The Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe (left), hands over two touchless peddle handwashing kits to Mulago hospital at Makerere University in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO | STEPHEN OTAGE

What you need to know:

  • Makerere. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Makerere University has released a number of innovations aimed at helping government address the pandemic. They include ventillators, self disinfecting hand glooves, recently the Mathematics department released research findings recommending the extension of the lockdown.

Makerere University says it has been frustrated by government institutions which are not buying the technologies it is producing as solutions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While addressing journalists yesterday, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the University Vice Chancellor, said the slow response of institutions which are meant to take up the innovations, is discouraging the innovators.
“Apart from the prototypes from our researchers that they make from the little money we give them, there is no production. We asked for permission for the ventilator but nobody is talking about it and yet the cases are increasing,” he said on Monday.
According to Prof Nawangwe, it is through such innovations that government can turn around the economy of the country by creating jobs when they are put to mass production.
He added that so far, the university has registered 56 companies including Kiira Motors and Bushenyi Banana project to manage diverse innovations.
Yesterday, the university’s college of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Badaye technologies, a company owned by Makerere University alumni, unveiled a touchless hand wash kit which uses a combination of different energy sources to dispense water and soap in high human traffic areas.
According to Prof Joshua Wanyama, the principal investigator, the wash kit is a low cost green technology which has been designed for use in shared public spaces as a response to the Covid-19 fight.
The technology was developed using funding from the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund at a cost of Shs59 million to address the challenge of people coming into contact with infected surfaces.
“This is a touchless, pedal-less technology with audio guided interaction in customised languages and it has capacity to do remote monitoring, remote data transmission and is able to map utilisation of soap and water,” Mr Wanyama said.
The machine has two jerrycans of water and soap in a cabin with a solar panel built on top of it. It has sensors that dispense water and soap when a user places their hands under the water tap. Voice commands tell the user to wait for either soap or water and the whole process takes 20 seconds which Prof Wanyama says is the recommended World Health Organisation time for washing hands.
During the exercise, the machine also records details about the user including the location where the washing takes place.
Mr Wanyama said 20 litres of water wash up to 100 people’s hands and half a litre of liquid soap can cater for 3,000 people.
So far the university has manufactured 15 kits each at Shs1.5 million but if they go into commercial production, Prof Wanyama said each would cost Shs800,000.
He added that since they started testing the technology two weeks ago, they have registered 65,000 hand washes at hospitals of Kawempe, Kiruddu, Makerere University, Entebbe Grade B, Nakaseke and city markets of Kalerwe, Kawaala, among others.

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