Remarks by Ambassador Willian W. Popp at the Kajubi-Fulbright Lecture | Uganda’s Higher Education in the Digital Age

Remarks by Ambassador Willian W. Popp at the Kajubi-Fulbright Lecture  | “Uganda’s Higher Education in the Digital Age: Navigating the Future Through Technological Advancements”

Makerere University, Tuesday, November 7, 2023

  • Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe
  • University Council Members
  • Distinguished Guests, Makerere faculty, and students
  • Fulbrighters past and present
  • All protocols observed.

Good afternoon! It is an honor to be here on my first visit to Makerere University.  I just had the pleasure of discussing the university’s distinguished history and bright future with the Vice Chancellor, and it is clear why you are among the leading academic institutions in East Africa.

Last year the U.S. Mission in Uganda was proud to launch the first Kajubi-Fulbright Lecture as part of Makerere’s 100-year celebrations.  This year, we are pleased to continue the tradition of bringing American and Ugandan experts together to discuss the future of higher education and to honor the first Fulbrighter from Africa and Makerere’s former Vice Chancellor Professor Senteza Kajubi.  It is wonderful to see some of the Kajubi family here today!

The United States is Makerere’s largest international partner.  Through our investment in the Ugandan people with programs like Fulbright academic exchanges, and the many partnerships and grants between U.S. academic, research, and government institutions and departments across this university, we are side by side with you in preparing the next generation of experts and a workforce ready to tackle the challenges of the future.

The list of collaborations between U.S. institutions and Makerere is too long to recount here today, but I want to mention a few examples of cutting edge research with your faculty.

  • The U.S. National Institutes of Health is currently funding dozens of research grants and has supported U.S.-Ugandan collaborative research for over 50 years.
  • The U.S. government’s primary development agency, USAID, has partnered with Makerere to establish dozens of PhD programs, research partnerships, and the construction of a new auditorium and academic space in the School of Public Health.
  • Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and our public health programs, the U.S. government has invested over $32 million in Makerere in 2023 in public health education, research, surveillance, particularly in the HIV/AIDS response.
  • We have also supported the establishment of a Writing Center for early career researchers in collaboration with Michigan State University, and I look forward to seeing such partnership to increase Makerere’s research and publication capacity continue.

Our investment in higher education is just one of the long-established partnerships between the United States and the Ugandan people.  These partnerships are built on mutual respect, shared values, and collaborative endeavors.  Through our myriad collaborative projects, we are proud to have real impact on academic research, scientific discovery, and accountability.  All this work leads toward a healthier, more secure, and prosperous Uganda.

This support to the Ugandan people started even before Uganda’s independence.  And during my tenure as Ambassador to Uganda, we will continue to work together to build a healthy and vibrant society for every Ugandan.  The U.S. invests almost $1 billion annually to support the well-being of Ugandans, by supporting prosperity, education, health, transparency, and rule of law.

Through our development work it is our hope that Uganda will move from a developing nation to one that is self-reliant.  To do that, it is essential for institutions like Makerere to build a workforce ready for the 21st century and beyond.

Technology has become an essential part of our work.  From diplomacy to engineering, and policy making to education, we all need a workforce that can effectively use information technology, gather and learn from data, and productively leverage the vast amounts of information on the internet.  Technological literacy is now the language that allows the citizens of our nations to collaborate as we build a more prosperous future.

As we open this conversation about Uganda’s higher education in the digital age, it is my pleasure to welcome our two U.S. experts joining us virtually from Silicon Valley in California and the great state of Indiana.

Thank you to the Makerere team hosting this event today. I look forward to many future engagements with this great institution as we work toward a brighter future together.