Developing SMEs in Africa a Challenge to Academia– the case of Makerere University Livingstone S. Luboobi, Ph.D. Professor of Mathematics Vice Chancellor, Makerere University Content Introduction Makerere University education system The transformation of Makerere University The challenges of developing SMEs Interventions and Innovations Makerere University Private Sector Forum Conclusions Education in Uganda Makerere University is a public University started 1922 as a College Makerere University remained the only University until early 90s (currently 16 Universities) Home to 21 Faculties, Schools and Institutes Student pop. 35,000 Staff 3,000 Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture and Veterinary, CIT, Business School and economics, Law etc. Makerere University education system The University started as a training ground for civil servants With emphasis on theory and less on practice 1980s – 90s: Government funding was guaranteed 1990 – date: Priority to Tertiary and Primary education and economic recovery Mid 90s: The University shifted to training for the market. R&D visible in Science Faculties but funded by donors Challenges to developing SMEs by the University Faculties have informal linkages with SMEs (e.g. field attachments, industrial training) University Labs used for raw material and finished product testing Limited formal mechanisms for collaboration Limited donor funding Lack of government funding! University a mystery to some SMEs Academia and SMEs lack a common “language” The challenges cont. Relating higher education to the needs of society (The Private Sector) SMEs perception that University graduates are too academic Interventions/innovations Innovations at Makerere Committee project The Uganda Gatsby Trust (Makerere/Gatsby Trust?) project Innovation systems and innovative clusters Makerere University Private Sector Forum Open the University to the Private Sector Create formal linkages with the Private Sector Private Sector support to University programs Makerere University Private Sector Forum To tap synergies of University Private sector Partnership Foster Private Sector Competitiveness and strengthen University programs and products Promotes: Entrepreneurship training, Joint Research, Curriculum review, Technology Innovations and transfer, Business Cluster development etc Out puts of the Forum MOUs have been signed with Private Sector partners & Public Institutions Appointed Private Sector personnel as Honorary Professors Create Private Sector Chairs in Faculties funded by the Private Sector Private Sector support to University Private sector scholarship programme Joint research programme Conclusion The old mechanisms of transferring knowledge from Universities to SMEs cannot work. More proactive mechanisms as demonstrated by Gatsby and the Forum are more acceptable to SMEs in delivering knowledge and technology. Economic development in the 21st Century will be driven by SMEs – need for University to develop more organic partnerships with SMEs. Universities in developing countries must take the lead in initiating linkages with the SMEs Conclusion cont. Governments in developing countries should as a matter of necessity and survival of their economies support and fund knowledge creation and infusion into the SMEs Development partners should come in to support local initiatives to enhance their efforts in fostering competitiveness of SMEs. Makerere University „We build for the future‟ Thank you.