Nabakooba commits to supporting the proposed regional centre for urban research, Innovation

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Nabakooba commits to supporting the proposed regional centre for urban research, Innovation
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The Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development has expressed its dedication to ensuring the successful establishment of the proposed Makerere University Regional Centre for Urban Research, Governance, and Innovation (MURCURGI).

This commitment was made by Judith Nabakooba, the Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, during the closure of a public dialogue held in Kampala.

The dialogue provided a platform for discussing urban development issues and greening initiatives in Uganda, furthering the process of establishing the centre.

Nabakooba expressed her ministry's commitment and commended the collective efforts of the College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology, the Department of Architecture and Physical Planning, as well as development partners such as the European Union and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) for their contributions to establishing the centre.

"We thank the brains behind this innovation, and the Ministry will offer all the necessary support," she stated, acknowledging the efforts of the staff and students who have made valuable contributions and showcased their learning experiences through exhibited work.

Nabakooba encouraged the students to continue addressing urgent physical planning issues in the country.

She emphasized that the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development is actively pursuing physical planning, particularly in the new cities, to achieve desired levels of development.

The Minister highlighted the challenges of urban governance, planning, and management in the face of the evolving urban development scenario.

She stressed the need for knowledge and skills to effectively address these challenges, as approximately 27% of Uganda is projected to become urbanized.

She further noted that many new cities lack financial and situational stability, as well as adequate capacity among their staff. The centre, through training and research, will play a pivotal role in shaping urban development strategies in the coming years. Nabakooba emphasized that cities, as engines of growth and prosperity, must ensure social equity, equal access to opportunities, and the inclusion of human rights and smart cities in the 2030 agenda.

To ensure the centre's sustainable operations, the Minister proposed investing in financial sustainability programs and reimagining approaches to building vibrant cities in Uganda, with a focus on the operation and maintenance of urban structures.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Assoc. Prof. Moses Musinguzi, the Principal of CEDAT, congratulated the Department of Architecture and Physical Planning for their innovative work. He emphasized the pressing challenges in urban planning, such as affordable and quality housing, transportation, and water and sanitation, which require research and preparation.

Prof. Musinguzi stated that the university's niche in education and research can contribute to finding solutions to these urban planning challenges and drive positive change. He expressed the university's commitment to supporting the development of the center, which will help identify real problems and work closely with relevant agencies and the government to address them.

Dr. Kiggundu Amin Tamale, the Head of the Department of Architecture and Physical Planning at CEDAT, highlighted the support received from the GGGI and the European Union.

He mentioned various activities undertaken, including public dialogues in Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, and Arua; research on urban greening in Uganda; development and preparation of training modules and manuals for urban managers; training for urban managers in the four cities; and the preparation of a strategic business plan. Additionally, equipment such as laptops and desktop computers were purchased for the urban research centre.

Dr. Kiggundu emphasized that the future economic status of Uganda would be determined by cities rather than rural areas. Drawing on international experiences, he explained how functional and efficient cities have contributed to stable economies, job creation, improved public services, and strong economic connections with other countries.

The proposed Makerere University Regional Centre for Urban Research, Governance, and Innovation aims to undertake transdisciplinary, cutting-edge policy research to facilitate the formulation of relevant urban policies, address gaps in urban policy analysis, and serve as a regional think tank and incubator for innovative urban development ideas.

The centre will also enhance the capacity of towns and cities through regular training programs for key stakeholders, including city leaders, councillors, planners, and other relevant personnel.

Dr. Kiggundu highlighted upcoming events, such as the "Next Generation City Leaders' Training and Mentorship" program, aimed at producing change agents committed to city transformation. The program will target leaders from the new 11 cities, and MOUs will be signed between these cities and Makerere University to foster collaboration on urban research, training, and student internships.

Other initiatives include training programs for Fundis and informal contractors to improve their knowledge and skills in modern building design and construction technologies,as well as engagement and training sessions for real estate developers in the Greater Kampala Region on topics such as city planning and new construction technologies. Additionally, research activities focusing on intermediate cities are planned to generate new knowledge and provide up-to-date data for informed decision-making.

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