Helicopter inventor promised air by Winnie Byanyima, MPs
@UG_EDGE – Winifred Byanyima, a Ugandan-born aeronautical engineer, politician, and diplomat, is on the spot for making empty promises to an inventor of Uganda’s first private and locally made helicopter.
Byanyima is the executive director of Oxfam International and served as the director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 2006.
“Even Winnie, Kizza Besigye’s wife…when she came to bury her father, I showed her the plane,” Joseph Nkaheza, told edge.ug.
That was in May 2017 when Winnie lost her father, Boniface Byanyima. Nkaheza personally painted Mzee Byanyima’s house before the burial ceremony.
“She promised and even gave me her contacts. She promised to get me a sponsor so I can develop my inventions but up to now…nothing,” he said.
Uganda’s first female flight engineer
Born in Mbarara District in the Western Region of Uganda, Winnie obtained a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester, becoming the first female Ugandan to become an aeronautical engineer.
Aeronautical engineering degrees represent the branch of engineering that deals with the research, design, development, construction, testing, science and technology of aircraft.
Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft.
It has two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering [space travel].
She later received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, specializing in energy conservation from Cranfield University.
Following the completion of her training as an aeronautical engineer, Byanyima worked as a flight engineer for Uganda Airlines before Yoweri Museveni started the 1981–1986 Ugandan Bush War.
A negligent country?
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in its five-year sector Strategic and Investment Plan (ICT SIP) 2015/16-2019/20, says it supports Research, Innovation and Development.
Since 2015, when Nkaheza, a primary seven dropout made his 12-feet motorbike that uses steam and his first chopper built from aluminium, the ministry has not lifted a finger to aid this innovative youth.
In September 2017, Minister Frank Tumwebaze unveiled an ICT Innovations Support Programme Selection Committee – a panel of experienced ICT experts and educationists to identify and support youthful innovators in the country with the Shs13bn innovation fund.
For many years, enterprising ICT innovators had complained of being neglected by government despite demonstrating ability to create jobs and address societal problems.
ICT Hubs have since decided to seek financial and technical support from advanced countries in Europe and North America depriving the country of brains and inventions that would put it on the world map.
Tumwebaze promised that the committee would ensure innovations are earmarked for financial support to “tap into opportunities” within the region.
President Museveni himself encourages innovation and harnessing of talent which are essential for Uganda’s future economic growth yet Nkaheza is not among those benefiting from the Shs13bn innovation fund.
Leaders who put self above interests of the youth
For close to three years, leaders in Rwampara County and Mbarara district at large have been made aware of Nkaheza’s inventions but none came forward.
Former Rwampara County MP Hon. Vincent Mujuni Kyamadidi never lifted a hand to help Nkaheza or at least forward his name to government.
The current MP Charles Ngabirano gave Nkaheza Shs200,000 of the required Shs1.2m to buy an engine he uses in his plane.
“The fact is, I approached Hon Ngabirano about 30 times. I told him I wanted a motorcycle engine that cost Shs800,000. I asked him for a loan promising I would repay him after launching the bike.”
“He started dodging me and rejecting my phone calls. I later found him at Radio West in Mbarara town. He told me to go to his home.”
“I went to his home the next morning. He put me on his pickup truck [behind] and drove me around for the whole day. In the evening, he gave me Shs200,000 and I have never seen him again.”
“Actually, I called him and told him to let me know in case he is in Mbarara town so I can give him back his Shs200,000 because it did not help me at all.”
Nkaheza said all the local leaders have done is speak about themselves but they are not helping the youth in anyway.
When edge.ug wrote Nkaheza’s story, district leaders scampered to invite the inventor with more empty promises.
“They told me the innovations fund will be released next year.” It remains unclear whether they will give him anything even if the funds are released.
Nkaheza has approached many other leaders including; Elioda Tumwesigye and the former minister of science, technology and innovation, and Michael Tusiime, an economist, tax consultant, administrator and elected Member of Parliament for Mbarara Municipality, who are more interested in championing age limit removal than the livelihoods of the young people.
It was only Kabula County MP James Kakooza who gave Rweyeshera Ashilaf, a movement mobiliser for western region, Shs50,000 to aid Nkaheza but the money never came.
He approached the Police Chief Kale Kayihura and General Elly Tumwine, military officer, professional artist, and educator also former Commander of the National Resistance Army from 1984 to 1987, but no help was forthcoming.
“The only thing Kayihura did was tell Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] to stop harassing me. They had impounded my bike six times. I approached him while at Lake View hotel in Mbarara and he warned URA.”
He added: “URA was asking me for taxes and a number plate. I told them I didn’t have a card. They refused to give me a number plate insisting that I should first open a company.”
Western youth leader Mpaka Maine Rwamirama, Capt Martha Asiimwe [Mbarara Resident District Commissioner] and even Ankole Diocese Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Sheldon Frederick Mwesigwa, too have made their empty promises.
Alex Bakunda Byarugaba, Current MP for Isingiro County South, told Nkaheza he would talk to Rwampara MP Ngabirano about securing him an engine but it’s now six months and…nothing.
Even Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye and Herbert Kabafunzaki who served as State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations, looked on whenever the inventor approached them.
“What youth efforts have these people been talking about,” the young man wondered.
Nkaheza donates the bike to Museveni
When President Museveni went to western Uganda during his recent upcountry tour to discuss land reforms, Nkaheza knew his chance had come.
Museveni appeared on Vision Group’s Radio West where he preached wealth creation, job creation and income-generating projects.
Nkaheza then called the District Internal Security Officer [DISO] seeking to meet with the president so the head of state could see his projects.
“No, no, no, don’t come,” the DISO jumped, telling Nkaheza not to bother the president as he had gone to Mbarara for important land matters not “personal things”.
MP Tusiime also hosted the president at his home to show him a group of taxi drivers who had pledged to popularise the age limit bill.
He allegedly told Nkaheza that he [Tusiime] had brought the president in his own personal capacity hence could not bother him with issues of the youth.
Nkaheza even wrote letters to MP Tusiime, RDC Asiimwe and Bishop Sheldon donating the motorcycle as a gift to the president but they never forwarded the letters.
Here is the letter:
To the President of the Republic of Uganda.
RE: APPRICIATIONS AND A SIMPLE GIFT TO THE PRESIDENT.
Your Excellency the President, I do greatly thank you for the good governance and leadership through peace, unity and prosperity you have given to we Ugandans. This has lead us into being innovative as Uganda especially the youth.
Your Excellency, I have managed to innovate a simple but interesting motorcycle (M7-MPAKALAST) through my personal knowledge. For this matter due to love and care you have rendered to us, I decided to present it to you my first in Stock M7-MPAKALAST motor cycle as a Gift.
Kindly receive it with a receiving heart from Nkaheza Joseph.
NB: even a helicopter is in the process (On You tube named Nkaheza)
Thank you very much.
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