Smarter Cities For Better Life

The 31st of October is celebrated as World Cities Day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the trends and consequences of increasing urbanization and the challenges and opportunities urbanization brings to sustainable development. It is also a chance to promote best practices, new ideas and partnerships between cities and different stakeholders.

According to a report released by UN in May, today 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050, with 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa. An earlier report by the organization also projected that Africa and Asia together will account for 86 per cent of growth in the world’s urban population over the next 4 decades.

As the human population gradually shifts from rural to urban areas, this unprecedented increase has already posed new challenges in terms of jobs, housing, and transportation. Cities are finding it increasingly complex to effectively manage the city and provide good services to citizens at the same time.

With the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), the “Smart City” concept is emerging as a critical phenomenon in urban development. Using various ICT or innovative solutions, the Smart City integrates the city's constituent systems and services to enhance the efficiency of resource allocation and utilization, optimize urban management and services, and improve the quality of life of citizens. 

Smart cities can be likened to a living organism with a “nervous system” (the network and sensors), connecting its “brain” (the control center) with “limbs and organs” (departments and institutions), enhancing the city's management and services. In this process, ICT solutions can play a critical role in connecting the digital and physical worlds across city administration, public services, and industries. Using new ICT including cloud computing, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), these solutions drive unified coordination, cross-sector collaboration, and intelligent analysis for effective management of city services.

In some parts of Africa, due to low fertility of African soils, before planting corns, beans or cassavas, people usually need to fertilize the soil. Similarly, if we want to see more applications that make cities smarter, we need to lay the foundation for them to “grow”. Huawei believes that connectivity brought by ICT infrastructure including mobile networks and fiber is the “soil”, which provides the fertile ground for important value-adding “crops”, which in this case are applications and services including Public Safety, E-government, E-education, E-health, E-agriculture and so on.

We must keep enhancing the ICT infrastructure so that ICT services and applications can be more available, accessible and affordable to every ordinary citizen, and that these applications can enable the improvement of livelihoods, ease of doing business, and increase productivity.

How can we make cities smarter to better meet the needs of their growing urban populations for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure, as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care?

First, the construction of smart cities is a giant system that interacts across systems and is a “system of systems”. It requires coordination across departments through the overall strategy and design, including setting goals, priorities, and implementation paths. This is essential rather than optional to ensure the system is designed in ways that are user-friendly, with appropriate technologies, and can be maintained, integrated with other systems and upgraded over time to be sustainable.

Second, taking a two-step approach starting with Public Safety and then moving to other aspects of the Smart City. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security together with food and water are basic needs for all human beings. For a country and its cells, “Cities”, there is also Maslow-like hierarchy of digital needs. Ensuring security is a basic requirement for a country or a city. It lays a solid foundation for a competitive nation and a dynamic city.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities, the theme for World Cities Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to rethink how cities may become better places to protect and enhance people’s lives, leaving no one behind. By making cites safer and smarter, ICT actually increases cities’ attractiveness. A report launched recently by UN Habitat (‘The State of African Cities 2018: The geography of African Investment’) indicates that ICT and investment in African cities correlated to each other closely. The report highlights that improving ICT infrastructure is critical to attracting FDI, whilst the ICT industry itself is also a crucial sector for FDI, since it offers the highest growth rates and highest number of direct jobs along with manufacturing, and that the two are closely linked.

A lesson from the development of China, a country that fast forward 40 years and has become the world's second largest economy from one of the poorest, is that problems can be solved in the process of development. With the help of technologies and innovations, we can solve common problems facing cities such as traffic congestion, high unemployment, crime, and environmental degradation by making cities safer and smarter.

Address DRC- Uganda Boarder Conflicts Before They Escalate To Anarchy

"We are living in fear, our families back in Uganda don't know if we are alive or dead; when we were arrested, some of our colleagues tried to run away and were killed and us who survived have not made any contact with our families; we have been detained for more than two month and not taken to any court."  Narrates the three Ugandan fishermen, Mr. Wambale Brian 31 years, Musah George 68 and Patrick ... 42 who were arrested by the Congolese soldiers in July 2018. 

This revelation was given to me during my recent visit to the province of North Kivu in Goma DRC where I was invited to participate in a cross broader meeting under the Great Lakes Coalition for the Conservation of Natural Resources (GLCCNR) ( a loose coalition of CSOs from Uganda, Rwanda and DRC).  From the meeting, I was given a rare opportunity to visit them in one of the military barracks where they are being detained waiting to be transferred to Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. 

The three fishermen insist they were fishing on the Uganda waters but the Congolese soldiers rounded them up and arrested them while those who tried to ran away, were shot dead. They have not did not get the opportunity to bury their friends instead they are being locked in a military barracks in Congo leaving their families in agony of their whereabouts.   

The unfortunate incident happened in July 2018, when the Ugandan soldiers and that of the DRC engaged in fatal fights around Lake Edward, which saw over 37 Ugandans and Congolese nationals die or go missing. Among those who survived are Mr. Wambale Brian, Musa George and Patrick (I didn't get his second name clearly) but have little or no hope if they will ever come back home, Uganda. 

It is very unfortunate that the fishing conflict around Lake Edward, which runs along the border between southwestern Uganda and northeastern DRC, has continued to raise tensions over the years with each accusing the other of illegally fishing in their waters. These conflicts stands to betray the good neighborly relations between the two countries, which share several natural resources including Lake Albert, Lake Edward, the greater Virunga National Park, Queen Elizabeth national park among others. 

The DRC and Uganda governments have diplomatic relations and agreements governing the use and conservation of transboundary natural resources which include the Ngordoto agreement of 2007 on Bilateral relations, the 1986 Agreement on establishing a joint permanent cooperation, the 1990 agreement of cooperation for the explorations of hydrocarbons and exploitation of common fields and the Luanda the Luanda agreement on cooperation and normalization of relations 2002. 

All these agreement signed by both counties provide basis for the diplomatic relations to manage  solve the conflict on the boarder but they are not following. In fact, both countries are party to the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region under the frameworks of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). This pact, which binds both Uganda and the DRC to promote peace and development, which should be used to promote peace is being ignored by both governments, resulting in the death, arrests and detention of several nationals. 

The fact that both Uganda and the DRC are signatory to the above pact makes it incumbent upon them to use non-violence means in resolving conflicts and disputes, undertake mutual defense where necessary as opposed to fighting each other, fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and not fight fishing communities and engage in judicial cooperation among others. 

Instead of finding amicable solutions to the challenges, the two neighboring countries have continued to have tense relationship at certain points in time the Congolese have accused Ugandan forces of encroaching on their territory, while Ugandan authorities have complained that the DRC does not do enough to fight militia activity near the border. These conflicts could escalate further and affect negatively on the ongoing oil developments in the region. 

These continuous conflicts could negatively impact on the Uganda's oil industry where government and oil companies are in the advanced stages of commencing oil production where a number of key oil infrastructure is being put in place including the Tilenga project located at the tail end of lake albert just about nearly 15 km to DRC. In addition, the planned crude oil pipeline, feeder pipelines, central processing facilities. These facilities will be located around or near the border with the DRC, which has had a bitter relationship on the shared resources. 

Therefore, the government of Uganda and DRC should honor the signed agreement and speed up the full implementation and compliance to protect the communities and developments along the border for the peaceful coexistence of the two countries. 

The two government take all the necessary efforts to demarcate the boarder and or harmonize the fishing laws used at the shared water bodies ensure that the fishermen who use the lake as a primary source of livelihoods understand and implement them. This will prevent future conflicts and arrests undermining the security of these countries.     

Finally, the two governments must use their diplomatic relations and unconditionally release the fishermen who have been arrested in specific countries so to release tension and have them united with their families. 

Samuel Okulony 

Programmes and research Coordinator 

Africa Institute for Energy Governance 

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Oil Is Here, So Is Climate Change: What Do We Do About Them? 

By Michael Businge

Peter Ekai Lokoel, Deputy Governor Turkana in September 2014 said, “Climate Change is here with us. We cannot stop it. The only way is to see how to work around it.”

Over the past century, the average annual temperature on earth has increased, the oceans have warmed, snow and ice caps have diminished, and the sea levels have risen. Although evidence of climate change, and its causes, has been debated for more than two decades, there is now scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is mainly due to human activity.

Climate change is being felt in countries throughout the world, from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Maldives, to temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, to countries in the tropics, including my own country, Uganda.

Climate scientists have attributed both the increasing frequency of specific extreme weather events (such as drought, flooding and heat shocks) and the slow but steady change in long term features of the environment (such as receding glaciers) to rising temperature caused predominantly by anthropogenic (i.e. human) sources. They predict that these, and other, observed climate changes will become more severe in coming years.

These changes in the climate are imposing an increasing burden on governments, especially in countries with limited resources, in their efforts to protect vulnerable populations. Changing precipitation patterns such as drought, and shorter but intense rainfall, can have negative direct impacts on health and contribute to desertification, flooding, low food production, food insecurity, migration and increased conflict, water scarcity.

Most of this is happening in Uganda. In 2016, storms that hit the western District of Buliisa left over 20 people dead and more than 50 missing. Property was destroyed and children resorted to studying under trees since class room blocks were destroyed due to the storm.

Indigenous populations, poor and socially marginalized individuals, women and people with disabilities are often most affected. Hoima District is no different from her neighbor, Buliisa. The crop yield, unbearable hot and conditions have been experienced over time, water levels in some areas has gone down, and animals have starved to death in some areas around Lake Albert basin. Climate change is posing particular risks to the rights to life, food, access to clean water, and health to vulnerable communities. 

It is now 10 years since commercial oil deposits were discovered in Uganda. One thing to note is that Hoima and Buliisa host oil wells. In fact, Buliisa District alone has got over 60 oil wells which were discovered near and around settlements, national park and in the game reserve but also along the shores of Lake Albert. These are ecologically sensitive areas with all unique species of flora and fauna.

It is a fact that oil activities impact nature, people and climate. Oil activities disrupt important ecosystems, endanger species of fauna and flora and degrade the quality of environment in some dimension. These range from aesthetic considerations to the massive toxic wastes generated through process water, drilling mud, and a myriad of other chemicals in the industry.

We are right now at a development phase where currently Uganda is undergoing significant developments in the exploitation of the oil resource. The transition of the country’s oil and gas sector from exploration and appraisal phase to the development phase means that Government and the Oil companies are in the process of putting in place infrastructure to enable production of the discovered oil resource. 

Major infrastructural developments such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, the Central Processing Facilities in Tilenga and Kingfisher, the Kabaale International Airport, feeder pipelines, critical oil roads and other sector related developments have posed changes in community set ups, raised some red flags in some areas and possible ecological footprint.

How then do we balance development, nature conservation or adopt and maybe mitigate climate change? How do we safeguard forests, fresh water bodies from destruction, maintain soil quality in areas where there is oil activities?

Countries with tropical or subtropical climates, including Uganda are projected to experience the effects of climate change most intensely, and low income countries are least able to prevent and prepare for the impact of climate change.

It has also been noted that 80% of Uganda’s population depends primarily on biomass to meet their household energy needs, and this has led to massive destruction of the forest  cover thus leading to occurrence of hazardous air pollutants in the atmosphere due to absence of forest cover which acts as carbon sinks. 

Indigenous people in Buliisa and Hoima who traditionally rely on natural sources for food, shelter and livelihood lack better infrastructure such as good roads, health centres and in cases of an eventuality, it makes it difficult to reach health centres in time for first aid or any kind of treatment. This creates a risk on people’s health yet the country’s health care system is already strained!

What then can we do? As Ugandans, we need to recognize that the changes in climate will likely impede the country’s ability to realize sustainable development. 

  • Local Governments should be empowered to mobilize, sensitize and support communities to participate in the planning and agreeing on the best climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  • We therefore need to build the capacity of local people to mitigate and adopt to climate change, a phenomenon that is with us!
  • Communities also need to come out and selfishly denounce activities that put environmental integrity to disrepute and then proactively engage in environmental conservation practices and management.
  • Implement laws, policies and regulations on regarding environment management. The environmental monitoring plans on Oil, Gas need the participation of the local people since they are interact with the environment in their areas on a day to day basis.
  • There is need to assess the impact so far caused by climate change and identify individuals and communities that are most vulnerable, and then taking steps to reduce on the vulnerability.
  • For development projects, environmental standards should be followed during project implementation.
  • Government needs to do more to monitor oil activities, design strategies and incorporate these strategies in order to reduce ecological footprint.
  • Government needs to ensure meaningful participation and put out relevant information about climate change so as informed decisions can be taken on climate change from the local to the national levels.
  • Local Governments at District levels need to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation plans which are in accordance to the national Adaptation plans. And partnerships at the District and national levels needs to be enhanced for possible collaboration and funding on mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.
  • We need to improve on water harvesting capacity, efficient and sustainable use of water resources, practice good soil and water conservation strategies especially for the farmers.
  • Embark on massive indigenous tree planting.

Environment is life! There is no more time left, we need to act together now to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change but also harness the oil resource for sustainable development of our communities. 

The writer is a coordinator of a CSO Network in Bunyoro working on issues of Petroleum and Environment

 

OIL ECONOMY: How Can Uganda Benefit From Its Forth Coming Oil Boom?

By Magara Siragi Luyima 

After the initial exploration of oil and gas that ended in 2014, with a confirmed commercial discovery estimated at 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are recoverable,Ugandan government has embarked on the development phase and has finalized plans to invest $800m (about UGX2.9 trillion) in the 1,445 kilometres long East African Crude oil pipeline (EACOP) and refinery projects which will guarantee realization of first oil in 2020 at the earliest after their completion.

According to the New Vision newspaper dated Monday 27, 2017 ,page 3, the government of Uganda plans to invest $500m into the refinery project (40% share) and $300m in the EACOP (15% share). The main funders of the projects will be the international oil companies such as Total and CNOOC as well Tanzania government. All these activities are a pre-cursor to oil production likely to start in 2020-2021.

Significant amounts of revenues and taxes are generated at all stages of the petroleum value-chain and these include signature bonuses, royalties, exploration fees, development fees, rents, fees on permits, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on transfer of interests and assets, government’s profit share on production, and revenues and taxes at the refining, gas processing and conversion, transportation and storage of petroleum and its associated products, bi-products and wastes.

Additional taxes to these revenue streams include income tax, With Holding Tax (WHT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax (VAT), Import Duty, Stamp Duty, Service Tax, among others. It is thus anticipated that Uganda will generate about US$3-3.5 billion annually at peak production (2029-2045) and research has indicated that Uganda’s GDP will have doubled by 2025. Indeed, World Bank estimates that oil production could increase total government revenue from the current 13% of GDP to about 18% on average for more than 20 years.

However, with doubling of the size of the economy (GDP growth rate average of 10% from the current 4%) which may not be backed by equally competent citizenry to support the economy through proportionate innovation and invention, engagement in reasonable productive activities, Uganda may not reap big from its oil sector. This is because failure to match production with the size of GDP may cause distortionary effects on the economy including hyperinflation which may hinder investments as well as further economic growth. 

In addition, such situation is indeed ripe to cause a boom-bust economy as it occurred to Nauru Islands which had a per capita income of $40,000 in 1980 at the start of mineral production and reduced significantly to $2000 in the year 2000 after depletion of the resource.

According to the oil and Gas policy of 2008, oil revenue will be used for infrastructure development and not recurrent expenditure. Whereas this is a good move, there is need to consider the fact that Ugandans are equally an important resource who must have the capacity to put to use the entire infrastructure put up by the government using proceeds from oil.

For instance it doesn't make better sense for so many roads connecting different villages to be tarmacked if the residents cannot afford cars to drive on such roads. Relatedly, extending hydro electricity to all villages is a wise move however connecting such power in grass houses is not only risky but defeats the analogy of modernization as orchestrated by NRM government from time to time.

It therefore important to put human resource development at the forefront such that Ugandan citizens are better positioned to fit in the oil economy boom when production commences and henceforth avoid the ‘resource curse’ that has eluded many African countries such as DRC, Equatorial Guinea,and Angola among others..

The fact that oil and gas are non-renewable and finite resources Uganda needs to ensure that oil and gas resources are managed efficiently and managing them in a manner that will create lasting benefits to society.Thus there is a need for deliberate plan for the emergency of new industries, such as chemicals, fertilizers, cement etc.  These industries are new to Ugandans therefore government needs to render a hand in building the capacity of Ugandans to take up such subsidiary industries which will support the economy.

There is also need to address key bottlenecks to sector growth in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism through investing oil proceeds in infrastructure, better healthcare and quality education to develop the human capital with adequate and employable skills suitable for the oil economy.

There is strong need to build strong transparent accountability systems and a conducive environment for private sector development so that natural resource rents are invested to create other forms of capital.

In conclusion, failure to address the human resource challenges, oil revenue management transparency and accountability gaps, it will be impossible for Uganda to eliminate the ‘resource curse’ and there will be a high likelihood that oil revenues will not be used properly and/or will not impact positively on the lives of ordinary Ugandans.

The writer is the Chairperson, Oil Revenue Tracking and Management Thematic Group, Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas in Uganda (CSCO). He is an Economist and Lecturer of Economics at IUIU.

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Oil And Gas Activities Call For More Environmental Protection

By Sandra Atusinguza

Recently Uganda joined the world to celebrate the Environment day in Mbale district under the theme “Beat plastic pollution” with focus on alternatives to avoidable single use of polythene bags known as ‘Buvera’ which has become a menace to the environment .

This is a great milestone to environmental conservation once achieved, the rate at which our environment is polluted is very high with increased industrialization and poor waste disposal of garbage and plastics which end up in water channels, trenches, wet lands as they have currently been known as “waste lands” in most towns country wide among other factors. This calls for countrywide mass sensitizations on usage and disposal. There have been efforts to ban plastic bag use or recycle it for the past 4years but it has not been fully achieved to date hence environment at stake.

Previous reports also indicate poor waste management and disposal of oil and gas waste in the Albertine graben where at Ngara1 site which was managed by Tullow oil, the solid waste was heaped on the ground and covered with black polythene material while the liquid waste was kept in large pits lined on the sides with black polythene, some other pits were covered with iron sheets, and other open hence raising fears of possible air pollution a potential health risks to residents.

Communities especially in Buliisa district have also expressed fears of the oil and gas hazardous waste could damage the environment in case of spills along the way as it is transported to the dumping and waste management sites. In 2009, Heritage Oil illegally buried truckloads of oil waste in Nwoya county, in the then Amuru district, little did the country know that it was the beginning of a bigger ‘oil waste management crisis’. Five years later, the oil frontline districts of Buliisa and Nwoya continue to witness other incidents of oil waste dumping.

To add on that, with the current production phase with many development infrastructures set like the oil pipelines, C.P.F, critical oil roads among other developments, areas where oil and gas activities are taking places could be affected by climate change due to emissions from waste causing soil and air pollution thus lowering the quality of air, acidic rains due to the presence of carbon monoxide, nitric oxide and sulfur oxide which pollute

Despite governments’ effort through NEMA to authorizing petroleum waste management firms like Enviro serve, White Nile and Luwero industries and enacting environmental and bio diversity tools like Albertine graben environmental sensitive atlas, Environmental monitoring plan for the Albertine graben, among other actions several laws must be strict enough on waste management and pollution with incentives and penalties based on enforcement of legislation, polices to discourage bad practices on environment in the oil and gas sector. More community awareness and sensitizations efforts need on oil and environment so as to enable them hold duty bearers and key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry accountable.

Atusinguza Sandra - AFIEGO –FIELD OFFICER

 

Why You Should Choose Health, Not Tobacco

By Dr. Anne Muli, Ph.D

Victoria University Kampala

 

On 31st May, a 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe is encouraged as the world observes World No Tobacco Day. The day is intended to highlight the negative health risks associated with tobacco use.

The 2018 theme “Tobacco Breaks Hearts” is to raise awareness to the public on the impact tobacco has on cardiovascular (heart) health. Knowledge among large sections of the public of the impact of tobacco use on heart health is low thus the focus of this year’s theme.

Globally, tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke exposure is one of the leading contributors to heart disease and contributes to approximately 12% of all heart disease deaths. Unknown to many, heart disease kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide and the intention of this year’s theme is to bring to attention that smoking tobacco and exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to heart disease.

Tobacco smoke possesses high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide affects the heart by reducing the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry. This means that the heart, lungs, brain, and other vital organs do not always receive enough oxygen to perform everyday functions. At the same time, nicotine causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Over time, this causes extraordinary "wear and tear" on the cardiovascular system. People who use tobacco are more likely to have heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, hemorrhages, aneurysms, and other disorders of the cardiovascular system.Smoking actually triples the risk of dying from heart disease.

Cigarette smoking is a major cause of stroke by increasing clotting factors in the blood, decreasing HDL cholesterol levels, increasing triglyceride levels, and damaging the lining of blood vessels. The risk for stroke increases as the number of cigarettes smoked increases.

What about second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke represents a more formidable problem than many people realize. Second-hand smoke is a combination of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers.

There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. In fact, long-term exposure to second-hand smoke has been shown to cause a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease in non-smokers. It is estimated that 37,000 heart disease deaths per year are caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.

Exposure to second-hand smoke also negatively affects cardiovascular health by decreasing exercise endurance, damaging blood vessel walls, and increasing the tendency of blood platelets to clot, contributing to heart attacks. Furthermore, nonsmokers’ bodies tend to react more dramatically to tobacco exposure than do smokers’ bodies, so lower levels of smoke can cause adverse effects.

Situation in Uganda

In 2007 Uganda became a party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first international public health treaty adopted under the auspices of WHO.

Its intention is to reduce the growth and spread of the global tobacco epidemic and protection of the public from exposure to tobacco smoke through actions such as tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption; comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising sponsorship and promotion; prominent health warnings on tobacco packaging; smoke-free work and public spaces and measures to reduce the smuggling of tobacco products.

Additionally, Uganda has a strong Tobacco Control Act passed in 2015. The act includes a comprehensive ban on smoking in all public areas and all forms of tobacco advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship. However despite the policies in place, tobacco smoking in Uganda is still rife. It is estimated that about 1 in every 10 Ugandans use tobacco products daily.

Therefore we have a large population at risk of heart disease and other diseases due to smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. This year’s World No Tobacco day theme is very timely. Let us all join hands to choose health, not tobacco.

Dr. Anne Muli (Ph.D.) is a Public Health Practitioner and Lecturer at Victoria University.

Oil Activities In Virunga Will Affect Uganda

by Edwin Mumbere

Recently the Democratic Republic of Congo said that is planning to redraw the boundaries of Virunga National park ,Virunga is the most bio-diverse National Park in Africa, home to countless endangered species including a quarter of the last remaining Mountain Gorilla. It is already subject to an unprecedented level of poaching and cannot be put at further risk by allowing oil exploration or extraction from the region.

The area of interest is Lake Edward which provides a livelihood to approximately 30,000 people through fishing, not to mention the tens of thousands who rely on the lake for drinking water and food. This could all be put at risk by allowing oil companies in both Uganda and Congo.

The Virunga national park which is neighboring Queen Elizabeth National, where is movement of animals and birds from one park to another could cause a high spread of diseases since animals that have been affected by oil activities in Congo, could cross and affect the ones in Uganda leaving tourism as the most affected and further more the livelihoods of Ugandans that have been benefiting from this lake could be shattered because of the pollution that could take place on the other side of Lake Edward in Congo.

The forests around the world are the world are disappearing at an alarming rate , we can’t allow the governments of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo to accept oil activities by redrawing the boundaries of this national to create space for oil exploitation and . It will set a global precedent and show UNESCO park boundaries are meaningless and subject to change when money is involved.

As if protection of the region wasn't reason enough, many well respected scientists from around the world are agreeing we cannot continue to use fossil fuels and if we have any chance of stalling climate change oil must be left in the ground.

Edwin Mumbere

Africa Institute for Energy Governance-Kasese Field Office

What Sudhir Told Makerere University School of Law Students

In his maiden address of the annual Makerere Lawyers Annual Dinner, businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia made an incredible mark as the Ruparelia Group chairman told a story of surviving as an entrepreneur in developing economies like Uganda.

The dinner that was hosted Kampala Serena Hotel was used to mark 50 Years of the law school at Makerere under the theme “Bridging the Past with the Contemporary World for a Better Future. Below we reproduce the remarkable speech by Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia.

I was delighted as I am now before you, when I received the invitation to do two things this evening;

  1. To attend this dinner
  2. To give a key note address.

Delighted because sharing experiences with the youth is as delighting as it is rejuvenating. Moreso future lawyers. Thank you for the invitation.

The topic is “the relationship between business and the Law; and the opportunities that will be available for Lawyers in the future.”

In this address the topic is viewed within the School of Law at 50 theme; “BRIDGING THE PAST WITH THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD FOR A BETTER FUTURE

This is too broad and rather complex a topic. Luckily what is requested of me is to speak to you as a businessman and that is who I am- a seasoned entrepreneur who is neither a Lawyer nor an academic.

Being seasoned carries with it a tag of weathering storms and soldiering on a challenging journey and that I have done to the extent that I was deemed worthy of speaking to such an audience at a dinner.

What you put at risk and I will be talking about risk business and law, is your appetite. I hope you will excuse me if my address takes your appetite with it.

My address will be in two segments.

  1. The Relationship between business and the law
  2. The Opportunities that will be available for Lawyers in the future.

But before that, a brief over view of my journey will assist in giving a proper perspective of my experiences and what I have to share with you.

I was born in Katwe Kabanyolo, Kasese. I left Uganda in 1972 for the United Kingdom when Asians were expelled.

In the United Kingdom, I pursued some studies and at the same time worked.

A typical day was a combination of studying and working for up to 16 hours. I was a cab driver in London and had a part time job in the accounts department of a well-established mid-size enterprise.

I returned to Uganda in 1985 on a scouting mission.

In December, 1986 I started business-trading business on Kampala road with a capital of USD 25,000. Like Chairman Mao said a long journey starts with one step.

From the one trading step in December 1986 to date the Ruparelia Group is comprised of 14 Companies in different sectors.

-Real Estate with Meera Investments Ltd as the group’s flagship Company.

-Hospitality under which Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kabira Country Club, Speke Apartments and others fall.

-Education. In this sector we have Kampala International School offering an International Curriculum, Kampala Parents School offering the nation curriculum, Delhi Public International School and Victoria University.

-Insurance- We have Goldstar Insurance Co. Ltd

-Media-We have the oldest private FM broadcasting entity in Uganda, Radio Sanyu.

-Rosebud Ltd- this is a floriculture Company currently exporting 400k roses daily to Europe.

Until recently Crane Bank Ltd was one of the Group Companies. When all court matters are over I will be glad to return and share invaluable unwritten Crane Bank lessons – not what we see in the press.

The group’s human personnel is 7,000 strong. That’s a snapshot of the Ruparelia Group.

As you can imagine, the group deals with many suppliers, many clients, many regulators including Workers Unions, European authorities for the flower exports, etc. The wheels of business to a great extent run on the Law. Should the rule of law malfunction business will follow suit or put in other words the healthy check of businesses is as good as the rule of law prevailing at any one time.

To do all this one needs good professionals, good dependable people and this includes good lawyers.

I will not define who a good Lawyer is but professionalism, reputation, knowledge and agility are key attributes. A good lawyer must constantly be ahead of the curve in the profession

Back to the topic;

  1. The Relationship between business and the Law.

When we talk of business, there is one key pillar of it that is inevitable. That is Capital. One thing we must constantly remember about capital is the now famed phrase; CAPITAL IS A COWARD. This phrase first came in print in October, 1884 in the Jersey Journal.

As you know when threatened, a coward flees and so does capital under threat. It goes where it is safe and stays where it is protected. It flees when threatened and unprotected.

The biggest protector of capital and therefore business is the Law. This sums up the relationship between business and the Law.
The importance of business in economic and human development cannot be over emphasized. The protector of
capital and the entrepreneur that uses capital to create value for society is therefore very linked and very important

This protector of capital called the Law is very crucial from the basic elements such as incorporation of a Company, the concept of limited liability to complex competition and anti-monopoly regulations, labour laws, complex project structures and contracts such as the recently signed agreement relating to the oil refinery in Uganda and now cyber Laws, privacy laws that have seen face book on the spot after the etc.

What then, with this protector does a businessman or rather businessperson to be gender sensitive, takes risk with faith in the protector that is the Law?

The protector above the law is the Almighty.

Risk taking is an attribute of entrepreneurship. That said, risk must always be weighed against rewards and possibilities. What is undisputed is that every business has risk well embedded in it. The Law is the strongest insurance against many risks.

That is why confidence in a functioning and reliable judicial system is key for business. The compliance and regulatory environment is important too. Business thrives when the rule of Law exists. As a businessman you always want that comfort that the law will protect you and you can run to Court or a Regulator should the need arise.

This applies even when it is against the State. As you will appreciate the State is mighty. The Law though is mightier
and in that lies the strength business derives from the Law.

A case in point. In 1994 Meera Investments Ltd, our group’s real estate company obtained a Certificate of Incentives from Uganda Investment Authority. To qualify for incentives there was a monetary investment threshold that one had to attain.

On attaining that threshold Meera Investments Ltd applied and demonstrated that it had 5 properties whose value exceeded the threshold thus the grant of the Certificate of Incentives that gave an exemption from corporation tax, withholding tax and tax on dividends for 5 years.

This enabled Meera Investments Ltd invest more. That indeed is the essence of incentives. To attract more capital and more investments. With more capital and more investments in a country the spin offs are numerous.

In 1999, Uganda Revenue Authority slammed Meera Investments Ltd with a Shs. 36 billion tax assessment claiming that only 5 properties listed for purposes of demonstration of attainment of the threshold were exempt. Meera Investments Ltd on the other hand maintained that a threshold is a minimum qualifying mark and not the ceiling .Therefore all of its properties were exempt.

Meera Investments Ltd run to Court and sued the Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority as well as Uganda Investment Authority.

The case moved from High Court to the Supreme Court on a technicality raised by the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority to the effect that it is only URA that could be sued.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Commissioner General could be sued and referred the case back to High Court. In end the Certificate of Incentives was respected. The Supreme Court decision should be good reading for Law Students.

For Meera Investments to have succeeded against a government agency illustrates the strength business derives from the Law. Perhaps Meera Investment would be no more had the law not offered that protection.

With all challenges that institutions face, the Judiciary in Uganda is still a good place to resort to. I hope the future generation that you represent will make it even better and not worse.

Beyond litigation, the Law, through regulatory tools ensures sanity in a very competitive business environment. Business rivalry can be chaotic. The law is at hand in containing what would otherwise be anarchy in business. The law ensures predictability and provides, appropriate checks and balances.

As you can imagine, the group deals with many suppliers, many clients, many regulators including Workers Unions, European authorities for the flower exports, etc. The wheels of business to a great extent run on the Law.

To do all this one needs good professionals, good people and this includes a good lawyers.

I will not define who a good Lawyer is but professionalism, reputation, knowledge and agility are key attributes. A good lawyer must constantly be ahead of the curve in the profession.

I will now turn to the second and last segment

  1. The Opportunities that will be available for lawyers in the future.

In the Journey I started in Uganda in December 1986, I have seen opportunities in all sectors and professions; the legal profession included.

For opportunities in the future you must be constantly aware of the changes in this digital world. They are more rapid than most of us imagine and that is where your opportunities lie. Innovation is now the center stage of everything and you young lawyers must be innovative.

Major opportunities lie beyond the traditional litigator, the traditional Registrar of Companies, the traditional Judicial Officer. This is a narrow way of looking at the future. Lawyers have an edge in building careers in tech firms, insurance banking, and the internet of things.

To prepare yourselves for the future, business literacy, financial literacy, and communication skills will give you a premium. You have to start challenging yourselves and challenging your curriculum.

Are you getting any training in these aspects?

You need to equip yourselves to be visible in the increasingly challenging world. You must be resilient.

I have built resilience and this has helped me weather many storms. Resilience has many attributes. They include;

  • Emotional intelligence i.e. ability to control one’s feelings, get out of the human weakness of looking at others from your perspective, step outside and look.be able to anticipate. Have a vision.
  • Authenticity- i.e. be true to the values and goals you stand for. Drive the identity that you are even when the going is tough.
  • Agility- i.e the ability to think through situations quickly, transform challenges into opportunities.

Each time we hear of Artificial Intelligence, crypto currencies e.t.c. we tend to imagine they are too remote or rather that we are too remote. This is a big mistake. These times are with us. We must understand them.

The opportunities available for lawyers in the future are enormous but they demand a shift from old school in all ways. Business automation with the modern computing power is already providing accurate answers to legal questions.

Are you preparing yourself? Are you adaptable to new thinking, new tools, and new technology?

That in my view is the outline of the opportunities for lawyers in the future.

As I conclude I will leave you with an article that I read in one of the Harvard Business Review Magazines- It is titled; The case for Plain-Language Contracts.

It is an amazing shift from the legalese of WHERETOFORE, NOTWITHSTANDING, HERETOFORE to plain language. A shift from unnecessarily long contracts. It illustrates the need, even from a language perspective, for a change in how Lawyers go about their business. The change is not only in technology and business environment.

I have a few copies of the Article for you. I hope the organizers will make it available for each of you.

I wish each of you a bright and successful future.

I will end by reminding you that there is no dignity in poverty. The key is in hard and Up-To Date work skill tool yourself to avoid poverty but avoid poverty in dignity.

Thank you.

Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia

What If Wakanda Was Actually Uganda?

By Simon Singiza
Student at Victoria University Kampala


Wakanda forever!!To all those relieving themselves from the blank panther hype. As a huge fan of Chadwick Bozeman and the marvel series.I didn’t expect anything less of the movie. What actually took me by storm was the excitement it caused globally not to mention in Kampala streets with cinemas seats fully booked anywhere you turned .

The last time I saw such hype was the time our Lord Jesus Christ received some serious cains in the release of passion of Christ. If I you haven’t watched it run and buy that movie ticket, or you can choose to be patriotic (be Ugandan, buy Ugandan) and wait for the vj junior version to come out.

There so many aspects that made this movie thrilling starting from the cast of African actors, the authentic fight scenes as well as the concept of a technologically advanced Africa. But the real entertainment for me was the effort made by social media to affiliate the movie based kingdom wakanda to Uganda.

Its all starts when the movie points out that the location of the wakanda kingdom was somewhere around East Africa. Then the Mengo lords casting the first stone swore how that name is actually pronounced as Waganda and not Wakanda.

The basoga too were not going to let anyone steal the glory right and so they rushed to lay claim on one of the two Ugandan actors that were part of the Black Panther cast was of Busoga origin. One could hear them affirm how they even sent Daniel Kayunga the kanzu he wore on during the premier of the Black Panther.

What Ifound more interesting was the pictorial evidence the Bakiga revealed of the similarity of the wakanda geographical scenery to Lake Bunyonyi and the Ruwenzori Mountains as they too tried to own the movie. This got me thinking supposing there was some truth in these arguments, how can Uganda and its tourism benefit from this opportunity.

The music and film industry has played a big role in influencing today’s culture, way of life, and general public opinion about certain topics. This is why the business world will not mind paying millions of dollars just so their products can feature in popular movies.

You imagine how much Mercedes Benz had to pay just so batman could be seen driving a Mercedes in the justice league movie. Or how much American car companies have to pay for their vehicles to feature in movies like the transformers or the fast and furious.

I’m quite sure tourism in Madagascar sky rocketed immediately after the release of the famous cartoon animation Madagascar. Not to mention the benefit Kenya and Tanzania tourism has received courtesy from the classical animation the lion king which not only stressed the beauty of the Kilimanjaro Mountain and national parks but also Swahili language phrases like hakunamatata

If businesses and other countries are benefiting from Hollywood, what would be we are not the only African country that is suffering the effect of bad publicity. after all, one of the reasons the blank panther movie is a hit is because this is among the first few movies that has made an attempt to change people’s mindset about Africa and therefore we should grab this opportunity and use this movie to focus that attention further on Uganda’s tourism before some other country does.

The writer is a BBA student at Victoria University Kampala and Head of Marketing Voyager Hotels.

Address Uganda – DRC $10bn Reparations Case Amicably

Last month, February 2018, the timeframe set by the Internal Court of Justice (ICJ) to receive the outcomes of the negotiations between the Ugandan and DRC governments regarding the $10 billion reparations that Uganda owes the DRC elapsed.

The $10 billion reparations that ICJ awarded to the DRC government was in respect of a dispute concerning acts of armed aggression apparently committed by Uganda on the territory of the DRC in 1998.

The DRC government instituted court proceedings against Uganda at the ICJ in June 1999 and the decision that Uganda pays the DRC $ 10 billion was reached in December 2005.

This is not the first time that Uganda and the DRC have failed to hold successful negotiations within the timeframe set by the ICJ. For record following the court decision and award of reparations in 2005, the ICJ gave the Uganda and DRC an opportunity to discuss how to settle the claims. Unfortunately, 10 years later, the two countries had failed to reach a mutual agreement.

The failure prompted the DRC government in July 2015 to file new application to the ICJ requesting court to order Uganda to pay the reparations. In December 2016, the court awarded both parties (Uganda and the DRC) more time for negotiations and fixed February 2018 for Uganda and DRC to submit the outcome of their negotiations. Once again, the negotiations were unsuccessful.

It should be noted that part of the evidence used by the ICJ to make her ruling in December 2005 was contained in the Justice David Porter Commission report, which report Uganda attached as evidence in court. The report confirmed the looting of DRCs natural resources and implicated some top Ugandan government and military officials.

The report confirmed that indeed Uganda engaged in military and paramilitary activities against the DRC by occupying their territory and actively extending military and committing acts of violence against nationals of the DRC.

In addition to killing, injuring and dispossessing them of their property, and by failing to take adequate measures to prevent violations of human rights in the DRC by persons under its control among others.

As a country, we must understand how we ended up in such a mess and how we can get out of it without turning our country into a failed state. Most of the implicated individuals in the Justice David Porter report are known, wealthy and still working in government.

If Uganda is compelled by court to pay the said reparations, as a country and particularly as citizens, paying these reparations will make Uganda poorer and a possible failed state based on our economy with current (GDP of $25.53 billion, 2016). Moreover, over the years Uganda has accumulated an external debt of over $8 billion (over 33% of the GDP).

In addition, it could damage the intergovernmental relations that the two countries have tried to build over the years. For instance if Uganda is compelled to pay the said monies and as a result, the Ugandan economy collapses, Ugandans would blame the DRC government for their misery.

In the same vein, if Uganda refuses to pay the $10 billion reparations, the government and citizens of the DRC would view Uganda with negativity. Furthermore, economists would urge that since the assessment was done in 2005 over 15 years have elapsed, this would attract interest hence limiting any possibilities of Uganda having the capacity to negotiate and pay them. Moreover, this huge debt will be transferred to the over 40 million citizens including Uganda's innocent and unborn children.

On worse case scenery, it could lead to conflict between Uganda and the DRC with the DRC retaliating against Uganda for looting their natural resources and the extrajudicial killings perpetrated against her citizens.

This could result into loss of life, property and would worsen the refugee crisis in the Great Lakes region. In addition, the potential conflict can destabilise the economies of both countries even further.

Therefore, the Ugandan president should open up the negotiations with the DRC government and consider an out of court settlement with respect to sustainability of both economies.

In addition, the president of Uganda should consider constituting a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of representatives from government, the parliament, the judiciary, religious leaders, civil society, cultural leaders and regional bodies to persuade the DRC government to accept feasible terms on the settlement including reducing the costs.

Finally, the findings of the Justice David Porter Commission report should be acted upon and implicated government and UPDF who engaged in wrongful acts in DRC should be prosecuted and demanded to pay the reparation.

By Samuel Okulony
Programmes and Research Coordinator
Africa Institute for Energy Governance
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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