Finance (401)

Petition Demands That Anti- Corruption Court Indicts Bank Of Uganda Ex-officials

The Anti- Corruption division of High Court in Kampala has been petitioned to indict and hold culpable 3 former executives of the Bank of Uganda, over allegations of involving themselves in corruption and the fraudulent sale of former Crane Bank to dfcu Bank.

This is in a petition filed by a concerned Ugandan Sam Brian Kakuru seeking the High Court to institute an investigation into the operations of Louis Kasekende, Justine Bagyenda and Benedict Ssekabira.

Bagyenda is former executive director of Bank of Uganda in charge of supervision also at the heart of dubiously selling banks, Louis Austin Kasekende was the former deputy governor Bank of Uganda while Sekabira was the director Capital markets in the Central bank.

Kakuru thus wants the court to question them and their intent to establish their role into the illegal sale of former Crane Bank valued at Shs1.3trillions and handed over to Dfcu at only 200bn, not in cash. Six other banks were also victims of the above individuals’ heinous dealings.

According to the petition, Kakuru wants the Anti-Corruption Court to base its investigations on the 2019 findings of the Committee on the Commission, State Authorities and Statutory Enterprises (COSASE) and the Auditor General’s Report, which implicated Kasekende, Bagyenda, Ssekabira and other officials at the Central bank in having had a hand in the dubious sale of Crane Bank and several other commercial banks.

He further wants President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to use his prerogative power conferred upon him by the Constitution to invoke investigation and reprimand for the named former BoU officials, because of their involvement in a litany of corruption activities, with intent to amass obscene wealth.

“The former Bank of Uganda (BoU) officials conspired with the mysterious Nile River Acquisition Company as the Company bought off secured debts of International Credit Bank (ICB), Greenland Bank and Cooperative Bank at Shs8.89 billion representing a 26 per cent discount of the total secured loans.

“The loan portfolio sold included secured loans of Shs34.5 billion which had a valid, legal or equitable mortgage on the real property and were supported with legal documentation. I noted that the contract price of Shs8.878 billion represented 26% of the total secured loan and 7 percent of the total loan portfolio implying that the loans were sold at a discount.” The Auditor Genera; John Muwanga say in his special audit report of BoU on defunct banks (Annex 3).”

Kakuru adds in his petition that “The Financial Institutions Act (FIA) provides ways in which the Bank of Uganda may take over and resolve the financial institution that is in distress. BoU fraudulently closed Crane Bank ignoring sections 89 (1), (2) (e) and (9) of the FIA Act (Annex 1).”

“Corruption implicated former BoU official fraudulently closed Central Bank without conduction of an evaluation of the assets and liabilities of Crane Bank before they were transferred to Dfcu Bank.

“On April 10, 2018, I requested for P&A agreement, including the details of the assets and liabilities transferred after taking into account the requisite valuation. I noted that BoU did not carry out a valuation of the assets and liabilities of CBL. In the absence of the valuation, I could not establish how the terms for the transfer of assets and liabilities in the P& A were determined,” Mr Muwanga’s report reads in part (Annex 2).”

He also adds that “BoU was deliberately involved in obstruction of justice to Chairman Ruparelia Group through misappropriation of taxpayers’ money to hire MAAKS Advocates that created a scenario of allegedly taking Shs397 billion out of the financial institution in alleged fraudulent transactions and land title transfers. MAKKS Advocates had been previously hired as lawyers for Ruparelia Group, a case that was crashed in court as a conflict of interest (Annex3).”

“The ACD of the High Court must investigate and prosecute former BoU corruption implicated officials the circumstances that led to the closure of Cooperative Bank after unearthed questions regarding the particular identity of the bank that was closed, after two groups of shareholders came up claiming ownership of the bank, with each sharing the same names. (Annex 1).

Greenland Bank equity investment in African Export-import Bank (Egypt) worth USD45,000 had accumulated dividends of USD22,410 as at 30th November 2015, however, the liquidator (BOU) had not sold off the shares and therefore the funds were embezzled by the corruption implicated former BoU officials (Annex 1).

The Petitioner wants Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile who was requested by COSASE to prepare a response to the demand for Shs20 billion from the Central Bank by businessman Chris Tushabe Karobwa.

Mr Karobwa petitioned Parliament faulting former BoU officials for bringing his business empire down after officials mismanaged properties worth Shs1.4Billions which he had mortgaged in Cooperative Bank before it was closed and liquidated in 1999.

He also claims that Shs3Billion that was on his account in Cooperative Bank at the time of closure was stolen on top of BoU seizing and grounding his two Mercedes Benz lorries.”

SOURCE: Command1Post

Kampala Landlords Demand For Tax Waivers, Tax Holiday

The Managing Director of Crane Management Services, the leading real estate company and landlord in Kampala, Rajiv Ruparelia, has reechoed the most pressing need of his colleagues the landlords by demanding tax waivers from government and tax holidays from Uganda Revenue Authority as the country emerges to stand on its feet from the guillotines of COVID-19 pandemic.

Rajiv while speaking at a press conference to announce key Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Crane Management Services has put in place at all its properties to avert the spread of the coronavirus asked special considerations were government can write off taxes for companies most hit by COVID-19 including landlords.

“We are one big family. A building is useless without tenants. However, tenants can’t operate without a building. So, we are like a marriage and this marriage is very intimate. But unfortunately, the government has not given any waivers to this industry,” Rajiv noted with dismay.

“If you look at it, URA has only deferred their payments. They have not said that this year we are going to give special considerations where we are going to write off taxes for companies. If you look at NSSF, they have not given any conditions where companies can reduce the liabilities to pay NSSF,” he said.

“All they are saying is that if you’re not going to pay in February or March pay in August. But that is not solving a problem as an economy or for landlords. Now even the Central Bank has given some ease to the commercial banks and but does not tell the banks that we have given some special liquidity in order to be able to subsidize the interest that you will face because landlords cannot pay the banks. You see, when the tenant pays the landlord, the landlord takes the money and pays the bank.”

COVID-19 Pandemic Deepens Need For Low Cost Effective Remittances

As the world commemorated the 2020 International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) on June 16 in this game-changing year, it is important to draw attention to the millions of migrant workers globally who play a vital role in global economies says the UN.

Countries around the world went to battle with a novel virus that emerged late in 2019 in order to save millions of lives, enforcing strict stay-at-home measures to curb the virus’s  spread. As a result economies globally came to a complete or a near-complete standstill.

This will have directly impacted the more than 200 million migrant workers who support their 800 million family members back in their home countries (United Nations, 2020).

In April, the World Bank predicted the sharpest decline of remittances in recent history. Global remittances were projected to decline sharply by about 20 percent in 2020 due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown. Remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to decline by 23.1 percent to reach $37 billion in 2020, while a recovery of 4 percent is expected in 2021.

For those families depending on remittances to fund their basic living costs, the risk of falling below the poverty line has increased substantially.

Cashless transaction

This illustrates Huawei’s position that Digital Financial Services (DFS) offers a new means for people, government and businesses to transact in a cashless way.

“With the pandemic forcing people to socially distance themselves from others, the adoption of DFS has been increasing across countries like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. In Kenya where mobile money has already made great inroads, the government has actively promoted cashless transactions as a means to limit contact spread of the virus,” says Edison Xie, Director of Media Affairs, Huawei Southern Africa Region.

A MasterCard global consumer study conducted in April 2020 indicated that 75 percent of South African consumers were using contactless payments with 88 percent of the South African respondents viewing contactless as a cleaner as well as faster way to pay and to limit the amount of time spent in stores.

Estimates for DFS adoption globally may be as high has 67 percent post pandemic adjusted 5-10 percent upwards from pre-pandemic estimates of 57% (Forbes Africa, 2020). Yet for the most marginalised and vulnerable in our economies and in society, some barriers remain that prevent more widespread adoption and use of DSF for remittances.

High cost

“”The most expensive corridors are observed mainly in the Southern African region, with costs as high as 20 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, the less expensive corridors had average costs of less than 3.6 percent,” says Xie.

The World Bank estimated a cost of around 6.7 percent on a remittance value of $200 but for Sub Saharan Africa, this cost rose to 9 percent even through intra-regional migrants in Sub-Saharan Africa comprised over two-thirds of all international migration from the region. The United Nations estimated that between US$200-300 was spent on the costs of transfers (United Nations, 2020).

Xie says that the major contributor to the high costs of remittances is the costly operations of cross border money operators handling cash transfers.

“Reducing the reliance on cash transfers and currency exchanges is thus an important way to reduce remittance costs for those sending money to Sub Saharan countries.  Digital money transfer options become essential to facilitating lower costs remittances for migrant workers,” he said.

As DFS adoption increases and the ecosystem expands to bring in more services suited to the market it serves, evolution of the platforms coupled with increased support from government in the form of consumer protection, costs of remittances can be expected to gradually reduce.

Digital Divide

Digital Financial Services allow for a multitude of benefits to be realised for countries and their people. Greater control of funds (how they flow and who they reach), improved accountability in systems and the ability of recipients of funds digitally to better manage resources for their own development. It is important, however, for the full digital financial services ecosystem and value chain to be considered when initiatives are undertaken to improve participation rates.

DFS and remittances will thrive when the basics are in place to ensure every citizen in a country has equal access to the tools to participate in this part of the digital economy. Access to Broadband connectivity, access to smartphones to access digital financial and other services, access to affordable data, relevant content and the ability to understand and use these services are all essential precursors to a fully participative population.

It is therefore crucial for governments across the continent to put their full might behind addressing the digital divide; firstly with widespread, quality Broadband access to all and then reducing barriers to accessing the Internet and digital services with speed.

“Let us use this International Remittance Day to take stock of where we are as countries responding to our people’s needs for services to improve the quality of their lives, in particular financial services,” says Xie

Court Of Appeal Dismisses BoU’s Shs.397b Case Against Sudhir

Businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has won a case in the Court of Appeal in which Bank of Uganda (BoU) contested the ruling of the lower court.

The court upheld the judgment of Commercial Court in an application filed by BoU seeking a refund of UGX 397 billion from Sudhir which he allegedly pulled out from Crane Bank.

“The person (petitioner) should pay cost and that is non other than Bank of Uganda because Margret Kasule filed on behalf of Bank of Uganda. They knew Crane Bank was in receivership as it wasn’t in existence but they went ahead to sue it” read the judgement.

Justice David Wangutusi of Commercial Court in August 2019 this week dismissed a case in which BoU claimed that Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Ltd fleeced his own Crane Bank Ltd (now in receivership) of UGX397 billion.

In his 22-page ruling that was delivered by the court’s deputy registrar, Mr Festo Nsenga, Justice Wangutusi noted that at the time BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) filed the suit against Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments in January 2017, Crane Bank was a non-existing entity, having been terminated when the Central Bank sold its assets to DFCU Bank in October 2016.

The judge ruled that this rendered Crane Bank in receivership incapable of suing or being sued since there would be no assets to be claimed for.

Court noted that the public notice made it clear that BoU as the receiver had done an evaluation of the respondent (Crane Bank in receivership) and arranged for the purchase of its assets and assumption of its liabilities by another financial institution.

“In his [BoU] notice, he specifically stated that the liabilities of the respondent had been transferred to DFCU Bank Ltd and that because DFCU Bank had taken over the liabilities, it would, by way of consideration, be paid by conveying to it the respondent’s assets,” the judge ruled.

Bank of Uganda, through their new attorney Dr. Joseph Byamugisha of Byamugisha & Co Ltd the chose to file an appeal.


Energy Transition Plays Role In Driving FIDs Across Africa

Hosted by Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber, the ‘Closing Deals: Advancing FID During COVID-19’ webinar addressed the prioritization of energy projects in an environment of limited capital investment; Natural gas developments are facing fewer delays in FID than oil exploration and production projects.

‘Closing Deals: Advancing FID During COVID-19,’ a public webinar held on Thursday, explored the future of deal-making and African energy financing in the short- and long-term, following the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

As operators continue to face uncertainty and a low-price oil environment, a range of survival strategies have been employed in the short term, including halting non-essential activities; adopting furlough or layoff strategies; slowing output; refining sales and purchase agreements and utilizing financial hedging instruments to market crude.

In the long term, however, COVID-19 will necessitate a reassessment of project development plans, many of which carry operating costs incompatible with a $40-barrel price.

“We are in unchartered waters. The IMF is estimating a 3% reduction in global GDP for 2020. The effect is almost triple to that of the 2008 financial crisis,” said Marcia Ashong, Founder and Executive Director of TheBoardroom Africa and Brace Energy.

“Africa remains largely a commodity-based economy, and raw materials make up one-third of the continent’s export income. The road to recovery will be extremely slow and arduous. The full effect of COVID-19 on our economies is not fully recognized yet. From the oil and gas perspective, it has derailed major projects. For example, the Aker decision in Ghana [to postpone FID] will postpone further work on its Pecan discovery.”

While the financial viability of oil exploration and production projects has been called into question against a low barrel price, natural gas monetization projects appear to tell another story. In February, Total announced that its Mozambique LNG project is still on track to come online before 2025.

“There has definitely been a difference between oil and gas globally. In oil, COVID-19 has impacted mobility, and demand dropped as low as 72 million barrels in April,” said Paul Eardly-Taylor, Oil & Gas Coverage, Southern Africa, Standard Bank.

“Bizarrely, in the world of liquefied natural gas (LNG), things have been a bit different. As of last week’s IA report, LNG demand was up 8.5% year-on-year globally. That is feeding through to Africa. For an African project [Total’s Mozambique LNG] to raise $15 billion in debt financing in the middle of COVID-19 is an astonishing achievement. With no material second wave occurring and from an energy perspective, the world could be right side by the end of the year. Hopefully 2021 will be Africa’s 2020.”

In terms of FIDs on the continent, only a few definitive delays have been encountered. In Mozambique, ExxonMobil has indefinitely delayed FID on its natural gas project in the Rovuma basin. In Uganda, FID taken by Total for the Tilenga project has been postponed until 2022, while initially planned for the end of 2019.

“We are seeing that if your project is squarely in the energy transition, at worst, it will be delayed by a year or so,” said Eardley-Taylor. 

Mozambique is case-in-point. ExxonMobil is even expected to go ahead next year once it has secured a cheaper EPC price. Of the projects that are traditionally funded in Africa and are in the headlights of the energy transition, to what extent can they be achievable and fundable? In Uganda, there has been a strong alignment between stakeholders and lead sponsor Total. There is every expectation that even an onshore oil project with a long ride to the coast may take FID in the coming months or year.”

The lending behavior of financial institutions will also be impacted by the environmental dynamics of projects, with access to attractive funding terms and project development support then further driving the shift to renewable energy investments.

“The African Development Bank is keen to put money toward renewable energy. Climate change has come into play as constraining financial capabilities of oil and gas companies,” said Arron Singhe, Chief Oil Sector at the African Natural Resources Centre, African Development Bank.

“COVID-19 is sending a significant message to the African oil and gas industry that the paradigm is changing. As an industry, we need to review the way in which we re-develop projects. When the fundamentals of a project are strong and the sponsors have the financial power and leverage from the market, the project has a higher chance of succeeding.

It is very important for private investors to look at the environmental situation in the project. How much of your project is contributing to preserving the environment? Beyond COVID-19, this will influence the financial flow of the oil and gas industry in Africa.”

In terms of mergers and acquisitions driven by COVID-19 as companies attempt to consolidate assets, the trend is expected to defy that of previous financial downturns.

“From 2014 onward, we saw a scramble for assets,” said Ashong. “At that stage, company valuations were at their lowest. This time, the trend is the opposite. Companies that will most likely be acquired face several more challenges beyond just acquiring cheaper assets. They have put disposal plans in place to meet cost reduction targets. There are severe constraints on capital and dwindling cash reserves are being prioritized for divided payments. Acquisition targets are also not as attractive as we wished them to be.”

Going forward, there are various financial models that can be utilized to alleviate individual risk and reduce financial exposure of companies in the face of an uncertain operating environment.

“Angola is a strong example of this, as the country essentially moved down this route two to three years ago, explicitly with the marginal field terms and gas law,” said Eardley-Taylor. “Our general understanding is that on a case-by-case basis, individual concessions have been able to amend fiscal terms. For three different concessions, Angola did a ‘blend and extend.’ By getting a longer contractual term for the concession, a percentage of equity was then given to Sonangol that it previously didn’t have.” 

Banking Sector Urged To Go Digital To Build Resilience And Sustainable Growth Post Covid-19

Bankers from Sub Saharan Africa and China who attended the Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Financial Services Industry Online Summit 2020 agree that digitisation of the sector will give it resilience against the current Covid-19 pandemic and enable sustained growth in the post Covid era. 

The pan-African conference themed “Accelerating Digital Transformation, Enable Business Growth Again” was attended by 1200 delegates from across banks, telco operators, fintech and ICT services companies.  

Opening the event, Liao Yong, vice president of Huawei Southern Africa Region, said advances in ICT present unique opportunities for the banking sector, especially when almost 70% of the region’s population don’t have a bank account. 

“All of these ICT advances will be critical enablers to a thriving banking sector in Sub Saharan Africa. As we can see, the merging of these two curves of ICT and banking services is powerful. But how much we can unleash the power, depends on how much and how soon banking sector goes digital.” Liao said. 

There has been a rapid uptake of mobile technologies in the region with strong economic growth in the past 2 decades. According to statistics by GSMA, 4G, mobile broadband technology, adoption will overtake 2G in 2023 and the total of unique subscribers in Sub Saharan Africa will reach 600 million by 2025, representing half the region’s population. 

Speaking at the online event, Brett King, author of Bank 4.0, a New York-based mobile banking startup, said the behavioural changes that come with coronavirus further underpins the needs for digital transformation in banking sector.

“The declining use of physical branches is likely for many customers to remain a permanent feature of their lives. The reality is this is likely to accelerate a multi-decade trend we've already seen towards digitisation. So when we look at the architecture of banking moving forward and the real elements that have been accelerated during the coronavirus period, you can see that that shift to digital is creating much more aligned, some digital experience. This basically brings us to a new model of banking…we moved to this low friction banking embedded in the world around us,” said King. 

In China, bucking the decline in Q1 GDP, the financial sector recorded a 6% year-on-year growth. Analysts attribute this growing to the sector’s years of unremitting efforts in digital transformation.

Chen Kunte, former Chief Information Officer of China Merchants Bank and current Chief Digital Transformation Officer of Global Financial Services in Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group said digitisation will give the banking sector the resilience it needs in the public health crisis. Banking everywhere can’t come true without leveraging cloud, AI and Big Data.

“We need to restructure banks’ ICT platforms from legacy architecture to cloud-based, open architecture by building AI-Powered and Data-Driven platforms to expand the way financial institutions engage and interact with their customers, and accommodate more innovative business models and service scenarios,” Chen said. 

Banks from the region shared some case studies on digitisation in banking services in the region. 

Lucille De Kock, Head of Data Analysis and Product Management at FNB, South Africa, introduced FNB’s fundamental shifts across all dimensions to transform the bank into a helpful, trusted and people centric money manager leveraging digital and data platforms. 

According to Alex Siboe Wekunda, head of DFS, KCB, said 97% of all transactions are done digitally which lead to substantial growth during the pandemic. Luckily enough, we had invested well in our platform, so we're able to handle the traffic that comes through this ecosystem. And Joshua Oigara, CEO and MD, KCB Group PLC, said KCB will continue accelerate that investment beyond just lending platform, which has been very successful. 

Huawei works with over 1,000 financial institutions globally, including 6 of the world’s top 10 banks in the digital transformation voyage. 

Liao concluded, “Our operations of over 20 years in Sub Saharan Africa enables us think global and act local by providing our clients in the region with tailored made solutions to make digitisation process painless and smooth, as if it is a tech company that happens to work in the financial sector rather than as a bank that tries to adapt disruptive technologies.”


Prudential Supplements Govt COVID -19 Food Relief Efforts With Shs300m Donation

The ongoing lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19 have adversely affected vulnerable communities’ members who survive by accessing urban centres every day for their livelihood, Arjun Mallik, MD, Prudential East Africa, Monday told journalists in Kampala.

He said that while the lockdown measures are being implemented with positive intent, disruption of community member’s routines means some people are going hungry in their home.

And in order to supplement government efforts to provide food relief, and support those most in need, Mallik and Prudential, an insurance firm, announced a donation of Shs300 million towards food relief in the country.

Prudential said the donation will feed the most vulnerable and poor who have been greatly affected by the lockdown, many of whom live on less than a dollar a day and therefore do not have any savings to help them go through this period.

This will be distributed via two organisations: Humanitarian Operations Projects and Emergencies (HOPE) and Heal the Planet Global Organisation (HTP).

Alhaji Kaddunabi Lubega, the CEO, Insurance Regulatory Authority said the outbreak of Covid-19 ‘has highlighted to all of us,’ the need to always be prepared for the unexpected challenges of life.   “I convey my gratitude to Prudential Uganda for standing by Ugandans in this hour of need,” he said.

While receiving the fund on behalf of HOPE, Emmanuel Kashaija, Country Director, appreciated Prudential for supporting the vulnerable slum dwellers in the western region who have been profiled as elderly people, orphan households, pregnant women, street children and the disabled, adding that the food relief will go along way in improving their social and psychological well-being.

Benjamin Kivumbi Earnest, President, HTP, thanked Prudential for the timely response towards helping the slum dwellers around Kampala in the areas of Nsambya, Katwe, Bwaise and Makerere Kivulu, Makindye, Masajja. “These people are in dire need of food and we will work with the local council to make sure food is delivered at their door step,” he said. 

Insurers Goldstar, Prudential Team Up To Offer COVID19 Insurance

Goldstar Insurance and Prudential Uganda have teamed up to offer a new insurance cover to offer life insurance cover to Goldstar’s Workman’s Compensation and Group Personal Accident Policyholders.

The new insurance product called COVID19 Group Life Extension Insurance Cover covers groups of individuals of companies and organizations against devastating COViD19 pandemic. It is underwritten by Prudential.

In the new partnership, Prudential shall offer cover against Natural Death to all Goldstar Workman’s Compensation and Group Personal Accident Policyholders against death due to natural causes.

Goldstar Insurance said this cover is an extension of your existing Workman’s Compensation & Group Personal Accident policy with Goldstar to bridge the gap left out by this class of insurance.

“The death benefit enshrined under the traditional workers' compensation and group personal accident is only payable if death is due to accidental causes and does not include death due to natural causes including Covid19,”

“Because of the above shortcoming, Goldstar Insurance has partnered with Prudential Life to offer cover against natural death to all Goldstar and GPA Policy Holders and death due to Covod19 is hereby covered,” Goldstar has said.

According to Wikipedia, the COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, and a pandemic on 11 March.

As of 24 May 2020, more than 5.35 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 343,000 deaths. More than 2.14 million people have recovered from the virus.


Western Union Announces 50% Fee Reduction For Essential Workers Sending Money

COVID19 pandemic front-line responders and essential workers sending money globally using Western Union's digital channels have been offered 50 percent fee reduction for the next two weeks.

Western Union, a leader in cross-border, cross-currency money mover said the promotion ‘is a tribute by the company to these customers for their endless commitment to their local communities.’

Western Union President and CEO Hikmet Ersek said many of the world’s frontline or essential workers are global citizens who trust us with their hard-earned money and regularly send it to their loved ones.

“We want to acknowledge their dedication to keeping remittances moving to the communities and economies around the world that depend on them the most and support them as they continue promoting the health and safety of the communities around them.” Ersek is quoted in a press statement.

 More than 65 percent of global citizens working and living across the world occupy roles as first responders or in essential service industries, according to Western Union’s business intelligence.

These global citizens indexed high in such roles across major countries: 63 percent in the U.S.; 67 percent in the U.K; 68 percent in France; 70 percent in Germany; 62 percent in Australia; 58 percent in the UAE and 71 percent in Saudi Arabia.

In Uganda, Jason Nass, Regional Director, East Africa Western Union said remittances play an extremely important part of the economy. For the community here, remittances are often a lifeline, Nass said.

“The reduction in fees for frontline and essential workers around the world should help receivers locally in Uganda as they face the current pandemic,” he added.

The fee reduction, valid with transfer code THANKS2020, applies to any transaction initiated in the majority of Western Union’s digital-enabled countries at or via the Western Union app and received anywhere Western Union’s Global Network reaches: via bank account or wallet payout in more than 100 countries, as well as retail Agent locations in 200 countries and territories.

The fee reduction will run from now until May 20, 2020, and is available to first responders representing medical, police, and fire department professionals as well as essential workers across food, transport, utility, and other essential industries, including manufacturing and construction.


AfDB Welcomes $10m Fund To Diversify Ethiopia's Energy Mix

The African Development Bank has welcomed a decision by the Trust Fund Committee of the Clean Technology Fund, one of two funds within the Climate Investment Funds, to extend a $10 million concessional senior loan for the development of the 50 MW Tulu Moyo Geothermal Power Plant project in Ethiopia.

The CTF approved the loan on 20 April 2020 for the project, which is seen as a critical step to the East African country's drive to harness sustainable and resilient energy resources to support its economy and livelihoods. With this investment, CTF becomes the first progressive geothermal Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Ethiopia.

"We welcome the participation of CTF in this project. This concessional resource will be instrumental in helping the country to diversify its energy mix by facilitating the deployment of renewable energy technologies while supporting Ethiopia in meeting the targets under its National Electrification Plan 2.0," said Anthony Nyong, Director of Climate Change and Green Growth at the Bank.

The project entails the design, construction, commissioning and operation of a 50 MW geothermal power plant under a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) scheme, and marks the first phase of the Ethiopian government's plan to build  cumulative generation capacity of 150 MW by 2024.

The project will include a sub-station and an 11 km transmission line.

Antony Karembu, Principal Investment Officer and Renewable Energy Specialist at the African Development Bank noted that as the first progressive geothermal Independent Power Producer in Ethiopia, CTF will leverage climate finance options in mobilizing private sector operators for the project.

The project is expected to curb greenhouse gas emissions by over 10 million tonnes CO2 equivalent over its lifetime, and will create around 600 jobs, Karembu said.

CTF will catalyze the deployment of renewable energy technologies in Ethiopia and will underpin future investments into the sector as first-mover risks are reduced and compliance requirements are better understood to all market participants, Leandro Azevedo, Principal Climate Finance Officer and CIF coordinator at the African Development Bank, stated.

The CTF funds will be drawn from the Dedicated Private Sector Program III designed to provide risk-appropriate financing for high-impact, large-scale private sector projects in clean technologies.

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