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A Ugandan University Is Building Its Own Homegrown Smartphone

First an electric car, then a smartphone. Uganda’s Makerere University is bursting with innovations.

A Ugandan University Is Building Its Own Homegrown Smartphone
Design via Shutterstock

Makerere University is apparently full of makers. In late 2011, the former technical college debuted the prototype of Uganda’s first electric car, the Kiira EV and followed up with the Kayoola, a hybrid electric solar bus.

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Read more about the Kiira, Africa’s first electric car, made by university students.

Now a group of six undergraduates are working with their professor to develop The Pearl, smartphone with GPS, biometrics, and other sensors, including some that can read and interpret weather data like temperature humidity in the air–useful for farmers as well as commuters. They expect a prototype by June and hope for mass production after that.

The new ideas coming out of this university are attracting research funding from around the world, says the Guardian: “Uganda, like most of the other African nations, has always been a consuming country for foreign technologies. We want to prove that these things can also be done here,” said one of Makerere’s professors.

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About the author

Anya Kamenetz is the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her 2011 ebook The Edupunks’ Guide was funded by the Gates Foundation

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