Absence of quality standard hurting Uganda companies

By Edwin Muhumuza

The lack of standards is affecting delivery of goods and services by Ugandan companies. The trend cuts across all sectors such manufacturing ,agriculture ,transport ,health among others.This concern came to the fore during a breakfast meeting on the impact of standards in the delivery of products and services.

This was revealed by AG Quality consultants, a leading quality consulting firm during a quality management systems dialogue with several business stakeholders in Kampala as part of the world accreditation day activities.

It emerged that Ugandan Health Care continues to suffer setbacks in regard to the quality of diagnostics and laboratory services which are not internationally accepted.

Chief Executive Officer ,Kilian Songwe speaking at the event noted that standards are what leverage businesses in the fast changing world.

For a long time government and business experts have decried the informal nature of businesses and the lack of willingness to adopt corporate governance in majority of them by owners. Relatedly,it is a common concern for consumers to complain about varying quality of specific products on the market.

Songwe noted that “compliance is the price you pay for admission”adding that accreditation ensures impartiality,competence and consistence.He said continuous improvement is a must and that risk management was becoming an element of standards.

Patricia Bageine Ejalu, the Deputy Executive Director for Technical Operations Uganda National Bureau of Standards said there is need for companies to adopt technical committees to ensure quality requirements are observed adding that ,” the Implementation of standards is not rocket science”.

Amid the urge and the push to do global business by Ugandan companies,the demand for quality is high and some of them have failed to penetrate the international market further worsening the country’s trade balance.

Uganda’s economic backbone is agriculture but the sector too is faced with many challenges that stem from High cost of investment/finance,Inadequate physical infrastructure to support the sector, Poor farming techniques,Limited access to quality farm inputs, Too much relying on rain,Lack of marketing data and information,Inadequate production and post harvest technologies all which are linked to a lack of quality management systems at production level all through the value chain.

Stanbic Bank head of Agri-business,Richard Wangwe,said that the excessive wastage of Ugandan produce which normally is perishable is as a result of a lack of quality standards and thus continues to lead to has led to loss of food and vegetables,further calling for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices.

Additionally he noted that exporters do not earn much from their exported produce due to absence of standards.‘Hazards occur at all stages of the food chain and there it becomes important to address food safety and production at firm level.’

Chief Guest Dr. Elly Karuhanga, Chairman Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum tipped participants on the importance of Oil & Gas Standards in the delivery of products and services noting that the sector is driven by standards and nothing else.This as government urges Ugandans to produce local content for the sector whilst the industry demand s for standards.

Nelson Ofwono,a local content development expert advised the business community to bench mark all their systems be it management,operations,production among others on the oil and gas sector.

Metropol introduces new reference for borrowers and Banks

By Moses Kidandi

Metropol introduces new reference for borrowers and Banks/Financial institutions.

Metropol Credit reference Bureau has launched a new products delivery platform,the first of its kind in Uganda that will enable borrowers have control of their credit information by having direct access to Bureau products conveniently at their disposal via their mobile phones.

Sam Omukoko-Managing Director Metropol says with the use of Metropol Crystobol, borrowers will no longer have to save for 6 months to be able to get a loan because the bureau will already have your financial and Credit profile.

He adds that by the public using the facility,they will also have instant access to their credit profile before seeking a loan from the Bank or financial Institution.

Metropol Crystobol will help users have easy access to finances,employment and markets as it will have detailed account of one’s lifetime borrowing with all current credit providers and their performance in terms of repayment.

Sam Omukoko says the information on the Metropol Cystobol platform will also enable lenders determine loan approvals to customers.The Official launch will be in November this year.

Central bank hopes new regulations will improve digital banking

By Alice Lubwama

The central bank is working on regulations that will improve digital banking in the country.

While speaking at the launch of Brac Uganda bank limited,the director in charge of national payments in the central bank, Mackey Aumo said that the regulations will enable to stream line the business and also allow different players to participate in money transfer and lending .

Uganda is the first county in Africa to have Brac bank.

Brac has been operating in Uganda as micro finance institution since 2006,providing financial services to low income communities.

The institution has 163 branches in 84 districts of Uganda with over 200,000 customers.

The executive director of Brac Uganda Jimmy Adiga said that they will target the house holds through women and youth because they are committed to work.

Adiga adds that they will also provide micro insurance to all it’s customers.

Adiga also said that they have upgraded 32 out of their 163 outlets in Uganda to meet the required bank of Uganda standards for tier2 institutions.

According to bank of Uganda rating tier2 are credit institutions but not fully fledged commercial banks.

Brac is the 4th tier2 credit institution in Uganda joining mercantile credit bank,post bank, and opportunity bank .

New banker’s partnership to strengthen agency banking

By Daudi Zirimala

The Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) has signed a partnership with International Financial Cooperation (IFC) intended to drive financial inclusion in the country through agency banking.

According to the Managing Director UBA Wilbrod Owor Hamphrey, in this partnership IFC has injected in 1.9 million Us dollars in supporting Agent banking system, enhancing product proposition by enabling citizens access their bank accounts.

He noted that currently financial inclusion is the way to go and achieving this, Uganda bankers Association has registered 8805 approved agents across the country who can help Ugandans to open up bank accounts at anytime and starting giving out mobile money loans using bank agents in the country.

“The shared agent platform is a leading concept in the region in terms of reducing cost of doing business in the banking sector,” says Wilbrod.

Speaking at the signing of the partnership the IFC Regional Director East Africa Jumoke Jagun Dokunmu said that a third of the Ugandan population have access to bank accounts ,which is not good enough to reach financial inclusion.

She said that financial inclusion practices have a positive trajectory in Africa due to the development of digital financial services and innovations like agent banking system.

IFC will continue supporting various developments in Uganda through innovations like this to enable government achieve its goal of private sector development and prosperity to the people of Uganda said Jumoke.

New board members of Investment authority asked to screen investors

By Moses Kidandi

Seven members of the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) board that was recently appointed by the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has been inaugurated.

The seven were appointed following the presidential assent to the new Investment act which among other things led to the reduction of the UIA board members from 13 to seven.

While presiding over the inauguration ceremony held at the UIA board room today, the state minister for investment and privatization Evelyn Anite tasked them to attract high quality foreign direct investments in the country.

Anite said the authority has been fond of attracting quack investors a vice that must stop.

She said the investors must be able to add value to the country’s natural resources and also provide decent jobs to Ugandans.

The minister also cautioned the new UIA board members against corruption or risk their contracts being terminated.

Down town building owners and traders raw deepens

By Sania Babirye
Land Division High court judge Alexanderia Rugardya Nkonge has refused to allow Kampala lord Mayor Erias Lukwago to cross examine Kampala businessmen Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu (Younger) in a case filed by the Traders demanding for an independent account to deposit their rent arias until court determines who manages the buildings .

Justice Nkonge has ruled that this might pre-empty the main case before her in which Horizon Coaches sued the two businessmen for illegally occupying its buildings.

The case had come up for hearing, but the judge instead ordered all parties to file in their written submissions since one of the correspondents (Horizon Coaches) had not filed in their reply.

The judge has also set to give its ruling on the matter on notice.

Meanwhile, the Uganda Bus Operators Association Ltd has also claimed ownership of Qualicel bus terminal and has since issued a note dated 15th of April 2019 demanding rent from the Traders.

According to Uganda Bus Operators Association chairperson Hamim Ssetongo, he holds the legitimate title of the building and that none of the three businessmen is allowed to operate from them .

On the 12th of this month, the Traders on the three building being claimed by Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu, the late Muhangi Family and now UBOA withdrawn their case from the high court civil division and filed it before the the High court Land division following the mysterious way in which the case file was allocated to a new judge without their knowledge.

Through their lawyer Erias Lukwago, the traders contended that their case file was first case listed before Justice Musa Ssekana and was set for hearing on the 8th of this month but when it came for hearing, they were surprised to see that tge original judge was dropped and replaced bu justice Andrew Bashaijja without their knowledge.

The traders claimed that they were not getting justice before justice Bashaija and asked for their file transfer.

As a result, Justice Bashaijja accepted their request but for the second time ordered that the frustrated traders pay costs to the businessmen because they had incurred costs along the way through hiring lawyers to represent them in the high court.

The businessmen also said they are demanding a 2 billion compensation from the Traders since they their lawyer Lukwago did not follow the right procedures in withdrawing the case.

On the 10th of April the same judge (Basaijja) ordered the Traders to pay costs to the businessmen after dismissing their application with costs in which they wanted court to allow another file before the ongoing land division to be added to this current file before the high court civil division.

The three buildings include Qualicel, Nabukeera and Jamboree all located at downtown Kampala.

Justice Bashaijja dismissed Lukwago’s application in which he wanted to appeal a ruling that had denied him a chance to amend his pleadings before the court.

The case had came up for hearing and during his submissions, Lukwago had asked court to allow him to add an application that is before the Land division to be part of that in the civil division of the High court.

Justice Bashaijja instead declined Lukwago’s submissions and ordered that the application be heard as it is.

The 291 traders through their lawyer Erias Lukwago had petitioned the court to allow them to deposit their rent arias on an independent account until court determined who owned and managed the said buildings.

The Traders want to deposit rent monies with a safe account in court until court decides on who of the three warring parties including Drake Lubega , Mansur Matovu and the management of Horizon Coaches formerly belonging to the late businessman Charles Muhangi owns and manages the said buildings .

The buildings are currently being claimed by city businessmen Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu alias Young and the late rally driver Charles Muhangi through his Horizone coaches ltd.

On the 2nd of April, 291 the traders filled their suit escorted by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago asking court to summon the warring factions to appear before court and clarify on who is the real owner and manager of the contentious buildings.

Currently, both Lubega and Mansur are claiming ownership of the building following the sudden and abrupt death of Muhangi in February this year to whom the traders were paying their rent arrears too.

These have since informed the traders that the buildings belongs to them not the late Muhangi whom the supreme court had declared owner of the buildings.

And worse still the now new owners and managers are forcing the traders to not only pay their current arrears to them, but also repay five months arrears that they had paid to Muhangi when he was still alive.

These have also gone ahead and closed the shops of those traders who are not willing to clear to them the already rent arrears that they had paid to the late Muhangi which has seen traders protesting.

However, the traders insist that they do not know who is the real owner and manger of the buildings to whom they should pay rent too since the court had declared that Muhangi owned the said buildings and he was doing so until his sudden death.

The traders also insist that if court clarifies on the rightful owner, that they are willing to pay the rent arias to him starting with the new months (February) but not even the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi through Horizon Coaches ltd as being demanded by the alleged new owners.

According to the traders, the supreme court placed the management of the three buildings under Horizon Coaches ltd on the 5th of November 2018.

These further claim that after the supreme court order, the buildings were renovated and renamed Horizon city and Bazanya Nengo respectively and each tenant was ordered to pay a 1.2 million shillings as registration fee which they cleared .

They further state that the tenants have since then been paying rent fees ranging from 400, 000 to 3 million shillings to Horizon Coaches until some time in February this year when both Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu showed up each claiming ownership and management of the 3 buildings.

The traders say that apart from the two claiming owners hiring stick wielding men and security to beat them, these have also turned off electricity and other utilities and locking their shops and threatened to evict any trader who wi continue with paying their rent arrears to Horizon Coaches.

These are now asking court to issue an injunction stopping the 2 businessmen from further trespassing and interfering with their business premises until issues of management are clarified and settled by court .

They also want court to order Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu to pay them General damages for loss of business and inconvenience after the two closed their shops yet they had cleared their due rent arrears.

On the 21st of March this year the traders closed their shops and protested after their power was switched off by allegedly Young after they refused to pay the double rent.

These were also demanding an independent account on which they should pay their rent because they were tired of paying rent to one person and then after someone else comes and claims to be the real owner of the building.

It took Kampala central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko’s intervention to have the power turned on and promised to take the traders grievances to Parliament fir redress.

President Museveni asks Teso farmers to utilize new fruit factory

By Moses Kidandi

President Yoweri Museveni has advised the people of Teso Sub-Region in Eastern Uganda to continue growing fruits because it is the medicine that will rid them of of household poverty and the venture commands global market as well.

The President was speaking at the launch of the commercial operations for Soroti Fruit Factory in Arapai Sub-County, Aloet village in Soroti District.

The factory that was financed by the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) while the Korean National Cooperation Agency (KOICA) contributed US$7.4 million and employs about 150 people directly in the plant and about 1,000 farmers in the region.

President Museveni is now encouraging the people of Teso who had small land to stop growing cotton and go for fruits, dairy farming and fish farming because they are the products that can give money on a small scale piece of land.

Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, said that the launching of the fruit factory was a milestone in the revival of the economy. She added that the facility was the fulfillment of the NRM Manifesto of 2006. She thanked President Museveni for his support and political will.

The facility currently makes orange and mango juice and the future plans entail making a variety of fruit juices.
The Factory currently produces 96 metric tonnes of mango and orange juice per day but in its full operation, will employ 250 people directly in the factory and over two million in the production chain links in the Teso Sub-Region.

Ugandan businesses suffer amid South Sudan’s ineptness

By Edwin Muhumuza

Finance State Minister David Bahati has revealed that Uganda is forming a team that will travel to Juba, South Sudan on 15th April, in a bid to exert pressure on their counterparts to enforce the bilateral agreement in which South Sudan government committed to refund the money owed to Uganda as damages and losses to property and business owned by Ugandans.

Bahati who was appearing before the parliaments select committee was reacting to concerns raised by some traders who have been ignored after the Finance Ministry paid Shs 40 billion to ten(10) Uganda-South Sudan grain traders yet the list outlines 23 companies.

The minister notes that the main obstacle against the move to refund Ugandan traders who made losses in South Sudan during the war was the difficulty to form a joint verification committee from both governments.

On Tuesday, March 26, the minister of Trade Ms. Amelia Kyambadde disowned the list of Ugandan companies that were approved before Parliament seeking for compensation for their lost goods in South Sudan during the war in 2013.

The committee chairperson highlighted that there have risen a number of concerns from several witnesses that have appeared before the committee accusing her ministry of leaving them out while compiling the list of beneficiaries.

However, she denied the responsibility of manipulating the list of companies noting that they compiled a genuine list which was arrived at during an inter-ministerial committee verification process which was constituted by the Ministry of Trade, that of Finance, and of Justice.

During the session,Bahati also denied owning companies that benefited from compensation over loss of business in South Sudan. He told the committee that even if he owned a company in South Sudan, he wouldn’t accept to be part of the on-going compensation process.

This after the Select Committee Chairperson Ann Maria Nankabirwa revealed that she had received information alleging that Bahati’s companies were part of those defrauded in South Sudan and are in a process of being compensated. She read out M/S Kaimat Enterprises, M/S Jan Jang Company Limited and M/S Nile Site Company as some allegedly owned by Bahati.

The process for compensation of affected companies has so far seen ten companies paid. They are Rubya Investments, Kibungo Entreprises, Aponye (U) Ltd, Afro Kai ltd, Swift commodities establishment ltd, Sunrise commodities, Sophie Omari, Apo General Agencies, Ropani International and KK Travelers.

Others that are pending payment include; Roko Construction Company, Ake-jo General enterprise, JB Traders, Odyek Ejang Company, Dott Services, Gunya company limited, Premier company, MFK company among others.

New Pension company pledges to focus on SMEs

By Deo Wasswa
The Africa’s leading Pension administrator, Enewealth Financial Services Limited has expanded its operations to Uganda after being licensed by Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA).

Enwealth, Currently Manages Pension assets worth over Ush2 trillion and servicing over 120 clients within the region. Over the last 8 years, Enwealth has been providing innovative products and services through which more than 40,000 people in 12 countries in Africa have been impacted.

Speaking during the launch at Sheraton hotel-Kampala. Nelson Kuria, the Enwealth board chair, they joined Uganda after realizing that the pension industry in Uganda is growing steadily under as strong regulatory regime. ‘’ We have keenly observed the pension industry in Uganda growing steadily under a strong regulatory regime, we are therefore excited to introduce innovative, ICT driven retirement products and services in Uganda such as post retirement healthcare funds for a dignified retirement life, Diaspora and expatriates fund, Enwealth Person pension scheme among others’’, said Nelson.

The firm joins nine other pension administrators that are currently licensed by URBRA as a result of the ongoing reform agenda to liberalize the sector.

According to URBRA, the pension sector covers only about two million of Uganda’s population which is less than 10 percent of the population. The pension sector is currently contributing more than nine percent to the country’s GDP, and is projected to contribute a higher share in the near future. According to the regulator the sector’s portfolio is now growing with NSSF recording shs9 trillion in much 2018 from ush3 trillion at inception and other schemes are holding nearly ush1.6 trillion.

At the same event, Simon Wafuba, the Enwealth CEO, revealed that Enwealth’s key target market in Uganda will be the small and medium enterprises which are currently under served. The SMEs employ over 2.5 million people. But due to low income levels and luck of access to information, majority of them do not have adequate savings fir their retirement. Enwealth has tailor-made products for this market as well as financial literacy programs to encourage the population to save and secure their financial security in interment.

‘’We see a very vibrant, robust and well regulated sector with increased coverage and asset portfolio,. With more players joining the market, we will see products suited for the markets that have not had access to retirement benefits before. We are also adopting to modern supervisory tools to ensure that people’s savings are secured, Said Mr. Martin Nsubuga, the CEO Uganda retirement benefits regulatory authority(URBRA).

Notably, the 2016 World Bank development indicators report noted that Ugandans save around five percent of their monthly earnings. This was the lowest record in comparison to other countries in the east Africa whose records stood at 23 percent for Kenya, 13 percent for Tanzania and 18 percent for Rwanda.

Additionally, Enwealth will provide well researched information on issues affecting financial services, social security and employee benefits in Uganda through their regular research based report and debate dubbed Enwealth conversations.

With the expansion to Uganda, Enwealth joins a number of other financial services sector players including banks and insurance companies seeking to establish solid presence across all the markets in East Africa.

Minister appoints new Board of directors for NSSF

By Deo Wasswa

The minister for Finance has appointed an 8 man team to serve as Board of directors of National social security fund for the next three years.

The board is chaired by Patrick Kaberenge who has been re-appointed in the same position. The other appointments include Pius Bigirimana, permanent secretary ministry of gender and Patrick Ocailap, the deputy permanent secretary ministry of finance as representative of government on the board. Florance Namata, general manager human resource at centenary bank has been also reappointed on the board representing employers.

The new appointees to the board are Bamwesigye Fred, the deputy managing director of civil aviation authority also representing employers and Dr. Isaac Magoola, the head of department business administration at Makerere University business school, also representing workers.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new board at NSSF head offices in Kampala, Minister Kasaija has noted that the appointment of the new board follows various consultations with key stakeholders and issuance of licenses to act as trustees by Uganda retirement benefits regulatory authority(URBRA) in pursuant to section 40 and 41 of the URBRA act.

The minister asked the board to abide by the governing laws, specifically the NSSF Act and Uganda retirement benefits regulatory authority Act (2011) as well as the internal policies and procedures.

The minister however clarified that the process to select a representative from the National organization of trade union(NOTU) is still ongoing.

” I have tasked NOTU to re- submit other nominees for consideration because their initial nominees did not make it through the vetting process. I’m confident that with NOTU’s cooperation, this process can be concluded soon.

Nonetheless, Pursuant to section 3 of the NSSF Act, the Board is constituted and authorized to conduct business on behalf of the Fund,” he said.

Kasaija told the new board that their mandate is to ensure that there is secure, profitable and effective financial management of the fund for the benefit of the workers in particular and the country at large.

“Your appointment comes at times when the fund is stable and performing exceptionally well. I therefore challenge you to provide the strategic direction needed to steer the fund to greater heights”, he said.

At the same event, Patrick Kaberenge the board chairman has noted that the focus of this new board shall focus on unlocking the value of real estate projects of pension towers, completion of the first phase of Lubowa project, Nsimbe and Temangalo developments as well as using the right technology for pension administration.