Saturday, August 12, 2017

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC CARS IN UGANDA AND AFRICA


electric cars , green mobilty, kiira ev, kayola solar bus What is the future of Electric Cars in Uganda and Africa? When Engineers at Kiira Motors Corporation, (KMC) unveiled electric concept vehicles the Kiira EV and the Kayoola Solar Bus the first of the kind on the African continent not many predicated that electric cars are taking center stage in the automotive industry across the globe. Renowned carmaker Volvo has since announced that all its new models will have an electric motor from 2019. The Chinese-owned firm, best known for its emphasis on driver safety, has become the first traditional carmaker to signal the end of the internal combustion engine as we have come to know it. It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021 and a range of hybrid models. It is also not a secret that Kiira Motors Corporation also have a hybrid model, the Kiira Smack on their concept innovations display. Geely, Volvo's Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade.It now aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025. International Automotive Industry commentators state that Volvo's announcement is a direct reflection of where the auto industry is headed. Early this month, US-based electric car firm Tesla announced that it will start deliveries of its first mass-market car, the Model 3, at the end of the month. Elon Musk, Tesla's founder, said the company was on track to make 20,000 Model 3 cars a month by December.His company's rise has upset the traditional power balance of the US car industry. Tesla, which makes no profits, now has a stock market value of $58bn, nearly one-quarter higher than that of Ford, one of the Detroit giants that has dominated the automotive scene for more than a century. And when the boss of Europe’s biggest listed oil company says his next car will be electric, it says a lot about the future of fossil fuels. So the question then is what is the future of electric cars in Uganda and the African continent in general. Future of electric cars in Uganda and Africa The Chief Executive Officer, of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), the winners of the prestigious , 2016 Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership, Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi , has offered some interesting insights about the future of electric cars in Uganda and the African Continent. Mr. Musasizi says that the solution to rising trends in urban pollution due to mobility technology is to go for electric public mobility technology, “Electric Buses for Urban Public Transport”. Musasizi refers to key statistics from several analysts which highlight that with the used vehicle imports representing over 85% the annual stock of vehicles registered annually in Uganda at an average age of 16 years at registration, it is not surprising that these end-of-life vehicles contribute to the declining national fuel efficiency and transport-based carbon emission which rose to 13.7L/100km and 0.5kg/km in 2014 respectively. Musasizi further observes that with the import value of vehicles and vehicle parts rising from USD 89.7 Million in 2000 to USD 550 Million in 2015, the industry requires key reforms aimed at cultivating domestic value addition and strategic focus on green mobility especially for urban mass transportation. Musasizi’s views are echoed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc , Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden who recently noted that the whole move to electrify mobility in Europe, china and the United States was good to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development for the present and future generations . Because of the importance Shell attaches to environment conservation , Van Beurden will switch from a diesel car to a plug-in Mercedes-Benz S500e in September 2017. The United Kingdom said it will ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Kiira Motors Corporation the pioneers of the green (clean energy) mobility technologies in Uganda , East Africa region and the African continent last year won the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to a company that has demonstrated the ability to understand and leverage global Mega Trends, integrating this vision into processes to achieve strategic excellence. According to Frost and Sullivan, Kiira Motor’s vision extends far beyond that of standard vehicle manufacturing processes. ‘ ‘Its sustainable mobility solutions provide massive opportunity for vehicle development and commercialisation in a country that is lagging behind in African and global automotive indices.’’ The focus on developing sustainable electric, hybrid, and solar vehicles will allow KMC to capture the leadership position in an uncontested market space,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst ZiyaadHanware.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC CARS IN UGANDA AND AFRICA

Friday, August 4, 2017

THE NEW LAND LAW IS RECIPE FOR ECONOMIC TRAGEDY

THE NEW LAND LAW IS RECIPE FOR ECONOMIC TRAGEDY

When Parliament recommended radical changes to our land law in 2007,exactly 10 years ago,  I wrote this article in my Column The other Side of The Law, which was published by the Daily Monitor for five  years . I'm glad to reproduce it given the on going  debate about the government Land amendment Bill  2017 and the the Land Inquiry Commission headed by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.

This and many other articles on topical legal issues can also be found on my blog: msserwanga.blogspot.com.

The parliamentary joint committee appointed to handle the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007 has once again succumbed to pressure from the executive arm of government and recommended that the controversial changes to the land law be enacted in total disregard of public opinion.

Whatever the mischief the new amendments are intended to cure, the entire process of protecting the rights of ‘squatters’ has been flawed in a sense that no national consultations were carried out to rally Ugandans to support the new legislation. It’s ironical and illogical that the legislators could have the audacity to recommend that the amendments be passed into law and then national consultations be held later. Of what purpose will these ‘consultations’ serve when Parliament has already pronounced itself on the matter?

The machinations by the state to do as it pleases, without taking into consideration the opinions/views of the stakeholders, are a clear manifestation of leaders who are out of touch with the people they lead. In a recent survey commissioned by Monitor Publications Ltd (MPL) and carried out by a reputable research organisation, the Steadman Group, it transpired that six out of every 10 Ugandans are not satisfied with the government’s approach to solve the land problems in the country.

The polls showed that 66 per cent of Ugandans are disenchanted with President Museveni’s management of land issues. And this is besides the fact that knowledgeable and independent interest groups like the Uganda Land Alliance , Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Uganda Bankers Association are all opposed to the amendments and have since called for nation-wide consultations to be conducted before the law is amended.

It’s clear that the amendments will face serious legal challenges because they are basically creating competing rights of ownership of land– which is an important factor of production. With the peasants pitted against the landlords, land will unfortunately be rendered a non-saleable commodity.

The bankers have already, and rightly so, warned that the controversial land amendments being forced onto the people will close the market for mortgages and loans from which banks depend for most of their business. With a struggling economy and land prices going through the roof, people can only own a piece of land by acquiring mortgages through their bankers. But this cannot be possible when in the market, you don’t have a clear legally recognised owner of the land!

And this is not to argue that citizens should be evicted from their land illegally. The existing law has sufficient safeguards against illegal land evictions. The peasants, the majority of whom are squatters or settlers on vast chunks of land, already have their rights protected by the constitution.

The constitution provides for the protection of the land rights of the registered land owners (landlords) and those with equitable or secondary interests in land like the tenants by occupancy or bibanja holders , the bona fide occupants (people who have lived on any given piece of land unchallenged for more than 12 years before the coming into effect of the 1995 constitution) and lawful occupants (those who settled on land with the consent of the registered owner by virtue of the Busuulu and Nvujjo law of 1928). The provisions of the constitution are reinforced by the enabling law, the Land Act.

This column has stated in the past and repeats now that there is no serious lacuna (gap) in our land legal regime. The major problem is the poor implementation of the law and politicisation of the land conflicts across the country.

Securing lasting legal rights for the peasants/squatters can only be realised through purchase and subsequent transfer of title from the registered land owners to the buyers who in this case can be the peasants. The government should put in place a land fund to enable the peasants buy land and thus secure their land rights. Artificial legislation shall be successfully challenged in court and we shall be back to square one!

The writer is  Media and Communications Consultant/Trainer
and Adocate of The High Court of Uganda .
msserwanga@gmail.co.ug

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WHERE IS THE CIVILITY OF SECURITY AGENTS?


Media freedom and other attendant rights accorded to an individual by our constitution, last week received a boost when the High Court in Fort Portal ordered for the reinstatement of a political radio programme which was ordered off the airwaves by state security operatives.

Justice Rugadya Atwooki concurred with advocates representing Life FM, a private rural radio station, that the security agents' actions were unconstitutional and violated the Electronic Media Act. The judge ruled that the suspension of a political radio programme by state agents was inconsistent with what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

Although for sometime now, the courts have been slowly developing our jurisprudence in all spheres of media law, this particular case is unprecedented because unlike in the past where the majority of settled media cases largely involved the print media (newspapers), the judgment in Fort Portal concerned itself with the electronic media (radio).

We have heard threats from government officials and the president to deal with radio stations or presenters who freely debate and tackle issues of human rights, democracy, corruption, good governance and the general rule of law.

This is because in most cases, the issues discussed directly affect the state and the people who run it . But instead of owning up and engaging their critics, our leaders often and unjustifiably, consider such critical views as treasonable and use the state machinery to muzzle them. Why should a spoken or written word be taken to be treasonable? Why should Ugandans tolerate incendiary statements by our leaders and army generals yet they (the masses) are denied the same freedoms to express their thoughts?

The free flow of information and ideas lies at the core of the very notion of democracy, which is effectively about respect for human rights. Democracy is about accountability. The public have an alienable right to scrutinise actions of their leaders and engage in open debate about the general welfare of the country. Unfortunately, our leaders at all levels are terribly afraid of these values and just don’t want the people to know the goings on in government .

And the reason for this belligerent behaviour, the intolerance and genuine fear among our largely corrupt, undemocratic leaders is clear- they have turned themselves into the law. It’s common knowledge that in rural areas and up-country towns, state operatives are on the loose! They are increasingly exploiting people's ignorance of the law and their constitutional rights to harass, intimidate and in worst cases terrorise the masses with abandon.

A case in point is the Life FM station in Fort Portal where a whole Regional Police Commander Martin Abilu who should have known better that media freedoms are constitutionally protected ordered the management of the radio station to “immediately and forthwith” suspend the “Twerwaneho” programme because, to him, it incited public anger against the government.

Why can’t our nation learn from other advanced democracies where restraint and tolerance for opposing views has become the cornerstone for upholding civil liberties!

Let’s take a recent scenario in the United States where inflammatory remarks by pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the hitherto leader of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, shocked the American society.

Rev. Wright, who for 20 years was the pastor of Mr Barrak Obama, a popular candidate for the USA Democratic Party nomination, accused the US government and whites generally for giving black people drugs and building bigger prisons for them. He then called on God to damn America for treating its citizens as less than human.

President Bush’s right wing Conservative Party which controls White House, did not send paratroopers to close down Trinity United Church of Christ nor did they arrest or arrange prosecutors to charge Rev. Wright.

Similarly, Mr Obama did not disown his long time pastor. Instead he (Obama) and the rest of the Americans and the media, have engaged Rev. Wright in a civil manner to show that his remarks are outdated, wrong and have no place in the modern era.

Surely, can’t Ugandans especially our national leaders borrow a leaf from this! Can’t we for once, in our 30-year turbulent political history, learn to engage each other in a more tolerant fashion and resolve our differences political or otherwise, in a civil manner?

The write is a journalist and advocate
msserwanga@gmail.com















Moses Sserwanga interviewed Uganda's ambassador to China about the economic ties between the two countries now that China is the second largest economy in the world
excerpts bel

Can you give us an overview of the economic relationship between China and Uganda?

The relationship between China and Uganda is good. We engage in the private sector, commerce, trade, investment and government projects. The e-government project in Uganda is one of the several projects supported by China with $106million under concessional loan arrangement. Other projects include: a hospital of 100 beds, which is being built at Naguru, Kampala, an agricultural technological demonstration centre, aqua-culture and a fish farm which is being built at Kajjansi. Also inclusive is a government complex, a twin building which is being constructed adjacent to Parliament, the former Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters among others.

What are the trading ratios and Chinese investments in Uganda this year?

Trade volumes have been growing. In 2006, trade volume between China and Uganda was $170 million and we are now in excess of $300million.

What are the major exports to China?
At the moment, it is cotton, hides, skins, coffee and fish.

In terms of Foreign Direct Investment how has Uganda benefited from China’s tremendous economic growth?
According to Uganda Investment Authority records, Chinese companies are the leading investors in Uganda at the moment. I do not have the exact figures though.

What is the latest about the National Back Bone Infrastructure knowing that internet is now a major factor for development and then the e-government project where a Chinese company Hauwei is providing software systems?
The first phase of the project was largely to improve communication coverage within Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja for purposes of successfully hosting Chogm. The second phase is to cover the broader area of Uganda beyond the three towns and eventually to cover the whole country and ultimately the 3r 3rd phase is to cover the component of e-government.

How was the NBI and e-government project supposed to work in areas where there is no electricity?
In terms of the e-government project in Uganda, there are two aspects to it. One, the usage, the ability to use and the desire to use. This is a new project. It is supposed to go up to the sub-county level. Depending on whether those people in the offices at the sub-county would wish to use these facilities. There is the issue of facilitating the infrastructure that is put in place in order to increase the utilisation of the e-government which will help to provide good environment for investors and businessmen. It will cut down on the red-tape and corruption. The government is handling its part, which is to provide electricity to various locations. There is a programme financed by China for development of solar energy, late this year or next year targeting electricity deficiency in the remote areas.

It is alleged that shoddy work was done on the NBI, what’s your response?
If somebody says shoddy work was done that is a subjective statement because I believe this was a big project and there were set standards, set specifications and set quality outcomes. To say shoddy work was done there must be an evaluation done by some authority and the same authority must have determined that shoddy work was done. To the best of my knowledge no competent authority came up with report to say Huawei did shoddy work. It was speculation by different people.

Ingrained in the contract, there were set standards. Somebody must have proved that Huawei breached the contract in terms of those set standards. We have the National Information Technology Authority, we have the Ministry of ICT, I guess we have several agencies in Uganda who would come up with a position that Huawei did shoddy work and not based on speculations as was the case.
Secondly this is a big company in China and globally which cannot allow their reputation to be tarnished by substandard work. There were allegations of corruption; again this was subjective and speculative. Uganda has well stipulated procurement procedures which were followed and I know the Chief Executive officer of Huawei and top management practice zero-tolerance to corruption. Rather than speculate, Ugandans need to embrace this project. The contractors have done a good job according to the facts available to me.

How about the issue of cost? There are reports that the Uganda project cost more than that of Rwanda.
That is comparison. What were the components in terms of e-government and NBI? There is the element of taxation. In Rwanda did they pay taxes, the area coverage? The information I have is that the cost taking into account all the components was almost the same. There were no major deviations. The Uganda component is inclusive of equipment and civil works and taxes.

Is China interested in oil extraction or oil refinery in Uganda?
China has shown interest in the oil industry in Uganda. Chinese companies are already taking over interests of Heritage in the exploration stage. The President of Uganda has been emphasising that we will not export crude oil and that we must refine it from here.

The Minister of Energy has been to China for talks. Sinopec, a major Chinese player in the oil industry has shown interest in building an oil refinery in Uganda and I hope the negotiations will be successfully concluded. Sinopec officials will be visiting Uganda sometime next month (September) for more negotiations. Once the negotiations are concluded, hopefully by the end of this year, we will be in position to negotiate with the government of China.
How many Ugandans are living and studying in China?
At the moment, every year China offers Ugandan students scholarships at all levels, at graduate and post graduate levels, 35 students per year and there is an existing exchange programme for human resource training. Every year, more than 300 Ugandans of various disciplines come to China for various courses ranging from one year to six months. There is a lot of cooperation at the political level, in terms of training. There are vast opportunities and there are times when there is a need for specialised skills obtainable in China and a request is made by the Ugandan government to the China government and the embassy follows up the matter.

How will Uganda benefit from the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China?

First we are grateful to the China government for supporting Uganda and other countries to take part. They provided money to set up the African pavilion. I was told about $650,000 was spent for the construction of the African pavilion. The Expo will help us to showcase what we have, especially in areas of tourism. Many visitors have been to our stand. The benefits are many.



JUDGES CAN"T BE ACTIVISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

Last week’s Judicial Roundtable on the Domestication of International instruments registered some startling views from the learned members of the bench who argued that suspects should stay on remand for longer periods without trial.

Apparently ,the justices led by court of Appeal judge , Amos Twinomujuni , were up in arms- criticizing parliament for amending the criminal penal law thus reducing the remand days for capital offenders before they can qualify for automatic bail from 360 to 180 days and 120 to 60 days for minor offenders.

Following these amendments to the Penal code, the right to bail for accused persons has become a controversial issue in judicial circles. Different judges have given different interpretations to the new provisions causing confusion not only within the legal fraternity but among the public as well.

With due respect however, their justices reasoning that the reduced remand period for suspects is a threat to public order and security since thugs and fugitives would have a field day should not go unchallenged.



Although courts of law have interpreted the constitutional right to bail to be discretionary and not an absolute entitlement, this should be read together with article 28 (3) which provides that every person who is accused of a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty or until that person has pleaded guilty.

Further still, article 23 of the constitution guarantees the protection to personal liberty – a right so important its only second to the right to life among those provided for in bill of rights provided for in chapter four of our constitution.

The exception to the right to liberty is for purposes of bring a person before court in execution of an order by court or upon reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda.

Article 23 also renders redundant the provisions of section 76 of the Magistrates Act which hitherto allowed a magistrate not to release a suspect from custody if its expedient for the protection of the public.

In the constitutional Court case of Uganda (DPP) vs. Dr. Kiiza Besigye, court noted that bail is a constitutional right which is derived from the presumption of innocence until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The constitutional court in this matter pronounced itself on the cardinal principle of constitutional interpretation. Court stated that when interpreting an article or clause of all articles bearing upon a subject matter under discussion, they have to be brought into purview and read or construed together as one whole so as to bring out the greatest effect of the document (constitution).

Bail court reasoned should not be denied mechanically simply because the state wants such orders. The refusal to grant bail shouldn’t be based on mere allegations, the grounds must be substantial.

This is the reason why parliament granted courts the prerogative to exercise their discretion to grant bail in exceptional circumstances as stipulated under section 15 of the Trial on Indictment Act , which include, old age, grave illness , obtaining a certificate of no objection from the DPP, infancy of the accused .

It’s not legally bidding therefore for judges to treat remand as a punishment. Suspects should be allowed to access justice because justice delayed is justice denied and this will always be unconstitutional.

A refusal to grant bail would contradict the suspect’s inherent right of innocence and indirectly suggest that the law presumes the suspect guilty of the offence before he is put to his defence in court. In fact parliament should urgently amend the law to reduce the remand days further.

Suspects should not suffer long remand periods without trial because of government’s inadequacies , incompetence and corruption experienced in the management of criminal cases.

It’s only last week that daily monitor exposed these inadequacies when it quoted a secret police report which indicated that a single detective in police handles 58 instead of 12 criminal cases a year. According to the police repot, crime is growing while state institutions are not responding adequately thereby denying Ugandans justice.

People should only be arrested when there is reasonable proof that they have committed a crime and the state should then expediently put them on trial.

Judges should also be reminded that we live in fragile political environment where flimsy charges are preferred against political opponents or vocal critics government without hard evidence.

This means that all Ugandans including flamboyant military generals are potential suspects or jail birds for that matter. The judiciary is a very important institution in ensuring the respect for human and civil liberties.

The writer is a journalist and Advocate
msserwanga.blogspot.com
msserwang@gmail.com

UGANDA MUST EMBRACE E-GOVERMENT


By Moses Sserwanga
Parliament has this year created more than 20 new districts bringing the number of
the local administrative units to an unprecedented 119.
Uganda is one of the smallest countries in Africa with more districts than any
other country on the continent. Algeria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of
Congo are the largest countries in Africa but each has less than 60 districts.
DR. Congo has 41 districts, Sudan 54 and Algeria only 34 districts.
This has certainly placed great strain on the limited physical and human
resources with some districts having hardly any competent technocrats to run
them. Another area of our public life that has been affected by the
proliferation of districts in this country, is the coordination of both
policy and institutional structures.
Although there have been efforts to develop and reform the decentralisation
programme with government considering a more advanced approach to public
administration through the E- government project, no tangible- positive results
have been realised that far. The E-government system installed by a Chinese
company Hauwei to help ministries coordinate their activities without
officers necessarily moving places, has not been optimally utilised .
Often the craze for new districts has been driven by political imperatives
without sustained planning to take into account the costs and what it takes to
deliver quality, adequate and timely services to the majority rural poor.
That’s why government should fast track the implementation of the E-government
programme .
E- government is a revolutionary concept that has given public administration a
new meaning in some of the more advanced countries like China. In china
alone ,the E-government model has helped transform local administration -
enabling improved coordination between the central , provincial and local
administrative units .
The successful example of this model can be borrowed from China’s western
mountainous province of Chengdu where a standard service oriented
E-government was created just six years ago and its now serving between 2-3
million people a year.
With this model, the central and provincial governments are in position to
speedily coordinate the operations of 43 ministries at a one stop center . For
instance if you are a foreign investor and you want to set up business in
Chengdu city , you don’t have to run from one ministry to another. All you need
to do is visit the Chengdu E- government service facility with highly
centralised service windows to address almost all people’s needs at reduced
cost and time.
This has created transparency, led to reduction in administrative costs and
red tape-ensuring a good business environment that is the hall mark of china’s
tremendous economic growth. With the e-goverment model the public is in
constant touch with the local administrators to determine public policy and the
pace of social and economic advancement. Public servants are monitored
through CCTV to ensure that they report for duty on time and attend to public
affairs with a professional tenacity that allows the Chinese people to work 24/7.
This approach is also quite significant because its has altered democratic
governance as it traditionally constituted - making nonsense of the quest by
any public servant / politician to make arbitrary decisions without the
approval of the people governed.

It has also opened up space for the leaders at all levels to exercise
creative policy engineering often needed to lift the economy . This can
perhaps explain why china , only this week ,became the second largest
economy in the world effectively overtaking Japan the hitherto, perennial
occupier of the number two position after the United States of America.
Now that our leaders are hell bent at creating as many districts as they can
possibly be, let them at least embrace the E- government model to scale down on
the costs of public administration and provide quality services to the people
in reasonable time.

The writer is a journalist and advocate