Dr. Mundu Mustafa

Deputy Vice Chancellor | Kampala International University

AfricaLive Interview With Dr. Mundu Mustafa (Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation Consultancy, and Extension), Dr. Gaurav Bajpai (Director, Grants and Partnerships) and Dr. Hashim Ibrahim Bisallah (Director, Research and Innovation) 

Key Points

  • KIU’s research and innovation implementation framework utilizes four innovative approaches – disruptive, incremental, sustaining, and radical innovation – while aligning research clusters with UN Sustainable Development Goals to generate multidisciplinary research output and grant opportunities.
  • KIU’s iMental Health project in the College of Health Sciences uses innovative ICT tools for improved mental health diagnosis, monitoring, and interventions, addressing a critical healthcare challenge.
  • The university’s Center of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is developing unique solutions such as a zero-rated information repository to address the digital divide in rural communities, a solid waste management system with real-time monitoring, and a virtual reality-based tourism experience.
  • KIU has secured significant grants and partnerships, including a €220 million Nuffic Dish digital innovation skills hub project with 12 partners and a $1.4 million VODAN Africa project spanning 15 countries, demonstrating its leadership in collaborative research.

AfricaLive: What research approaches does Kampala International University take?

Mundu Mustafa: Kampala International University (KIU) is a private chartered university in Uganda. Established in 2001, KIU has built a name in Africa’s higher education sector currently ranked by the Webometrics Ranking not only as the best private university in Uganda but also the second-best overall university in the country. The Webometrics Ranking is the largest globally recognized academic ranking of higher education institutions in the world under the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) located in Madrid, Spain.

KIU is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Association of African Universities (AAU), the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), the International Association of Universities (IAU) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) among others. It has two campuses; the main campus is located in Kansanga along Ggaba Road in Kampala (Central region) and the Western Campus is in Ishaka, Bushenyi (Western Uganda), along Kasese Road.

The University has a branch in Dar-es-Salaam called Kampala International University in Tanzania (KIUT). I am the Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Innovation, Consultancy, and Extension at the main campus. Under this division, we have two directorates – one dealing with grants and partnerships led by Dr. Bajpai, and the other dealing with research and innovation led by Dr. Hashim. 

We have three basic functions as an institution – teaching and learning, research, and community engagement. When it comes to research, one of the key outputs is publication. We mandate all our postgraduate students at the master’s and PhD levels to publish a certain number of articles under the guidance of their supervisors before they can complete their degrees. Undergraduate students are also encouraged to publish their work in a list of recommended journals. 

The research work further extends to practical applications and interventions that drive innovative ideas in various fields that can be taken forward for commercialization. We are still in the early stages of this at our Centre of Excellence for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

AfricaLive: What would you consider your flagship research projects at the university?

Hashim Ibrahim Bisallah: We have several flagship innovations, some ongoing and some concluded. In our College of Health Sciences, we have the iMental Health project which uses ICT tools for improved mental health diagnosis, monitoring, and interventions.

In the School of Engineering, we have three projects – one on biomass, one on utilizing banana peels as a cement substitute in construction, and one on cassava peel utilization which has received interest from research institutes. 

At our Center of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we have five notable innovations:

  • A zero-rated information repository to address the digital divide in rural communities.
  • A solid waste management system that integrates real-time monitoring of waste collection and disposal.
  • An antenatal monitoring and alert system to increase the number of mothers attending antenatal care.
  • A virtual reality-based tourism experience to promote Uganda’s tourist attractions.
  • A real-time RFID occupancy monitoring system for optimizing space utilization in buildings

Other projects include using maize fibre as concrete reinforcement, machine learning for detecting breast cancer, and a robotic arm for automating industrial activities.

AfricaLive: What could the future of such research projects look like at the university? Are you looking to build partnerships to scale up the impact?

Gaurav Bajpai: We have around 57 MOUs and partnerships with universities worldwide, including in the US, UK, Europe, Africa, India and China. In terms of grants, we have won funding for various projects such as:

– A $600K ALLWASH project on water, sanitation and hygiene 

– €100K UN-YU Yunus project on poverty and unemployment research in East and Southern


– €130K Yunus youth empowerment project for Uganda

– €220 million Nuffic Dish digital innovation skills hub with 12 partners

– $1.4 million VODAN Africa project with 15 countries

– Computational fluid dynamics graduate support program

– Community engagement projects like DORA with 10 partners

– Global wellness programs 2 Student projects won

RCE Youth Art Challenge: From Waste to Art (UNESCO)

– African Center of Excellence in Materials Product Development and Nanotechnology

– East African Research Fund involvement

– One Health Central and Eastern Africa Research Network

We also have partnerships with industry players, community outreach programs, and involvement with the Uganda Ministry of Health. Our students and faculty have won awards from UNESCO, and we are awaiting results on a Horizon Europe project bid. We recently won an award from the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) for our water and hygiene research.

Hashim Ibrahim Bisallah: We have MOUs with Chinese universities to offer courses in areas like automobile engineering. We also recently won an EU Erasmus+ grant with Ondokuz Mayis University in Turkey for a research exchange program for faculty and students, set to begin implementation between July and September 2024.

AfricaLive: What is your approach to working with industry and understanding Uganda’s future workforce and research needs?

Mundu Mustafa: We engage with industry in four main ways to attain the national development programs (NDP):

  • Student placements through internships, school practice and industrial training programs, where second and third-year students spend 8-10 weeks in the industry to bridge the gap between classroom learning and industrial practice while at the same time allowing companies to tap into fresh talent and potential future employees.
  • Stakeholder consultations, where we involve industry in formulating our academic programs and get their input on key areas for improvement to ensure our graduates fit well in the industry for the world of work.
  • Limited sponsorship of selected university programs by industry partners including career fairs, workshops and seminars. Besides, we also offer consulting services and expert advice to industries.
  • Research partnerships that can lead to innovations, products, or improved processes, benefiting both academia and industry

AfricaLive: Is there anything else you would like to add about KIU’s approach to research and innovation?

Hashim Ibrahim Bisallah: What makes KIU unique is our research and innovation implementation framework. We use four different types of innovative approaches:

  • Disruptive innovation – focusing on emerging technologies.
  • Incremental innovation – gradual, continuous improvement of systems, products, and approaches.
  • Sustaining innovation – significant improvements to sustain market position .
  • Radical innovation – These innovations are technological breakthroughs that transform the industry

Each strategy has its own research objectives and innovation opportunities. We also align our research clusters with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on areas like good governance, environment, mental health, science, and technology where we have strengths. This allows us to generate a lot of multidisciplinary research output and grant opportunities.

Mundu Mustafa: Our key focus now is building and strengthening internal capacity to achieve our research, innovation, and entrepreneurship objectives. Bringing in ideas aligned with the SDGs is a key strategy, as well as partnering with industry, government agencies, and like-minded institutions. 

Being featured by AfricaLive will help put KIU on the map for innovation in Africa and strengthen our ability to actualize our objectives. We appreciate this opportunity.

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