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Old April 19th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #721
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Museveni assures investors of profits
Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
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By Taddeo Bwambale

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has assured investors in the East African region of higher returns, saying the region had dealt with major challenges to trade.

He cited opportunities through the growing COMESA/ East African Community market, with incentive to trade in over 6,500 products at zero tariff.

Museveni also cited the China-Africa trade plan through with tax waivers on 440 products and the European Union market, which has provided free access to all export commodities, except arms.

The president said similar incentives were being offered by India and Japan.

He made the remarks during a meeting with investors at the 9th Africa Investment Forum at Milimani Conference Centre in Arusha, Tanzania.

The two-day event was held under the theme, “Accelerating East African Investment and Accessing a Market for a Billion People.”

It brought together east African heads of state, government ministers and business leaders to discuss investment opportunities in the region and in the continent.

Citing development in Uganda, Museveni said the country had dealt with insecurity and initiated private sector-led growth.

He said the country was only dealing with energy shortages, according to a press statement.
Museveni said Uganda hoped to produce 17,000 megawatts of electricity from its dams in 20 years.
He said through liberalisation, investment in Africa was more profitable.

The President explained that Uganda, which was under colonial rule for 63 years, had only 28,000 telephone lines.

Museveni said the country now had 16 million lines, with MTN alone having an annual turnover of $480m.

He encouraged investors to invest in Uganda’s mineral sector, saying the country had huge deposits of phosphates for fertilizers, iron ore, gold and copper.

The leaders agreed to invest in a transport master plan to help reduce transport costs and provide market for goods within the region.

Renowned Ugandan entrepreneur James Mulwana appealed to the East African heads of state to set up a joint $100m fund through the East African Development Bank, to finance small and medium enterprises in the region.



Kampala city CEO takes charge
Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
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Ssemakula (left) receiving documents of authority from Naluwayiro
By ANNE MUGISA
and RUTH NAKAYIMA

THE Kampala executive director, Jennipher Musisi Ssemakula, took over office yesterday with a promise to change the image of the city.

“This is an entirely new legal entity with implications for re-establishment in terms of structure, staffing and functions,” Ssemakula said.

David Kigenyi Naluwayiro, who has been the city clerk for the last seven months, handed over office to Ssemakula yesterday.

The function was attended by the local government minister, Adolf Mwesige, presidency minister Beatrice Wabudeya and the outgoing mayor, Nasser Ssebaggala.

Ssemakula warned stakeholders that there would be risks, challenges, false starts and other hiccups in order to transform the city.

“I am committed to work with whoever has the vision to develop the city. It is going to take sacrifice and some level of inconvenience as the city expands. We will rely on your support, cooperation and advice,” she said.

Ssemakula, however, did not say what she plans to do to transform the city.

She commended Naluwayiro, Ssebaggala and Mwesige for keeping the city afloat.

Ssebaggala said most of the city’s roads need to be tarmacked because their life span had expired since they were constructed in 1955.

He said sh200b has to be spent every year for five years in order to fix the city’s problems.

Wabudeya said she has no problem working with mayor-elect Erias Lukwago contrary to what some people have been saying.

“the central Government wants a better Kampala. He says he has the same desire. That shows that we have the same starting point,” Wabudeya said.

She commended Mwesige for the law that set up the Kampala City Authority. The law allows street committees to be included in the restructuring of the city.

She allayed fears that people would be laid off, saying only those holding positions for which they have no qualification will be affected. They would, however, be compensated, she added.

Naluwayiro advised the new leadership in Kampala City Council to carry out the restructuring carefully and the staff to work diligently.


1,000 graduate from Mutesa university
Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
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Kabaka Mutebi (in red gown) after being installed as chancellor of Mutesa 1 Royal University
By ALI MAMBULE

A total of 1,015 students were awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates at the first graduation ceremony of Mutesa I Royal University which was presided over by the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, at Kirumba campus in Masaka.

A total of 548 of the graduands were male, while 467 were female.

Mutebi was installed as the chancellor of the university before officially conferring the degrees, diplomas and certificates upon those who had successfully completed their studies.

He said the ceremony had opened a new chapter in Buganda’s education system and in Uganda as a whole.

“When Sir Edward Mutesa I wrote letters to the Queen of England inviting the missionaries to come to Buganda and Uganda, he wanted them to bring formal education and Christianity. This first graduation ceremony has marked the fulfillment of his dream,” Mutebi said.

The Kabaka urged the graduands to use the knowledge they acquired during their studies to become job creators instead of seeking for jobs which they may fail to get.

The Katikkiro, JB Walusimbi, congratulated the university upon its first graduation despite the many challenges it has encountered.

He called upon the university’s management team to address the challenges.

Walusimbi advised the students to behave like royals and show a good image to the public.

He urged the graduands not to forget their roots, saying many universities and other institutions are assisted by their pioneers to grow.

“You the alumni of this university must, therefore, ensure that the university succeeds,” Walusimbi said.

He advised the graduands to join politics but urged them to use an independent mind before making decisions.



Museveni woos road investors
Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
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By Ibrahim Kasita

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has called for foreign investment in infrastructure development, saying improved road and rail transport, energy and water can help bring the cost of doing business down and drive profits up for investors.

Speaking at the Presidential Round Table at Mlimani City Conference Hall in Tanzania on Monday, Museveni urged investors to focus on road infrastructure, which they can gain from using road tolls.

“The Government is focusing mainly on people’s roads. However, private investors can build road tolls for those who want to avoid traffic jams to use and pay. Investment opportunities exist in all sectors including in agriculture, services, manufacturing, infrastructure and petroleum,” he said.

The President was attending the 9th African Investment Forum and the 9th extraordinary summit of the East African Community Heads of State hosted by Tanzania, the Commonwealth Business Council and the East African Community.

It involved high level interactive dialogue on investment under the theme “Accelerating investment in East Africa and increasing access to a market of a billion people.”

The forum provided a platform to bring investors and projects together to showcase new opportunities, enhance African trade and investment and to build new business partnerships.

It aimed at discussing ways of promoting a conducive business environment in the region and focus on public-private sector partnerships in key areas of infrastructure development, energy, transport, communications and housing.

Museveni said after a long political struggle, Uganda had succeeded in removing most bottlenecks to development including ensuring security of persons and property and stopping the interference by the State of the private sector activities.

“Other issues, which were not immediately identified like electricity, a general problem across Africa, is being addressed by building dams using our own resources. Gas and petroleum, which we recently found would be used to generate electricity and heavy fuel oil,” he said.

The President also said transport costs have been high due to poor infrastructure, adding that the UPDF engineering department funded by the private sector is now renovating the rail lines while the Government was tarmacking most roads.

If you don’t deal with infrastructure, the cost of doing business can be quite high and if production costs are high, you can’t make profits,” he said.



Chinese to build Kyambura mini-power dam
Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
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Chunsheng and Murangira exchange papers as Migereko, Kajara and D’Ujanga look on
UGANDANS have partnered with the Chinese to build the 8.6MW Kyambura mini-hydropower in Bushenyi.

The venture is expected to increase cheap power supply in the national grid after Ziba Uganda and China’s Machinery Export Company (CMEC) signed a $12m deal.

Jin Chunsheng, the CMEC vice-president, said his firm aims at fast-tracking the project development, which he said will last only 12 months. Simon D’Ujanga, the energy state minister, welcomed the venture, saying that it will help in connecting electricity to rural areas.

“Uganda is less than 10% electrified. This project will help improve access to electricity needed for development,” he said.

Aston Kajara, the minister for investments said: “We encourage the Chinese to exploit other project like railway building.”

“This is good venture because it helps build capacity for our local investors,” the minister pointed out at the signing of the agreement attended by Daudi Migereko, the Chief Whip in Kampala last week.



Small businesses chocking on high commodity prices
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By Viola Nabimanya & Clare Balondemu (email the author)

Posted Wednesday, April 20 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

As inflation continues to squeeze household budgets Small and Medium Enterprise are filled with complaints of declining profits.

In a survey conducted by Daily Monitor in Kampala, businessmen agree that prices of everything have hit through the roof and customers are no longer capable of spending as they used to do. Mr Joseph Ankakwasa, an Irish potato dealer in Mutungo-Binna told Daily Monitor last week that his expenses had increasingly become agonizing and for two weeks he hasn’t been able to replenish his stock.
He said he used to buy a sack of the commodity for Shs40,000 but it has since increased by about Shs30,0000 to sell for Shs70,000. “In addition I have an extra charge of Shs12,000 for every sack from Kabale compared to Shs8,000 that he used to use before the ordeal.”

Just like many other Ugandans, Mr Ankakwasa, believes the government is not doing enough to assist the masses who are suffering under the rising cost of living. He said when he increased the price for his Irish potatoes (sack) from Shs65,000 to Shs90,000 his customers, some of whom include hotels and restaurants withdrew their orders because they thought they could not afford anymore.

Ms Lydia Nabajje, who owns a boutique in Luzira is another explanation that mirrors how business has indeed become hard. She said: “Whereas I buy clothes expensively customers are not willing to spend even half of what I invest to purchase the items.”

This as she says has affected her business due the fact that she has not been able to sell much yet she spends on transport, food and other household items. Just like Mr Ankakwasa, Ms Nabajje called on the government to intervene on taxes especially on essential commodities. Ms Ninsiima Alice who runs an inn along Port Bell Road in Luzira told Daily Monitor that she can no longer buy food items in large quantities due to the fact that she doesn’t make enough money any more.

A sack of rice that she used to buy at Shs80,000 has gone up to sell for Shs120,000 in just three months. Maize floor that used to sell at Shs40,000 has gone up to Shs80,000 whereas matooke which used to cost Shs20,000, has gone up to Shs30,000. She said the government should move to save Ugandans as they will soon be out of business.



Museveni re-assures investors at EAC summit in Dar es-asalam
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By Ephraim Kasozi (email the author)

Posted Wednesday, April 20 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

As a hub of the world’s premier tourist attractions, and a prospective free trade area given its central location in the Comesa and SADC trading blocks, East Africa forecasts a market of 540 million people and $630 in GDP by 2015.

The East African Community heads of State told business gurus in Dar es-asalam at the ongoing Africa Investment forum on the theme “Accelerating EA Investment and accessing a market of one billion people”.
In a statement released by the Ministry for East African Community, President Museveni told investors at a round table meeting that Uganda had already dealt with the bottlenecks impeding trade including security and interference with the private sector through initiating private sector led growth and dealing with energy shortages.

The statement also indicates that Uganda has a master plan of attracting investment to improve infrastructure through construction of Toll Roads, which will soon be practical for Jinja, Kampala, Entebbe and Mpigi. Mr Museveni re-assured investors that the government has provided incentive on over 6,500 products on zero tariffs so as to improve the investment environment.



Reality TV series rewarding entrepreneurship launched
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By Stephen Otage (email the author)

Posted Wednesday, April 20 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

A new TV series that aims at inspiring entrepreneurship across East African has been launched. The television programme seeks to reward entrepreneurial innovation and improve productivity among members of the five East African Community member states.

Speaking during the call for participant’s registration in Kampala last week, Mr Nelson Tugume Owaarwe the executive director of Inspire Africa said the reality TV show is expected to attract over 50,000 applications from around the region but will only select 30 participants from each member state.
The series that are expected to premier on East Africa’s major televisions in July will reward the eventual winner with $50,000.

Mr Tugume said: “Every African youth should be creative. It is shocking that many Uganda’s businesses never live to see their first birthday.” The series are expected to feature successful business personalities who will mentor upcoming businesspeople to propel them into successful business personalities. According to Mr Tugume, the programme is expected to be funded by individuals and corporate organisations.
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Old April 20th, 2011, 11:13 PM   #722
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Korea to train Ugandan farmers
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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Chang Hyun-sik exchanging copies of the agreement with Muhakanizi on Tuesday
By PASCAL KWESIGA

UGANDA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of South Korea to establish a national farmers’ leadership centre at Kampiringisa in Mpigi district.

The project, which is to cost $3.5m (about sh8.3b) is the first among the three projects that the Government of South Korea will finance in the next three years through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Keith Muhakanizi, the permanent secretary in the finance ministry, made the disclosure during the signing ceremony at the agency’s offices in Kampala on Tuesday.

Muhakanizi said a fruit factory and a vocational institute were the two other projects to be established in Teso sub-region and Wakiso district respectively.

He said the projects would cost $6.5m (about sh15b) and $4m (about sh9b).

Muhakanizi added that the projects would be implemented by the agriculture ministry through the National Agricultural Advisory Services.

He said Korea would also provide technical assistance in form of experts who will train instructors in project management, leadership horticulture, crop production, livestock production and income-generation.

Once established, Muhakanizi said, the centre would provide Ugandan farmers with skills in project management, value addition and marketing, thus improved yields.
He said this would position the country as the region’s food basket.

Muhakanizi explained that the Government, through the agriculture ministry, would include funding for the project in the 2011-2012 budget and would ensure its successful implementation.

The agency’s vice-president, Chang Hyun-sik, said through the project, Ugandan farmers and partners would be able to learn how Korea has developed its rural areas and agriculture.



Sh283b lucrative road deals up for grabs in 2011/12
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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By David Ssempijja

THE Government will spend over sh283b to improve the road network in the next financial year, a top official said this week. The sh283b expenditure, is, however, down from the sh340b submitted for parliamentary approval.

Dr. Michael Odongo, the head of the Uganda Road Fund, explained that 67% of the total budget, would be disbursed to the Uganda National Roads Authority, an agency that works on national roads.

The remainder would be channelled through districts, municipalities, city councils and divisions to finance periodic road works.

“We are happy that improving the road network ranks among government’s leading key priorities.

“This will help in fast-tracking development for it will greatly improve the movement of people, goods and services,” Odongo said on Monday.

Odongo was addressing a workshop for northern region districts at the Churchhill Courts Hotel, Gulu as the body sought to inculcate the culture of accountability for the road funds entrusted to designated agencies.

“Proper and timely accountability is a key element we need to emphasise as we develop the road infrastructure. This will enhance efficiency through minimising contract delays and financial losses,” said the executive director.

John Ocitti, the manager for fund management, decried the low levels of absorption where some agencies fail to utilise the money within a stipulated time.

Agencies failed to utilise up to sh47b out of the sh116b the fund disbursed in the first quarter of last financial year.

“Agencies must observe the need to expedite road contracts because unutilised funds will create a vote of no confidence in the way we do business and will have a negative bearing on the budgetary allocation processes,” Ocitti noted.

“We can’t continue holding money redundant when other government sectors are suffering with deficits. Every agency that fails to account for the funds will be forced to refund it,” he warned.

However, the delays in utilising the money were attributed to inadequate technical manpower especially in the newly-created districts. This is said to limit the procurement pace.

The Uganda Road Fund was established in 2008 to manage money meant for road works.

The fund emphasises on road maintenance to make roads safe for the users.



Kikuubo becomes tourist attraction
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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Traders and customers at the Nakivubo business area
By Titus Kakembo

THERE is a massive crowd of buyers and sellers besieging Kikubo from sun rise to sun set. This is the busy lane that connects Kyagwe and Rubaga Roads.

First time visitors are mesmerised by the way one weaves through trucks and rub shoulders with fast fingered pickpockets.

“Tourists are amazed to see many people crammed in a narrow lane like locusts in season,” says Amb Julius Onen the Permanent Secretary ministry of trade, tourism and industry. “Other than shooting Kikubo photographs to post on their social networks, the speculative traders there make sure some money is left behind by tourist when they purchase jewelry, sleep in the hippie lodges there and consume spirits,” he says.”

Onen says after Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) and National Parks, Kikubo is steadily asserting its place in the lead as an attraction of tourists.

He said tourists are amazed by things people take for granted. Visitors are thrilled to weave through this mass on a Boda boda, eat roast sausages and kicomando.

“If all players emulate Kikubo entrepreneurs, the country’s budding tourism industry will have travelers leaving behind $500 by consuming what is in store on the chain of catering service providers.”

Asked how business is, Sanyu Hamida cautions new comers to Kikubo. “You have to haggle on prices.” Adding that, “If it is a fruitful bargain you can get a 50% discount. Those who do not, are often fleeced, haggling is a tradition here.”

Hamida says there are commission agents who scout Kampala City streets for customers. Some walk back home with between sh50, 000 – sh300, 000 depending on the volume of purchases connected. Hawkers without capital also get stock in morning, before embarking on long walks in residential areas to sell and return in the evening.

Kikubo is one stop shopping center popular with the foreign visitors and the local customers. Upon being threatened by multinational shops like Nakumat, Game and Steers, Kikubo property developers; Sudhir Ruparelia, Godfrey Kirumira and Drake Lubega have upgraded their properties. ”

Another change in Kikubo is the replacement of kibanda (unregistered money changers of the 1980s) by registered foreign exchange bureaus and banking institutions.

The banks in Kikubo now include Centenary, Bank of Africa, DFCU, Cairo Bank, Stanbic and DFCU. The secretary for Defence Kasirye Daudi says many more have booked space in the malls and are due to open soon.



Nsubuga makes ‘meat’ out of soy
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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Nsubuga displaying a pack of Soy Meat at his Kyengera SESACO factory
By David Ssempijja

PRIOR to 1990, Charles Nsubuga had already started sailing through the world of business, jumping hurdle after hurdle in and outside Uganda.

This was until his mother, Lovinsa Nantume, served him with a beverage made from roasted soy beans instead of coffee that he took on a new line of business.

“I was fascinated by the taste of the beverage. What I also leant after a few days was that behind the wonderful taste lay the untold nutritional values of soy,” he recalls.

Through his Kyengera-based company, SESACO, Nsubuga has provided a suitable answer to President Yoweri Museveni’s continued call for value-addition, especially to agricultural products in which Uganda has a huge competitive advantage.

His innovative journey of improving soy has seen him producing nine soy products including Soya millet, Soya cup, Mummies and Daddies (Bagiya snacks), Brown butter, Soya nut, Brown sauce and Soy milk.

Nsubuga says he praises God for the successful innovations, especially his latest breakthrough of Soy meat he has recently introduced onto the local market.

Through a complex process, Nsubuga transforms soy into a product looking and tasting like meat.

Surprisingly, the only foreign material added to soy during this process is water, but the end product has no much moisture.

Soy meat is free of cholesterol and animal fats, and is enriched with zinc, calcium, micro-nutrients (Omega 3 and 6) proteins, fibre, magnesium and iron.

Nsubuga also manufactures Soy milk, which, according to him, has attracted overwhelming demand because it has no animal fats, cholesterol and lactose.

Coming in liquid and powdered forms, Soy milk is mostly demanded by people allergic to animal milk.

Nsubuga, whose factory employs 80 people, says he produces about 300 litres of Soy milk per day, yet 2,000 litres are needed.

“We are happy that people have responded positively and we get overwhelming demand everyday. But we are not able to satisfy the demand because we have limited production capacity. Our meagre financial resources cannot enable us buy the hi-tech processing plants to grow production,” he laments.

Appearing in dry small pieces packed in 200 gram packs, SESACO Soy meat goes for a sh6,000 per pack, which can serve 14 people.

This means one kilogramme can feed 70 people.

Nsubuga also plans to teach the local small and large scale bakers how to integrate soy floor into their products to help them attain the recommended nutritional standards.

Source of Nsubuga’s knowledge
Nsubuga said he attended the 2009 Uganda North American Association (UNAA) convention in the US where he addressed participants and marketed his products.

“I gave a presentation and at the end of it, I told the participants that I had heard about Soy meat and milk, but I did not know how to make them. After the session, two people from the University of Illinois approached me and offered to help me with the technology,” he says.

Nsubuga has also attained knowledge from the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health.

He says he would like to go back to the US for more training in soy processing.



SME-financial sector linkage: Is Uganda on course?

Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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By Vision reporter

HORRIFIC memories are still reverberating in the minds of traders of Owino Market ever since they incurred huge losses when their stocks went into flames two years ago.

What was most shocking is that many traders not only lost stock, but also millions of shillings they used to bundle with the goods they dealt in.

This scenario is indicative of the extent at which operators of small businesses do not appreciate the role of banking.

The failure of small and medium enterprises to appreciate services provided by the financial sector has also got a critical bearing of the level of growth for the banking and insurance sectors.

According to Bank of Uganda deputy governor Dr. Louis Kasekende, the linkage challenges between the SMEs and the financial sector are emanating from sector players failing to tailor services appropriate to small businesses, and limited financial education.

“Take insurance as an example. We have many smallholder commercial farmer groups and individuals in the rural areas operating without agro-insurance despite the roles agriculture plays in sustaining our economy. Companies must consider micro-insurance to protect SMEs and keep them afloat in case of losses. This will also reduce barriers to lending to small farmers,” Kasekende said.

He was officiating at the opening of a three-day banking, finance and insurance expo at the Uganda Manufacturers Association, Lugogo recently.

The expo was organised by the Royal Way Media with support from the Vision Group, G4S Uganda and UAP Insurance.

Kasekende said financial sector players needed to focus on strategies that foster a financial system that encompasses all sizes of businesses. He added that the SME segment had been side-lined, yet it supports over 80% of businesses in Uganda.

“Formal institutions are less prominent in rural areas,” he said.

Kasende said financial deepening would be realised through good linkages between various sectors of the financial system, adding that instability in one sector could spill over into others and spark off a system crisis.

Nathan Byarugaba, an expert in business financing, said Uganda had continued suffering from limited small businesses financing because the Government had not sensitised people on how businesses can attract financing.

“Many SMEs are operating without Government help,” he said.

There are 22 insurance firms in Uganda, 26 insurance brokerage firms and eight loan assessors.

Though the industry registered strong growth in 2009, it still falls under Africa’s most least developed, with only a 0.59% penetration rate.

Despite the registered growth figures, the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product remains 1% for the last five years, according to the 2008 Comprehensive Annual Insurance Market report.




Uganda embraces banking technology
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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By David Ssempijja

THOUGH Uganda’s banking sector is considered to be operating amidst many challenges, hope is not lost for its improvement given the level at which the sector is integrating new technologies.

The Royal Way Media, a local communications consultancy organised this year’s annual banking, finance and insurance Expo under the theme; Exploring technologies to deliver financial services. “We took note that as the banking industry continues to embrace technology, we needed to create the world of informed customers about the same technology because an informed customer is the easiest to serve and normally takes rational decisions,” said David Ssempala of the Royal Way.

He says with the growth of microfinance, the expansion of remittance networks and the introduction of branchles banking technologies have put new financial products within reach for millions of poor consumers– many of whom are entering the financial system for the first time and find it challenging to fully harness the benefits of the developments.



World Bank honours Uganda’s innovation
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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By David Mugabe

UGANDA received an honorable mention amongst contestants from six continents in the just concluded World Bank’s first-ever “Apps for Development” competition won by an Australian.

In the contest, participants were asked to create digital applications (apps) that allow users to visualise development indicators using powerful charts and maps, a web-based tool to measure the impact of global events on progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and also take on some of the world’s most pressing development problems using technology.

But in the region, Uganda had the most entries in the September 2010 World Bank’s challenge to software developers from across the globe.

The Ugandan entry dubbed MDG Maps (Uganda) also focused on technology solutions to monitor and move the globe towards the millennium development goals.

A total of $55,000 was handed out to winners.

The high number of entries from Uganda is also testimony to the country’s array of technology training institutions which churns out close to 1,000 students annually.

Using the Bank’s freely available data, participants were also tasked to develop an interactive app that lets users make their own comparisons of countries’ performance, were announced today as the top winners.

“The response was overwhelming, with 107 entries from 36 countries across six continents, and nearly a third from Africa,” said the World Bank.

In a statement, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said, “One of the reasons we threw open the doors to our data was that we recognised we do not have a monopoly on innovation.

These apps clearly demonstrate how the software development community can harness technology to analyse and tackle some of the world’s long-standing problems,

“It is fantastic to see the creative approaches each of the finalists took, and it is also great to see that the submissions came from six continents.”



New matooke variety empowers households
Wednesday, 20th April, 2011
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Kenneth Akankwasa and George Ruharuza admire Kiwangaazi bananas
By John Kasozi

EVA Musinguzi, Winifred Ntawera and Keziah Ruharuza cannot believe that the newly-released two-inch Kiwangaazi banana variety they despised is empowering them.

The trio, who are part of the 16 contact farmers for the National Banana Research Programme under the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Kabarole and Kyenjojo districts, say in 2008, they were given suckers, which they doubted were bananas.

“The suckers never looked like the local banana suckers. The size and shape were different. I planted them, but after a few months, I told my family that I would cut them down,” Musinguzi recalls.

But Musinguzi added that when officials came for a field visit, they convinced her to wait for the results.

“It’s only when they made nine months that I realised they were real bananas,” she adds.

Muasinguzi said in September, 2009, she harvested her first bunch at 15 months.

“I tasted the matooke and they were delicious.”

Musinguzi, a resident of Nyabukara parish, West division sub-county in Fort Portal Municipality, says she recently harvested a bunch weighing 102kg.

She added that apart from being big, the new variety has proved to be drought and disease resistant.

“It has never been affected by diseases, yet it is in the same plantation with the local banana varieties.”

Musinguzi says Kiwangaazi takes long to ripen compared to the local varieties.

“I harvested one bunch and stored it. It took 14 days to ripen unlike the local varieties that take five to seven days.”

“The leaves too take a long time to dry. Amazingly, cooking it takes a short time,” Musinguzi adds.

However, the farmers say because of their long stems, Kiwangaazi can easily be thrown down by strong winds.

“The stems need poles to support them,” they said.

Musinguzi say since she started selling Kiwangaazi matooke bunches and suckers, she has never looked back.

“I’ve sold 17 bunches at a farm gate price of sh15,000 each. The suckers go for sh1,000,” she explains.

A bunch of local matooke goes for sh8,000 at the farm.

Musinguzi says the demand for Kiwangaazi suckers is very high.

She says she has used proceeds from the new matooke variety to buy four goats, which have multiplied to 13.

“If NARO had given us more suckers, I would have a cow by now,” Musinguzi said, adding that she was planning to expand her Kiwangaazi farm on a four-acre piece of land.

Ruharuza from Mukunyu-Miranga parish, Butiti sub-county in Kyenjojo district says she struggled to grow the tiny suckers.

“After they got to one-year, the plants started growing faster,” she says.

Ruharuza adds that her first bunch weighed 80kg.

“However, during the rainy season, Kiwangaazi bunches put on a lot of weight. I sell a bunch at between sh15, 000 and sh20,000, depending on the size,” she says.

Ruharuza said she has sold about 700 suckers to Kyenjojo district at sh1,000 each, adding that the Kiwangaazi stump is prolific and produces about 20 to 30 suckers.

Ntawera of Rwakazooba village, Bugaaki sub-county in Kyenjojo district says the new matooke variety has changed her life.

“My soils are not fertile like in other areas, but my bunches weigh between 40kg and 50kg,” Ntawera says.

Plantation management
Kiwangaazi is a crossbred between Nakawere and a wild banana.

It is tolerant to Nematodes, invisible worms that cause root rotting, weevils and Black Sigatoka, a fungal leaf spot disease that causes heavy defoliation that severely suppresses fruit filling.

The variety has persistent bracts and neuter flowers, a trait that enables it to escape insect transmission of banana bacterial wilt.

Like local banana varieties, Kiwangaazi should be planted during the rainy season to avoid drying up during the first four to six months.

Currently, NARO is establishing more mother gardens to meet the increasing demand for Kiwangaazi suckers.
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Telecoms introduce smart phones amid rising challenges
Business
Written by Edgar Angumya
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 21:02

Orange officials explore the functionality of a smart phone

As telecom firms jostle to introduce smart phones on the Ugandan market, a new report shows that there could be a huge demand for data services together with challenges in designing suitable application tools for consumers.

The Mobile Africa Report 2011 reveals that applications on smart phones will form part of the major drivers of the telecom industry, but the road ahead is bumpy.
According to the report, “Consumerisation, cloud computing, tablet computing and mobile collaboration are among the major trends that will drive the market for enterprise mobility solutions in 2011.”

A study by CISCO, a global networking company, predicts that mobile traffic originating from tablet devices is expected to grow 205-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any device category tracked.

Already, MTN Uganda and Orange telecom have launched the Android powered phones. And just last week, MTN Uganda introduced the Samsung Galaxy Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Mini as the firm cements its niche with the high-end market. There are predictions that smart phones will outsell laptops by 2012.

However, the Mobile Africa report observes that “the explosion of tablets and smart phones on the scene makes more demands and operators are struggling to cope with demands for increasing bandwidth across a limited spectrum. Landing of undersea cables and deployment of 3G and 4G technologies in various African countries is only going to exacerbate the increasing demand for data services.”

The report also questions whether consumers will warm up to the new products. Robyn Milham, head of enterprise sales for Southern Africa at Research In Motion (RIM), says the challenges will be in making the products consumer-friendly, the rapid change of social networking as a business tool, and the move towards cloud computing.

“Consumerisation is flipping the traditional IT model on its head in many companies. Many end-users are bringing their own devices such as smart phones and tablet computers to work rather than simply using the devices and applications supplied by their IT departments,” says Milham.

“The challenge for IT is to leverage these tools without allowing them to undermine productivity and information security,” Milham adds.

With the growing need for information at all times, smart phones are increasingly becoming popular. A survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers points out that about 75% of Europe’s professionals work out of their offices, on their phones.

With payment of utility bills going electronic, banks allowing transactions over the internet, Ugandans now demand better applications on their phones. MTN Uganda announced that it is approaching the one millionth mobile money services user. So far they have managed to register 890,000 users to the Mobile Money service, which is 16% of MTN’s subscriber base.

The goal is to reach two million users by the end of this year, and 3.5 million by 2012. Also commercial banks are designing products that will allow customers to transact business over the phone. Standard chartered and dfcu are the latest commercial banks to introduce such products.

Tablet computing is expected to generate a lot of excitement, although the report adds that people are just starting to recognize the power that tablets can have in all aspects of life, both at home and at work. “Tablets will complement smart phones, giving workers the ability to take communication and productivity to the next level,” notes Milham.

But the report argues that it could take some time before Uganda’s consumers could have the perfect applications. “The challenge for IT managers is two-fold: putting clear corporate policies in place to govern how users use their devices and access information, and putting an infrastructure in place that allows them to centrally enforce these policies,” the report points out.




Jinja to get 525 metre bridge in 2012
Thursday, 21st April, 2011
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MPs inspecting the site of the New Nile bridge
By FRANK MUGABI

THE construction of an iconic 525m long dual lane bridge will commence in August 2012, the Uganda National Road Authority director, David Luyimbazi, has said.

He said the bridge to be completed in four years will have inverted Y-shaped pylon towers and will be the first of its kind in Africa.

It comes as an alternative to the 1950s Nalubaale viaduct, which has suffered structural damages and deterioration of the underwater piers among other problems.

While briefing the MPs from the physical infrastructure and national economy committees of Parliament who were inspecting the project on Monday, Luyimbazi said the construction works had been appraised for financing by the Japanese government and pre-qualification of civil works contractors was scheduled to commence in June.

The Uganda National Roads Authority land acquisition specialist, Pamela Ayebare, said a total of 43 properties, developed and undeveloped, were to be demolished and the owners compensated.

She said seven property owners in the area affected by the construction of the new Bridge in Jinja could not be traced for compensation.

“A total of 23 properties have been fully compensated. We also received ten appeals but we are still tracing for the seven property owners whose particulars are missing,” Ayebare said.

She said they were working with the Jinja municipal council authorities to contact the property owners and if they fail to find them, a notice will be placed in the newspapers.



Uganda to improve competitiveness

Thursday, 21st April, 2011
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By SAMUEL SANYA

THE Uganda Competitiveness Investment Climate Strategy (CICS) has stepped up efforts to improve the country’s global competitiveness rankings.

The country is currently positioned at number 118 out of the 139 economies.

“The global competitiveness rankings have been an eye-opener. They have showed us the areas we need to improve,” said Peter Ngategize, the CICS national coordinator.

The CICS is a public-private partnership strategy that supports the enhancement of production and competitiveness for private sector development in Uganda.

Uganda’s overall global competitiveness ratings dropped by five positions in the 2010-2011 world economic forum global competitiveness report due to poor infrastructure and government inefficiency.

To improve the poor rankings, Ngategize said a multi stakeholder doing business reform taskforce had been established to correct the wrongs that were pointed out in the report.



SACCO defaulters worry authorities
Thursday, 21st April, 2011
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By CHRIS MUGASHA

SACCO authorities are worried of the future of SACCOs due to the high rate of defaulters.

Borrowers’ failure to pay back the loans, the authorities added, had affected the operations of SACCOs.

This is also limiting the authorities’ abilities to borrow more from the Uganda Microfinance Support Centre and other financial institutions to increase their capital base.

David Mujatsi, the chairman of the Kyabugimbi Savings and Credit Society, told an annual general meeting recently that the high default rate had hindered the SACCO’s objective of poverty eradication in households under the Government’s Prosperity-For-All programme.
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Kenya-Uganda oil pipeline project at stake
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Engineers work on the pipeline. Photo/FILE

By JAINDI KISERO
Posted Monday, April 25 2011 at 00:00
Political instability in Libya is beginning to take a heavy toll on the progress of the Kenya Uganda oil pipeline — one of the most critical regional infrastructure projects in East Africa.

Correspondence seen by The EastAfrican shows that Kenya and Uganda have now insisted that they will delay any equity injection into the joint venture with Libya’s Tamoil East Africa Ltd until after the project has taken off the ground.

The two governments have also demanded that the Libyans pay off landowners along the way leave of the project.

When the parties first signed a Heads of Agreement in January 2007, the understanding was that Kenya and Uganda would each inject 12.5 per cent in equity into the company.

It was also agreed that the two East African countries would contribute land on the way leave as part of their equity contribution.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Lands has released the compensation schedules for parcels of land along the project’s way-leave to be acquired through easements and outright land acquisition.

The submitted schedule contains about 2,107 formally and informally subdivided plots with an estimated total compensation cost of Ksh520 million ($6.19 million).

The tough conditions given to the Libyans by Nairobi and Kampala are a reflection of growing impatience about a project that was supposed to have been commissioned more than three years ago.

The success of the multimillion-dollar project is especially critical for Kampala, which must urgently prepare to start pumping oil from its yet to be built refinery to Kenya —the largest economy in the region, and destined to be the biggest export market for Uganda’s refined oil.

Following discovery of oil in Uganda, Kampala has demanded major alterations of the original designs for the pipeline.

In May 2008, the Libyan company submitted a front end engineering design for a 10-inch diameter uni-directional pipeline that was approved by both Kenya and Uganda the JCC in June 2008.

But Kampala now wants a redesign of the pipeline to provide for future reverse flows between Kenya and an inland refinery Uganda is constructing.

Already, the Libyans have submitted an updated design recommending the construction of a 12-inch diameter reverse flow pipeline.

Started with pomp and fanfare and touted as among the top priority infrastructure projects in the region, the pipeline has been dogged by major delays.

While the heads of agreements were signed as far back as January 2007, it has taken an inordinately long period for the Libyans to move to the so-called final investment stage.


Environmental impact assessment certificates and licences from NEMA Kenya and NEMA Uganda issued in 2008 expired in July last year.

An inter-governmental agreement between Kenya and Uganda that is a conditional precedent for the project to move to the next stage is yet to be signed.

Other agreements still pending include an implementation agreement for the construction phase, between Kenya, Uganda and Tamoil, a shareholders agreement between the joint partners and incorporation of the joint venture company (JVC); neither have the parties concluded the crafting of memoranda and articles of association for the joint venture company.

The way-leave acquisition process, which was being undertaken by the governments in collaboration with Tamoil, is substantially complete.

A feasibility study undertaken in 1999 by Penspen Ltd and a complementary study undertaken in 2001 by Nexant Ltd established that the uni-directional pipeline from Eldoret to Kampala was economically and financially viable and technically feasible.




Uganda half-year growth projected at 9pc pushed by manufacturing, construction
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Strong growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors is directly linked to increased access to credit in the private sector. Photo/FILE

By BERNARD BUSUULWA
Posted Monday, April 25 2011 at 00:00
Steady growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors have pushed Uganda’s half-year overall economic growth to 9 per cent.

But tighter access to credit and resurgent inflation are likely to slow down growth in the second half of 2011, according to analysts at the International Monetary Fund.

Though the economy recorded growth, rising fuel and food prices are likely to erode these gains, says the IMF.

Political upheaval in the Middle East has triggered sharp hikes in global crude oil prices with a barrel hitting the $125 mark for the first time in more than two years, leading to knock-on increases in fuel prices and other consumer goods in developing countries.

The prolonged dry spell experienced last year in many parts of Uganda has also led to spikes in prices of basic consumer goods, particularly staple foods like matooke, beans and maize flour.

The rise in food prices is reported to have disrupted the school programme with a number of boarding primary and secondary schools breaking off prematurely for the Easter holiday due to depleted stocks.

The agricultural sector on the other hand posted weak performance, according to statistics compiled by the Bank of Uganda.

Strong growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors is directly linked to increased access to credit in the private sector motivated by a previous decline in yields on government securities between mid 2009 and November 2010.

But steady recovery in yields on government paper experienced over the past five months, despite slight declines, and surging inflation have reversed growth in private sector credit, prompting weaker growth projections for the final months of 2011.

Headline inflation rose to 11.1 per cent last month compared with 6.9 per cent in February while overall economic growth for this year is projected at 6.5 per cent.

“Uganda’s economic performance continues to be strong, but there will be significant policy challenges in the coming months. Expansionary fiscal spending has increased the importance of rebuilding of cushions on fiscal balances and international reserves. At the same time, inflation is rising rapidly, due to both higher domestic and international food prices, rising fuel costs, exchange rate depreciation, and high rates of private sector credit growth,” reads an IMF statement issued this month.

Substantial declines witnessed in yields on government paper for much of last year prompted many commercial banks to devote more resources to lending with a big chunk of funds being directed towards highly attractive ventures in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors.

Visible momentum in regional integration has ignited sharp demand for goods manufactured in Uganda, leading to expansion plans among producers of household goods, construction materials and stationery coupled with higher demand for credit.
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Kampala CEO to monitor city schools, hospitals
Sunday, 24th April, 2011
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By Henry SekanjakoTHE Kampala executive director, Jennipher Musisi Ssemakula, begun her duties with an orientation exercise as a way of introduction on Kampala authority business.

On Wednesday, Ssemakula took over office with a promise to change the image of Kampala.

Kampala city council spokesperson Simon Muhumuza told New Vision that Ssemakula had taken over her new office and started work with a familiarisation process.

He said the orientation exercise would involve monitoring city council’s hospitals and schools to see how they operate.

He said Ssemakula had been given one vehicle among other office tools to help her conduct these activities.
Asked whether she would be given security guards for security purposes, Muhumuza replied: “Why should we? Is her life under any threat? If the Government provides such security for her, even permanent secretaries will demand for it,” he said.

Muhumuza, however, refused to comment about the fate of the former town clerk, David Kigenyi Naluwayiro, who handed over office to Ssemakula.




Uganda Revenue Authority to host regional tax workshop
Sunday, 24th April, 2011
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By Vision reporter
UGANDA Revenue Authority (URA) will on Wednesday host a workshop to discuss how best to coordinate indirect taxes and other regional taxation issues in the East African Community (EAC).

The meeting, which will be held at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Entebbe, is organised by the African Tax Institute and the International Tax and Investment Centre.

It will attract senior level tax policy and administration officials from the EAC member states and secretariat, representatives of international organisations and academic and industry experts.

Participants will explore the coordination of import duties, Value Added Taxes and excise duties.

They will specifically look at surveys and evaluation in food and agriculture, immovable property, financial services, public entities and nonprofit organisations in relation to the EAC.

They will also examine taxation of tobacco and alcohol, and how to combat illicit trade in excise products.

“The forum will be co-chaired by URA commissioner general Allen Kagina and economics professor Sijbren Cnossen, who has served with the fiscal affairs department of the International Monetary Fund and the Dutch Tax Service,” said Paul Kyeyune, the acting assistant commissioner of public and corporate affairs.

He added that the workshop will also address other key EAC tax issues like practical sharing of best practices among senior officials from EAC ministries of finance and tax administrations, and how the public private sector cooperation can strengthen tax administration.

“Participants will debate on the advantages and disadvantages of different courses of indirect tax cooperation in the EAC, as well as ways of improving the tax policy and administration throughout the EAC,” Kyeyune added.




COMESA set to boost small border trade
Sunday, 24th April, 2011
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By Stephen Nuwagira
at Bunagana border
THE Common Market for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COMESA) has set up trade information desks to help remove barriers faced by small business operators at various customs points across the region.

Faridah Uwamahoro, the trade information desk manager at the Bunagana border post in Kisoro district, explained that the project targets small traders who do not use customs points.

“Small traders do not have access to trade information, pay unlawful taxes, face extortion and have problems with documentation. We shall sensitise them about the necessary procedures before one enters another country to help them avoid these problems,” Uwamahoro said.

“We shall, for example, help the traders with documentation like filling in of tax forms and filing with customs on their (traders) behalf.”

She said the project, when fully operational, would also help reduce smuggling across borders because goods entering partner countries will be almost tax free.

Goods made in Uganda, she revealed, would be tax free as soon as all the processes are put in place, including notifying all the COMESA governments.
Uwamahoro said the Bunagana trade information office was opened last week.

She pointed out that the DR Congo side of the border also has a similar office. Others have been opened at Gisenyi/Goma at the Rwanda/DR Congo border and Bibia (Uganda side) and Southern Sudan.

Offices for Malaba and Katuna borders are in the pipeline, Uwamahoro indicated. She urged the traders to form associations where they would be empowered by the project and donors, about their rights and why they should use the formal crossing points when doing business.

She also observed that traders would gain more from their businesses if they follow the guidelines given by the trade information desks at the border posts across the region.

The resultant aim of the project, Uwamahoro said, was to have the COMESA region under a free trade area.




Danes to support Mbale traders

Sunday, 24th April, 2011
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By Joseph Wanzusi
RANDERS Municipality in Denmark is to support the business community in Mbale town with transfer of skills and resources for small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).

The move is aimed at helping Mbale Municipality achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The project will be implemented under the Mbale Enterprise Development Project after a baseline survey to be carried out by the Eastern Private Sector Development Centre.

According to Paul Soddo, the Mbale Municipal Council senior commercial officer, and the coordinator of the project, entrepreneurs in the municipality would be required to register their businesses and form associations to benefit from the project.

Soddo told a stakeholders workshop in Mbale last week that the project was an outcome of a twinning arrangement signed between Mbale Municipality and Randers officials in 2009.

“It should be observed that the role of a vibrant trade sector in urban development and the struggle to achieve MDGs is in our own town.

“It is important for us to deliver quality products and services to the global market,” Soddo said.

He told the meeting that the main project would involve the transfer of skills and resources to entrepreneurs who operate ‘clean’ businesses.

Soddo said retail and wholesale traders, SMEs, manufacturers and those involved in value addition, would benefit.

Nelson Kyagera, the Mbale Enterprise Development Project boss, promised to expedite the baseline survey by May to enable the two municipalities implement the project.

The implementation of the project had earlier been planned for January.




CAA starts Arua Airfield upgrade

Sunday, 24th April, 2011
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By Ayiga Odonga
CIVIL Aviation Authority (CAA) is constructing a sh1.5b passenger terminal at the Arua Airfield. The airfield will also be upgraded to international standards in an attempt to boost tourism, Ingnie Igundura, the CAA spokesman, said recently.

He pointed out that the project was part of their mega five-year plan, which will also upgrade Kasese and Kisoro airfields.


China, Norway to train Ugandansin oil skills
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By Faridah Kulabako

Posted Monday, April 25 2011 at 00:00
The China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a Chinese oil company and Norway are to invest in training Ugandans to develop management and engineering skills for the country’s oil resource.
The director general China Enterprise Confederation, Mr Hu Xin Xin, said CNOOC would invest in developing local skills because it has a long plan for Uganda’s oil.

“CNOOC will put emphasis on training local people to manage their oil resource and create jobs for them,” Mr Hu said on Tuesday. The director Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Ms ToriNettelhorst Tveit, also said her country would help Uganda build institutional capacity to manage the oil resource and its revenue.

This was during a meeting to sign the second phase of a Trilateral Cooperation Agreement among three employer organisations including the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), China Enterprise Confederation (CEC) and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise in Kampala.

Planning minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu said with Norway as partner, Uganda will make use of its huge expertise in managing oil resources to avoid the oil curse.



Ugandan robusta coffee to be marketed on online
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By Ephraim Kasozi

Posted Monday, April 25 2011 at 00:00
Uganda Coffee Producers and traders can now market their fine coffee online using a Q system web portal developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, Uganda Coffee Development Authority has said.
Mr David Kiwanuka, the UCDA Manager in charge of Coffee Quality said the initiative to market the country’s Robusta Coffee is a result of a two year research that sought to develop grades to promote the good quality.

Showcasing potential
“The dynamic, engaging and customizable portal allows users to showcase their coffee samples and connect with potential buyers from around the world. The samples are evaluated by professionally accredited cuppers in the country of origin against international specialty coffee standards before display on the web portal,” said Mr Kiwanuka.

Speaking during a workshop in Kampala recently, Mr Kiwanuka said coffee that meets the standards for green, roasted and cup quality will be certified and licensed to feature on the web facility.
Coffee Quality Institute in collaboration with UCDA and USAID’s livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development project organised a cupping and certification training for 16 stakeholders to guarantee the Robusta coffee quality and standards.
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Telcos, banks drive up advertising spend
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How 2011 compares with last year.

By Faridah Kulabako
Posted Tuesday, April 26 2011 at 00:00
Advertising expenditure in Uganda for the first three months of 2011 increased by Shs18 billion, compared to the same period in 2010, according to data from Synovate, a local research firm that provides monitoring solutions for organizations and the marketing sector.

Industry exposure in the first quarter of 2011 rose to Shs97 billion, compared to Shs79 billion in the same quarter of 2010.
Synovate Uganda Country manager, Ms Virginia Isingoma Nkwanzi, hinged growth in advertising spending to competition in key sectors of the economy including telecoms and banking, coupled with huge election advertising expenditure in the recently concluded February general elections.

“The current high commodity and fuel prices have not affected advertising in anyway, instead expenditure on advertising has continued to grow,” Ms Nkwanzi explained.

Telecommunications companies including Airtel, Warid, MTN, Orange and Uganda Telecom have invested a lot in publicising new products and tariffs following a price war that saw industry call rates fall by more than 60 per cent.

Airtel further invested millions of shillings in building a new brand name after it rebranded from Zain to Airtel late last year.
Presidential, parliamentary and local council candidates also invested much money in advertising in the first quarter of 2011.
Ms Nkwanzi was speaking at the launch of an automated media monitoring system dubbed Adcatch that will enable it to harness the speed of technology to track media commercials and ensure timely advertising reports.

The system is expected to eliminate the tedious and time consuming manual media monitoring process and ensure high levels of accuracy since advertisements will be auto detected.

The new system will start with radio before bringing on board the television and print media platforms.
Ms Nkwanzi said that they opted to start with radio because it has grown faster than other media platforms in the country and it receives the biggest advertising expenditure.

She noted that the system seeks to ensure that advertisers get full value for their media purchases, provide proof of broadcast and that advertisers receive make-goods for missed and unclear spots. It will also prevent fraud and is a means of validating expenditure.

Customers will be able to access real time reports online, unlike before when they had to wait for a week.
“Our clients have been unhappy with the old system, so this upgrade is in real time and will help maintain our credibility,” Ms Nkwanzi said in Kampala on Thursday.

The system will also monitor music so that artists know the number of songs played and their frequency by a given media house and bill the media house accordingly. Synovate also uses it in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana and has capacity to keep advertisement for 10 years.



Uganda on shaky analogue to digital transmission journey
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A man makes an inquiry on the price of a TV set. Broadcasting technology is set to change in the near future. FILE PHOTO

By Walter Wafula
Posted Tuesday, April 26 2011 at 00:00
Watching television and listening to radio kick boredom out of many people’s lives. This practice equally keeps millions of Ugandans informed and educated. As such, the television set just like the radio has become a basic need in thousands of households in Uganda.

Private companies and the government are already spending billions of shillings to upgrade the regime used to broadcast television and radio signals to at least one million Tv sets and millions of radios owned by Ugandans.

However, government risks spending the billions on an inefficient and outdated broadcasting standard, as Uganda joins the rest of the world to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting platforms by June 17, 2015. This ground, was agreed upon by member states of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2006 in the quest for a more efficient and resourceful broadcasting regime globally.

Last month, Mr Aggrey Awori the minister for information and communication technology (ICT) told the media that Uganda is eyeing the Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVB T) standard in its migration. DVB T, is the first generation system of relaying audio and video content in digital format. At least 60 countries and 200 million households around the world have embraced this technology according to www.dvb.org. However, some of these are now digging deep into their treasuries to upgrade to the second generation technology which is deemed to be more efficient and more advanced. The new standard is known as DVB T2. Uganda like South Africa and Kenya ought to be thinking in this line, according to broadcasting experts.
Mr Charles Hamya, the general manager MultiChoice Uganda, the DSTV service provider, told Business Power that the first generation digital platform is a far inferior digital standard compared to DVB T2 platform. The platform is said to be between 30-67 per cent less spectrum efficient than DVB T2 which translates into far less channels and a much lower digital yield for the country.

With the help of the internet, these technologies are designed to enable nations to have more broadcasting frequencies than today. For instance, DVB T2 can enable a television station such as NTV to broadcast between 16-25 channels instead of just one channel through one frequency, Mr Martin Abuya, the chief executive officer of Smart Tv, told Business Power in an interview last week.

Compared to the first generation platform, DVB T2, offers the best technical performance opening up multi-channel television to a wider audience of viewers and allowing them greater variety in their viewing options. This translates into greater stimulation for both local content and local production industries; increased advertising revenue for broadcasters, as well as greater tax inflows and increased revenues for governments from selling off the extra bandwidth, according to Mr Hamya. “It makes no sense to roll out an inferior platform that is already outdated and will eventually need to be replaced by a superior generation of technology (DVB T2) that is already available,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

But on Friday, Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi, the acting executive director, Uganda Communications Commission overturned the ICT minister’s position saying that Uganda will actually adopt DVB T2. “Technology is changing on a daily basis. You can’t legislate against technology. DVB T2 is newer than DVB T1,” he said in an interview on Friday.

However, the three pilot companies that have been licensed to provide digital terrestrial broadcasting services in Uganda, are already airing their channels through decoders or Set Top Boxes (STBs) that are compatible with only the DVB T and not the DVB T2 technology.

The decoders are used to convert television signals from stations, into digital format to enable viewers with analogues Tv sets, to watch their channels. These boxes currently cost between Shs100, 000 and Shs190, 000 from the three companies on the pilot project including; StarTimes, Next Generations Broadcasting (Smart TV) and MoTV who are all pay-Tv service providers.
At a certain point in time, the STBs offered by these firms will be obsolete if the government adopts the DVB T standard between now and December 31 2012. This is because, it will still have to upgrade to the second generation platform.

This means that Ugandans, who acquire the available decoders, will have to replace them to be able to watch television again or risk staring at blank screens in their living rooms. It is estimated that StarTimes, Smart TV and MoTv have sold over 50,000 units in the market and are pushing in more. Mr Abuya said Smart Tv will continue to sell the STBs with a view of exchanging them for its customers when the company is able to bring in affordable DVB T2 boxes. “We will have to take that knock because it is part of business,” he said in an interview recently.

On the other hand, broadcasters will have to deal with dual migration and illumination of analogue to digital services, which is unnecessarily costly especially to the end user. Secondly, Uganda would be left behind other countries in the region- like Kenya, which have already decided to adopted DVB T 2, according to Mr Hamya. “With all its advantages, thus in all likelihood they would enjoy the economies of scale brought about by digital television much faster than us.” Some of the economies of scale that can be enjoyed include; the reduction of the cost of broadcasting technology such as the decoders, as more companies move to manufacture them to respond to market needs.

Broadcasting experts say that Uganda still has a chance to migrate directly from analogue television to Digital Terrestrial Television via DVB-T2 to avoid any interim stages of transition, thus saving time and money in the long term.

Despite the risks, experts at www.dvb.org suggest that countries that will go ahead and first implement DVB T before implementing DVB T2 will benefit from the use of a mature technology that is flexible enough to meet their individual market requirements.

“In particular they will benefit from the existence of a well-established world market both for receivers (STBs) and for head-end equipment. These conditions will enable the rapid roll-out and take up of DTT services in these countries, with access to very affordable receivers being the key factor.” But they argue that it can be expected that in a few years the difference between DVB-T and DVB-T2 STB will be so small that basically only DBT-T2 STBs will be provided. Moreover companies are no longer investing in Research and Development aimed at maintaining the DVB T platform and improving the compatible STBs because they will soon be outdated.

Players like Smart Tv are now urging the government to adopt the DVB T2 platform instead of the first generation technology. “By all means, they should install DVB T2. We are all for it, however, it is still new technology and there are not many suppliers who are supplying it now,” Mr Abuya explained.

Besides the issue of opting for the wrong television platform, Uganda’s digital migration is also facing slow progress towards its set deadline and it is less likely to beat it, Mr Patrick Samanya, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT indicated in an interview last week. The global deadline that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) set is June 17, 2015 while Uganda opted for December, 31, 2012. “It is a very ambitious target but the good thing is that it allows us time for some spillovers,” he said. In the event the domestic deadline is not met, the government knows that it will have three more years within which to address all the issues that require a successful migration by 2015.

One of the issues that are slowing down the process is the installation of digital transmitters and associated equipment by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). The public broadcaster was recently given the task of signal distribution across the country because of its reach and monopoly over the best signal sites in the country. However, the corporation has been accused of playing its role at a snail’s pace.

As a signal distributor, UBC is required to set up a company that will relay the channels of other television stations to the viewers across the country. In 2009, having UBC as the only signal distributor raised suspicion among broadcasters but it remains the most well placed company to do the job despite its inefficacies. Efforts to get an update from UBC’s management about their progress proved futile.

According to Mr Abuya, the rest of Uganda will only be able to enjoy digital television, as fast as UBC rolls out its transmitters. For instance, Smart Tv is ready to operate in districts such as Masaka, Jinja, Mbarara, Masindi, Arua and Gulu, however, it cannot expand to those districts because the signal distributor has not yet covered those areas. “If they roll out in those areas fast, then we will get there, if they don’t then we stick to where the roll out is.”




African leaders told to increase food production
Monday, 25th April, 2011
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By Prossy Nandudu

AFRICAN leaders under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have been urged to increase investments in agriculture to boost food production.

The move is hoped to improve regional food security by eliminating the current shortages that have triggered off protests in Uganda and Kenya.

The call was made by Dr. Chris Muyunda, the executive director of the Alliance for Commodity Trade for Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) at the Africa Agricultural Markets Programme policy seminar held in Kigali, Rwanda recently.

ACTESA is a specialised COMESA programme that enhances trade in regional staple crops and links smallholder farmers to reliable commodity markets.

Muyunda said in 2003, the Africa Union issued a directive under the Maputo Declaration to African leaders to increase investment in agriculture but few countries had taken up the initiative.

“The Maputo Declaration requires African leaders to increase investment in agriculture to 10% of their national budgets. Only eight out of the 53 countries have met the target,” said Muyunda.

He named Rwanda and Ethiopia as some of the countries that had increased their agriculture budgets.

“The failure by many African countries to increase spending towards agriculture is a serious




Uganda, Tanzania for GM crops
TUESDAY, 26 APRIL 2011 08:08 JOSEPH OLANYO
Kampala, Uganda - As Uganda's fate on the Biotechnology Bill waits parliamentary approval six years since it was tabled, the country has been listed as a potential ground for commercial production of Genetically Modified (GM) crops.

According to an annual report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Togo, Nigeria, and Malawi could all commence with the production of GM crops within the next few years.
The seven African nations are expected to start with the commercial production of genetically modified crops by 2015.
GM seed creation involves the insertion of genes for specific traits into a plant's DNA. Proponents of biotech crops say it leads to increased agricultural productivity with less labour and pesticides required.

Only three African countries -South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt are currently producing crops using biotechnology. South Africa is the leading producer on the continent with 2.2 million hectares under cultivation in 2010.
"In no continent is the need for biotech crops more urgent, and their adoption and acceptance more challenging, than Africa," says Clive James, founder and chairman of ISAAA.
Reports show that during 2010, the West African nation of Burkina Faso had the world's second largest proportional increase in biotech crops cultivated with growth of 126%.

"The impressive increase of over 100% in biotechnology cotton farmed by 80,000 farmers in 2010 in Burkina Faso is of strategic importance for neighbouring countries, like Mali and Togo, and more broadly for the African continent," said James. Biotech cotton contains a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, or biotech, a common bacterium found in soil. The gene helps the plants produce proteins that are toxic to certain insects.
According to James, the three African countries currently producing biotech crops should be role models within their respective regions on the continent.
Kenya, East Africa's most advanced country in terms of GMO research, signed the biosafety Bill into law in 2009 with crops engineered to be insect or virus-resistant.

Researchers contend that any biosafety law eventually adopted in Kenya should also help neighbouring countries optimise their own biotechnological practices. However, many like Uganda, are still relying on a 'wait and see' approach to biosafety regulation.
Although the country's government approved a GM policy in 2005, it has yet to adopt a law regulating the use of genetically modified organisms. This law is a prerequisite for the improved crops to reach the country's farmers.

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Farmers get sh23b from FAO
Tuesday, 26th April, 2011
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By Taddeo Bwambale

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has set aside sh22.8b for emergency and rehabilitation programmes in northern Uganda and Karamoja, Percy Misika, the body’s country representative, has said.

He said the funds would be used to implement 1,600 farmer field schools, an arrangement through which the body offers training and planting materials to farmers to improve their productivity.

Misika made the disclosure at a workshop to unveil the body’s new programme for Karamoja and northern Uganda, held in Kampala yesterday.

The programme targets over 48,000 farmers in both regions, who will also get investment grants for their projects and acquire skills in crop and animal production.

The initiative involves organising farmers into groups of up to 30 members who receive money for a revolving fund.

Misika said the funds would also be used to set up simple irrigation and water harvesting technologies, storage facilities for farm produce and market intelligent systems to provide market information to the farmers.

He also said the body would help set up early warning systems to help communities cope with challenges brought by unpredictable weather and market forces.

He said FAO was working with other stakeholders to secure additional funding for its development programmes countrywide.

Misika said the body would also provide support to farmers in other regions by linking them to credit facilities through commercial banks, distribution of quality crop varieties and soil fertility improvement.

He observed that although the situation in northern Uganda and Karamoja had improved, more funding was needed to help communities cope with the challenge of food scarcity.

According to a weather report from the meteorological department, the Karamoja region, which has only one cropping season, is expected to receive less rain by June, compared to other parts of the country.

Misika, whose term of office expires this month, commended the media for highlighting the challenge of food security in the country.

He will replace former agriculture
minister, Victoria Sekitoleko, as FAO representative to China, North Korea and Mongolia.


Ugandans to get IDs in two years
Tuesday, 26th April, 2011
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Bukenya signs after taking his photo for the ID. Looking on are internal affairs ministry officials
By Barbara Among

THE Government yesterday started the second phase of the registration exercise for issuing national identity cards (IDs).

Under this phase, a total of 10.5 million Ugandans who are already on the voters’ list will have their bio-data updated. They are expected to get their IDs in the next two years.

Vice-President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya was the first to be registered at his Kakiri home, where the national security information system under the internal affairs ministry launched the process.

The launch was done in conjunction with a German firm, Muhlbauer Technology Group, which will produce the IDs.

Bukenya said compiling data about all Ugandans that will lead to the issuance of the national IDs would help government to adequately plan for its citizens.

“Such data will guide the Government to inject more money into crucial sectors of the economy like education, health and drug disbursement to health centres,” a statement from the Vice-President’s office said.

The Government and Mühlbauer first unveiled the new national identity card at Hotel Africana in Kampala in April last year. The ID card will be made of polycarbonate (plastic) material. It will have visible features such as a picture of the card holder, a signature and date of birth, sex, card number, date of expiry, a thumbprint, the national flag and the map of Uganda.

It will also have additional invisible features such as tribe, clan, village, parish, district, details of spouses with provision of up to four wives and children.

The sh185b project is in two phases. The first registration exercise covered the new voters for the 2011 general elections and were expected to get their IDs by October 2010. The project, however, failed to take off.

Questions have, however, been raised about the project. Parliament and a section of government departments argue that the cost of the project was inflated.

Media reports last year quoted similar projects in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, which cost sh53b and sh41b respectively, although they have larger populations.

Questions have also been raised about the procurement process. A tender for the IDs project was cancelled in 2005 by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) due to irregularities. The three bidders were South African Face Technologies, Indian Contec Global and an Israel company called Supercom. Mühlbauer Technology Group was not one of the bidders.

Instead, the German company bid for the Electoral Commission (EC) bio-metric voter registration last year.

However, the process was stopped by Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) in December due to irregularities in the evaluation process. PPDA advised the EC to re-evaluate the bid.

However, the commission did not follow this advice and abandoned the tendering process altogether.

In March 2010, the internal affairs ministry signed a contract with Mühlbauer not only for the IDs, but also the bio-metric voter registration system, which was not delivered.

A third concern raised was about the type of IDs, which uses barcode technology.

The East African Community secretariat in 2008 advised Uganda to abandon that type of technology because it was not compatible with other countries in the region.

The smartcard technology uses a chip instead of a barcode. A chip can accommodate a lot more information, such as medical records, criminal records, educational data and driving permits.



World Bank to enhance contract monitoring in Uganda
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By Walter Wafula
Posted Wednesday, April 27 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

The World Bank is set to empower a group of Ugandans with contract monitoring skills to improve procurement in a number of Uganda’s economic sectors including the oil and gas. The group will receive the training at four-day training workshop in Kampala from May 31st to June 2011 and will be facilitated by the World Bank Institute and the World Bank Africa Region.

According to Ms Regina Wilson, a Junior Professional Associate at World Bank, Africa, the meeting is aimed at promoting good governance of procurement processes in the extractives (minerals), constructive and pharmaceutical industries. “Creating a level playing field with transparent and fair processes for the award and implementation of contracts in these industries is thus critical for all sectors of society – government, private sector and civil society,” Ms Wilson said last week.

The bank is focusing on these industries because they have potential to shape Uganda’s development plan since they attract large investments. For example, the oil and gas industry is expected to attract $10 billion (Shs23.6 trillion) to the country for the establishment of an oil refinery by Tullow Oil, Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. About $1 billion (Shs2.3 trillion) has already been spent on exploration activities by companies including; Tullow Oil, Heritage Oil and Gas as well as Dominion Petroleum.

In June last year, the World Bank Institute and the World Bank Africa Region and other key stakeholders discussed procurement monitoring with a particular focus on oil and mining which prompted a number of organisations to commit to look further at the issue. The result was the launch of a first pilot programme in West Africa in December 2010 and the establishment of a global working group looking at developing tools for contract monitoring.

The focus now is on assessing potential for country pilots in Eastern and Southern Africa to build capacity for improved monitoring of contract award and implementation in the region. This regional meeting will be the catalyst for piloting contract monitoring approaches in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, according to the bank

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Citi bank grows by Shs1.5 billion
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By Viola Nabimanya & Clare Balondemu
Posted Thursday, April 28 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

Citi Bank Uganda has posted a profit growth of Shs1.5 billion for the year ending December 31, 2010. According to results released yesterday the bank’s profit portfolio grew to Shs26.2 billion in 2010 up from Shs25.2 billion in 2009.

The bank’s net interest income rose to about Shs29 billion last year from Shs26 billion the year before. Net income after loan impairment grew by Shs17.5 billion from Shs11.4 billion in 2009 to Shs28.9 billion in 2010. Total assets rose by Shs182.3 billion from Shs479.5 billion recorded in 2009 to Shs661.8 billion in 2010. However, liabilities increased to Shs508.9 in 2010 up from Shs346.5 billion in 2009.




Road safety to improve with launch of WB campaign
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By Walter Wafula
Posted Thursday, April 28 2011 at 00:00
Kampala

Safety along the Northern Corridor in expected to improve, following the launch of African Road Safety Corridor Initiative by World Bank in Malaba yesterday. Speaking during the first anniversary of a decade of Action for Road Safety, Mr Johannes Zutt, the bank’s Kenya and Rwanda country director said the engagement underscores, the bank’s commitment to improving road safety especially on regional transit corridors.

Longest route
The Northern Corridor transport route is the longest and busiest in the East Africa, serving Kenya, Uganda and other neighbours including Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.

“Our commitment is to forge a united front to reduce accidents and deaths on this and other transit corridors,” Mr Zutt said. The bank is stepping up the Road Safety Awareness and Education campaign that was launched in November 2010 in Nairobi, with the aim of educating the public on safety and roads discipline.
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Uganda Government News: Parliament Approves Construction Of Kampala-Entebbe Express Highway

Travelling from Kampala to Entebbe will soon become hustle free with the construction of the Kampala-Entebbe Express Highway.

The new road that will start from Busega-Mityana road junction will join the current Entebbe road at Abayita Ababiri road connection.

MPs while considering the US$350 million loan for the project warned of the need to amend existing laws to enable the government secure ownership of all land earmarked for future infrastructural development.

The Parliamentary Committee on national economy in its report to Parliament noted that the progress of the project is likely to be affected by land acquisition and compensation for land owners.

Members of the committee recommended the need to review all the laws to make it easier for the government to acquire land in future gazette areas and stop urban authorities from approving development plans in these areas.

The MPs also questioned the seemingly high cost of road construction in Uganda where some of the input materials are secured at very low costs.

The construction of the Kampala - Entebbe Express Highway will be funded by a US$ 350 million loan secured the Export-Import Bank of China.



Machine delays road works
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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By Samuel Balagadde

THE construction of the sh10b Mbuya-Kinnawataka and Kireka - Namugongo roads is behind schedule, a top official said this week.

The works were awarded to Mutiplex Construction Company last year with a 12-month deadline.

However, Dan Alinange, the Uganda National Roads Authority spokesperson, explained that the contractor had a problem with the stone- crashing machine, which had been rectified. “The works will be completed,” Alinange pointed out.

He said under the terms of the contract, Multiplex would work on the drainage system and the widening.



URA records March surplus
Business
Written by Sulaiman Kakaire
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 19:47
Uganda Revenue Authority beat its monthly target for March, ending months of shortfalls and easing on the intense public scrutiny of its ability to match its annual target.

Revenue collections for March were Shs 412.3bn, which was Shs 20bn above the set target. The strong performance was driven by revenue from the domestic tax base, especially Pay As You Earn, withholding tax and casino tax.

According to the URA, domestic tax revenue for March was Shs 220.8bn against a target of Shs 209.7bn. Bonuses and gratuity payments paid to employees by some major companies and remittances of two months PAYE by government for the months of February and March 2011 were the major drivers.

URA finally managed to retrieve over Shs 2bn from one taxpayer after months. Government also increased its payment of withholding tax, going up from Shs 2.96bn in March 2010 to Shs 5bn paid in March this year.

The performance places URA on track to meeting its annual target. In what was one of its most difficult times, the tax body is expected to beat its annual target of Shs 5.3 trillion. International trade also beat expectations with a Shs 14bn surplus.

The international trade surplus was attributed to an increase in import trade, which came after the general election season. Taxable fuel volumes also contributed to the strong performance of international trade.

The depreciation of the shilling, where the local currency experienced one of its sharpest falls amidst the central bank’s aggressive intervention, helped importers place more orders.

The performance would be a lot better though had there been improvements from the indirect tax section. The Value Added Tax section was the biggest culprit, which recorded Shs 12.4bn for March, and a Shs 107bn deficit between July 2010 and March 2011. There was a drop of VAT on cement and electricity.

Yet, it will be interesting to see whether URA can continue its strong performance for April. The month started off well though, with Tullow Oil making an uncumbersome on the sale of two thirds of its assets to China’s CNOOC and France’s Total.

However, Walk to Work demonstrations by opposition groups have disrupted business in and outside the business centre and spread to the countrywide districts of Masaka, Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara.

Demonstrations at Makerere and Kyambogo universities and threats from the Kampala City Traders to lock up their shops in protest over plans to increase licence fees, added to the public unrest. The demonstrations disrupted trade during the festive season of Easter.

Yet, while URA could lose money when the calculations for April are finally made, the tax body takes pride in the fact that its enforcement systems are bearing fruit.

According to a statement from URA, seizures went up 10% between February and March, with 456 notices up from 412 in February issued for both revenue recoverable and non-revenue recoverable issued.

Also, under-valuations in terms of collections went down by 54%. Cases of undervaluation have dropped from 42% in February to 20% in March.

Nevertheless, URA still faces challenges of increased smuggling of hides and skin, fraudulent declaration, and diversion of transit goods like fuel to the local market.



BoU pushes for financial literacy
Business
Written by Edgar Angumya
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 19:50
As Uganda’s banking industry continues to face low saving levels, the central bank is pushing for a new strategy – introducing a financial literacy subject in the schools’ curriculum.

Bank of Uganda hopes the financial literacy subjects can make students appreciate banking services.

“One of the most important roles of the central bank is to ensure that consumers can make informed economic decisions that will lead to development and growth,” said Louis Kasekende, the deputy Governor, adding that “We need to teach the basics of economics and finances so people can make financial decisions that will impact our economy.”

Compared to Kenya, Uganda’s banking industry remains shallow with banks struggling to draw new clients. As such, many banks, while keeping an eye on the retail market, tend to concentrate on the corporate clients to grow their asset base.

However, the central bank is convinced that by attracting clients while still in school will form a strong foundation for future appreciation of banking services. The bank’s intervention follows almost similar initiatives by the Capital Markets Authority, which through its schools’ quiz, has raised awareness among students about the importance of financial literacy.

At the moment, the ministry of Education has shown interest in driving this initiative.

“I am, therefore, delighted that the ministry of Education and Sports; the National Curriculum Development Centre; and the key stakeholders are working with the Bank of Uganda, with a view of incorporating personal finance into the school curriculum,” said Kasekende.

A BoU press statement notes that this is not the first time that the central bank is pushing for financial literacy.

“BoU has embarked on several financial literacy initiatives under the five-year Financial Markets Development Plan (FMDP). Last year, the bank entered its second year of implementing the plan, which was developed under a common framework agreed upon by the EAC Central Bank Governors under the auspices of the Monetary Affairs Committee of the East African Community.”




Inside the next national budget
Business
Written by Jeff Mbanga
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 19:51
The construction of the 600 MW Karuma power dam will consume much of the money allocated to the energy sector, taking up Shs 828bn

When Finance minister Syda Bbumba reads her budget speech for the financial 2011/2012 in mid June, she will present a Shs 9.24 trillion expenditure plan, allocating much of the funds to improve the country’s education, the second time in a row that the sector has enjoyed the lion’s share of the budget.

Money towards education will remain almost unchanged at Shs 1.24 trillion, accounting for 15.5% of the budget, according to the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) FY 2011/2012 – FY 2015/2016.

The paper, which offers a detailed account of the upcoming budgets, praises the strides made in the education sector, noting that more girls are now spending time at school than in domestic work.

“The sector has continued to improve primary school infrastructure and facilities, rehabilitated and expanded the existing schools to accommodate growing numbers and has also constructed and equipped regional secondary schools for children with disabilities as a way of improving access to quality social services,” the paper points out.

However, the jaw-dropping news is expected in the energy and mineral sector, which will account for the biggest increase in budget allocation. The sector will get Shs1.2 trillion, up from Shs 391.3bn in the current financial year, accounting for 15.3% of the budget.

The largest amount of the money will come from the tax revenue accruing from Tullow’s acquisition of Heritage Oil’s assets, and the additional revenue from Tullow’s sale of two thirds of its assets to China’s CNOOC and France’s Total.

Hilary Onek, the minister of Energy, says the country expects to receive tax revenue of up to $430m in the first transaction between Heritage and Tullow, and up to $475 million on the second transaction between Tullow, CNOOC and Total. The tax assessments on both deals, however, have been disputed and await arbitration.

The construction of the 600 MW Karuma power dam will consume much of the money allocated to the energy sector, taking up Shs 828bn. Plans are underway to get a project developer for the power plant, with the feasibility study and the engineering designs already concluded.

With the country eying oil production, it intends to embark on building a refinery and the next budget will have Shs 14.7bn channelled to the task. However, considering that the amount needed to build a refinery is estimated around $1.6bn, the budget allocation looks outlandish.

Government also intends to embark on the 100MW Isimba hydropower project. A feasibility study and engineering designs for the project are expected to be completed before the start of the next financial year.

The National Development Plan (NDP) notes that Uganda has one of the lowest electricity consumption per capita in the world. By 2009, it was estimated at 69.5kWh per capita, which is lower than Africa’s average of 578kWh per capita and the world’s average of 2,752kWh per capita.

The International Monetary Fund is expected to keep a close eye on how government executes its budget.

In February, the IMF passed a vote of no confidence for government when it stopped the review of the Policy Support Instrument – a tool that advises low income countries on how to manage their economies - after government had asked for a supplementary budget to, among other things, fund an expensive electoral campaign.

The works and transport sector, which until a few years ago used to make headlines during the budget reading, dropped further from the pecking order with an unchanged budget allocation of Shs 1.03 trillion. This will be the third biggest allocation, representing 12.8%, down from 14.8% in the current financial year.

The NBFP points out that construction will be concentrated on super highways between Kampala and Entebbe, Jinja and Mpigi, as well as Kampala metropolitan roads and drainage.

However, at a time when Uganda is experiencing high food prices, sparking off public unrest, government plans to leave the budget allocation to the agricultural sector unchanged.

Agriculture, the country’s backbone, will get Shs 365.2bn in the next financial year, or 4.5% of the national budget. Credit to farmers, including bank finance, will be Shs 120bn.

Also, with a big section of the public forking money out of their pockets to treat the sick in private hospitals and clinics, government’s reluctance to raise funds towards health is expected to provoke public anger. Health will get Shs 660bn, the same amount as the current financial year, accounting for 8.2% of the national budget.

There’s some positive in government’s commitment to reduce on public administration, an area that has attracted a lot of public and donor criticism. While there are no signs that the creation of new districts is about to stop, funds for public administration will drop from Shs 301bn in the current financial year to Shs 223bn.

Other sectors expecting reduction include: public sector management, justice law and order, water and environment, and tourism, trade and industry.

The information and communication technology will get the least amount of money, Shs 12bn, the same it received at the start of the current financial year.

Donor funds will total Shs 2.2 trillion or 24.5% of the budget, according to the NBFP, while Shs 848bn or 9.2% of the budget will come from domestic financing; savings from energy fund and tax proceeds from oil.
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MPs suspend Namanve industrial park
Thursday, 28th April, 2011
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By Mary Karugaba
KAMPALA industrial and business park project has hit a snag after the World Bank and the finance ministry failed to provide funds for the completion of the project.

This was after the finance ministry asked the Auditor General to carry out a value-for-money audit to ascertain why a revised contract has raised the cost of the project by over 300%.

The joint venture, sitting on 896 hectares of land at Namanve, is estimated at sh350b and funded under a credit agreement between the Government and the World Bank.

The ministry refused to pay Spencon Services, the contractor who built the Uganda Investment Authority’s (UIA) office block, citing inflation of costs from the original sh790m to sh2b.

Meeting the UIA board led by the chairman, Patrick Bitature, MPs on the parliamentary statutory committee said the World Bank, which funded the project, was frustrated by the manner in which the project was handled.

“The ministry of Finance has failed to pay the balance of sh2.3b to the contractor you hired for the first project. You raised the cost of the first project by 300%. With the financial mess, there is no way you should preceed with the project,” committee chairman Reagan Okumu said.

When asked to explain how the funds increased without the board’s authority, Bitature blamed it on the management.

“Management told me that the cost had increased by 14% which they said was within the budget. ‘‘I did not want to be dragged into fights between the board and management,” Bitature said.

Namanve Business Park is one of the 22 industrial parks the Government plans to set-up to create jobs and widen the national taxable base.

Gulu, Arua, Lira, Mbale, Moroto, Tororo, Iganga, Rakai, Mubende, Luwero, Jinja, Nakaseke and Soroti would house the other parks.


India to fund agricultural projects
Thursday, 28th April, 2011
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By Pascal Kwesiga

THE Indian Government has pledged to offer soft loans to Uganda to boost agriculture.

The disclosure was made by india’s agriculture minister Arun Subhashchandra Yadav during a meeting with Hope Mwesigye, Uganda’s agriculture minister, at Cotton house in Kampala recently.

Yadav said his government would advance the concessional loans to Uganda through Exim Bank.

The money would be used to implement projects listed in a memorandum of understanding signed between the agriculture ministries of the two countries.

Yadav said the money that would carry an interest loan of 2 to 3%, would be availed to the agriculture ministry after the Government submits the project proposals to the Government of India through Exim Bank.

The repayment period will be agreed upon by the two countries later.



Govt builds Atiak bridge
Thursday, 28th April, 2011
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By Chris Ocowun

THE Government is building a new bridge on River Unyama in Atiak sub-county in Amuru district to replace the one that collapsed last April.

Since the bridge collapsed, residents have been pleading with the Government through the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to speed up the replacement of the bridge to ease their movement.

Dan Allinange, the UNRA communications manager, said on Monday during an interview that work to replace the bridge started three months ago at a cost of about sh150m.

“The bridge is expected to be ready for use in the next one month. We shall not allow heavily loaded trucks to use the bridge. Our road inspectors will be tasked to ensure that the trucks are diverted to other roads,” he said.

A heavy truck, loaded with 1,000 bags of cement, led to the collapse of the bridge last year.

Allinange explained that UNRA took long to work on the bridge because of the high water level that could not allow the engineers to do their work.



Jinja tourism school set for overhaul
Thursday, 28th April, 2011
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By David Ssempijja

THE Government has formed a committee to close the manpower gaps in the hotel and tourism sector.

The committee, established by the trade minister, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, aims to overhaul the management and operations of the Jinja-based Hotel and Tourism Training Institute as part of the strategy to improve the school.

“We are an interim technical supervisory committee mandated to advise the trade minister and the institute’s management on the general improvement of manpower development for the good of the industry,” the committee chairman, Ismail Ssekandi, told reporters on Wednesday.

He noted that the committee will work on establishing a better policy development mechanism, modern management and overall operations, standard training and programme development and forming a well-structured infrastructure development for hands-on training.

“We need to find ways of enhancing linkages between the institute and the industry it serves and connect it with other local and international training providers,” added Ssekandi , who is also the chairman of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association.


Challenges Uganda’s labour force may face under East African Community
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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By JOHN ODYEK

THE labour force in Uganda is likely to miss out from the benefits of free movement of labour under the East African Common (EAC) Market Protocol.

George Walusimbi-Mpanga of the Uganda Coalition of Service Industries says there are a number of bottlenecks Ugandans will face as free movement of labour is being worked out within the EAC member states.

“Ugandans face endemic linguistic challenges. Many Ugandans speak their mother tongue and English. But very few speak French which is spoken widely in Rwanda and Burundi . Few Ugandans speak Swahili which is widely spoken within the region,” Walusimbi-Mpanga asserts.

Walusimbi-Mpanga is part of the private sector team from Uganda that represents Uganda during EAC negotiations. Walusimbi-Mpanga, an economist, says many Ugandans do not have vocational skills that can enable them can get jobs.

“We have many university graduates with good degrees but cannot do practical jobs,” he stressed. Adding: “People who will benefit from EAC are those who turn nuts and bolts”.

Uganda Investment Authority reports that of the more than 400,000 Ugandans who enter the labour market each year, only about 113,000 are absorbed in formal employment.

Uganda’s unemployment rate stands at 3.5% and underemployment is at 17%.
Statistics from the Labour department show that the current labour force stands at about at 9.8 million, of which 53% are females.
He says another challenge Ugandans would face was how to continue getting benefits under the social security sector.

He explains that many Ugandans fear to abandon their jobs because they would lose future benefits and savings with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).




Ugandans develop accounting software
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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By SAMUEL SANYA

AN enterprising team of Ugandans has created a software code named ‘bizhub’ that provides features similar to tally to cater for Ugandan business needs.

Tally is accounting software that enables business owners to do financial book keeping, monitor sales and stock management.

“We looked at businesses in Uganda and modified tally to get a relevant programme that serves Ugandan business needs,” Frank Birondwa, a software developer said in an interview.

Bizhub is tailored to suit small to medium businesses, and large businesses may find hardships using it.

This development increases the accounting software menu in Uganda that includes the likes of Tally, Pastel, Sage, Navision and Quickbooks.

Mr. Nicolas Mujuni, an accounting officer, says companies usually use different software, depending on the activities they do.


Tonto drink production now goes industrial
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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Producer displays bottled tonto
By JOHN KASOZI

GONE are the days when banana beer locally known as tonto or mwenge bigere was brewed using juice extracted by treading on bananas with bare feet.

With evolution of technology, tonto a Ganda traditional alcoholic beverage can now be processed using a juice extracted using a juice extractor thus improving the quality and hygiene of the product.

“Because of various unhygienic brewing processes, many urbanites had stopped drinking tonto. The use of grass, water and dirty containers like wooden canoes, plastic jerry cans, pots and gourds put uncertainty in the quality and safety of tonto” says Abel Atukwase, Lecturer and researcher, at the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering, Makerere University.

“We extract the juice using a robot and use pure yeast cultures (microorganisms) for fermentation. Before bottling, we carry out pasteurization of the brew to kill any microorganism that would be harmful to the consumers.

Thereafter, the brew is put into sterilised bottles that are sealed and labeled. The beer has a shelf life of one month when stored at room temperature,” he says

“The sorghum added to the juice to facilitate fermentation is also sterilised. Our bottled tonto has an alcohol content of 4.5% which compares well with the commercial beers on the market (4 - 7%).”

“The product development phase is almost complete. The research team has now embarked on plans to put the product on the market. The product has so far been tested in Ntungamo and Mukono and the response has been good,” he says.

A 300 ml bottle of tonto goes for sh2, 000 if you are taking it away, but if you are leaving the bottle behind, it is sh1, 500. At the moment, Tonto can be bought from sales parlour at the Department of Food Technology, Makerere University.

“Plans are under way to design crates which will act as secondary packages for the product. An entrepreneur has already shown interest in taking up the project to commercialise the product,” says Atukwase.

Tonto is a very important beverage and it has played a very important role in socio-economic development of the communities. You cannot perform some functions in Buganda and Ankole without it. It has long been and still remains a precondition for initiating customary marriages,” he reaffirms.

Most families generate income from the sale of Tonto which has enabled them to pay schools fees for their children.

“Tonto beer has stood a taste of time. It’s one of the oldest discoveries of our great grand ancestors that lived in great lakes region Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania,” Atukwase stresses.



Every part of passion fruit is useful
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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Dr. Yusuf Byaruhanga looks at one of his passion fruit products
By JOHN KASOZI

SEVENTY percent of the useful passion fruit raw material is thrown away after extracting juice, the senior lecturer in-charge of Strap for Small and Medium Enterprises (Strap 4 SMEs), Department of Food Science and Nutrition School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering, Makerere University has said.

“The 70% which includes seeds and the peels discarded as waste has so far proved very vital after undertaking research on passion fruit value addition project. The major objective was to develop technologies for value-added approach to waste management,” said Dr. Yusuf Byaruhanga.

He noted that the value-added products from passion fruits developed include; oil, seed cake, flavourant and concentrate.

Byaruhanga says on average, the juice contributes 30% of the total weight of the fruit mainly the small purple passion fruit. “However, the juice content varies depending on the varieties. The big yellow (Granada) and hybrid passion fruits is 35% and 30 to 35% respectively.

The total amount of seed is 12% and contains 15 to 20% protein. Oil is in substantial amounts with good properties. The oil can be of various applications in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries and has a shelf life of four months,” he explained.

If oil is used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical production, it fetches more revenue. About 20% (180mls) of oil is extracted from 1.0kg of seeds. But all this depends on the extraction technology. Solvent technology is used to extract oil from passion fruit seeds.

After extracting oil, seeds can be molded into a cake for livestock dietary to boost both proteins and energy. The livestock that feeds on passion seed-cake gains more weight and faster. Dried seeds can be used as charcoal.

Byaruhanga said the peel (cover) is about 45 to 55% of the total weight. “From the peel, pectin can be extract ed and used in stabilising jam and juices. Thereafter, the peel can also be used to make charcoal briquettes or manure or mulching material.”

“The 30% natural passion fruit concentrate extracted and bottled has no water, artificial colour or flavour added to it. It should be diluted to fit the consumers’ taste.

To cater for the different tastes and preferences, the product comes in two different forms; the sweetened and non-sweetened,” he observed.
The passion fruit juice is very rich in Vitamin C and pro-vitamin A (beta carotenoid) which is converted into vitamin A by our bodies.

Apart from drinking the juice, it can be used as flavourant in confectionary industry when making cakes, yoghurt and desserts. This product has no artificial flavours or colour added. The products should be refrigerated after opening.

“The passion fruits are becoming very scarce and therefore very expensive. By developing technologies for value-added approach to waste management, would be the best option,” said Byaruhanga.

He said that it is estimated that Uganda annually produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of passion fruits according to 2009 reliable export sources.

Byaruhanga noted that the small green passion fruits with a hard cover are almost getting extinct. “In terms of fruit yields, they give higher yields compared to other varieties and have completely a different flavour.”

“For the last 20-years, Uganda has lost much of its forest cover. In reality, in the coming future if no alternative source of energy is sought like passion fruit peels, we shall not have fuel,” he stressed.

A local Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) has shown interest in the adoption and commercialization of the developed passion fruit products and technologies.

Negotiations on technology transfer and commercialization has been initiated. The firm is in process of securing the first machinery. The project targets SME food processing enterprises.




Southern Sudan is good for EAC trade
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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By JOSEPH BASOGA

SOUTH Sudan voted overwhelmingly for secession from the north in the referendum that took place in January.

The region will be declared officially independent in July this year. This will be a new country with a population of about 8.26 million, of which more than half (51%) is below the age of 18.

The challenge is that 83% of the population is rural and 27% of the adult population is illiterate. Do they have a future? Yes. From the tip of Wadi halfa to the border town of Nimule lays a million opportunities to exploit.

Let me begin with the obvious reason as to why we need to court Southern Sudan to join the East African Community. Southern Sudan had five billion barrels of proved oil reserves by January 2010 up from an estimated 563 million barrels in 2006. Some analysts and reports put the volume of southern Sudan reserves to above six billion dollars.

The trend to create a global village composed of trading blocs has gained currency and gathered momentum. Dismantling of internal barriers and trade by countries is now rampant.

Unlike the unpopular partition and scramble that was, this time nations come together to craft means as to how they can form synergies that will benefit them as they seek a win –win position.
The entire global village is now grappling with ever increasing cost of gas and oil.

Most of Sudan’s proven oil production of 500,000 barrels per day comes from oilfields in the south. This would be a substantial addition to the combined 72 billion dollar EAC Gross domestic product.

Needless to mention energy has a profound bearing on economic and human development. Access to modern energy services—lighting, power for grinding, refrigeration and clean cooking fuel—plays a critical role in meeting the MDGs within the EAC.

The suggested marriage between the EAC and southern Sudan is not just about oil. Southern Sudan possess many other natural resources such as iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower.

There is ready market for food and food products. More opportunities lie in the transport sector now that Uganda is strategically located as a transit route in the EAC.

Other potential areas include construction especially for roads and housing. The wider market will increase to over 145 million people, not forgetting the much needed secure neighborhood.


Uganda, China and Norway sign agreement
Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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UGANDA, China and Norway governments have signed a four-year trilateral cooperation agreement to improve labour relations, occupational safety and health, corporate social responsibility and to ensure sustainable development in Kampala.

The agreement entitled “Doing Responsible Business in Africa” is the sequel to a successful pilot phase “Doing Responsible Business in Uganda,” by the three countries between 2010 and 2007.

“We need to encourage good business which considers the good of the company stakeholders and the society at large,” said Thorbjorn Gaustadsather, the Norwegian ambassador.




Uganda starts pumping oil in June

Ibrahim Kasita

UGANDA expects to pump its first oil in June starting with 500-1,000 barrels per day. Three oil wells: Kasamene 1, Kigogole 1 and 3 in the Lake Albert rift will produce the first oil as tests to understand their behaviour and rate of flow (Extended Well Testing) are conducted. The test crude oils to be sold for domestic purposes.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD) has encouraged Tullow Oil Uganda not only to burn the test crude (flaring) to save the environment from pollution but also sell the oil to heavy industries.

The first oil will be sold to Hima Cement, which in turn will use it as raw material for cement production, meaning that cement prices will significantly reduce, boosting the construction industry.

Test-extracted crude oil will be loaded onto specialised trucks and transported to the Kasese-based factory.

“We are buying the crude to fire our kiln,” a highly ranked source in the factory said. “We are modifying our storage tanks in accordance with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) standards to store the crude oil that we shall buy.”

Tullow Oil in its just published 2010 annual report said the testing of the crude is planned to commence in the “second quarter of 2011 and the test crude is to be sold to a domestic industry user”.

This signifies a new beginning of Uganda’s fully-fledged petroleum industry with “phased development” of a refinery to process kerosene, diesel, petrol and jet fuel as well as heavy-fuel oil as a long-term answer to fuel supply shortages and unpredictable prices.

“Government is considering phasing the development to start with 20,000 barrels per day,” Peter Lokeris, the state minister for energy, said.

“This will be upgraded to 60,000 barrels per day in the medium term, with further expansion to 120,000 per day in the long term.”

Uganda’s oil is “sweet and waxy” meaning it contains little sulphur, which is good but being waxy means it solidifies at room temperature, making it very expensive to transport as crude. Futhermore, its location is far off and the oil is also difficult to extract.

A feasibility study conducted by a UK international energy firm, Foster Wheeler, confirmed that building a refinery was a cheaper and profitable option, a strategy that will ensure value addition and a steady supply of petroleum products.

“Because the crude oil is waxy, this means that transportation to Mombasa would require continuous heating.” Robert Kasande, the Assistant Ccommissioner in petroleum exploration and production department, explained.

“In the case of a pipeline, it would be costly to build and maintain such a pipeline. However, if we have surplus crude exceeding regional demand, then we can think about export,” he said.
The energy ministry said 20sq kilometres of land have been mapped for the facility in Kabaale in Hoima and is negotiating with local authorities and land owners for compensation on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis.
But interestingly, gas production is likely to come earlier than a refinery. Uganda has discovered 14 million cubic metres of natural gas at Nzizi gas field, which is expected to deliver gas to a new power plant.

According to Tullow Oil, the first gas which is subject to gas agreements and the readiness of the power plant could be produced by next year.

To produce electricity, gas is burned. It produces large amounts of heat and can be used to run large power turbines or turn steam turbines by heating water. Some of the gas may be containerised for household consumption. Nzizi gas field is relatively small but it is enough to power a 50MW power plant.

One of the aims of National Oil and Gas Policy of 2008 is to use the country’s oil and gas resources to contribute to early achievement of poverty eradication and create lasting value to society prioritising value addition to the crude oil by undertaking petroleum refining in-country.

Although the 1,000 barrels per day are not economically significant, it is a great step forward for Ugandans to know that their oil is being used for industrial use.

Last edited by u.g boy; April 30th, 2011 at 11:55 PM.
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Govt to cut power fees for rural areas
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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Museveni (centre) talks to the project operating officer, Rajiv Wadugodapitiya (left), while commissioning the Mpanga hydro-power project on Friday. Accompanying the President was the Minister of Energy, Hilary Onek (right)
By Cyprian Musoke
and Hope Mafaranga

THE Government will subsidise the connection to the national electricity grid to give more people in rural and semi-urban areas electricity.

This was disclosed by President Yoweri Museveni on Friday while commissioning the 18MW Mpanga hydro-power project in Kamwenge district.

“One of the major constraints to accessing electricity is the inability of the rural and peri-urban dwellers to afford connection costs yet there cannot be the desired transformation unless people have electricity.

“Therefore, my government is looking into starting a subsidy scheme to ease the burden of the high up-front connection costs. This scheme is likely to start in July this year,” Museveni said to thunderous applause from the residents and project officials.

He also urged more Ugandans in the private sector to borrow from a new low-interest facility under the Ministry of Energy to invest more in the energy sector.

“I have noted that there is limited investment by Ugandans in the power sector, including in small hydro projects like this one. I am informed that one of the major constraints is the high cost of local borrowing from our banks,” he said.

“The Government, therefore, instituted a facility, the Uganda Energy Credit Capitalisation Company under the energy and mineral development ministry, to leverage borrowing from local banks so that fair interest rates are charged,” he added.

Museveni urged Ugandan investors to take advantage of the facility and participate in the transformation of the country.

Africa Energy Management Systems Mpanga, a subsidiary of South-Asia Energy Management Systems based in California in the US, owns the $26m (about sh62b) project whose construction started in 2008.

Museveni said this was a sign that their first project indicated good business and confidence in the NRM legal and institutional framework that supports investment.

“This is what our elaborate reforms in the power sector were meant to achieve. We commit ourselves to working with you to ensure that your investments are secure and that they provide benefits to yourselves and the people of Uganda,” he said.

Using the energy fund, the President said the Government was able to construct a transmission line and a sub-station between the plant and the main grid at Kamwenge.

In 2005 when the country experienced acute power shortages, Museveni said short, medium and long-term measures were involved which included thermal power and small dams like Mpanga.

He added that the Government would soon commission more projects like the 6.5 MW Ishasha in Kanungu, the 9MW Buseruka in Hoima, the 3.5MW Nyagak in Nebbi, and the 6.8MW Kinyara-Bagasse project.

“This means by the end of this year, our renewable energy generation from non-Nile sources will be 80MW as compared to less than 20MW four years ago,” he said.

He listed the construction of the 14MW Kikagate in Isingiro, the 25MW Sipi in Kapchorwa and the 14MW Nyamwamba in Kasese due to start early next year, all by private companies, as the projects now in the pipeline.

“The advantage these projects have is that due to their minimal environmental impact, they do not attract much attention from our development partners and from environmental groups who normally create delays by demanding rigorous and unrealistic mitigation measures,” he said.

The Government’s major plan for sustainable supply, however, remains building big projects on the Nile like the soon to be commissioned 50MW of the 250MW Bujagali project, giving a total of 878MW. This, Museveni added, is 14 times the capacity of the then Owen falls dam in place since 1986.

Other dams to be built are Karuma, solely on government funds, which will provide above demand and help export power to Southern Sudan and Eastern Congo.

Others are Isimba and Ayago, which will be commissioned in 2017, and power from oil and gas and nuclear sources.
He listed a national grid extension plan from Kawanda-Masaka, Karuma-Kawanda, Opuyo-Moroto, Tororo-Opuyo-Lira, Mbarara-Nkenda, Nkenda-Mputa-Hoima, Karuma-Lira, Kampala-Entebbe and others under the rural electrification programme.

Government, he said, would soon connect all district headquarters, factories, trading centres, health centres, education institutions and water supply points.

“Once this comprehensive plan has been implemented, there will be adequate infrastructure to form the basis for transformation in areas of production and social services.”

The energy minister, Hillary Onek, praised the project as a milestone in curing Uganda’s energy problems and in line with government priorities to increase generation in several areas.

One of the project managers, Prabda Sumanasekera, said they were glad to be contributing to Uganda’s energy sector, attributing their success to an enabling investment climate in the country.

Another of the directors, Jody Lenam, said they were eyeing building other dams across the country in order to contribute more to Uganda’s infrastructure.

Present at the function were energy ministers Hillary Onek and Simon D’ujanga, permanent secretary Kabagambe Kalisa, Electricity Regulatory Authority boss Frank Ssebbowa, UMEME boss Charles Chapman, area MPs and other district leaders.



URA raises revenue target to 5 trillion
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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THE Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) plans to collect sh5 trillion by the end of the 2010-2011 financial year, Doris Akol, URA’s board secretary, has disclosed.

Akol said revenue collection had highly increased.

She made the remarks while representing Commissioner General Allen Kagina at a passout ceremony of 51 URA security staff at the UPDF Junior Staff College in Jinja on Saturday.



Lake Victoria sanitation project to cost sh720b
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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By Pascal Kwesiga

THE Government and four international financing agencies have signed a sh720b agreement to kick-start the implementation of the Kampala Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) project.

Finance minister Syda Bumba signed the agreements with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Germany development agency, the French agency for development and the EU-Africa infrastructure trust fund in Kampala yesterday.

This comes after Parliament approved the loan request by the Government on Thursday to start funding the project mid this year in the greater Kampala Metropolitan Authority.

Under the agreement, EIB and the French agency for development approved soft loans worth sh225b each to Uganda.

The Germany development agency and EU-Africa infrastructure trust fund approved grants worth sh68b and sh27b respectively.
Uganda will contribute over 117.7b to the project that is expected to last for five years.

EIB vice-president Plutarchos Sakellaris signed on behalf of his agency, while the French and Germany ambassadors to Uganda Aline Kuster-Menager and Klaus Dieter Duxmann signed on behalf of their countries.

Bumba said the project to be implemented by the national water and sewerage corporation includes rehabilitation and upgrading of Gaba I and II treatment plants.

About 80m euros will be used in restructuring and upgrading of the water distribution system and up scaling of urban poor service provision. Bumba added that about 86m euros will go into construction of a new water treatment plant at Katosi in Mukono district.

About 16m euros will be used for designs and in institutional and capacity building. Sakellaris observed that the project will make a crucial contribution to Uganda’s achievement of the millennium development goals by safeguarding and increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The state minister for water and environment Jessica Eriyo noted that the largest water and sanitation project in sub-Saharan Africa if implemented will address the growing water supply challenges of the rapidly increasing population in the country’s capital city.

The WATSAN project which targets a population of 4 million people by 2025 in Kampala also aims at increasing water production at Ggaba I, II and III complex from the current 150,000cubic millimetres per day to 240, 000 cubic millimetres per day.

This will involve upgrading of Ggaba I production capacity to at least 80, 000cubic millimetres per day and restoring the capacity of Ggaba II to 80, 000 millimetres per day.

Restructuring and upgrading of water distribution system will involve replacement of old pipelines, laying of larger capacity water mains and reorganization of the water distribution systems into hydraulic distinct zones to ensure proper pressure and demand management.




Bangladesh moots sh29b rice project
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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Bukenya (second-right) chatting with the delegates last Wednesday
By JOSEPHINE MASERUKA

BANGLADESH has presented a sh29.8b rice-growing project proposal to the vice-president, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya.

The project is the first of its kind under the private-government partnership.

It aims at planting 10,000 hectares of rice in Uganda from which 77,000 tones of rice will be realised annually.

The proposal was presented to Bukenya at the Kingdom of Katomi Hotel in Garuga off the Entebbe-Kampala road.

Present were the permanent secretary in the Vice-President’s office, Kivumbi Muwanga and an eight-member delegation from Bangladesh, including the honorary consul to Uganda, Abdul Hossain.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, the leader of the delegation, said sh74b would be accrued from the 77,000 tonnes of rice annually.

“We plan to export 80% of the rice to Bangladesh and have the 20% retained in Uganda. This means about sh59b will go to Bangladesh and Uganda will retain about sh15b annually,” Matlub said.

He said Bangladesh had a food shortage of 1.5 metric tonnes, adding that if the proposal is approved and the project succeeds, they plan to set up 20 rice projects in Uganda to ensure food security.

Matlub explained that the first project would offer employment opportunities to 25,000. Of these, 2,500 would be foreign technicians who would train Ugandans, including farmers.

“Ugandans will benefit through trained manpower, improved incomes, more foreign exchange, construction of schools and hospitals and improved transportation sector,” he said.

Bukenya commended the people of Bangladesh for the initiative and promised to ensure that the delegation meets President Yoweri Museveni over the project.



Govt to repair Tororo - Soroti road at sh90b
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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By MOSES NAMPALA

OVER sh90b has been remitted by the Government to facilitate the rehabilitation of the Tororo-Mbale–Soroti highway.

Dan Alinange, the Uganda National Road Authority communications manager, said civil works on the 149km road had started.

He said the funds to be used in the rehabilitation of the road were apportioned from money raised from local revenue collected by the Government.

Alinange made the disclosure last Wednesday while launching road safety campaigns for Uganda and Kenya organised by the World Bank and Total, an international company dealing in petroleum products.

He disclosed that the contractor, Dot Services, will use a two dimension approach with part of the labour force handling the Mbale–Tororo road section, while the other group will handle the Mbale-Soroti section at the same time.

“The two dimension strategy is meant to reduce inconveniences encountered by motorists using the route,” Alinange said.

Under the contract agreement with the works ministry, Dot Services is obliged to remove the existing tarmac layer, replacing it with a new one.

Other contract specifics include opening the drainage system as well as putting up a road walkway on the highway.

According to the agreement, the work that started in December last year, is supposed to be completed in December this year.

The Government embarked on rebuilding the road because of its economic gains, being the shortest route for cargo trucks destined for Sudan from the port of Mombasa in Kenya.

The rehabilitation of the road, initially designed to handle light traffic, comes after the road became impassable.

Motorists, especially taxi drivers operating on this route, have often blamed accidents on the poor state of the road.



Bodabodas get sh10m protection gear
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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Nakawa bodaboda cyclists donning the protection gear the Red Cross donated to them
By Ruth Nakayima

THE Uganda Red Cross Society on Wednesday distributed protection gear worth sh10m to bodaboda cyclists in Nakawa division in order to curb the high rate of fatal accidents in the country.

Speaking at the handover ceremony at Naguru Community Centre, Joram Musinguzi, the Red Cross branch manager of Kampala East, said the project was targeting 200 cyclists in Nakawa and Kira Town Council.

About 10 people die and 43 others are injured in road accidents every day in Uganda, according to the latest Police reports.

It is estimated that for every 10 accident victims at Mulago Hospital, seven are motorcycle-related.
Under the project, the cyclists will also receive reflector jackets, bags and stickers with messages on HIV prevention.

A total of 25 cyclists received the equipment. Musinguzi said the project was being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund.

the cyclists would be given condoms to distribute to their colleagues as well as passengers in a bid to prevent HIV infection.

He noted that boda boda cyclists were increasingly getting prone to HIV infection due to the nature of their work.

Musinguzi said the initiative would help address the phobia associated to buying condoms from health units and other outlets.

“We are looking at alternative ways of distributing condoms to the public because cyclists have the access to so many people in their day-to-day work,” he said.

According to Musinguzi, four million condoms will be distributed to the public by December.
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Pay Tv operators target rural audience
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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By David Ssempijja
PAY Television operators have moved to capture upcountry audience as the country gears towards digital migration technology.

This follows growing competition in the industry that has led to increased number of channels and reduced subscription costs.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has granted Star TV, the Chinese-based pay television service provider to operate a digital terrestrial television in eastern and central regions.

Whereas residents of Jinja are already on air, the signal testing process is on going in Masaka and neighbouring districts.

“I acknowledge receipt of your application concerning your expansion plan. “The Broadcasting Council hereby grants you formal permission to operate a digital terrestrial TV in Jinja and Masaka,” Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC managing director, wrote to Star TV management.

Star’s expansion to the east and central districts means the public will be able to watch local and international channels, which they were unable previously.
“Our signal strength also adds a clear reception to the locally-operated and subscribed TVs like Bukedde,” said Kevin Chen, the head of marketing.

Star hit local airwaves in February last year, initially covering Kampala, Entebbe, Wakiso, Mpigi and Mukono.
The firm charges an initial access fee of sh100,000, sh8,000 monthly subscription for 24 channels and sh25,000 for 45 channels.

Other providers in the market include DStv, which is popular in rural areas, Smart Television and MO Television.
The firms are preparing the television broadcasting industry for the 2015 mandatory switch off deadline from analogue to digital transmission.

Kevin explained that they had also introduced digital TV sets equipped with inbuilt decoders, allowing the users the chance to subscribe to other pay television service providers.





UPDF SACCO profits grew to sh1.9b as demand for loans increased by 79% in 2010
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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By Ibrahim Kasita
THE UPDF savings scheme registered a 104.5% rise in profits in 2010 on the back of an unprecedented growth in loans.

Wazalendo Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (WSACCO), Uganda’s largest savings scheme by membership and asset valuation, announced recently that profit after tax surged sh962m to sh1.88b compared with the same period, the previous year.

“This growth is an indication of strengthen and ability to finance and manage the current and future needs and challenges,” Col. Joseph Musanyufu, the Wazalendo supervisory committee chairman, stated.

“Provision of loans to members is our primary objective and performance of this function defines our profitability and health.”

The volume of loan portfolio grew by 79% to sh22.5b at the end of December, Musanyufu said. He said their loan portfolio risk was above the statutory minimum requirements of below 5% ratio.
Musanyufu noted that there were periodic liquidity shortages due high demand for loans and the introduction of ATMs.

“To address the liquidity problem, management needs to devise policies to ensure adequate liquidity,” he advised. Total assets grew by 45.4% to sh27b compared to sh19b in 2009 while deposits went up by 20% to sh17b from sh14b.

“I encourage members to save after all development is about mobilising resources from the savings,” Gen. Jeje Odong, the state minister for defence, said.

“If we learn the culture of savings, we shall be out of poverty and even stop depending on donors.”




Why selling UCB was a good idea
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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By Paul Busharizi
THE then Uganda Commercial Bank was one of the public enterprises shown up as the reason why government should have no business in business.

The bank had a sh100b hole on its books thanks to loans gone bad – many of them to connected individuals who were unable or unwilling to pay back.
An initial tender process for the sale of a majority stake in the bank saw widespread interest.

The only catch was that all bidders pointed out that the bank’s 50-plus branch network was unviable with the most inviting bid suggesting that 15 branches was an optimal number to keep.

The Government rescinded the offer promptly falling into the hands of “Malaysian” firm Westmont Bhd, which promised to keep the bank’s countrywide network running when it took over.

Shenanigans involving the now closed Greenland Bank saw the bank being taken over by the Bank of Uganda and eventually sold to the one-branch-but-asset-heavy Stanbic Bank for about $20m.

That was nearly 10 years ago. Since then Stanbic has invested heavily to make the bank a seamless operation and rather than shut “useless” branches in the rural areas have actually opened new ones.

In fact, in releasing this year’s results, bank boss Philip Odera, said at the heart of the reason Stanbic profits dipped by sh23b to sh72b in 2010 is because they had invested 21 new mini-branches and 44 new ATM outlets.

If you had gone to sleep at the height of the privatisation of UCB and woken up on Thursday when Stanbic announced its annual results, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were delusional.

As an aside, Stanbic’s 2010 profit came in at about $30m. But more importantly, services are being delivered and to add icing to the cake, there is a 20% of the very profitable enterprise in public hands.

We may argue about the composition of the public holding Stanbic shares, but as you may take a horse to the water, you cannot force it to drink.Interestingly, the trust that was created to recover the bad debts is in danger of failing to collect sh82b due to lack of a law allowing the debt to be sold off to a private entity. The former UCB is a useful test case for our privatisation process.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and in hindsight a lot has gone right that would otherwise not have gone right under its previous ownership.
As a rule, public enterprises are less efficient than private enterprises in providing stakeholder value.

And we are not talking only about profit but also service delivery to its clients.
This could come as no surprise as public enterprises pander to politicians whose objectives are often times opposed to enhancing profits or service delivery.

That is not an entirely bad thing as politicians may task the enterprise to deliver services to places that would otherwise not be commercially-viable.
And that is where private enterprises fall short. As maximisers of the profit, they are the more efficient model.

However, if left to their own devices, profit making or enhancing shareholder value, can be achieved to the detriment or exclusion of a demanding public.

In an ideal world, companies should strike a happy balance between the two, the social responsibility of the public enterprise and the wealth creating private company.

I think that private enterprise works in the manufacturing and services is a moot point, but in Uganda we should explore this model in provision of health services for example.

In Lesotho, a new 425-bed hospital is being built by a private consortium of investors and medical workers that is intended to operate at the same cost to the population as the soon to be demolished national referral hospital.

Beyond providing affordable medical care, the new hospital will provide specialised care, that is until now handled abroad.

The Government will provide annual fixed service fee and in turn the hospital will take in any patients in any condition up to 20,000 inpatients and 310,000 outpatients annually.

Beyond the medical staff at the new hospital other local investors have an equity stake in the project.
An independent authority will monitor standards and ensure both government and the private operator meet their ends of the bargain.

The hospital opens in October and it would be worth watching its progress as it is the first such arrangement on the continent.

Clearly, we need to shake off our socialist pretensions – like we did in the 90s and focus on the end-result of what we want from social services.
Privatisation if handled well works in manufacturing and commercial services; why not in social services as well?




UNBS to get tough on fake telecom gadgets
Sunday, 1st May, 2011
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Young and Kahuma exchange documents after sealing the deal in Kampala recently
By Samuel Balagadde
UGANDA National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has signed a deal with Huawei Technologies to set up testing laboratories for imported telecom equipment.

Under the deal sealed recently, the Chinese-based Huawei, one the world’s leading telecom equipment suppliers, will also train UNBS staff in testing imported telecom gadgets including mobile phones and Internet modems.

Dr. Terry Kahuma, the UNBS executive director, noted during the signing ceremony in Kampala that some of the telecom equipment imported into the country was of poor quality.

“UNBS will soon be in position to set standards for telecommunication equipment. This is to address the public outcry about substandard mobile telephones and equipment,” said Kahuma.

The agreement also requires the two parties to work closely to ensure smoother import verification and clearance.

Eric Young, the Huawei representative, said UNBS employees will receive technical skills to enable them meet the dynamic communication and information technology industry.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 10:02 PM   #735
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Agricultural exports

The attempt at capturing intra East Africa market by the region's enterprises is now receiving a major boast beyond agro processed products and general merchandise.
Through the Marketlinked initiative and the Uganda Export Promotions Board, a local agro implements firm, Tonnet, has secured a multi million contract with Rwanda's Ministry of Agriculture.


Research: Mobile phone usage rising

Latest findings from research firm Synovate reveal an increase in phone usage for voice calls by 20% between 2009 and 2010. This was made possible by the steep fall in calling rates supported by the spike in price based competition in the telecom sector.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 10:12 PM   #736
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WBS Goes Digital


From its earliest days on the air, WBS Television distinguished itself as a station that transcends boundaries and opens frontiers in the industry, introducing an entirely new menu of both local and international programming.

Since its inception in 1997, other players have followed in its tracks, making television a vibrant source of information, education and entertainment, having made the wider Ugandan public acknowledge and embrace it as an indispensable part of their daily lives.

Now WBS has broken new ground in its journey to revolutionarise TV-viewing, shifting from its Spear House base in the city center to a mammoth facility that brings with it immeasurable promise to the Ugandan public.

In its trademark dynamic and pioneering fashion, WBS has opened the first one-of-a-kind studios upon the lofty hill of Naguru overlooking eastern Kampala, full-kitted with the latest state-of-the-art digital equipment that would be the envy of many a world-class broadcaster.

The move has undoubtedly been very expensive by any standards, costing several billions of shillings, and launches the station several light years ahead of its contemporaries.

This has all been made possible through the vision, and the deep pockets, of WBS Television's founder and Chairman, Managing Director of the Spear Group of Companies Prof. Gordon Wavamunno.

Prof. Wavamunno is a man who has never shied away from new challenges and innovations, introducing Ugandans to the novelties of the world such as the most luxurious automobiles like the German Mercedes Benz and American Jeep Cherokee as the domestic 'go-to-man' for the Daimler/Chrysler franchise.

Television has seen the patient entrepreneur grow from strength to strength until yesterday when WBS Television embraced digital broadcasting, discarding the now-archaic system.

This puts WBS way ahead of the designated deadline of 2012 for local TV stations and 2015 for all television broadcasters for digital migration.

This switch paves way for better visual and audio clarity, makes room for innovation and broadens the outreach to the masses. Members of staff tell their story of a dream come true after 13 years of using analog technology.

The sheer excitement of being at the cutting edge of digital broadcasting technology, as well as being a part television history in-the-making is a feeling that cannot be downplayed.

The transition from analog to digital television represents the most significant advancement of television technology since color TV was introduced.After 13 years in the game and counting, WBS is guaranteeing its viewers the best of television broadcasting in Uganda's growing vibrant and competitive media industry.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 11:11 PM   #737
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Qatar Airways to launch flights to Uganda, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Published: 03/05/2011 - Filed under: News »


Doha-based carrier Qatar Airways will start routes to Entebbe, Baku and Tbilisi this winter, as well as increasing frequencies to Saudi Arabian destinations from this summer.

Daily flights to the Ugandan city of Entebbe will launch on November 2, with a daily route to Baku (continuing onto Tbilisi) starting on November 30. Qatar Airways will be the only full-service Gulf carrier to fly to the capital of Azerbaijan, although low-cost carrier Flydubai does serve the city five-times weekly from Dubai.

The three new routes will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft configured for 12 seats in business class and 132 in economy.

In addition the carrier is to increase the total number of weekly flights to Saudi Arabia from 35 to 60 this summer, with the introduction of a new route to the Holy City of Medina on July 14. Frequencies to Riyadh and Jeddah will both be doubled from daily to double daily from June 1, and on the same date the carrier’s Dammam route will increase from 21 to 28 flights per week.

Qatar Airways recently launched its 100th destination (Aleppo), and is set to start flights to Shiraz, Venice and Montreal in June, Kolkata in July, Sofia in September, and Oslo in October.




ATM: Qatar Airways reveals new routes

May 03, 2011 13:00
Qatar Airways’ aggressive growth strategy will continue this year with three new routes announced by chief executive Akbar Al Baker at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

In early November, flights to Entebbe in Uganda will launch followed later in the same month by Baku in Azerbaijan and Tblisi in Georgia.

These are on top of the likes of Medina in Saudi Arabia which will have four two-class flights a week from July 14 and a capacity increase to the country’s two largest cities Riyadh and Jeddah to two daily flights from June 2.

Also from June 1, Dammam’s capacity will increase from 21 flights to 28 flights a week.

The airline recently reached the 100 route milestone, according to Al Baker, and he remains bullish about expansion plans with a 120 destination target by 2013.

He added: “We were running 72% load factor during the last year and carried 16 million passengers. On average we take delivery of a new plane every 18 days.”

In the past 12 months, the airline has launched routes in cities including Copenhagen, Tokyo, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Phuket, Nice and Brussels.

And in the next few months Venice, Shiraz, Montreal, Kolkata, Oslo and Sofia will also be launched.

Al Baker said he expects the price of oil to continue rising as long as there are conflicts and a “perceived shortage of supply".

He added: “When we charge a surcharge it doesn’t cover the entire cost of the increase in the price of oil – it is a comparatively small amount.”

Al Baker also said the airline was considering taking a 33% stake in airline Cargolux and added: “We will look at other airlines if they are healthy, well established and efficient."
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Excellent news. The route will be nonstop from Doha, as opposed to the one-stop EK flight via Adis.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 11:07 PM   #739
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Uganda population to hit 94m in 2050
Thursday, 5th May, 2011
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UGANDA will have a population of 94 million people in the next 40 years, according to the World Population Prospects by the United Nations.

According to the report, Uganda’s population stood at five million in 1950, but increased to 33 million last year. The country’s population is also expected to rise to 39 million people by 2015.

By the end of this century, there would be 170 million Ugandans.

Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the regional director of Partners in Population and Development, said urban areas in Uganda such as Kampala are beginning to experience the effects of the population growth with the high number of unemployed.

“With the country’s population increasing by 60 million people in the next 40 years, with inadequate infrastructure for education, health, doctors and medical supplies, there is potential for unrest,” he warned.

“We are going through inadequacies. Not enough jobs are created every year and youth are on the streets with no jobs. If all the youth have jobs, it could be an engine for growth. But the challenge will be huge and the policy makers are not preparing for this,” Musinguzi added.

The UN population projections rely on a probability model, which is used to establish fertility, depending on the previous fertility trends in the countries as well as the regions.

The projections were prepared by the UN’s Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The report included world population projections until 2100.

In making the projections, the UN used different models of future birth rates, which results in a wide range of population sizes, going from six billion to 27 billion people in 2100.

According to the projections, the highest population growth rates will occur in poor countries like Uganda, which has a high fertility rate of 3% per year, according to the UN.


Police receives new equipment
Thursday, 5th May, 2011
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Some of the anti-riot Police trucks which were offloaded at Kololo airstrip on Wednesday
By Taddeo Bwambale

THE Police on Wednesday received additional equipment to boost their capacity in maintaining law and order.

The consignment included 15 armoured personnel carriers, 10 ambulances and a car for the criminal investigations department.

The Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, said the items were part of an earlier consignment ordered for by the Government from China in 2009 to help the force carry out its mandate.

“This is not a new purchase: The equipment was procured earlier and has been arriving in phases,” Nabakooba said.

She said the patrol vehicles would be deployed on major highways and at strategic locations to enable the Police respond to emergency cases.

The equipment is grouped in three categories, public order management, fire-fighting and engineering.

Parliament in 2009 approved the purchase of additional equipment, arguing that the Police lacked capacity in public order management and dealing with security challenges.

The first consignment arrived in November 2010. It included engineering vehicles, troop carriers, recovery trucks, anti-riot trucks and fire tenders.

Others were fire tanks, ambulances, motorcycles, bicycles, double-cabin trucks and saloon cars.


240b to be spent on emergencies
Thursday, 5th May, 2011
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By BARBARA NAMBOZO

THE Government is to spend sh24b on sending early warning messages and prevention measures against diseases.

The project that is funded by the World Bank, will be spearheaded by the Avian and Human Influenza Preparedness and Response Project under the Prime Minister’s office.

Albert Byamugisha, the project head and commissioner of monitoring and evaluation in the Prime Minister’s office, said the two-year project will equip the public with skills in reporting disease outbreaks in their communities.

‘‘If people deliver timely information on disease outbreaks and other emergencies, losses will be minimised,’’Byamugisha said.
He attributed the frequent loss of lives and property to lack of prior knowledge.

‘We need to empower the people and build the capacity to minimise loss during crises,’’ Byamugisha said.

He was addressing spokespersons of ministries at Cardinal Wamala training centre in Kampala on Wednesday.
Byamugisha advised institutions to develop communication strategies in order to counteract emergencies.

He cited the continued illegal movement of people through Ugandan borders as a risk to the citizens, arguing that incidences of avian and human influenza had been reported in neighbouring countries.

Avian influenza is a viral disease that ranges from a mild infection to an acute, fatal disease of chicken, turkey and avian species.

The disease presents signs of vomiting, diarrhoea, high fever and multiple organ failure among humans, while fast reduction in egg production and loss of colour of the comb and wattle are common signs among poultry



First oil production stirs debate on revenue management
Thursday, 5th May, 2011
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By IBRAHIM KASITA

UGANDA'S first crude oil production is expected to start next month as a pilot project. The three-month project will see crude oil between 500-1,000 barrels pumped out daily to test oil wells’ behaviour and flow rate before commercial production commences.

Three wells, Kigogore 1 and 3 and Kasameme 1, will be tested.

This will also help establish the volume of oil in the wells before a refinery is set up.

In the early exploration days when such tests were carried out, the crude was burned or flared, resulting in environmental pollution.
However, this time the petroleum exploration and production department has encouraged Tullow Oil Uganda to pump the crude, load it on specialised trucks and sell to industrial users.

“We are gearing up for the well-testing exercise that will commence at the end of July,” Jimmy Kiberu, the Tullow corporate affairs manager, said.

The development has, however, raised debate on the management of revenue from the crude sales.
“The oil and gas industry is moving at a very fast speed for the local community to understand,” Michael Mugume, the founder of The Albertine Rift Basin Environment Watch, a local non-profit body in Hoima, observed.

“We are not aware about the crude oil testing project, or how the oil is going to be transported to the market and how the revenue will be shared.”

There is worry on how the revenue accruing from the first oil would be managed and shared without updated laws, a national oil company and a petroleum authority to regulate the nascent sector.

“There is no clear mechanism to empower citizens. We don’t have powers to demand for accountability because there are no clear systems to manage the sector,” Dickens Kamugisha, the African Institute of Energy Governance boss, said.
This calls for a strong legal and regulatory framework for oil revenue needs to have stability laws on capital recovery rules, income and withholding tax and royalty rates, and maximum rate on import duties.

But sources privy to oil and gas development said the Government would grant the petroleum exploration and production department temporary powers to manage the oil.

“This is because the crude sales are part of the wells’ appraisal process and PEPD will be the recognised authority for the production of the test crude on behalf of Uganda for the 90-days. This is a unique production stage,” the source explained.

The Government will also authorise the use of the production sharing agreements (PSAs) as far as crude sales are concerned, according to another source.

Twenty-four regional civil society networks on environment and petroleum in the Albertine Rift under the leadership of World Wildlife Fund for Nature, called for transparency and accountability, saying it is important for the Government and the private sector to secure the social licence to operate.

“Without addressing these two important issues, CSOs and the communities are left to speculate. This could lead to negative perceptions that will be hard to reverse in the end,” they stated in a joint document, “Our 12 government asks.”

“The Government should make public the contents of Production Sharing Agreements so that the civil society and citizens can hold them accountable to the commitments they made therein regarding social, environmental and economic aspects associated with petroleum development,” the statement said.

When contacted, Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, the permanent secretary in the energy ministry, said: “All the issues you are raising are under discussion and we shall inform the public at an appropriate time.”

Asked whether it would publish the money it pays to the Government, Tullow’s Kiberu said: “We never provide details of our operations this way. The PSAs are confidential at the request of government for commercial reasons. That said, the agreements are in line with those signed elsewhere in the oil and gas industry.

But communities in the Albertine Basin have called on the Government to ensure their views are sought early in the decision-making process. They also want the Government to give them adequate feedback on how community views have been integrated in the final decisions.



Ugandan women becoming shorter
Thursday, 5th May, 2011
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By CATHERINE WATSON

RESEARCH findings released on April 25 show that over the last 40 years, African women have become shorter.

In a study called “Height of Nations” conducted by Prof. SV Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health, it was established that women born in Africa in the last two decades are shorter than their mothers or grandmothers born after World War II.

An economist, John Komlos, said the declining height of African women poses a danger to future generations.

“Adult height is a measure of standard of living, biological well-being and life expectancy. When height stagnates or declines across generations, it is an indication that things are getting worse,” Komlos said.

Subramanian and his team examined the height of 364,538 women aged 24– 49 in 54 low-to-middle income countries.

Out of the 54 countries, 14 had women decline in height, 21 had no change and 19 had increase in women’s heights.

All the 14 countries that experienced decline in women’s height were in Africa.

The study indicated that only Kenya and Senegal among African countries registered increase in height.

Kenya was the best performing African country and the ninth best out of the 54. Kenyan women born in the 1980s are about 1.95cm taller than those born in the 1950s.

Women’s height stagnated in 15 African countries which included Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Togo, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Tanzania, Ghana, Gabon and CAR.

At a time when countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh have people becoming taller, Uganda, the 16th worst performing country out of the 54, registered no discernable increase in women’s height despite steady economic growth.
Tanzania was 26th out of the 54 countries.

Women’s height declined in Rwanda, Zambia, Comoros, Madagascar, DRC, Mozambique, Nigeria, Chad, Namibia, Benin, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Malawi.
Rwanda experienced a decline of 4.2cm decline in height between women born in the 1950s and those born in the 1970-80s.

“This is huge and exceptional,” said the researcher who attributed the decline to war and genocide. Zambia despite the relative peace registered a big loss of 3.4cm.

No other part of the world registered declines, although women’s height stagnated in Cambodia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and Brazil.
In the remaining 19 countries, women become taller.

In Turkey and Kazakhstan, younger women are 4cm taller than their grandmothers.

Getting taller is a sign of better diet, health care and good sewage systems. Men in France and Norway are now about 20kg heavier and 7cm taller than their countrymen in previous centuries.

US baseball players are about 12kg heavier and 8cm taller than baseball players 150 years ago.

The stagnation and shortening of African women in the 20th and 21st century reveals intense deprivation.



Uganda’s tourism can become top destination in Africa
Wednesday, 4th May, 2011
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By Frank Kweronda

UGANDA is a beautiful and exotic country with colorful traditions and centuries of history. She boasts some of the most stunning scenery on the continent from shimmering lakes, lofty mountains, mysterious forests and game parks teeming with game.

National parks contain a wide range of habitats, while the private sector is setting up new safari lodges, sympathetically built to blend in with the surrounding scenery.

Some of the national Parks and Game reserves include, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Kibale Forest National Park, Kipedo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mt Rwenzori National Park, Mt Elgon National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Other tourism attractions may include Gorilla tracking, the beautiful mountains and nice climate.

The traditional hospitality of the Ugandan people is another important draw-card. The country’s population is united in providing a warm welcome to foreign guests, so even in the smallest of villages; local people will go out of their way to make tourists feel at home.

Tourism nowadays is one of the most popular ways of spending free time. It is highly developed in most countries, mainly because of material profits it brings. But unfortunately, there is the other side of the coin too, especially if it comes about foreign tourism.

Not too many people associate travel and tourism with business and commerce. Yet, the economic, social and cultural benefits tourism brings to the local community, to the nation, and to the world at large is of a magnitude one might find hard to imagine.

Various key indicators can be used to determine the importance of tourism for the Uganda economy.

However, since tourism benefits a wide variety of sectors of the economy, and its economic importance is measured not in terms of goods produced, but by consumer numbers, of tourists, it is more difficult to express its importance in terms of GDP than would be the case for, say, the engineering or agricultural sectors.

Various international tourism organizations are currently seeking better methods of benchmarking for the future.

But the challenge to invest and earn more from tourism still exists. The Country’s infrastructure and public services are antiquated. In both cities and small towns, open sewers and inadequate plumbing are widespread. Mounds of garbage (coupled with Polythene bags everywhere) along the sides of the road are common. Public restroom facilities, even if available, are poorly maintained.

Often the only sanitary amenities available are at big luxury hotels. Uganda needs to improve its public services and foster basic hygiene if it wants to appeal to the foreign tourist. An example could be implementing regular trash disposal measures.

Another issue is Uganda’s transportation system is also in need of a serious overhaul. Although cars and trucks traverse Uganda’s roads, laws for operating vehicles are widely ignored.

Often the result is pure chaos, as cars, trucks, bicycles and rickshaws drive into opposing traffic and ignore traffic lights to get where they need to go.

Fatal car and truck accidents are not uncommon. For a tourist visiting Uganda, the experience of traveling along Uganda’s lawless roadways can induce cardiac arrest.

In some cases, forests may be cleared to make room for more housing and development. The destruction of these forests leads to a loss of habitat for many of Uganda’s famed fauna.

If Uganda does not make greater efforts to reduce this loss of habitat, tourists searching for safari like encounters with the animals will be out of luck. Uganda needs to preserve ecotourism by protecting its forests and the animals that inhabit them.

If Uganda wants to establish itself as a solid travel destination and increase tourism, government and business should take steps to make the country more attractive to foreign travelers.



Hotel industry: Gulu’s lead development indicator
Wednesday, 4th May, 2011
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One of the newly constructed hotels in Gulu
By David Ssempijja

ALTHOUGH devastating memories still resonate in the minds of people in northern Uganda for suffering a two decade rebel insurgency, most of the shortcomings are to certain magnitude being offset by the fast pace of development in the region especially in Gulu.

A range of development indicators could reflect Gulu’s level of development, but the most outstanding is the hotel industry.

Gulu town, Uganda’s second fast growing after Mbarara boasts of over 12 modern hotels approximately rated one star level and below. About seven around the vicinity are also under construction.

Hotels here offer services blended with local and international cuisines, wireless internet, comfortable accommodation ranging between sh70,000 and sh120,000 per night and food costing between sh15,000 and sh20,000 a meal.

The hotel industry is supplemented by the multiplicity of lodges scattered in the town centre as well as its outskirts.

“Gulu town has many hotels and lodges but it is surprising that you may end up failing to get where to sleep should you fail to book for accommodation before 9:00pm,.

This means that investing in this town’s hotel industry would be a feasible development idea,” says Stephen Stewart, an employee with a foreign humanitarian agency operating in the region.

He says that in some instances, a hotel could be overbooked for example in the area of conference facilities leaving it with room to offer accommodation and consequently refers the conferencing businesses to another.

According to Joshi Kidangana, the general manager for Palema Crown Hotel, the growth of Gulu’s hotel industry is precipitated by the existence of many local and foreign civil society organisations, government bodies and the movement of traders between Uganda and Southern Sudan where Gulu normally serves as a stop over point.

The industry is really busy here and we envisage more business as intra and cross-boarder trade continues to flourish,” he said.

Manufacturing industry
According to Francis Okiror, the national chairman for Northern Uganda Manufacturers Association (NUMA), the return of peace to the region is breeding a vibrant manufacturing sector. NUMA has a membership of 400 small scale manufacturers.

“Many of us are involved in manufacturing value addition and agro-processing machines, our local clients are involved in wine and juice processing, flour milling,

Garment makers, handcraft businessmen, hides and skins shoe manufacturers, furniture
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Facelift for 442 schools starts
Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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By Mary Karugaba

THE Government will today launch the expansion of 442 secondary schools across the country at a cost of $125m (about sh290b).

The expansion is part of the World Bank Support to Post Primary Education and Training which started in 2009, a statement from the education ministry said.

A total of 218 schools are already under construction in over 70 districts.

About 1,442 schools are under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme. Of these, 739 are privately-owned.

The implementation of the programme involves the construction of classrooms, libraries, multipurpose science rooms, teachers’ houses plus sanitation and hygiene facilities.

“The intervention will ease congestion in USE schools and help them prepare for universal A’level education which starts next year,” the statement said.

The programme, which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government will be launched by the education minister, Namirembe Bitamazire, at Kamonkoli Secondary School in Budaka district.

Over 2,500 members of school management committees are being trained on how to manage school-based procurement.

The first phase of the project will cost $150m (about sh345b) over a three year period ending 2012. The World Bank has also provided $125m (about sh287b) for the second phase and $100m (about 23b) for the third phase ending in 2018.


Uganda gets sh240b for energy, water
Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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By Barbara Among

THE French government has given Uganda sh240b to invest in the energy and water sector.

The French Development Agency director for sub-Saharan Africa, Jean-Marc Gravellini, made the disclosure during an interview with New Vision recently.

He said the money would be used to boost development in the energy sector through building interconnection lines from Masaka to Mbabara and from Hoima to Kando.

The agency will also avail loans and grants to the public-private partnership in the power sector.

Gravellini said the agency would also inject an additional sh100b into building the interconnection line between Uganda and Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania and Uganda and Kenya.

According to Gravellini, the agency is contributing 10% of the $800m needed to construct Bujagali hydro-power project. “We hope that by 2012, Bujagali will contribute about 50% of the energy produced in Uganda,” he said.



Tororo phosphate mine resumes operations
Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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A $14m proposed phosphate mining project at Osukuru in Tororo district has resumed operations after stalling for over two years.

The project, undertaken by Nilefos, which is affiliated to the Madhvani Group of Companies, resumed work on the site after a case filed against it by the community was ruled in its favour. However, the ruling insisted that the affected community should be compensated adequately.

Felix Esoku, the Tororo district chief administrative officer, on Thursday said the Government had intervened, and would compensate the over 6,000 people living on the proposed 27-square miles of land. “The funds to the compensate the people affected by the project will be approved by Parliament in the next financial year.”

Work was stopped by a June 2008 Mbale High Court order after the residents lodged a complaint.

Osukuru hills have an estimated 200 million tonnes of mineral deposits. Phosphate constitutes 30% of this.

e total mineral deposits. that they were inadequately compensated.

The community to be affected by the project also alleged that security and technical team that undertook the work of assessment and processing their compensation package made by the investor, harassed and tortured them to submission.


Energy gets sh240b boost

Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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By Barbara Among

FRANCE has given Uganda sh240b to invest in the energy and water sectors. Jean-Marc Gravellini, the French Development Agency director for sub-Saharan Africa, revealed this in an interview with New Vision recently.

The money would be used to boost development in the energy sector such as building the interconnection lines between Masaka-Mbabara and Hoima to Kando, he said.

The agency would also avail loans and grants to the public-private partnership programme in the power sector.

Gravellini said the agency would give an additional sh100b for building the interconnection line between Uganda and Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania and Uganda and Kenya.

The concessional loan to the power sector is to be repaid in 20 years.

Uganda’s power demand is growing by 8% every year, and the current power shortfall is 360MW.

According to Gravellini, the agency is contributing 10% of the $800m needed to construct the Bujagali hydro-power project.

“We are happy with the progress made in the construction of Bujagali and we hope that by 2012, it will contribute close to 50% of energy produced in Uganda,” he said.

The French government will also give soft loans to the heath, finance, agriculture and water sectors.

Last week, the agency and other development partners, contributed sh187b out of the sh605b grant to the National Water and Sewage Corporation.

The money will be used to extend water supply to 20 informal settlements, serving about two million people and rehabilitation of about 1,000km of pipes in the city water network.

Some would be be used to upgrade the Gaba water treatment plant and in the construction of a new plant at Katosi.

In Kampala, about 73% of the population has access to clean water, with 39% served by household connections, 34% by yard connections and 27% by public water points.

Investigations indicate that technical and hydraulic deficiencies of the network with inadequate pressures, leaks and faulty meters as well as related challenges with repair and maintenance result in high water losses and inactive meters.

Commercial and technical water losses amount to 42%. About 15% of a total of 133, 000 registered connections are inactive.

In addition to the low water treatment and distribution capacity, the financial situation of low income dwellers constrains the water demand. Including this “suppressed demand”, total water demand is expected to increase to 350.000 m³ per day by 2025.

The agency this financial year gave government sh2b for the health sector. It however said that Uganda’s record on health show that it is a long way to achieving the MDGs of reducing maternal and child mortality death. In Uganda, 16 women die daily while giving birth.

However, worried about corruption and embezzlement of its fund, AFD will now set an extension office in Uganda.

“We have this time decided to set up an office in Kampala, in September 201. It will have French staff based here in Kampala to control activities and monitor how the money is being used,” Gravellini said.

The Agency will also put money into the preservation and improving the quality of Lake Victoria. For this, it is putting sh100b.


Uganda gets plastics raw material factory
Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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UGANDA will start manufacturing pre-form, the main ingredient in the production of plastics. Presently, most of the ingredient is imported.

It will now be produced at the $5m (sh11b) food processing plant in Namanve in the outskirts of Kampala, which was launched on Friday.

“Manufacturers with plastic bottle making lines have been struggling to import preform.

“We will increase production when the country starts to refine its petroleum at the end of this year because preform is a petroleum by-product,” Emanuel Katongole, the Vero Foods chairman, said in an interview at the launch of the facility.

The facility is a joint venture between the Ugandan investor and Latiff Zain, proprietor of the London-based TLG Capital Corporation, an investment company.

The launch was attended by 36 high profile investors from Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Iroko Securities and the Bank of America.



NSSF value hits record sh2 trillion
Sunday, 8th May, 2011
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By Vision reporter

THE value of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has risen to a record sh2 trillion as at the end of April, Richard Byarugaba, the managing director, has said.

“We increased collections, earned more from our investments, while our costs remained under and within target,” said Byarugaba, who took over the helm of Uganda’s largest financial institution earlier this year.

The Fund’s book value, the difference between its assets and liabilities, has almost tripled to its current value (sh2 trillion), from sh668b five years ago, and is expected to rise further before the end of the fiscal year in June.

It also broke new ground, collecting sh37b in April against a target of sh33b. Before, the monthly average was sh28b.

“The interest income from our investments has progressively increased and exceeded sh12.2b in April, thereby realising the highest monthly total income,” Byarugaba said.

He said the Fund was ready to operate in a liberalised environment, adding that they would exploit their already strong position in the market to compete.

Parliament last month passed the Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority Bill of 2010 and begun the debate on the Retirement Benefits Sector Liberalisation Bill of 2011. The two laws propose a removal of the mandatory employee contributions to NSSF, the lowering of age to 45 from the current 55 years, when members can access their savings and introduction of contributory pension scheme for civil servants.

NSSF’s most pressing challenge, Byarugaba said, was to find enough investments to deploy its funds locally. He, however, said he was looking to invest in real estate projects and infrastructure developments.

“I am excited we are now heading in the right direction as we aspire to be the social security provider of choice.”

NSSF recently announced plans to widen the scope of its products from the current gratuity payouts to mortgages, unemployment, maternity and medical and school fees benefits.

Byarugaba is the latest in a line of leaders at the financial behemoth, which has been wracked with scandals in recent years.
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