Ascent Capital Africa announces USD100 fund to be invested in East Africa

By Alice Lubwama

Ascent capital Africa a private equity fund has announced a 100 million dollar fund to be invested in mid sized companies across east Africa region.

Addressing journalists in Kampala today the country director Ascent capital management Africa Richard Mugera said that out of this money at least 30 million dollars will be invested in companies in Uganda.

He adds that they are targeting SMES in manufacturing, education, health and Agro processing sectors wholesale and retail trade with proper book accounts to take up this opportunity.

He said that since 2014 they have invested in six companies in East Africa and increased employment by 12% in the region.

Mugera further says that 80% of the companies they have invested in are successful.

He said that they raised the funds from prominent investors such as Belgian Investment Company for developing countries, CDC group in the U.K, Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, the international finance corporation and the Norwegian investment fund.

Inflation down to 2.1% in April

By Edwin Muhumuza

The Annual Headline Inflation for the year ending April 2021 was recorded at 2.1 compared to the 2.7 percent recorded for the year ended March 2021.

According to the Director Macro Economic Statistics at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Kaudha Aliziki Lubega, while releasing the Consumer Price Index for the month of April, she noted that the decrease is mainly attributed to the Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Inflation that decreased to minus 2.0 percent for the year ending April 2021 compared to the 0.4 percent rise registered for the year ended March 2021.

‘In addition, Annual inflation for Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other

Fuels decreased to minus 1.5 percent compared to the minus 0.8 percent in the same period.

Relatedly, Annual inflation for Restaurants and Accommodation Services decreased to 0.1 percent compared to the 0.4 percent registered for the year ended March 2021.

However there were increases in transport at 19.6 percent compared to 18.8 percent, personal care, social protection and miscellaneous goods as well as clothing, footwear and health which increased to 2.5, 1.3 and 5.5 percent for the year ending April 2021

Compared to 1.9, 1.0 and 5.4 percent for the year ended March 2021 respectively.

The Annual Core Inflation was recorded at 2.9 percent compared to 3.4 percent on account of Annual inflation for Other Goods that registered 0.3 percent in April 2021 compared to the 1.3 percent in March. Meanwhile the Annual Services Inflation registered 6.0 percent the same rate recorded for the year ended March 2021.

Regionally inflation was recorded highest in Jinja at 3.1 percent followed by Masaka at 2.8 percent while Fort portal had the least inflation at 1% rise.

Among the items with the highest was cooking oil, mangoes, cucumber, peas, pine apple, chicken off layers ,yams, greens, sweet potatoes, Matooke, green paper, ground nuts, onions, sim sim, apples, fresh beans , tea leaves, aluminium suitcases, pumpkins and Malewa.

Those that have seen a reduction in prices include, passion fruits, firewood, dried fish, sweet bananas, chicken croilers, sugar, tomatoes, garlic, yogurt, vegetables, Nile perch, sugar cane, fresh okra and pancakes.

Engie Energy Access Acquires Fenix International solar energy company

By Gloria Nakiyimba

More than 550,000 customers have been connected to affordable solar power in Uganda by Engie Energy Access Uganda, former Fenix International.

Fenix International has re-branded following its successful acquisition by Engie Energy Access one of the leading off-grid, pay-as-you –go solar and mini grid solution providers in Africa

“We are very proud of this accomplishment and the future ahead. We have diverse range of solar home systems all the way to mini grids, and we have very advanced product engineering and customer centric credit models making our energy solutions affordable for customers who can’t afford them up front” said Daniel Willette Engie Energy Access Uganda country director

According to Willette, one hundred thousand are now owning their home solar systems having completed payment under the pay as you go arrangement with mobile phone company MTN.

In Africa a total of one million households have access to solar power representing one million customers impacted by Engie Energy Access.

The company is planning to expand its mini grid presence to develop over one thousand mini grids in the next four years.

Willette says “with the Engie acquisition that equipped us with more funding and support to now expand into even more markets. So as of today we operate not only in Uganda but in nine other countries in Africa as well”.

Engie is a very old very old company with an experience of over 150 years in renewable energy. It has gone through multiple main changes, acquisitions and mergers.

Uganda set to drag Kenya to court over milk blockade

By Edwin Muhumuza

The Uganda-Kenya milk impasse is not about to end at least for now following the sluggishness in execution of resolutions by Kenya.

This is what lies in between the lines following the submissions from Uganda’s minister of trade, industry and cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde while addressing Uganda’s parliament on the continued Prohibition of Ugandan Dairy Products to Access the Kenyan Market.

Kenya has in the last three years had trade related tensions with its landlocked neighbor, especially on milk products, which saw the climax with Nairobi confiscating hundreds of tonnes of Lato milk from Uganda in 2020.

Following this state of affairs, Uganda’s Parliament has also raised the matter saying that it is unfair, yet it (Uganda) acts as a ‘supermarket’ for Kenyan made goods with speaker Rebecca Kadaga having urged Ugandan dairy sector stake holders to consider legal action, if diplomatic channels fail.

According to Kyambadde, while reiterating what the Minister of EAC Affairs, Julius Maganda said, handling the matter with Kenya jointly is yet to yield any results.

The steps being taken to address the concern includes a review of existing Frameworks for Uganda – Kenya Trade which is governed by the East African Community frameworks, whose fundamental principles include, Mutual trust, political will and sovereign equality, Equitable distribution of benefits and Co-operation for mutual benefit.

‘The matter of Kenya’s Non-Tariff Barriers on Uganda’s dairy exports was a subject of discussion at the inaugural Session of the Joint Uganda-Kenya Joint Ministerial Commission held on 21’t – 25th March 201 9, which preceded the State Visit by H.E President Museveni to Kenya on 27tr” -29th March 2019. The issue was effectively resolved during the meeting of the Ministerial Commission.’Kyambadde said.

Nine Months later, ln December 2019, the mid-term review of the Uganda-Kenya Joint Permanent Commission was held in Kampala where the Kenyan delegation undertook a verification of Uganda’s dairy sector since they had raised concerns about a surge in milk imports from Uganda that was threatening their own dairy industry, and they had doubts that the milk was indeed produced from and by Uganda. They visited several dairy processing factories and farms, and indeed confirmed that the milk was produced from, and by Uganda. However, the Kenyan delegation refused to sign the Joint Report.

At the end of December 2019, Kenya started denying import permits to specifically Lato Milk; and reportedly raided their distributors’ warehouses in Kenya. The reasons given were that the milk was counterfeit and sub-standard yet it was certified by the Uganda Bureau of Standards.

Following this unprecedented move by the Kenyans, the Government of Uganda engaged the Government of Kenya on this matter, including summoning Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda and issuing a Protest Note to him on 15th January 2020 and there has never been any response until today.

In light of that, the Trade minister says she will be meeting her counterpart to discuss and resolve all the issues in the last week of February 2021 before the next move which will most likely be referral to the East African Court of Justice for arbitration.

SMEs ask for fair taxation

By Alice Lubwama

The Federation of small and medium sized enterprises Uganda has called for a fair taxation system of small scale enterprises so that they are able to comply.

In an exclusive interview with the executive Director of the federation John Walugembe said that if the system is not fair, small businesses will avoid some taxes in order to make profits.

Walugembe also asked Uganda Revenue Authority to educate the small business on what tax they should pay because many of them are uninformed.

The executive director Stanbic bank Uganda Emma Mugisha said that the 3 months training for SMES is intended to help them sustain their businesses in order to grow into corporate.

Mugisha said that the bank started the training program on realizing that Uganda is an entrepreneurial country but many of the small and medium enterprises collapse on the way so the program will help them scale up their operations in a professional manner.

Stanbic bank Uganda was awarded over 350 small and medium enterprises with certificates in business enterprise development ,

Uganda was ranked as a top entrepreneurial country in the world with over 160,000 small and medium enterprises that account for 90% of the entire private sector.

The sector employs over 2.5 million people and contributes 20% GDP .

Entrepreneurs get UGX 100M to boost their businesses

By Deo Wasswa

100 young entrepreneurs across the country through “Be a Millionaire” competition have won 100 million Ugandan Shillings.

The first 57 winners received their money in Kampala after going through a business mentor-ship program by Enterprise Uganda, and Nile breweries who were the official sponsors of the competition.

Nile Breweries launched “Be a Millionaire” to help youth cope with the economic ravages of the COVID-19 related shutdowns, by either starting new small scale enterprises or re-opening stalled ones.

“The pandemic has predictably left some small enterprises closed; youth laid off from jobs, and potential entrants into the job and business market barely able to start,” said David Valencia, the Nile Breweries Country Director.

“Giving affected youth a kick-start to finance their ideas will not only impact their lives, but our communities and the country at large,” said Onapito-Ekomoloit, Nile Breweries Legal and Corporate Affairs Director.

Nile Breweries partnered with Enterprise Uganda to receive and vet business proposals from youth across Uganda. Successful entrants were selected from all regions across the country.

To participate in the UGX100M campaign, aspiring youth entrepreneurs across the country were required to draft a brief plan on how they would use UGX1M to start a business.

Nile Breweries will give money to the remaining 43 winners at events in Mbarara and Gulu soon.

UWEC resumes business as government eases lock down

By Edwin Muhumuza

The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) is appealing to Ugandans to visit the National Zoo again following the resumption of business.

This latest development comes following the launch of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in a bid to ensure safety of visitors, wildlife and staff at the Center in the wake of the Corona Virus Pandemic.

Among the SOPs include; washing hands, disinfecting shoes and vehicles accessing national parks at every entrance and maintaining distance of two meters between visitors queuing up at all entrances.

During their launch, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife& Antiquities Col. Tom Butime Ateenyi, said that the move is a revelation of the health plan for tourism enterprises through coherent and well coordinated guidelines supported by well coordinated medical evidence to manage the pandemic.

The tourism industry has recorded fast growth rate in Uganda and generated 1.6bn in foreign exchange earnings in 2019 and the sector contributed 9% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and at least 1 in every 10 jobs globally was related to tourism prior to the pandemic.

The loss in tourism business occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of jobs, capital flight, failure to meet obligations and fees, coupled with deterioration of properties.

“In response we have consulted widely and developed business continuity and sustainability plan to address some challenges strategically and action areas to include, the health and safety plan, financial recovery plan and thirdly the enhanced destination marketing to signal the reopening of our tourism” Butime said.

In the case of UWEC, it was an opportunity to improve and innovate on the product offer for the past four months.

According to the Executive Director ,UWEC ,James Muhanguzi, prior to the pandemic, money had been released to put in place the required infrastructure, to revamp the facility.

In 2019, a record 370,000 people visited the zoo, majority being Ugandans but that has not been the case this year since the lock down in March this year.

The chairperson Board of Trustees, UWEC, Hon. Flavia Kabahenda, noted that the center is a hub for domestic tourism and Ugandans are so excited and looking forward to associate with the wildlife again and bring nature back to them.

The Assistant Commissioner in charge of quality assurance, Liaz Vivian appealed to all managers of tourism enterprises to establish COVID 19 task force committees led by a team leader and for larger ones to have departmental focal points to help them in ensuring that the COVID 19 task force activities are adhered to, a management plan, mobilize resources so as to buy sanitizers, social distancing masks, hall markings, infrastructure ,document people with varying temperatures, training and availability of information for both customers and staff.

In attendance were tour agencies, associations, hotel owners, freight forwarders, performing arts among other stakeholders.

UBA Provides $200 Million for Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry

By Edwin Muhumuza

The United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA),Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu has challenged the private sector in Africa to unite and contribute meaningfully to their economies.

This is as UBA provided $200 million, approximately UGX 750 billion, to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to support investment growth and liquidity requirements.

He made the remarks while the leading pan-African financial services group, acted as Facility Agent Bank for the Nigerian Commercial Banks in a consortium with other international banks in a $1.5 Billion Pre-Export Finance Facility for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

This move follows a sharp drop in the price of oil and the ensuing hardship that followed the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elumelu said, ‘this facility is clear evidence of this – UBA is providing investment that will significantly improve Nigeria’s production capacity and in doing so also demonstrating the strength, depth, and sophistication of our commercial banking capability. I believe that together, working with governments, we can create more jobs and more wealth for people, not only in Nigeria, but across Africa’.

UBA has a strong track record in the resources sector across Africa, having facilitated oil prepayment deals with the NNPC, including its 2013 $100 million participation in the PXF Funding Limited transaction, and a further $60 million in the 2015 Phoenix Export Funding Limited transaction.

In Senegal, UBA was responsible for the EUR 240m Revolving Crude Oil Financing Facility for the Société Africaine de Raffinage and in Congo Brazzaville co-funded the $250m crude oil prepayment facility for Orion Oil Limited.

Other participants in the NNPC deal include Standard Chartered Bank, Afrexim Bank, Union Bank and two oil trading companies, Vitol and Matrix.

In Uganda, UBA is participating in the upstream, midstream and downstream of the oil and gas sector through financing and provision of financial services to players in each of these sectors.

“We are committed to ensuring that our corporate clients in the oil and gas sector of Uganda get access to the best financial services the market has got to offer.” said Mr. Joseph Balikuddembe, Executive Director/Head of Business- UBA Uganda.

Uganda’s inflation hits 4.7%

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda’s annual headline inflation has been recorded at 4.7percent for the year ended July 2020 from 4.1 percent registered in June 2020.

This on account of an increase in annual core inflation that was recorded at 5.8percent in July compared to 4.9 percent in June which was mainly driven by services inflation specifically transport services inflation that increased to 47.3 percent in July from 34.2 percent in June.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Principal Statistician, Sam Kaisiromwe, the lifting of the lock down to allow cars and vehicles to resume domestic and long haul distance travel is testament to these results.

Relatedly, there was a reduction in consumer prices of food crops which registered a minus 5.8 percent in July compared to minus 5.0 percent in June.

Food crop prices have decreased for the second month running.

The decline is attributed to annual vegetable inflation that declined however fruits inflation increased, in other wards fruits prices are still going down but the rate at which they are going down have reduced in this month compared to last month, he added.

This trend was mainly driven by reduction in prices of vegetables such as green pepper, eggplants, tomatoes, round onions and green cabbage. Others were fresh beans, banana-standard, Irish potatoes, beans, sugarcane, tomato ketchup and whole cassava.

However, those that increased include, bus fares, taxi fares for medium distance while food items like water melon, ice cream, and whole grain maize increased in price.

In the Energy Fuel and Utilities sector, inflation declined to 6.6 percent for the year ended July 2020 compared to 8.3percent for the year ended June 2020.The decrease is mainly due prices of solid fuels mainly charcoal which has declined to 21.0percent from 26.4 percent. Additionally prices of firewood declined.

It is however noteworthy that annual prices of liquid fuels specifically petrol increased from a minus 7.4percent to minus 6.4 percent while monthly liquid energy fuels increased by 0.4 percent in July compared to 0.5 percent rise in June.

In the health sector, a combination of medical products, appliances and equipment, out- patient services and hospital services registered a decrease to 3.1 percent from 3.2 percent, but hospital services specifically registered a 4.1 percent rise from 3.7 percent.

Analysis by geographical areas and income groups revealed that Jinja city registered the highest inflation of 5.6 percent followed by Kampala High Income and Masaka centers at 5.2 percent. The main driver was transport, food and non-alcoholic beverages which saw an increase in prices.

The least annual inflation was registered in Mbale at 2.8 percent which was due to decrease in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages coupled with a reduction in prices of clothing and footwear

KACITA officials interrogated

By Robert Segawa

Kampala central police has interrogated the leadership of Kampala City Traders Association on grounds that there is information that the association is inciting and flouting the presidential directives against Corona Virus.

Last week, KACITA leadership through it’s spokesperson Isa Ssekito vowed to open arcades even if the president does not ease the lock down.

Police also in the same week issued summons to the KACITA leadership last week for accusing them of inciting Traders and not abiding by the presidential guidelines which may cause the spread of the virus.

The traders’ leaders including chairman KACITA, Evaristo Kayondo are now being interrogated by the political desk at Central Police Station Kampala.

Patrick Onyango Kampala metropolitan police spokesman has confirmed the appearance of KACITA officials.