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Earthfinds

Post Bank Goes Smart With New Cardless ATMs

By Michael Kanaabi Dollar

In a bid to offer more convenient and up to date services to costumers, state owned  Bank  Post Bank Uganda Limited has introduced smart ATMs that can be used with or without ATM cards as it’s latest innovation.

Some of the value added services customers can take advantage of with these new Smart ATMs include larger deposits of up to 30 million Ugx and cheaper money transfer services across the country.

According to Post Bank Uganda's CEO Julius Kakeeto, the introduction of these Smart ATMs is part of the bank’s medium term strategy to move from the mainly brick and mortar banking to integrate more digital channels into the services they offer their customers.

“ Our newly introduced Smart ATMs will offer greater convenience, save time and cut transaction costs for our customers too as they will be able to bank up to 30 million Ugx through our smart ATMs some thing the old machines didn’t have which will offer convenience mainly for SMEs that close business late and need to bank their cash for safe custody.”  

Getting rid of the long queues in the bank something  we have also been working tirelessly towards since we embarked on this digitisation strategy in 2020. This drive has been boosted with these new full self service Smart ATMs which will ensure more types of transactions and larger transactions sizes can be done at any of our 60 Smart ATMs across the country.

Besides being able to transact using these machines with just your fingers and no need for an ATM card, Customers need not to worry about fraud and crime with in these new smart ATMs and other digital applications of the bank according to Andrew Kabeera the Bank’s Executive Director.

“We have ensured that as management, the bank staff have the type of skills with in our Human resources and the necessary technology too to make sure our customers transactions are safe and fraud can be averted quickly by investing over $4 million dollars in advanced systems to guarantee this” he said.

Presiding over the function as the Chief Guest, State Minister for Finance Honorable Henry Musasizi applauded Post Bank for this new innovation.

“ As government we are looking at mainly two things to uplift our people from poverty. The first one is integrating every one into the monetized economy and secondly ensuring cheap and affordable capital reaches our low income citizens scattered across the country all of which these new Smart ATMs and Post Bank’s digitisation drive will support.”

 As a result we commend post bank for this great innovation and pledge to work with it to ensure the success of our programs as government going forward especially the Parish Development model we are now rolling out country wide he added.

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Banks Need To Forge Solid Partnerships With The Tourism Sector To Boost Recovery

By Michael Kanaabi Dollar

Tourism revenues both domestic and international for Uganda having dropped from a peak of close to 1.9 Billion US Dollars in 2018 to under 200 million US Dollars in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic was a big set back to the local tourism industry.

However, Uganda's banking industry through its lead association the Uganda Bankers Association has this industry and it’s recovery on the top of its agenda as expressed in the 2022 Bankers Conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Tuesday.

Julius Kakeeto the Ugandan Bankers Association Vice Chairman and CEO of Post Bank Uganda called on fellow leading bankers to consider increasing finance to the tourism sector to fast track its recovery after the full opening up of the economy.

He said: “There is need for banks to partner with other financial sector players and private sector tourism players to create and offer the best possible credit and financing solutions to Entrepreneurs and investors in tourism sector so as to unlock its full potential,”

While giving opening remarks for the final day of the annual Uganda Bankers Association Conference 2022, Kakeeto emphasized the need for more synergies and partnerships between the public sector, the banking industry and private players in the tourism industry.

75% of investments in the tourism industry are owned by local entrepreneurs and investors and extending credit lines to them will not only have a net positive effect on their growth but also create a substantial trickle down effect on employees, suppliers and other service providers to the industry.

Financing to the tourism industry according to Kakeeto reached Shs435 billion in 2021 a number that should grow significantly as new opportunities emerge in the sector from it’s full opening up post lockdown.

The tourism industry pulled in over 1.6 billion US dollars to the national economy prior to the lockdowns in 2019 showing the potentially huge returns credit to the sector can generate.

Hon. Daudi Migereko the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chairman while addressing the bankers and other stakeholders reminded all attendees of the 7.7% contribution to GDP contributed by the tourism sector to the local economy before the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Therefore, it is imperative for the bankers to consider extending increased credit on more favorable terms to the sector to help the industry recover and shoot to greater growth levels.

The former Cabinet Minister also applauded Post Bank for extending credit to him and other players in the tourism sector at a time when other banks were still skeptical an example he urged other banks to follow and help grow the sector.

With the World Tourism and Travel Council predicting growth of the tourism sector in Africa to surpass 27.7% for 2022, banks should take the lead with Development finance Institutions and Government lending a hand to grow the sector he added.

Stephen Assimwe the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) Executive Director and former CEO of UTB noted that the tourism sector offers some of the best returns for investors and bankers. It’s only in this industry where you will find a client (tourist) spending given up to $7000 USD in a week while here a good indicator for potential returns in the industry.  

“With tourists spending over 300$ a day per square metre of space on accommodation in top hotels which is much higher than the average rent in the city for say a week, banks should look no further when it comes to which sector to lend” he says.

 Government also needs to heavily increase it’s direct spending on tourism and cut back on industry taxes to have impact especially in international markets and also encourage more investment in the sector as a result.

Email:michaelkanaabi@gmail.com

 

Three Steps For Africa To Combat Climate Change

With hopes for countering global warming pinned on progress at the upcoming COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, a new report from the Africa Finance Corporation, Africa's leading infrastructure solutions provider, sets out the continent's stance by balancing the need for emissions reduction with critical development imperatives.

The report, Roadmap to Africa's COP: A Pragmatic Path to Net Zero is set within a context where Africa has borne the brunt of the most devastating impacts of climate change, while contributing little to global emissions. This low carbon output reflects Africa's crippling energy deficit which has stymied industrialization and economic development. Africa, therefore, needs a realistic agenda for addressing climate change which allows the region to also continue advancing its industrial base.

The report argues that, while cutting emissions is vital for the more developed and highest polluting wealthier nations, there is a more limited universal impact to be gained from reducing the far lower emissions of sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes that African nations will drive a far greater effect in combatting global warming by focusing instead on three significant areas of change.

Localize

According to the report, Africa must focus on developing local industries by putting processing and manufacturing at the centre of sustainable circular economies. Doing so will eliminate emission-spewing shipments of Africa's minerals and other commodities to Asia for manufacturing and processing, only to be shipped again as finished goods to consumer markets.

Achieving this objective requires closing Africa's energy deficit. While renewable sources are the ultimate goal, in the near-term Africa must exploit its abundant reserves of natural gas. Since much of Africa is already at net zero, such development can be achieved without contributing substantially to global carbon emissions, while channeling harmful gas flares from oil fields and reducing the use of more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel and firewood. Resultant job creation and economic growth will enable African nations to invest further in renewable sources.

Especially important is creating local manufacturing of the components of renewable energy technology. It is critical for these metals to be mined in such a way that minimises further pollution and for resource-efficient sustainable mining techniques to be combined with ecosystems fostering local production centres.

Re-build

Africa is the most exposed region to the ravages of global warming largely because its infrastructure is ill equipped to withstand climate shocks. Without intervention, the cost of structural damage caused by natural disasters in Africa will increase to US$415 billion a year by 2030 from between US$250 billion to US$300 billion now, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The continent needs strong and resilient building — to re-build ocean and river defenses, and infrastructure in transport, construction, electricity grids and off-grid energy, which will in turn help the development of sustainable mining and the circular economies that drive growth and job creation, according to the report.

Finnovate

Key to effecting change is ensuring that Africa-based institutions such as the AFC get access to essential climate funds through financial innovation to support resilient building and investment in localised mass-scale manufacturing and processing. Financing is also needed to help preserve Africa's vast carbon sinks, which absorb more carbon dioxide annually than any other region's rainforests but are being depleted by local populations for firewood for cooking and heating.

Working with development finance institutions, governments and institutional investors, AFC's many projects over the course of 15 years demonstrate that it is possible to mobilise financing at scale through crowding in private sector investment. Through leveraging financial input from governments and NGOs, we have the tools to de-risk climate investments and offer strong returns to incentivise funding from institutional investors. These efforts can help ensure that capital flows to the frontlines of the fight against climate change—Africa.

A Clean Future For Africa's Energy

Africa's rapid economic expansion creates a daunting energy challenge, combined with rising expectations of improved resilience and sustainability. Finding a sustainable way to meet growing energy needs is one of the core development challenges for the continent.

Africa is rich in renewable energy sources, including hydro, sun, wind and others, and the time is right for sound planning to ensure the right energy mix. Decisions made today will shape the continent's energy sector for decades.

Endowed with substantial renewable energy resources, Africa can adopt innovative, sustainable technologies and play a leading role in global action to shape a sustainable energy future.

Over the past two decades Africa has been experiencing rapid economic growth and improving social conditions. Supply unreliability is a concern holding back economic development, with most countries facing frequent blackouts and often relying on expensive and polluting solutions.

Clean, indigenous, and affordable renewable energy solutions offer the continent the chance to achieve its economic, social, environmental and climate objectives.

According to the 'Scaling Up Renewable Energy Deployment In Africa' report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Africa could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs from indigenous and clean renewable energy by 2030.

Modern renewables amounting to 310 GW could provide half the continent's total electricity generation capacity. This corresponds to a sevenfold increase from the capacity currently available, which amounted to 42 GW.

A transformation of this scale in Africa's energy sector would require average annual investment of $70 billion US dollars to 2030, resulting in carbon-dioxide emissions reductions of up to 310 megatonnes per annum.

West Africa growth supported by World Bank

In West Africa the new Regional Electricity Access and Battery-Energy Storage Technologies (BEST) Project, supported with $465 million from the World Bank Group, will increase grid connections in fragile areas of the Sahel, build the capacity of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), and strengthen the West Africa Power Pool's (WAPP) network operation with battery-energy storage technologies infrastructure.

This is a pioneering move that makes way for increased renewable energy generation, transmission, and investment across the region.

"West Africa is on the cusp of a regional power market that promises significant development benefits and potential for private sector participation," Charles Cormier, practice manager in the Energy Global Practice at the World Bank, says.

"Bringing electricity to more households and businesses, improving reliability, and harnessing the region's substantial renewable energy resources—day or night—will help accelerate West Africa's economic and social transformation."

Over the past decade, the World Bank has financed close to $2.3 billion of investments in infrastructure and reforms in support of WAPP, considered the key to achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 in the 15 ECOWAS countries. This new project builds on progress and will finance civil works to accelerate access in Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.

In Mauritania, rural electrification will be expanded through grid densification of existing substations, which will enable the electrification of Boghe, Kaedi and Selibaby, and neighboring villages along the Southern border with Senegal.

Communities in Niger's River and Central East regions that live near Niger-Nigeria interconnector will also gain grid access, as will communities around substations in Senegal's Casamance area. Connection charges will be partially subsidised, which will help keep costs down for the estimated one million people expected to benefit.

In Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, and eventually Mali, the project will finance BEST equipment to improve the stability of the regional electricity network by increasing the energy reserve in these countries and facilitating integration of variable renewable energy.

Battery-energy storage technologies will enable WAPP operators to store renewable energy generated at non-peak hours and dispatch it during peak demand, instead of relying on more carbon-intensive generation technology when the demand is high, the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing.

It is expected that BEST will further spur private sector participation in the region by supporting the market for renewable energy, as the battery-energy storage capacity installed under this project will be able to accommodate the 793 MW of new solar power capacity that WAPP plans to develop in the three countries.

"These ambitious results will be achieved through a regional approach," Deborah Wetzel, World Bank director of regional integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, adds.  "By working together, these countries can optimise investments and economies of scale, harmonise equipment and standards, and synchronise systems to deliver the transformative power of electricity to more people and usher in a new era of low-carbon energy trade."

Power to Ethiopia

Last year the World Bank approved a $500 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to support Ethiopia's goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2025.

Over the past decade, the Government of Ethiopia has made encouraging progress on its electrification program and expanded the grid network coverage to nearly 60 per cent of towns and villages.

Despite this progress, Ethiopia has the third largest energy access deficit in Sub-Saharan Africa with more than half the population still without access to reliable electricity, especially in deep-rural areas which are dependent on biomass and kerosene.

The electricity deficit in Ethiopia continues to exacerbate the poverty situation, preventing far too many people from fulfilling their basic socio-economic needs and limiting access to opportunity.

The Access to Distributed Electricity and Lighting in Ethiopia (ADELE) Project is an important component of Ethiopia's National Electrification Program (NEP), which aims to strategically change direction from infrastructure development to the delivery of adequate, reliable, and affordable electricity services.

"With a goal of providing electricity services for nearly 5 million people, 11,500 enterprises and 1,400 health and education facilities, the project represents the World Bank's continued support to the Government of Ethiopia's NEP and is aligned with our commitment to support Ethiopia's resilient recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic.

It is also an important step towards improving service delivery and addressing drivers of fragility and conflict" Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Ethiopia, explains.

An important feature of ADELE will be the deployment of innovative solutions such as decentralised renewable energy technologies, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) mini-grids and individual solar system for both household and productive use, deployed through a combined approach of public and private delivery modalities that further enhance affordability and inclusion.

The project also has a strong focus on closing the gender gap in the energy sector and increasing the percentage of women participating in the mini-grid sector and off-grid technology value chain.

Supporting a renewable future for Africa

Renewables provide the chance for Africa to leapfrog to a sustainable, prosperous future. Increasing access to reliable, affordable, and clean energy resources is a key priority, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Around 600 million people in Africa still have no access to power, representing 48 per cent of the continent's population of nearly 1.2 billion. Accelerated deployment of renewables creates jobs and brings health benefits.

The renewable energy sector today employs 10.3 million people worldwide. With far-sighted industrial policies and targeted skills development, millions of new jobs can be created in Africa. Doubling the share of renewables by 2030 would create additional economic value by increasing global gross domestic product by up to 1.1 per cent.

This would signify a 3.7 per cent improvement in global welfare and jobs for over 24 million people in the renewable energy sector. This would enable further economic benefits such as improved healthcare services, especially in the most remote areas.

 

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