Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Is Bank Of Uganda Being Soft With Foreign Banks?

Before the dust raised by Bank of Uganda when it took over the management of Crane Bank for being undercapitalized, news that more banks will suffer the same fate emerged. The banks that were rumored to be clamped down include Cairo Bank, DFCU, Centenary, ABC Bank, Bank of Africa, Diamond Trust Bank and Eco Bank. Bank of Uganda has not come out to clarify on the rumor.

Bank of Uganda took over the management of Crane Bank last week days after defending the Ruparelia owned bank. The move caused a lot of uncertainty and debate in the public domain. Bank customers in the sector panicked fearing that they would lose their deposits. The move did not go down well with Crane Bank owners who described the decision by Bank of Uganda as malice. They say they were looking for an equity investor and the central was aware.

Bank of Uganda’s silence on the state of Cairo Bank, DFCU, Centenary, ABC Bank, United Bank of Africa, Bank of Africa, Diamond Trust Bank and Eco Bank majorly owned by foreign investors has been received with mixed feelings by some sections of the public.

They wonder why the central bank rushed to takeover Crane Bank, an indigenous bank, while foreign banks are equally struggling. Some banks, especially those owned by Nigerians are said to be not making even. They are reportedly making no money at all yet Bank of Uganda looks the other side.

Alfred Owino, a retired banker says that if Bank of Uganda wants a functioning banking sector, all banks that are undercapitalized must be dealt with in a manner that brings sanity in the sector. “It shouldn’t be selective action. International banks repatriate profits yet local banks like Crane Bank invest in the country.” Owino stated in an interview.

Christine Alupo, Director Communications at Bank of Uganda issued a statement on Monday saying the financial Sector is Stable, Sound and Resilient. She encouraged the public to continue conducting their banking business without panic.

But news that Cairo owned by Egyptians and United Bank of Africa owned by Nigerians are undercapitalized and face closure contradicts Bank of Uganda message. As long as such rumours continue to emerge the banking sector will face panic and further insecurity.

“Government of Uganda should be supporting local businesses. Bank of Uganda should be even more keen on foreign banks because at the end of the day, if the fail, they will pack up their banks and return wherever they came from and people will have lost their money. Bank of Uganda should go for them too.” Henry Isabirye, an economics tutor, said.

The Ugandan economy has been not faring well and to many pundits the strife affecting the banking sector doesn’t come as a surprise. High cost of credit has kept away borrowers. Those who borrowed are failing to pay back the loans. People don’t have money to save with banks. You cannot also rule out the impact caused by mobile money. People now prefer to save on their phones than go to the banking halls.

Destination of The Week: Jazz It Up On Ssese Island

Ugandans love having a good time, it is quite evident when you see a new festival sprouting up every weekend or so, the best part about most of these recent events is the ability of the organisers to make them more destination based hence more appealing to the revelers. Fusing travel together with music is a brilliant idea that most events managers are starting to sell as a concept to a certain demographic of Ugandans, the young working class who are hungry for new experiences.

There is something freeing about enjoying music whilst frolicing with nature far away from the hustle and bustle that you have been experiencing everyday. There is a feeling of freedom and even better meeting new people in celebration of a good weekend.

The newest of these festivals is called “Jazz on The Island” that promises to give revelers a great music from some of the most talented instrumentalists the country has to offer.

We have always organised leisure trips to the island but without any major concept attached to them. This time round the major question was why would I want to go to the island and what kind of crowd am I targeting and that's why I came up with jazz on the island, despite jazz being a major favorite genre of music,” says Agaba Noel, one of the organisers.

The event slated to happen on the Ssese Islands at the Ssese Habitat Resort, one of the properties available for booking on Jumia Travel; is expected to attract a huge number of jazz and travel enthusiasts who are willing to part with 300,000 UGX for a weekend of fun.

The Ssese islands are a collection of islands on the Lake Victoria that have become some of the best vacation destinations for Ugandans and tourists. The islands have different accommodation choices for visitors ranging from Banda lodges, Dorms, B&Bs and actual hotels with good facilities that can give you a relaxing weekend of unwinding.

Accessing the islands is not difficult since you can get a boat or ferry from different locations; starting from Ggaba, Mukono, Luzira, Masaka and Entebbe which can cost you approximately 14, 000 UGX  per person for a one way trip depending on where you are picked up from.

Jazz is a great genre of choice and with it being more laid back with the fact that it is even better done live makes it more appealing to those who are going to listen it has a very relaxing feel to it. The genre displays great skill and talent and this can be seen through the artists that were selected to entertain the travelers.

The organisers plan on holding this event after every 3 months to target a crowd filled with music lovers and ardent travelers. The lineup of artists for this edition include; Jazz Freak band, Happy K, Michael Kitanda, Allan Toniks and Jackie Akello. These are artists whose immense talent shines through with every performance they give and because people can easily relate with some of their music, it makes it to perform because they are blessed with great talent and have music that our guests will enjoy and relate with. One would wonder how Toniks an artist most Ugandans have not heard from in awhile fits into a Jazz event, but it's an irrefutable fact that his vocal maturity and talent with the guitar places him above some of his peers.

Noel Agaba further states that: “Our major aim is to appreciate and promote live jazz music across africa, promote tourism and fun.
On Friday the 4th of  November, the buses will depart from the National Theatre and head to Entebbe to board a ferry that will take the travelers straight to the island. Aboard the ferry, the travelers will be provided with a fully stocked bar with entertainment and a BBQ on the house. On arrival all Guests will be checked into their rooms at the Ssese Habitat Resort as dinner will be ready to be served and enjoy music from DJs later on in the night.

The rest of the days are planned for excitement and fun for all the guests with activities such as: beach games, bike riding, boat cruises, nature walks, quad bikes will be available, board games to mention but a few. All this including transportation, food, entertainment and accommodation all fall under a meager price of 300, 000 UGX for singles and 550, 000 UGX for couples.

For inquiries visit: Jazz On The Island



Climate Change: Uganda’s Journey To Marrakech

Last year by now, the Climate Change Department (CCD) at the Ministry of Water and Environment was busy finalizing the preparation of INDCs, a document that promised out how we are going to contribute in the fight against climate change,paving way for our attendance and participation in the landmark Paris climate Agreement COP21.

COP22, a ministerial meeting of discussions on means of implementation of the Paris Agreement before and after 2020 is yet again set forNovember 7 to 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. According to minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, speaking during a two day ministerial opening conference, said one of the pillars of the plan is to encourage Parties to implement and strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

Uganda is one party currently taking a road that doesn’t reflect its INDC where the country pledges to cut “22 percent of national green-house gas emissions by 2030 compared to business-as-usual”. Easy said than done as they say.

We are right now digging up more oil wells despite the Global Climate call to keep fossil fuels in the ground—to curb carbon pollutants that warm our planet.

Crude oil reserves estimated by government geologists at 3.5 billion barrels were discovered in the Albertine rift basin along Uganda's border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) way back in 2006.

But immediately after Paris meeting (Feb 2015), Uganda contracted three dirty energy companies; Nigerian firms WalterSmithPetroman Oil Limited, Oranto Petroleum International, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources and Australia's Armour Energy Limited rather than focusing pursuing its “paltry” renewable programs—paltry in comparison to the expenses and attention given to dirty energy investments.

So, as Mezouar congratulates the international community for the recent major successes achieved in fighting climate change which include triggering the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the ICAO agreement to curb CO2 emissions from the international aviation sector and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in Malaysia, he should have commiserated parties whose strides towards cutting carbon dioxide emissions are inconspicuous as Uganda. But he didn’t. Instead, he said:

“COP22 offers us all a new hope to refocus on the targets we envisioned during COP21 Paris.”

Once again, 195 countries will gather for to streamline actions to save our planet. As the world gears up to reaffirm its commitment, its important Uganda, a country proud of its nickname: The pearl of Africa, opens up its eyes to the climate accelerated disasters such as heat waves, water shortages in its northern region, hunger and starvation amidst other tragedies manifesting a warming planet.

We should also recall what happened duringParis procession. Real world pictures of dwindling snow at Uganda’s “snow-capped” mountain Rwenzori was telecasted live into the conference till it turns out among some of the mind boggling sirens of climate change raising eyebrows of the delegates.

The Ministry of Water and Environment then noted that “we could actually lose the entire snow at the top of the mountain” if globe is not cooled. We, at the Paris climate accord, realised and acknowledged ways of cooling our globe by signing our name against ParisAgreement, an urgent need to keep the global average temperatures below 1.5 degree threshold.

But when the last knell went and we departed, the lure of dirty energy profits darkened and overshadowed our precision with realising rapid transformation in clean energy.

We could make clean energy strides if the current course of developing oil wells as well as gas sector is altered towards lifting clean energy sector from the ground where it’s currently lying at only 3 percent, and work for the over 85 percent of the country still plunged in darkness not only without “reliable, clean energy supply” but without any form of electricity. This hope should be refueled in the forthcoming COP.

One powerful illusion that could deceive Uganda steer away from its targets is the “sugarcoats” of its forecasted oil exploration. According to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a leader famous for his much affection for black gold and gas as audible in his common adage “my oil”, this mineral exploitation “would create hundreds of thousands of jobs within few years, yield the government 80-90% revenues that would be invested back to agriculture and infrastructure”.

But an article titled “Uganda’s oil: pitfalls and environmental loss”, published in New Vision, refutes every “good aspect” of oil exploration amidst call to end carbon pollution. The article also revealed hidden realities behind oil and gas discovery, including the $14 billion – 880 miles Uganda – Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline (UTCOP) proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Uganda's oil fields to Tanga, Tanzania, a port on the Indian Ocean.

Yes, we don’t disagree that these facts are expiring world economic strategies for development.We realise fossil fuels area mirage of the worst counter-climate action caliber, and doesn’t only streamline the very carbon emissions we fight but also blocks the road to renewable energy development.

But we cannot sit back and be misled by illusions. If ourrecent agenda wasn’t all powerful enough to be reflected back by the promises we made before and during Paris, Marrakesh must be used as a new platform for catalyzing stimuli, to further stress the importance of implementing the pre-2020 commitments.

Written by: Boaz Opio

ICTAU Sets 2016 Priorities Ahead Of AGM

The ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) today announced its key strategic focus areas for the remaining months of 2016, in the run up to its Annual General Meeting slated for Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

“For the next two months, we shall focus all our efforts on growing our membership base in order to sufficiently represent the views of the Industry on key issues beneficial to the ICT sector in Uganda, in general, and those of particular interest to our members and stakeholders,” said Board Chairperson Albert Mucunguzi.

At an extraordinary meeting on October 18ththe ICTAU members elected an interim Board of Directors charged with the responsibility of steering the Association to the next AGM.

Re-introducing the LAN events

The Association also announced that it is re-introducing the popular monthly events, code-named LAN (adopted from Local Area Network) as a platform for industry stakeholders and enthusiasts to meet for business networking purposes.

The first of these will be held on 10th November 2016 at the Sky Lounge in Kampala, and will be open to Members and non-Members alike. Subsequent LAN events, however, will be restricted to ICTAU members only.

The LAN and other focus areas of the Board are part of the Activity Plan circulated last week to members and stakeholders, shortly after the Board announced office-bearers.

“We have already embarked on aggressive industry engagements, both with the private sector and government, in a bid to immediately tackle issues facing our members and other stakeholders. Key among these is the ICT Professionals Bill, for whichconsultations are currently underway regarding its drafting, and the ICTAU is pleased to be working with government on this,” noted Mr. Mucunguzi.

Other key focus areas announced include:

  1. Strengthening the Association’s Secretariat
  2. Development of the ICTAU Strategic Plan for 2017 and redefining the Association’s role in the industry
  3. Stakeholder engagements (government and private sector)
  4. Consolidating existing initiatives.

The above activities will be in preparation for the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), to be held on January 25th, 2017.

You can participate in these and other Association’s activities by registering through the website, or through ICTAU’s  Social Media pages.

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