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Pollicy Fellows

Meet the Fellows: Nicholas Masete & Brain Kojjo

At Pollicy, we run a fellowship program that aims to introducing students and young professionals to civic technology initiatives while also enabling them to utilize their development skills to create innovative data products. This year, our fellows Nicholas Masete and Brain Kojjo will join us to implement cutting-edge technologies in the fields of data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing and also provide support to our numerous research projects.

Meet Nicholas Masete!

Nicholas Masete

Where did you study?

I was at Makerere University from 2014 to 2018 pursuing a four-year course in Bachelors of Software Engineering and graduated in January 2019.

Why did you choose the Pollicy Data Fellowship?

I have always loved Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and this fellowship is an opportunity for me to expand my knowledge and grow in the field. I was also attracted by Pollicy’s goals towards building Uganda’s data ecosystem and their emphasis on promoting data guided decisions in government. I am excited to see where this journey takes me.

What’s your earliest memory of using Technology for Good?

My earliest memory is when I used to repair my mum’s radio set when I was still in primary school. My love for technology and engineering progressed to secondary school where I was repairing flat irons and any other electronics I came across. I did this for free.

Who do you look up to as a role model or mentor?

I look up to many people such as Sundar Pichai and Elon Musk, In Uganda I would say my role model is Muhebwa Cedric Anil the Program analyst social change innovations at UNFPA Uganda country office. He is self-driven, a great thinker, solutions-oriented person with vast experience in the IT sector and Public health.

What excites you about Civic Technology?

There is so much potential for Civic technology in Africa. some of the reasons why Africa as a continent is still struggling with so many issues such as unemployment, poor accountability, low rates of development and more is because it lags behind when it comes to technological advancement. All this affects the effectiveness of decisions made by our political leaders, leading to recurring problems from one year to another yet Civic Technology can be a solution to most of these issues!

What are you working on now?

I am currently building the Conversational User Interface for Pollicy’s chatbot that works as an intelligent policy advisor giving recommendations on best practices in governance. This chatbot relies on an automated systematic literature review of open-access research to provide answers to queries. In addition to this, I am also working on a solution that can eliminate land grabbers in mineral-rich areas of northern Uganda, I can’t really reveal so much about this at the moment.

What is one problem you hope civic tech will help solve in Kampala?

The lack of accountability. My greatest hope is that one day every government organization would publicly avail detailed information on how every penny allocated to them has been spent. With the help of civic tech, this entire process can be automated using a system that can be accessed by the general public so that the parliament does not have to waste time creating probe committees 6 months after the money was already been spent.

What have you learnt so far from the Pollicy Data Fellowship?

The work culture at Pollicy is so amazing, I have learnt how self-initiative is so important in any environment and how one should have the motivation to accomplish any task even without anyone pushing them to.

Where do you see yourself after the Fellowship?

I will perhaps be able to build a data product which other individuals such as those in the field of agriculture can use as a source of information about market availability for their products, future season predictions for timely planting and harvesting, and more. This fellowship will also grow my skills in software development which will ultimately prepare me for more projects and roles in the field.

What is your greatest weakness?

I like to see growth in what I do, in most cases, if I am not adding any value to whatever am doing then it means am not growing, I always don’t have the patience to wait on. I have been able to overcome this by surrounding myself with other individuals who I can learn from.

Meet Brain Kojjo!

Brian Kojjo

Where did you study?

I studied at Uganda Christian University Mukono between 2012–2016. I graduated with Honors in B.Sc. Procurement & Logistics with Research Methods as a subsidiary.

Why did you choose the Pollicy Civic Tech Fellowship?

I have always inclined my time of service to civic livelihoods improvement. Having been a keen follower of Pollicy, I always knew about the core values of the organisation. When the opportunity for the 2019 fellowship opened up, I was much interested to join as it would help me contribute to my country`s development and also personal development.

Who do you look up to as a role model or mentor?

Various individuals have supported me in many fields and am grateful to all. To be more specific, my father is my mentor as he initiated me to the field of research and data, which decision I have never regretted.

What excites you about Civic Technology?

Civic tech has the potential to accelerate societal solutions. Its output is measurable and visible unlike relying on future promises, technology gives accurate information for accurate decision making.

What are you working on now?

I am currently undertaking data analysis for the Weetase project and Create your Kampala Project in order to create data visualizations that will be used for presentation in the respective project activities.

What is one problem you hope civic tech will help solve in Kampala?

Civic Tech can solve the problem of inaccurate decision making by bridging the gap between the government and its citizen. One major face is poor decision making or lack of accurate information to enhance decision making. Civic Tech will enhance the movement of information between the Government and citizens which builds room for people-centered decisions hence for better decision making by both the Government.

How do you intend to solve this problem using civic tech?

With the Projects running at Pollicy, we as an organization possesses valuable information that other society stakeholders need. I intend to get as many people possible aware of our technologies so as to help them gain access to information that we are rendering to the public.

What have you learnt so far from the Pollicy Data Fellowship?

I have delved deeper into the ‘Data Science’ field and it has me pondering about studying further about Data science and becoming a better data professional. I have delved deeper into data visualisation, learnt specific principles of data representation and how tools such as graphs, charts and clip art can be used to convey insights.

Where do you see yourself after the Fellowship?

I believe my future is aligned in data, so see myself undertaking more of data science preferably at Pollicy

What is your greatest weakness?

My greatest weakness is my desire to see myself produce perfect output/work all the time. This sometimes is inflexible as I may take extra time trying to perfect my work. I have come to learn that perfection is not all but being right and accurate, so I now focus on that.

Please join us in welcoming them to the team, and we’re already proud of their accomplishments so far!

Written by Arthur Kakande, Communications Lead at Pollicy

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