Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SIX NEW INDUSTRIAL PARKS TO ACCELERATE UGANDA’S INDUSTRIALISATION AND CREATE ONE MILLION JOBS BY 2021

BY MOSES SSERWANGA
In concerted effort to push Uganda to a middle income economy by 2020, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has rolled out an ambitious strategic plan to build and complete six new Industrial and Business parks.
The six (6) new Industrial and Business Parks will be located in Jinja, Nakasongola, Arua, Buliisa, Gulu and Lira districts. Government has also committed to secure an additional Ug. Shs 500bn to complete the Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP), Namanve. According to the UIA five-year strategic plan which will run until 2021, the Industrial Parks are meant to promote Uganda as a destination for profitable investment, business and innovation to create an estimated 1,000,000 (one million) jobs by 2021.
The UIA strategy and the mission to develop these parks follows President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to fast track development of the 22 gazetted Industrial Parks countrywide, as a means to accelerated industrialization, create jobs, wealth and ensure inclusive development for the entire country in line with the NRM Manifesto 2016-2021.
Already, Kiira Motors Corporation is in the process of extending electricity and water to the Jinja Industrial and Business Park where their Vehicle Plant is to be situated.  The contribution to employment of the Vehicle Plant’s establishment is estimated at over 850 jobs from the Start-Up Investment. At full-scale Plant Operation, over 2,000 jobs are estimated to be created directly and over 12,000 jobs created indirectly.
The Authority also plans to develop four (4) regional Science, Technology and Industrial Parks (STIPs) during the 5-year period. Each regional STIP will house a “German-model Multi-Skills Development Center” to offer broad-based, multi-disciplinary and hands-on training in skills and trades in various industrial and technical fields--along the German model of vocational education and training.  The objectives are to produce "industry ready" skilled graduates.

UIA has also proposed another four (4) regional Israel-model Agribusiness Technical and Vocational Skills Institutes. Central Uganda’s Agribusiness Skills Institute will be located in Nakaseke District-Luwero Triangle. It will focus on crop agriculture and animal resources value chains. Eastern Uganda’s Agribusiness Skills Institute will be located on the border of Katakwi District (Teso sub-region) and Napak District (Karamoja sub-region). It will focus on dryland agriculture with irrigation and animal resources value chain.
Northern Uganda’s Agribusiness Skills Institute will be located in Rhino Camp, Arua District on the banks of the River Nile. It will focus on Aqua-culture (commercial fish farming), Apiary (commercial bee keeping and honey production), and citrus/fruits value chains. While Western Uganda’s Israel-model Agribusiness Skills Institute will be located in Kabarole District and focus on livestock and diary value chain.
UIA seeks to tap the Ug Shs 500bn Innovation Fund set by President Museveni for the four (4) regional Science, Technology and Industrial Parks; German-model Multi-Skills Development Centers, and the Israel-model Agribusiness Technical & Vocational Skills Institutes. And the Authority has projected Ug. Shs 20 bn over 5 years for the German and Israel models Technical and Vocational Skills Centers.  
The German-model Multi-Skills Development Centers will anchor and provide “Industry-ready” skilled graduates, especially for the regional Science, Technology and Industrial Parks. Meanwhile the Israel-model Agribusiness Vocational Institutes will feed into the Industrial Parks in their regional catchment areas. They will admit young people with qualifications right from ‘O’, ‘A’ levels, BTVET, diplomas and those with degrees.
The idea is to have as many youths with a diversity of qualifications as possible to benefit from these proposed world-class Skills Development Facilities, UIA sources said.
Training and mentoring in both the German and Israel model Skills Centers/Institutes are expected to take between 1-2 years maximum. UIA expects both the German and Israel BTVET models to be operational by the third year 2019/2020 and each model is expected to admit at least 500 students at the opening, and develop over 2,000 “Industry-ready” skilled graduates by 2021.
This new blue-print is geared at making Uganda a profitable hub and destination for investment. It is in turn predicated on Uganda as the land of entrepreneurial and innovative people.
UIA will also harness the international goodwill towards Uganda through global strategic partnerships with China, South Korea, Israel and Singapore to ensure that the objectives of its new strategic plan for Industrial Parks development to accelerate industrialization is achieved.
The writer is a Media and Communications Consultant/Trainer and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

This article can also be found at: msserwanga.blogspot.com

YOUTH AND WOMEN AFFECTED BY KONY'S LRA WAR NOW ENGAGE IN AGRICULTURAL ENTREPRENUERSHIP


By Moses Sserwanga 
The youth and women are a critical mass for social and economic development and in northern Uganda a region that has steadily recovered from a brutal 20 year Jospeh Kony’s LRA war, they are leading the recovery efforts to rebuild communities that were destroyed during the civil unrest.

In the remote sub counties of Kwera and Kangai in Dokolo district the  Youth Social Work Association (YSA)  a Ugandan Non Governmental Organization is working with 2,000 households to empower youth and women to increase their agricultural business competitiveness .

 The organization  which was founded in 2005, according to Mr. William Osal (28), the Project Officer,   promotes the welfare of children and youth . YSA is currently operating in the districts of Gulu, Pader Dokolo, Bushenyi with it’s head office in Kampala.

In the 2008, YSA started working with Orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Dokolo district with a focus on core programme areas of education, health, child protection, Social economic support, food and nutrition as well as care and support.

Osal  says that YSA has since  distributed goats, provided household care items, uniforms and scholastic materials  to orphans and other war affected children . Training of  caregivers for abandoned children was also carried out.

“ Whileoffering these  services  we noted that there was a big  gap in business competition and gender inequalities  among the youth and  women in the war affected areas . So we wrote a proposal to aBi Trust to secure funds to promote business competiveness among women and youth sunflower producers to attract better markets and reliable incomes, Osal flanked with fellow youth, John Baguma (24) and Cate Alumo (26), explains .

 He said that the vuknerable farmers had to be trained in agricultural  production and product handling that sustains buyer needs in terms of quantity and quality. The abi Trust was accepted YSA proposal and in offered a grant of shs.400m

aBi Trust support beaars fruits 

After securing the finacial support from aBi Trust YSA has since December  2012 trained  100 women and 20 youth groups in Kwera, Knagai and Agwata sub counties in Dokolo District.


At least3,600 farmers from 100 women and 20 youth groups each with 30 members in 3 sub counties in Dokolo district  have been equiped with technical skills in sunflower production and marketing  to sustain threshold yield and quality crop production  that is attractive to targeted buyers. The farmers are also organised in groups to   improve marketing of sunflower through collective bargaining .

Gender mainstreaming in 3,600 sunflower growing households  for better utilization of proceeds from sunflower sales hence improved livelihood of both women and men has been undertaken.

And with increased incomes at the family level , the farmers the farmers have been encouraged to set up village Savings and Loans Associations to inculcate a culture of savings and investments to stir economic development in the rural areas.

The farmers have embraced the VSLAs concept and Osla says that  from 120 groups  savings portfolio has grown from zero  to shs.260m. “ This a remarkable achievement for us . Because the farmers are now in position to plan together and budget for their resources .men and women are working together which was not the case before ,” he says.

Sharon Akello, an extension work says that gender relations have greatly improved following the introduction of gender training session in the communities .“ cases of gender related violence have substantially reduced and the people are  happy to work together .

 We have also mobilized 100 and 20  new women and youth groups for support in sunflower value chain. Farmers have also been trainedin entrepreneurship, business development, negotiation skills, making of records and collective business plans“ akello stated.


Because  farmers are organised in groups , 480 pre-season planning meetings for timely and coordinated sunflower production operations have been held. The preseason planning meetings are helld once every year at the beginning of the first season per group.

The farmers with support from aBiTrust ,have received  360 Kg of certified hybrid sunflower seeds from Mukwano company for planting  in one acre demonstration gardens in each group and carry out the demonstration using farmer field school methodology.

The  demostration gardens help farmers  to acquire skills and knowledge  in sunflower agronomy, disease and pest control, post haverst handling produce management.


Couples have also bee trained in 3,600 households to carry out joint planning and benefit sharing and gender roles in sunflower value chain.

Farmers welcome  aBi Trust support

Syndrella Ebil (27) a member of the Oraibaing  youth group  said that the farmers have benefited alot from the trainings which have been extended to them by YSA  with the support of aBi  Trust

We are now preacing the gospel of  education because we can now save and take our children to  school. Our farm  yeilds have improved and everyone is happy because we are getting better income,“  she stated.

Ebil’s comments were  supported by those of Moses Otim(40) another member of the group  who said that their group had mobilised savings of shs.2m and families were peacefully living togther.

Achievements

§  Increased productivity using the improved hybrid sunflower seeds as opposed to the local hybbridie from 400kg per acre to 600kg per acre leading to increased income among farmers ie from 320,000= to 480,000= respectively.

§  Initiated and Promoted savings within groups and individuals up to the tune of 260,000,000= as saving portfolio.

§  There is a drastic reduction in the cases of domestic violence and improved gender relations due to intensive sensitisation carried out by gender change Agents. For example gender based violence cases have reduced from 30-340 cases to 5-10 cases reported in a month in three sub counties.

§  YSA registered 120 women and youth groups with the sub counties as viable enterprises. This has guaranteed for them support from other government interventions and development partners.

§  There is increased knowledge and skills in growing sunflower hence increase in production ie on average, individuals are now growing at least two acres compared to half or nothing before the intervention.


Challenges

§  Sunflower as an enterprise is dominated by Mukwano as the supllier of seeds and a buyer of the proceeds, this tend to make framers adhere to unfair business terms  offered especially pricing.

§  It is becomig extreamly difficult for the VSLA groups to manage thier saving portfolios as they continue growing. Therefore theirs need to set up Saccos that will help manage farmers’ savings better.

§  Unfavourable weather patternsresulting to poor harvest by farmers.

§  There is also problem of transporting the farmers produce  to the nearest market. For the members of Oraibaing youth group the nearest  market is in Kwangwata  which is a long distance .

§  Women are also faced with the problem of accessing land due to traditional barriers.
  

Exit strategy/Sustainability mechanisms

YSA has designed to main ideas for sustainability of the project benefits;

1.    Procurement of a sunflower processing plantaccording to their business  plan.
2.    Starting a Savings and Credit Cooperative.
The writer is a  Media and  Communications consultant/Advocate of the High Court of Uganda



Thursday, November 30, 2017

ARE YOU PREPARED TO CASH IN AS UGANDA DEVELOPS ITS AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY?


BY MOSES SSERWANGA As Uganda moves steadfast to put locally made cars on the market for the first time in 2018 many Ugandans are wondering how they could benefit from a budding automotive industry when it finally takes off. What they need to know is that the car just like any other locally manufactured product has many components or parts that can be sourced locally and therefore offer huge opportunities to the local parts fabrication suppliers. A car, on average, has over 30,000 parts by the time it leaves the production line and this will not be any different when Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC)’s much anticipated Vehicle Production Plant is set up in Jinja next year. While major carmakers the world over, source car parts from a broad range of global automotive suppliers overseas, in Uganda with the availability of abundant natural raw materials for car production, enterprising Ugandans should be prepared to cash in on the economic opportunities that will be created across the country’s nascent automotive industry. Already, the country is promoting the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy which encourages local content participation, a good strategy if fully and well implemented. The policy will very much be part of the national industrialization agenda and the automotive sector can take the lead in the realization of this ambitious government development program. The BUBU initiative should, therefore, continuously be fast tracked to enable local sourcing of services and consumables that are essential for the consolidation of Ugandan components in the automotive supply chain. This is because the country is endowed with a variety of rich minerals that are key to the successful implementation of the car manufacturing sector. Among the minerals that are abundant across the country include copper and cobalt deposits in the border district of Kasese, gold in the areas of Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri,Kanungu,Busia, MubendeHoima and parts of West Nile,Iron ore in Mityana and lead in Kamwenge.Other raw materials needed for car manufacturing like lithium can be found in Kabale, Mukono, Mbale and Mubende; tin, zinc, kaolin, glass and sand are all locally available. The challenge now is for the government to facilitate the business minded Ugandans to benefit from these natural resources across the automotive value chain. There is no doubt that promotion of local automotive value chain enterprises willbe a very important tgovernment intervention that will lead to the creation of jobs and spread wealth among a wide spectrum of the population. Car body builders, vehicle canopies for pick-ups, fiber glass components manufacturers, leather seats makers, after sales car service providers like garages, fuel stations should all prepare to seize and benefit from the economic opportunities that will come with the development of the automotive sector. Fortunately, there are already many young men and women in the areas of Katwe, Nsambya and Namuwongo who are involved in the interior upholstery business, an established industry since there is relatively high demand for transformation of service vans into passenger mini vans that are the main form of public transport in Uganda. These young Ugandans who are beating all odds to participate in the development of the Ugandan auto industry need every support that government can offer. In order to have as many Ugandans benefit from these prospects, there is also need to have a targeted skills development and training program which must be responsive to the technical requirements in the automotive manufacturing business. There is a need to develop and rollout specific curriculum for the automotive industry at our higher education institutions of learning. With the Ugandan economy facing a huge task to absorb some 392,000 new entrants into the labor market and the growth rate in the youth labor force now standing at an estimated at 5.7 percent annually, the automotive industry could as well be a very good entry point in mitigating some of these national development challenges. The writer is a Media and Communications Consultant /trainer and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. msserwanga@gmail.com This article can also be found at:msserwanga.blogspot.com

Monday, November 27, 2017

ALL IS NOT LOST ON GEN. MUGISHA MUNTU


By Moses Sserwanga So it came to pass when Gen. Mugisha Muntu could not beat the odds and lost the Forum for Democratic Change ,(FDC) Party presidency . But to many political pundits Gen. Muntu’s humiliating defeat having worked tirelessly to build the party structures and mobilise from the grassroots was not by surprise . Ever since he assumed the FDC party leadership Gen. Muntu ‘s leadership style and his background having been the e army commander for close to a decade was never accepted by the radical wing of the FDC led by Dr. Kiza Besigye . While the Muntu and his liberal supporters believed in the leadership of peaceful engagement , mobilization from the grassroots to create a mass base of supporters and putting in place party structures that can out live individuals, on the other hand the Besigye faction was hell- bent at the politics of defiance , confrontation and violence which prescribes to “an eye for an eye” principle. At the end, the two opposing forces could not be accommodated within the same party and it was apparent that one had to give way and the radicals had an upper hand this time round . And yet ,this was not the first time a senior member of the FDC party was being shown the door for having contrary principles , ideology and political tactical maneuvers to those of Dr. Kizza Besigye . Beti Kamanya experienced similar political mortification when she dared to take on Besigye . She left the party a frustrated, bitter woman and now she is back to the NRM. There is no way Muntu or Beti Kamanya would succeed in FDC with out the endorsement of Besigye just like no one can succeed for now, in the NRM without the support of President Museveni But all is not lost on Gen. Muntu who seems to have a national appeal which he never exploited fully due to the infighting , abuse and total betrayal that undermined his FDC Presidency .. I think the best way forward for Gen. Muntu is to either go back to NRM and work from within to start the succession conversation and also position himself as one of the possible candidates that can takeover from Gen. Museveni once the opportunity presents itself in the future ;or , he forms a loose political organisation , it might not necessary be a political party ( a party is an expensive venture to run and besides we have quite a number already). He can then employ that organisation to force a coalition with say NRM to take over leadership of the country starting in 2026. I'm saying starting 2026 because I'm not sure whether Gen. Museveni who will.be 81 at the time would still not be interested in having one more shot at the presidency. However, what is certain is that at that time , Museveni would be seriously thinking about who will take over from him and Muntu who would be , approaching 70 years of age could still be a viable prospect to do at least two terms. Right now , I don't think FDC especially under Besigye has the capacity whatsoever to wrestle political power from NRM let alone Museveni and apart from Jacob Olanya , Edward Sekandi by virtue of being Vice President ,I don't see an easy sell within the NRM to replace the big man . Whoever will takeover from Museveni in the NRM Party , will have to enlist the confidence and support of the security forces especially the army and for now I don't see any other better candidate than the amiable Gen. Mugisha Muntu. The writer is Communications, Media Consultant /Trainer And of The High Court of Uganda msserwanga@gmail.com Advocate

Friday, November 17, 2017

PICKING UP THE PIECES: NORTHERN UGANDA WOMEN EX-COMBATANTS RECOVER FROM EFFECTS OF WAR


By Moses Sserwanga Their lives were shattered by Jospeh Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) two decades bloody war but the women ex-combatants and child mothers in Gulu district in northern Uganda, are picking the pieces to live a normal happy life and rebuild their war torn communities. With the restoration of peace in northern Uganda ,many of the ex-combatants who were forced to participate in the vicious war by the then marauding LRA rebels, have long returned to their villages to reconstruct their lives . Now living happily together , the traumatised women ex-combatants are tilling the land not only to produce for their homesteads but for the market as well. They have even set up village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) of 30 members each to cultivate a culture of saving and investment . One such association is the Ribe Ryemo Can, Farmer and Drama group which operates in Ibakara Parish Koro sub-county Gulu district . The Association has 30 members , 24 of whom are women ex-combatants , child mothers and 6 men. Mr. Jacob Oloya (42) the Association’s secretary says that they have raised their savings portfolio considerably since they set up the savings association in 2009. “ We are now in position to lend to each other at an interest rate of 10%. With the savings we have managed to construct houses for the elderly members of our village, sponsored 52 primary seven candidates at Lakwatomer Primary School and we support war orphaned children to attend school,” a beaming Oloya stated while listing a number of achievements registered since the village came together to set up the their Village Savings and Loans Association. Because of their demonstrated efforts to rebuild their communities the women ex-combatants have now attracted support from local and international organisations. Through the Enhancing Business Competitiveness and Income for Women Ex- combatants project in Gulu , implemented by the YMCA Gulu branch with financial support form aBiTrust , the women who are organised in 15 groups of between 20-30 members are now supported to grow and produce groundnuts on large scale for the ready markets in the Acholi sub region and South Sudan . Reniel Rwendeire the project coordinator, says that other activities carried out by the project include promotion of gender main streaming, large scale production of groundnuts and establishment of Village Savings and Loans Associations to improve the economic and social livelihood of people who are recovering from the effects of war . Mr. Rwendeire said that with the financial support of shs.52M from aBiTrust the project has managed to support the women ex-combatants in agronomy where they are encouraged to practice modern farming techniques to yield high quality produce for their homes and the market. “ We have trained them to engage in agriculture production as a business and many of them are now in position to sustain themselves , “ he explained. Flanked by the project Finance and Administration Officer, Perez Akanyaijuka, Dora Ayaa , extension officer, Jackline Ajok Social Worker and Wiliam Osal (28) , Rwendeire said that the project has also set up 15 farmers’ field sites or demonstration centres which operate as learning points for famers to acquire knowledge and skills to carry out good farm practices, post harvest handling and pesticides management. “The ex-combatant are trained to adopt to better farming methods were hey plant their crops in lines for better farm management when weeding and harvesting . We provide them with high quality yielding seeds to increase productivity . we want all the farmers to look at farming as a business ,” Ayaa explained. Through the gender mainstream element of the project, men are encouraged to join the VSLAs and help the women to open up land for large scale farming. Families are also encouraged to plan together, budget together and share the proceeds of their agricultural produce equitably . “You can clearly see that people are happy and have settled back to their villages. They are working hard to rebuild their communities and earning money too because of the support extended by aBiTrust through training, provision of improved seeds and the gender component where women and men treat each other as equals, “ Oloya said. Oloya said men are now involved in opening up land and farming as a household. The project has also provided a psychologist to help the communities recover from the post war trauma by encouraging community bonding. Service provision: Groups have been provided with 30 bicycles for the change agents who move around the villages to promote farming for the market and gender equality. provision of seeds ,15 knapsack sprayers, fertilisers TSP; G.nut paste machines ,G nut shellers, Tarpaulins and monthly allowances for change agents. Challenges: Both Oloya and Rwendeire noted that the communities are faced with the challenge of lack of land for large scale farming especially for the women are not supposed town land due to cultural practices in some communities, effects of climate change with erratic weather partners that affect planting seasons and limited access to agricultural credit. There is also high demand for specialised interventions like training, counselling and access to markets ,all of which need more human and financial resources to manage. Way forward: Rwendiere said that they are preparing the groups to form a bigger Sacco to attract financing from government to continue with the work they have started with the aBitrust support. We want the communities to be self-financing to sustain the good work they have attained so far with or without aBiTrust help , “ Rwendiere said. The writer is a media and communications consultant and advocate of High Court of Uganda msserwanga@gmail.com

UGANDA GOVERNMENT SHOULD FAST TRACK THE INDUSTRIALISATION POLICY


By Moses Sserwanga It is well over ten years since the National Industrialisation Policy was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in 2008 to transform Uganda from a dominantly peasant society into a modern , industrial and prosperous country .The Policy was aimed at facilitating the rapid transformation of Uganda’s economy through industrialisation by applying Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovations (STEI). But ever since the policy was launched little has been done to promoting home grown, targeted industries in the fields of science, technology, engineering and innovations (STEI) to boost economic growth. There is general indifference by some public servants when it comes to implementation of otherwise good government policies, programs and projects. The sheer lack of commitment or slow pace of implementation of government programs is costing the country dearly with the shilling continuing to depreciate against the dollar because there are few locally made goods for the export market. And yet if the National Industrialisation Policy was fully and rapidly implemented many locally bred industries would now be up and running and the transformation that can be triggered by these industries would go a long way to eliminate the unemployment problem that is widely spread among the youth. This worrying situation has also been highlighted in the recent report released by PwC about Uganda’s Economic Outlook for 2017. In their report, PWC notes that among the domestic factors responsible for the slowdown in economic growth, is the slow implementation of government projects which in return has delayed the realization of the economic benefits expected from these investments by the Ugandan people such as job opportunities. If this slow pace continues, PWC argues, it will deter growth of the economy, as was the case last financial year. “Therefore, in order to achieve the projected 5% economic growth there must be huge improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness in the way government investment projects are executed,” the report states . And when done properly, all the government projects across all sectors should have a huge multiplier effect on the economy. This is because every dollar spent on a government development oriented project, leads to an outcome of greater than two. With the right execution, all the public investment on development projects can have a powerful effect on the economy. The projects have the potential to raise output in the short term by boosting demand, creating jobs, and increasing the economy’s productive capacity in the long term. But it’s never too late to catch up on lost time. There seems to be light at the end of tunnel if the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Matia Kasaijja, is to be held by his word when he stated, while launching the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) five-year strategy plan 2016-2021 thus: the UIA Strategic Plan 2016-2021 is anchored in “operationalizing and incentivizing” all the 22 gazetted Industrial Parks, towards robust industrialization. With robust industrialization, he noted, Uganda shall export more “manufactured in Uganda” goods. This in turn will greatly improve the country ‘s trade balance and strengthen the shilling. It is also encouraging to note that one of the gazetted industrial parks is the Jinja Industrial and Business Park, where a local pioneer automotive company, Kiira Motors Corporation is slated to set up the first and biggest Vehicle Production Plant in the country. Once the plant is set up as promised in 2018 , the Automotive Value Chain will be such a huge enabler for wealth creation given the opportunities it will present right from suppliers of raw materials to service centres across the country . And this is only one industrial project. KMC and many other local industrial projects need every government’s support for Uganda to become a middle income country by 2020. The writer is Media and Communications Consultant/Trainer and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. This article can also be found at msserwanga.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 11, 2017

KIIRA MOTORS UNDERTAKES MAJOR STEPS TOWARD VEHICLE PLANT CONSTRUCTION

By MOSES SSERWANGA In yet another major step towards setting up the first and biggest original vehicle plant in Uganda, bids have been invited for the provision of consultancy services for a detailed design and specifications of the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) assembly facilities at the Jinja Industrial and Business Park. Bids have also been invited for the provision of electricity and water, some of the key utility services required at the KMC Vehicle Plant which will be constructed on their 100 acres of land at the Uganda Investment Authority Jinja Industrial and Business Park located on Plot 701, Block 2 Kagogwa village, Mawaito Parish, Kakira Town Council. These latest developments are set to jump-start Uganda’s nascent automotive industry which is expected to create 856 jobs: 403 out of the operational expenditure and 453 due to the capital expenditure. KMC shall also employ automotive industry experts in the fields of engineering, manufacturing, marketing and sales, legal, finance, leadership and management thus tackling the unemployment problem head on. “Kiira Motors is leading the industrialization, development and transformation of the country ‘s automotive sector. With the production of vehicles made in Uganda, the country is set to benefit enormously in terms of economic growth and national development,” Mr. Allan Muhumuza, the company’s Vice President in charge of Sales and Marketing, stated. Industry experts have indicated that the estimated KMC’s contribution to GDP is USD 247,621,086. The direct impact of the capital investment in the economy is USD 13,068,232 resulting into an indirect impact of USD 13,601,629. The induced effect creates an additional USD 5,333,972 due to increase in purchasing power, this leads to additional business sales in other sectors. The direct household incomes earned from the KMC Plant investment is USD 50,650,206 with the indirect and induced effects of USD 114,207,956 and USD 50,759,091giving a total of USD 215,617,253. Kiira Motors Corporation was incorporated as a private company for the automotive manufacturing in Uganda. Jointly owned by the government of Uganda through Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) and Makerere University with 96% and 4% shares respectively, the company was set up with a primary objective of championing automotive manufacturing in Uganda. And the company’s ultimate objective and mission has always been Vehicles Made in Uganda. It is expected that the company stands to gain a lot from government’s new policy of Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU). The company last month announced that it was taking bus orders. Several prospective buyers mainly private school owners and tourism companies have expressed interest in the locally made buses that are expected to hit the market next year. The writer is a Communications and Media Consultant/trainer and advocate of High Court of Uganda. He can be reached: msserwanga@gmail.com This article can also be found at msserwanga.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HOW THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY HAS SUCCEEDED IN NEW EMERGING MARKETS


HOW THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY HAS SUCCEEDED IN NEW EMERGING MARKETS By Moses Sserwanga Global economic transformation and stability is now largely dependent on the existence of value adding industries such as the automotive industry, which have under the “Asian Miracle” clearly demonstrated that they are capable of driving and reinforcing economic growth. The importance of the automotive industry for emerging markets in Asia and Africa cannot be over emphasized given the fact that it had a global net value of US$1,654 billion by 2015, registering a 30% increase from 1995 to 2015. And yet the automotive industry is both an innovator and investor in technology advancement, investing over US$99.1 billion in research, development and production with a contribution of US$448 billion as government revenues. The realization of these benefits is majorly hinged on the premise of favorable industrialization policies adopted or proposed by governments or business entities in these emerging markets and this article seeks to understand how vehicle production countries have beaten the odds to become successful even with the global economic meltdown of the mid 2000s. In Asia, governments of major vehicle production countries such as China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan, have played a virtual role to ensure that their automotive industries, do not only grow and survive the global economic turbulences but that such industries are at the center of growth for these now dubbed economic tigers. In these countries, several policy interventions have been put in place from provision of affordable financing, to infrastructure development, provision of investment incentives, encouragement on innovation at all level of high learning and industry development to local content development programs. In regard to provision of product tailored financial services, the automotive industries have benefited from the provision of liquidity and risk management services. Affordable credit has been made available to allow value chain actors (public sector) to invest beyond their cash on hand and allow customers to purchase vehicles without settling the entire cost in advance. For instance, South Korea and Taiwan have become important hubs of global manufacturing in the automotive industry with protectionism policies being applied by governments as a means to attract foreign direct investment while also fostering growth of the domestic industry which encourages utilization of local content across the value chain. The role of the South Korean government with regards to its automotive industry, is a good example to start with.The South Korean government began by playing an extensive role in nurturing and supporting its automotive industry during its infant stages through a combination of import-substitution and export-promotion policies. Inorder to realize its dream of producing vehicles locally, the South Korean government put in place the Automobile Industry Promotion Policy of 1962, and The Automobile Industry Protection Act to protect the infant industry. This barred foreign automakers from operating in the country, except through joint ventures with local business entities. The same policies were applied by Japan when its corporations began to produce more vehicles in the mid 50s. The Japanese government at the time took deliberate measures to restrict vehicle imports in order to promote the Japanese auto industry. It should be noted that this state-industry-support- approach did not go down well with the already established vehicle production countries like the United States of America which seldom criticized Japan's protectionism policies as being na├»ve and of little value since the vehicle market in Japan was very small at the time. Later, under the guidance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Japanese auto industry began to weed out small companies through mergers and eventually reached its current state. Japan's annual vehicle production gradually increased and is now ranked third among the top six vehicle producing countries in world having put on the market 9.3 million vehicle units in 2015. Active promotion of technical education Extensive technical education is bound to raise the general level of technology. It is important to note that the Japanese government’s role in developing the automotive industry was in getting it started and nurturing its development. Policies addressing innovation in the automotive industry are geared towards the creation of network institutions in the public and private sectors whose activities and interactions foster knowledge or information flow between the automotive industry and the attendant enterprises This approach has seen the deliberate promotion of collaborations and joint research activities at universities and public research institutes leading to diffusion of knowledge and technology into other value chain actors. China, the world’s leading vehicle producer today has not been left behind in the state’s sponsorship of the automotive industry either. The China activist government policy has liberalized the Chinese automotive sector in some key respects — permitting foreign investment but also remaining firm that foreign manufacturers undertake joint ventures with local partners in order to obtain market access. The stated goal of the Chinese government over the years has been geared at creating a market dominated by a limited number of internationally competitive joint venture assemblers, supplied by local parts manufacturers, and producing to world standards. The results attained from these policy initiatives have been globally recognized with nearly three decades of rapid economic growth where the domestic Chinese auto industry has made substantial progress. The ripple effects have also been many leading to the emergency of independent domestic automotive manufacturers. Although because of the protectionism policies, the Chinese vehicle producers met some hurdles which included creation of their own designs and meeting world standards in terms of product quality, safety, and environmental features, the domestic manufacturers are expanding their market share and are slowly moving up the value chain. China’s annual vehicle output increased from less than two million vehicles in the late 1990s to over 28 million in 2016. Its auto industry is already a major force propelling the Chinese economy and its workforce, with an annual gross output at US$ 440 billion in 2009 and over 3.7 million workers in automotive production, according to China’s auto industry association and officials. The Stimulus packages that saved the automotive industry from collapse When the global economy mired in an economic slowdown with global vehicle production dropping more than 10 million units in 2009 from the record high of over 72 million units built in 2007, governments of the major vehicle producing countries such as the USA, China, and Japan, put in place radical economic stimulus packages that boosted their failing automotive industries. Again these were government led interventions to support and prevent their automotive industries, which are the engines of their respective economies, from collapsing. It was not long before the positive impact of such initiatives was seen. A clear example is that of China, following the stimulus package from the Chinese government, China’s auto industry registered a rapid growth in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, China produced more than 13.6 million vehicles, overtaking Japan to be the world’s largest producer. In 2010, the growth momentum continued, bringing China’s vehicle production to nearly 18.3 million units, almost doubling its 2008 out registered before the global economic meltdown. The Chinese government had opened up its auto market to international companies but only with the understanding that its domestic manufacturers would not be able to compete with the more sophisticated and experienced foreign rivals. Foreign automakers were allowed to enter the Chinese market only through joint ventures with local partners, often times state-owned companies (SOEs), each with no more than 50% controlled by a major foreign name plate automotive manufacturer. Some of these joint ventures have seen VW joining forces with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and First Automotive Works Corporation (FAW). SAIC is also a joint venture partner of GM, while FAW is also a partner of Toyota. Honda and PSA Peugeot Citroen have both formed partnerships with Dongfeng Motor Corporation. It is the same story with Malaysia which used a state led auto development approach by building national champions before eventually commercializing and privatizing. All this shows that the automotive industry which is going to be a major force for economic emancipation in the East Africa region and on the African continent as a whole will require infant industry policy interventions for sustainability and ultimately competiveness. South Africa doesn’t allow the importation of used vehicles and this has protected its industry. South Africa policy framework is a transition from infant industry protection into a new open global economy i.e. industrial support and industrial competitiveness. The reason why Multinational Companies (MNC’s) take hold of the South African Economy is through an existing gap that is in form of technology and marketing gaps which are deemed the center of focus on attracting FDI to overcome the gaps. By way of their competitive advantage MNC possess technology and marketing capabilities that enable early production and export ability starting a positive trajectory of industrial growth for developing economies. This does not mean high value addition, a challenge South Africa faced, hence the call for black empowerment programs in their latest Automotive Production and Development Program. To overcome this problem small local firms that cannot access big overseas markets can only easily access them through the linkages held with lead OEMs who have access to global value chains. Their alternative is to penetrate and access neighboring emerging markets. South African policy aims to reduce its marketing gap through increased exportation strategy though the policy still faces a high technological gap that should be addressed by existing licensing agreements and joint ventures. In Kenya, you can’t import a vehicle that is more than eight years old. All these policies help protect the industry. Kenya’s automotive industry has grown especially in the passenger bus and truck/trailer categories because of such policies. Research and Development Capabilities The creation of a strong domestic R&D capability as an essential element in the development of a successful indigenous automotive industry enables both the transfer of intellectual property from international companies and the creation of intellectual property that can be the basis for a strong, export-oriented indigenous automotive industry. The key factors that have contributed strongly to the success of South Korea’s auto industry policy were export orientation and policy effectiveness. Export performance provided an objective criterion for government support. Despite the change in policy regime to import substitution in the 1970s, export-oriented development was still the top policy priority and various factors worked to soften the negative effects of distortive intervention. In addition the government went ahead and implemented the policies once the direction was set. As the government undertakes the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) investment with strategic outlook for developing the nascent automotive industry, it is interesting to observe key policy interventions benchmarked elsewhere which could engender sustainable realization of a domestic automotive industry value chain. ENDS

Saturday, September 2, 2017

THE KENYA SUPREME COURT DECISION WILL HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES

THE KENYA SUPREME COURT DECISION WILL HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES The Supreme Court of Kenya has set precedent on the African Continent by overturning a presidential election result throwing the hitherto conservative jurisprudence in disarray. But the justices may have rushed to overturn the results which might lead to dire consequences for the East African nation. In the first place , all parties agree that the elections are determined at the polling stations . And it seems there were no problems at the polling stations . The petitioners’ case just like in the Mbabazi’s case centered around the transmission of the results from the polling stations to the tally center in Nairobi. If that was the focus of the dispute , the justices should then have recalled the results from the polling stations as contained in the tally sheets to verify , isolate those cases where there is a mismatch , and then reach a conclusion as to whether such inconsistencies affected the total overall figure in a substantial manner . Unfortunately the Court did not evaluate that evidence in the tally sheets, they didn't verify and instead rushed to play to the galley and nullified the same. The Courts decision then looked more of a political than a legal one . The court wanted to set a precedent as being the first to do that and get the rave reviews which they are now enjoying at a huge cost that awaits the country . Many jurisdictions not only in Africa but America , South Africa, Nigeria, Canada , India among other , have been very reluctant to overturn presidential elections due to the financial , legal and social political ramifications not forgetting the security and stability of a state . Now, the Kenyan decision has many both positive and negative ramifications but will highlight a few negatives ones . Let me start with the legal ones , the courts are going to.be flooded by a multitude of petitions from the local governors and other constituent elections . Because any smart lawyer will argue that if the Supreme Court has declared that the presidential elections lacked integrity and all, how then can the local elections be clean when.it was the same Electoral Commission that conducted those elections as well. Secondly, basing on the judgment , the commission should be disbanded and the opposition has already filed a suit to that effect. That suit will be appealed up to the Supreme Court and when it is successful , then the electoral commission will have to be disbanded and a new one appointed with new electoral officials across the country . Question then is will the country be in position to hold fresh elections in 60 days as required by law ? Again the answer to that question might be in the negative . That will then mean the parliament will have to amend the constitution to enlarge time . So we don’t see Kenyans getting over this till the new year meanwhile, they won't have an effective government for that period because Uhuru is now a lame duck as we all know it . Lastly, we wait to see the guidelines that will be set by court in its detailed judgment that will have to.be followed to ensure that the next results from the next elections will be accepted by all parties. This is because there cannot be a flawless election anywhere in the world that's why the substantially test was developed and adopted in many jurisdictions. But you can only apply that test if the court is willing to verify the transmitted results . In the case of Kenya , court didn't want to do it because of the time and resources involved and instead took the easy path of throwing it back to the voters and the cost is going to.be much more than if the court had endured to verify the results at the polling stations because that's where the winner is determined and not in the process of transmission .

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.