis for environmental changes.

With the official public launch, Pulse Lab Kampala welcomed data innovation partners across Uganda to join in collaborating on data innovation projects and advocating for the responsible use of big data for sustainable development in Uganda and across Africa.  

For more information, read the Prime Minister's full remarks, download the press release, or event programme.

Images courtesy of UNDP Uganda:

  • Top: Prime Minister Rugunda with Global Pulse Director Robert Kirkpatrick
  • Middle: UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie
  • Bottom: Prime Minister Rugunda with assembled group at launch of Pulse Lab Kampala 

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