Parliament Should Not Throw Good Money After Bad Money

The idiom “throwing good money after bad” refers to spending more money on something problematic that one has already spent money on, in the (presumably futile) hopes of fixing it or recouping one’s original investment.

Whereas recapitalizing Bank of Uganda is a strategic and urgent business for parliament, it should also be equally urgent and strategic to quickly implement the COSASE recommendations on restructuring both the management and regulatory regime at the central bank.

The people who are behind the mistakes that led to the need for recapitalization cannot be the same people to manage the recapitalized central bank. That would be the equivalent of throwing good money at bad money!

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. BoU potentially faces up to UGX1trillion in lawsuits as a result of the findings and recommendations of COSASE. Parliament should not put the proverbial cart before the horse. Bank of Uganda needs overhauling first before anything else.

In the Judas story

They are trying to claim that the money central banks wants is to cover the money spent on Crane Bank

Yet the 478b stolen in the name of Crane bank limited has never been accounted for. In fact Auditor General report is clear.

It appears the hyenas at Bank of Uganda want to steal another 484b after stealing 478 in the name of Crane Bank.

They are all thieves trying to fight over the loot.

You can’t just take a request to parliament to give u 484.2b before u account for 478b stolen in the name of Crane Bank capitalization.

This is the right time for MPs to ask the hard questions before authorizing Capitalization of Bank of Uganda.

The MPs on Finance Committee and Parliament must open their eyes to the fact that put license funds must be accounted for.

Totally agree and maybe they need to consider management changes as well

You cannot just pump money in a financial institution that has been investigated and found wanting in terms of accountability/professional standards.

The Cosase report proposed a cleanup among other reforms at Bank of Uganda.

It’s true Bagyenda left Bank of Uganda but she was not the only person who messed up Closed Banks. Many officials who messed up and these are the same people salivating to receive 484b. Let’s get serious for once

Management team used to be highly regarded but have turned into thieves.

SOURCE: Command1Post

Domestic Capital Anchors Property Investment Across Africa

Office yields remained largely stable in most African markets over the past two years, anchored by patient domestic capital as local investors assume a longer-term perspective, a new analysis by Knight Frank shows.

The analysis, published in a new Knight Frank report dubbed Africa Horizons, shows that of the 35 office markets covered, yield remained stable in 16 locations in the two years to 2018 and rose in six, while 13 markets recorded declines. Africa Horizons provides a unique guide to real estate investment opportunities on the continent, examining developments in agriculture, hospitality, healthcare, occupier services (office), capital markets, residential and logistics property sectors.

"By taking a longer-term perspective, and in some cases a lower return profile, local investors have remained more active than headline figures suggest. This explains how yields in most major markets have remained stable in the face of weaker reported transactions," the report states.Just under US$2 billion worth of deals in Africa were publicised in 2018, predominantly involving assets in South Africa. Contrary to the global trend, Africa's recorded transaction activity peaked in 2016, and has since eased. Notably, private capital remains an important driver of investment activity in much of Africa, although ultimately somewhat opaque.

According to the report, healthy economic prospects suggest that Africa will remain a compelling investment destination for those targeting key centres. In addition to the office markets in these locations, the report notes, rising wealth will favour sectors exposed to consumer logistics, and selectively, retail.

"We envisage rising investor demand for those African locations that can demonstrate something of a counter-cyclical nature, combined with rising domestic wealth," the Africa Horizons report concludes.

In 2018, Africa recorded more than 700 separate inward investment projects, half of which originated from corporations domiciled in the US, UK, France, China and Germany. The investment destinations were broad although South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia accounted for over half of the projects, according to the report.

In Nairobi, yields in 2018 stood at 8% for office, 8.5% for logistics property, and 9% for retail. A-grade warehousing around the capital currently commands monthly rents in the upward of US$6 per square metre, almost double that of the predominant stock of older units that lack modern features such as cross-docking and intermodal facilities.

Ben Woodhams, Knight Frank Kenya Managing Director, said: "Yields in each of the market segments align to their risk profiles, with retail being much riskier in Nairobi currently hence the proportionately higher yield."

According to the Africa Horizons report, top residential investment opportunities across the continent include student accommodation (with Zambia, South Africa and Kenya being education hotspots), retirement homes, and middle- income housing as demographics change.
 
In Kenya's logistics sector, formal retailers have emerged as a major driver of growth owing to their increasing need for large centralised warehouses as they gain critical mass countrywide.

Do Not Crush Local People For Oil

By Michael Businge

 Ever since the discovery and exploration of oil and gas in the Albertine region in 2006, both the government and the land speculators have acquired the large chunks of land, where acquisition of land has resulted in limiting or complete stopping of people from accessing and using such land with its associated resources and in some instances, neighborhoods are restricted.

 Oil and gas sector is not only capital intensive but also land intensive. Whereas during compensation, only the immediate land owners are considered, the community members who have been beneficiaries of such land for years are left out despite losing out their rights of land access and usage.

 For instance, the indigenous minority peoples of the Lake Albert region such as; Bakobya of Tonya and Banyabugoma, Bakibiro of Kibiro, Batyabwa of Butiaba and Bagungu of Bugungu; are engaged in fishing, farming, cattle keeping and salt mining and all these depend on nature (land).

 Due to the discovery of oil and gas, the above groups have already felt the negative impact inform of land loss, destruction of spiritual sites, medical plants and other cultural resources among others.

 Environmental Social Impact Assessment reports have been done in some areas where there are oil and gas activities and recently a public hearing on the TILENGA project was conducted where different stakeholders were given a platform to give their take on the project with recommendations.

Yes, this was a good gesture. Therefore, NEMA should consider addressing the issues that came out from the public hearing such as concerns on water abstraction, impact of oil development on fisheries, and the name TILENGA whose meaning is regarded alien to the indigenous community. The ESIAs done must be available and easily accessible to the public upon request.

 WWF in their report titled Safeguarding people and nature in the East Africa Crude Oil pipeline project notes that there is high likelihood of changes in land-use patterns and erosion of cultural heritage as there is going to be change in land use patterns such as agriculture, fishing, logging or hunting as a result of land take or exclusion during the East African Crude Oil Project.

 The same report continues to mention contamination of water, land and other basic livelihood necessities due to oil spills and leakages which contaminate the land. The 1,445 Km long crude oil transportation pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania whose scoping exercise for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was concluded in July 2017 giving a basis for detailed ESIA study, while the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) is ongoing and was expected to be completed in 2018.

 While, these processes are on-going, the plans should cater for local people to access opportunities such as creation of direct and indirect jobs, provision of goods and services, improving access to social services like transportation and health care among others.

 In doing this, potential negative impacts like social matters including land acquisitions, resettlement, compensation, livelihood alterations, and immigration issues, among indigenous communities who are so vulnerable. These impacts can only be reduced if careful consideration in routing and construction design, local participation, upholding of Human and environmental rights is done.

 The fact that Uganda’s oil discoveries are located in a game reserve, National Parks, or even in arable farm lands, grazing areas, as well as near important water bodies like Lake Albert and River Nile raises important questions for environmental and social sustainability.

 ESIAs, preliminary studies have been done and assurances by the Government of Uganda and the various private oil companies operating in the region that the environment will not be seriously compromised.

 However, communities in the Albertine region continue to express fears regarding the potential environmental impacts of oil exploration and development. Why would this be so? In particular, the planned construction of the EACOP, TILENGA project raises major environmental and social concerns to the people of the area with regard to how the new life shall be, if the fisheries shall continue being productive.

 Different Resettlement Action Plans for different development projects including preparation of access roads for the TILENGA project, RAP for the Kingfisher Development Area are being made or have been made to enable the land acquisition process.

 The government and oil companies prepared a framework called Land Acquisition and Resettlement Framework (LARF) to guide the compensation and resettlement process of the Project Affected Persons (PAPs).

 The general objective of the RAP as stated is “to lay down a framework for managing the loss of economic activities and livelihoods.” It is laudable that the RAP especially for the Refinery area recognized women as a vulnerable group who would be limited in their ability to claim or take advantage of the resettlement assistance by decisions of their spouses or caregivers.

 Even so, a closer look at the livelihoods of the women after the RAP was implemented paints a bleak picture. And, if anything at all, the lives of women may have gotten worse than before the resettlement and compensation process was effected. So then, against such a consciously prepared framework, the ultimate question is-what went wrong?

 Uganda’s oil reserves are expected to yield US$2 billion a year for 30 years, according to the country’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Directorate. The Bank of Uganda estimates that the country could save up to US$630 million every year on oil imports once production starts.

 Successful oil exploitation and governance could elevate Uganda to a middle-income country, pulling millions of people out of poverty, including fishermen from the Lake Albert. However, in 2014, International Alert, a peace building charity interviewed people in the region to identify some of the perceived and real conflict risks associated with the oil industry’s impact on fishing across Lake Albert.

 It was noted that the discovery of oil and people’s expectations of gaining from it show an influx of thousands of people into the oil region. This migration is increasing pressures over land and the lake therefore fuelling tension between indigenous communities and newcomers.

 There are also concerns that an increase in population will put a strain on already limited social services, such as education, water and healthcare. Communities fear that the development phase of oil exploration will lead to further migration.

 Some communities already believe that the exploration stage of oil development already led to the dwindling fish stocks-however evidence indicated the contrary. Communities have also expressed significant anxiety about their future and their livelihoods with the coming oil development. How do we align people’s perception to trigger sustainable development?

 A close look at the water bodies in area shows significant depletion of water resources, for instance on Lake Albert, there are too many authorities, yet nothing is being done to save the lake. There are Beach Management Units, law enforcement officers, the fish guards, the UPDF marine unit, and other vigilant groups however, with all these people on the lake, illegal fishing is still going on. Why?

 Insecurity on the lake is rampant partly due to the fact that the porous border between Uganda and DR Congo. The lake never seems to contribute much of the local revenue of the Districts of Hoima, Kikuube or Buliisa. In Buliisa District Political pronouncements, fisheries revenue collection being centrally managed are some of the factors that hindered local revenue yet 2015/16, it was noted that local revenue contribution was at only 4%.

One wonders how the district planning unit is able to handle issues of District Development Plan implementation and therefore deliver service for the oil rich communities. These must be addressed by all stakeholders.

 Therefore, in order to realize a sustainable oil and gas sector in Uganda, involvement and discussions with indigenous communities in the oil region have to be undertaken.

 The writer is a Coordinator for Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO), a Bunyoro Based CSO Network working on issues of Land, Petroleum Governance, Environment and Livelihoods.

Great, South Africa Found Gas. Now What?

By Zwelakhe Gila

Coming at a time when South Africa’s policy makers are struggling to diversify the country’s energy mix, Total Exploration and Production Southern Africa recently announced a major offshore gas discovery.

The Brulpadda well off the shore of Mossel Bay is one of a number of highly anticipated exploration prospects in South Africa. First reports of the field indicate that it holds between 500 million to over 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. In comparison, neighbouring Mozambique’s 2012 discovery held over 350 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Those familiar with the history of Africa’s energy sector, and even those that aren’t, rejoice with a faint concern of what has been the outcome for many other resource abundant countries on the continent.

Granted, while Total’s finding alone is not enough to eclipse the plethora of other resources in South Africa – coal and gold in particular – it does find the country at a weak moment of energy policy and, more importantly, energy security. South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) that covers the 2010-2030 period was indeed reviewed only once since its release in 2011.

The 2018 IRP draft, yet to approved, does expect to see 8,100MW of additional gas-to-power capacity set up by 2030, but remains what it is: a draft.

This further justifies the need for adequate and timely gas regulatory policy and balanced local content regulations to avoid squandering an opportunity to catapult South Africa into a booming African energy frontier.

This crucial need is further highlighted considering that month’s prior to Total’s discovery; Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe halted all applications for oil and gas exploration in order to change its licensing process.

The move notably saw super major Royal Dutch Shell relinquish a license to search for oil off South Africa, citing legislative uncertainty. Uncertainty does indeed prevail across South Africa’s oil & gas licensing and regulation.

Careless expedience to reopen the licensing process given the inevitable interest that follows such a discovery could still ultimately be detrimental to the country’s benefit from possible reserves.

Natural gas allows for the creation of a cheaper, domestically-sourced, and more environmentally-neutral energy grid that has now become a global imperative. Natural gas is widely considered to be a key component to this impetus.

Although South Africa is the largest electricity producer in the continent, and even exports electricity to neighboring countries like Namibia, it still suffers from inadequate infrastructure management that has seen an increasing rate of nation-wide blackouts.

This begs many to question if the popularization of gas-to-power infrastructure – electric power generated by gas-powered turbines – motivated by the recent Total find will have a true impact on energy security or suffer the same fate as the coal-powered plants.

Given natural gas's primary usage and function as a source of heat and power production, South Africa is now posed with answering the difficult question of how invested the country will be in its coal reserves and coal-reliant power infrastructure that practically serve the same purpose as gas.

Especially when considering that South Africa holds approximately 11% of the worlds total coal reserves, coal mines being the largest direct job creator in the mining industry, and coal being South African economy’s highest foreign exchange earner.

President Cyril Ramaposa’s recent announcements to debundle the debt ridden Eskom is detailed to be an effort to motivate private power producers. This progressive approach to incentivize private companies, if conducted through a fair and inclusive manner, stands to be a significant determinant in attracting investment into gas-to-power facilities.

The trend for discoveries of this scale, especially in countries whose markets and infrastructures are unable to absorb the resource, is for immediate exporting of the resource to more lucrative European and Asian markets.

Natural gas consumption in such regions as Western Europe, South or East Asia are currently at the highest level since 2001 and on the 20th consecutive monthly high deliveries.

Natural gas exports are also the highest since EIA began tracking monthly in 1973. The incentive to move the natural gas found in South Africa to international markets is overwhelmingly promising and would follow recent trends adopted by African countries that have recently discovered gas such as Mozambique or Senegal.

It is the duty of the Department of Energy and the Department of Mineral Resources to ensure that the regulatory master plans for such discoveries are adequately aligned with further developing local natural gas infrastructure as well as further incentivizing International Oil Companies to carry out more exploration. It is a task whose failure to deliver accordingly has led to a litany of wasted gross domestic prosperity.

Zwelakhe Gila, is the Head of Commodities, African Energy Chamber 

Dangers Of Using Nile Water In Uganda’s Oil Exploration

Uganda is planning to use water in the process of extracting oil from the ground by pumping the water into the oil wells which will displace the oil which will eventually migrate up the well.

However world over there is growing public concern of using water in the exploration of oil and in particular freshwater resources and waste water storage and disposal should be our concern.

Unfortunately the licensed oil companies in Uganda are planning to use the water from lake Albert and the Nile water to help them in the process of getting oil out of the ground, this is expected to reduce the Nile water levels to between 4 to 10 percent and this might bring about tension with the countries that share the Nile waters. However science asserts that oil and water don’t mix, but when it comes to oil and gas drilling, water and oil are practically joined at the hip.

A recent Colorado State University study showed that drilling and hydraulically fracturing a vertical well as Ultra’s initial exploratory wells will be takes an average of 387,000 gallons of water but production wells branch off the bottom of a vertical well and run laterally to access sections of oil bearing rock up to 5,000 feet away and they eventually take an average of 2.8 million gallons of water.

River Nile is a subject to political interactions with Egypt claiming it has a natural historical right on the Nile River, and principles of its acquired rights have been a focal point of negotiations with upstream states.

And the fact that this right exists means that any perceived reduction of the Nile water supply to Egypt is tampering with its national security and thus could trigger potential conflict. Egypt and Ethiopia almost went to war recently over Nile water when, Ethiopia started construction of a dam on the same river. Sudan also has hydraulic potential and has created four dams in the last century.

This has resulted in the development so far of 18,000 km² of irrigated land, making Sudan the second most extensive user of the Nile after Egypt. Egypt has such an agriculturally dependent economy which is dependent on virtual water imports, a strategy which may lead that country to attempt future water conflicts.

However it is important to note that disposing of wastewater is a costly challenge for drillers and at every step along the way, preventing groundwater contamination is the paramount concern for citizens and the National Environmental Management Authority. The cost of using advanced UV and ozone treatment technologies is disregarded of in our production plans and budgets.

 Uganda needs to deploy the most sophisticated technology in the oil exploration to avoid biodiversity destruction since river Nile and Lake Albert are major contributors and connectors of the biodiversity of Uganda and conservation them would as well be very important not only for future generations but for mother nature as well.

Written by Edwin Mumbere - Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

PLE Excellence Challenges Us To Do Better, Kampala Parents Principal

The good academic performance registered by Kampala Parents’ School ‘energizes’ and ‘challenges’ the school’s administration ‘to do even much better’, the school’s principal, Madam Daphne Kato, wrote in a widely publicized article.

In the 2018 national Primary Leaving Examination, Kampala Parents registered a 100% pass rate when all the 234 candidates passed in grade one. "With 100% pupils in first grade, Kampala Parents’ performance is more than 3 times above the average first-grade performance for all Kampala schools- 29.6 percent," she wrote.

"Certainly as we start 2019 academic year, that also coincides with the 15th Anniversary under new management, we are more than energized but at the same time, challenged as well to do even much better. We believe with our world-class facilities and the immense support from both our parents and teachers, as well as our proprietors, the sky is the limit,"

Madam Kato calls upon all parents to continue being involved and taking keen interest in the education of their children. “On our part, we promise to continue working with and through the Parents Advisory Board to continuously review and improve our quest to provide holistic education to our learners,”

Fifteen years ago, Kampala Parents’ School became part of the Ruparelia Group, a move that changed the school’s fortunes. Madam Kato reveals that under the Ruparelia Group, the school has undergone both an ideological and structural transformation.

She said: "Ideologically, the school has reoriented its focus to becoming centre of balanced academic excellence as reflected in our mission i.e. “to facilitate first-class education and civilisation to children with and from outside Uganda with the hope that there will be a better world community tomorrow,"

"This shift which is very visible in our all-round curriculum, is backed by the school’s proprietors’ conviction that “the growth of any nation, lies in the hands of the young generation and the responsibility to mould them into useful citizens is on us, the adult generation.”

"The schools’ proprietors and management, believe that a diversely-skilled human resources is the major driving force for every country’s development and that developing useful industrious human resources needs laying a strong foundation right from childhood. With this conviction, the school, in 2010 started on an aggressive physical expansion and quality enhancement programme.

The Ruparelia Group between 2010 and 2012 invested in excess of $7 million, physically expanding the school from just a 4-acre establishment to a 13-acre world class centre of educational excellence.

The expansion exercise saw, 35 new spacious classroom blocks added to the school, creating a total of 110 classrooms. With 110 classrooms and an installed capacity of up to 3,000 kids, each class has an average of 40 to 50 children and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1:25.

The expansion also came with 2 new state-of-the-art and well stocked libraries, 2 ICT rooms with smart boards, 2 fully-equipped science labs, 2 home science labs, 1 media room, 1 stitching room with enough sewing machines, 1 music room, 1 drama room and a 2,000-seater multipurpose hall to double both as the dining hall and recreation centre.

We also constructed a new sports centre, with a swimming pool, basketball and netball courts.

A new purpose-built pre-primary section with a capacity of 700 children and a day care centre with a capacity of up to 200 toddlers was built. A 2-kilometre wall fence was also erected around the 13-acre school complex to boost security and safety.

The expansion phase, was completed in 2012, making Kampala Parents’ one of the largest and most equipped educational centres with an installed capacity of 3,000 pupils in the upper primary school section and 700 kids in the pre-primary and day care sections.

With the physical expansion complete, the school also underwent several staff and management changes, so as to be able to support our new orientation of producing all-round and balanced children, but also meet stakeholder expectations.

New Mining Policy Presents Little Relief For Artisanal Miners

By Flavia Nalubega

On 17th May 218, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development announced Cabinet’s approval of new Minerals and Mining Policy.  The policy is meant to guide Uganda’s mineral’s sector and address the gaps in the mining laws.

For a process that has taken over five years, indeed  there is need to celebrate! It has been a forth and back process, but very involving. There is need to applaud the Ministry that greatly involved mining communities, civil society organizations in Uganda that do advocacy work on mining, particularly ActionAid among others, legal bodies and other participants.

The beauty about this policy lies in the input to support formalization and regulation of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining. The Policy will as well consider mainstreaming gender equity, human rights and inclusiveness in the mineral sector, which is key in promoting and protecting women miners while discouraging children in mining. 

ASMs and women miners have for so long labored in Uganda’s mining sector with little or no recognition. With the so much effort they put in to earn a living from the sector, all they’ve faced is the iron law that supports big mining companies at the cost of these communities. They are forced to mine ‘crumps’ and the real ‘bread’ in the mining areas goes to international investors. 

 From the current artisan mining in Mubende, Buhweju, Busia, Namayingo, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Kaabong, Abim and Moroto Districts, its estimated that about 200 kilograms of gold equivalent to $ 8m, is being mined per month by ASMs and all this goes untaxed neither unrecognized. 

In Mubende alone, gold mining has attracted tens of thousands of Ugandans to earn a living from the lucrative mining business. But last year the government took a bold step and chased all the over 50,000 ASMs from the gold mining area in favour of an AUC International mining company. The Government practically sent its people into unemployment and ripple effects are felt until date in increased crime rates, increased robberies and the high rate of kidnaps for money. 

In Lwera-Masaka, sand minining has become a business for international companies. Chinese export this sand for billions of dollars, while local communities look on. They have occupied and bought off locals in this area-forcefully It took legislators’ and Civil society’s noise and interventions  for Government to finally take a stand against export of this sand, an exercise that had gone on for years. 

It is exciting to learn that Government now acknowledges that ASMs can make a big contribution to this country through taxation, while also earning a living from this lucrative business. We also jubilate that the President recently gave a directive to have the ASMs return to their gold mining area in Mubende, after confirming that they are an organized and registered mining group. The recent news about MEMD’s new office in Karamoja to bring support services close to the mining community there is also very fulfilling. This and more is what is expected of any democratic government. 

The new Policy also proposes an establishment of ASM Fund to support lending schemes and protection of miners and facilitate access to land for Artisanal and small scale mining as well as establish an enabling framework for Artisanal and Small Scale Mining. 

We need the Mining Law

Even with all this, it is not yet time to over jubilate the Policy for it is only a guiding document. There is need to fasten the process of reviewing the Mining Act 2003 to address what the policy proposes, if the mining sector is to be better organized for the benefit of both government, mining communities and mining companies.

The policy is expected to inform the proposed amendment to Mining Act, 2003 and address the gaps existing in Uganda’s mining laws. On announcement of the approval of the Mining Policy, the Ministry also confirmed the Mining Act had been tabled before the Parliamentary committee for review.

We appreciate this far the law has come, but for a process that started close to four years ago, there is need to fasten the review process to enact the law. With the law in place, ASMs will have a fall back position, especially when their rights to mining are violented, like has been the case in the recent past.

Key reforms in the policy;

  • It proposes for the establishment of ASM Fund to support artisanal miners
  • It proposes for the establishment of Mining Tribunal to arbitrate minerals and mining disputes
  • It proposes for the establishment of the Mineral Audit Agency to assess royalties payable, revenue distribution and management among others
  • It recommends for the establishment of a Mineral Reserve Fund where revenues from minerals will be collected.
  • It proposes for the establishment of local content Development Fund in the mineral sector for skills and enterprise development.
  • Establishes a committee to review and evaluate applications for mineral rights.

Flavia Nalubega works for ActionAid Uganda

Production Of Oil In The Albertine Will Disrupt The Climate

The production of oil in the Albertine region will not only bring cash to the economy but it will also disrupt the climate since burning of fossil fuels is one of the challenges facing the world today which has caused extreme weather conductions, rising oceans and record setting temperatures are wreaking havoc on hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods around the world and Uganda has had its own share of this.

The greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels have already warmed the globe by more than 1°C since the beginning of the industrial revolution, unless we can rein in these emissions and ambitiously transition to a just, clean and renewable energy future, the planet will become unrecognizable as global temperatures soar by 4,5, or 6°C and beyond which will affect a way of living  hence causing a crisis in production of food and other services.

The vast majority of the historical global emissions that are driving the climate change have come from the excessive use of fossil fuels but it’s the poorest countries like Uganda that are having high appetite of investing in production of fossil fuels and yet we can afford to adapt to the changing climate.

The recent global climate agreement in Paris was a major step in recognizing the global urgency of the crisis but the it will take serious action from both international and national governments to meet the new goals that inspire to limit global warming however the deal fell short when the Europeans started to finance the production of oil in Uganda and Africa at large and efforts to support the most vulnerable are limited when even adaptation becomes impossible.

In order to avoid the worst of dangerous climate change, we must keep carbon in the ground. According to the best available science, to have a decent shot at limiting global warming to even 2°C, 80% of the fossil fuels we already have access to must stay in the ground, this number will be even more dramatic for the 1.5 °C limit that countries such as the U.S., have committed to. This effectively means no major new fossil fuel projects, and phasing out existing fossil fuel production and consumption by the middle of the century, replacing them with a safe, clean, just, and renewable economy that is 100% decarbonized.

Written by Mumbere Edwin Fanta

Kasese Field officer-Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

 

Borrowing For Energy Sector Has Not Benefited Ugandans

By Diana Nabiruma

On Wednesday January 8, 2019, after its 5pm news bulletin, Sanyu FM aired some of its listeners’ views on what their expectations of 2019 are.

Most of the sampled listeners expressed fears of a hard 2019. Worries over economic and political hardships were rife.

One particular listener’s views caught my attention however. In Luganda, he groaned that his two meals a day would be reduced to one in 2019.

Why?

He must have heard the alarm raised by the Auditor General (AG) and civil society organisations (CSOs) about Uganda’s rising debt.

CSOs say Uganda’s borrowing is unsustainable. The AG also expressed discomfort over the country’s debt burden, standing at Shs 41.3 trillion.

Further, in the 2018/2019 financial year, over 65% of revenues collected by government are supposed to be used on debt servicing!

Hence the above listener’s worries.

He said that in 2019, government was going to suck citizens dry to pay the mounting debt.

As such, people such as himself would have to forego basic necessities such as food!

FINANCE MINISTER REACTS

Interestingly, on the day the above listener’s views were aired, Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister, held a press conference at the media centre to soothe the public.

He is reported to have told journalists that Ugandans should stay calm.

He said that at a debt to GDP ratio of 41.5%, Uganda’s debt is below international sustainability thresholds of a debt to GDP ratio of 50%.

To further calm Ugandans, the minister is reported to have said that if some of them are still around, there is no way the country would be led into debt stress!

He also reassured Ugandans that because money borrowed has been invested in the productive sectors of roads and energy, the debts would pay off.

HAVE ENERGY SECTOR DEBTS PAID OFF?

However, a look at available evidence and Uganda today shows that the above assertion by Hon. Kasaija’s assertion is erroneous.

Over the last ten years, (2009/2010-2018/2019), government has allocated over Shs 16. 871 trillion to the energy sector. This was 16.57% of Uganda's GDP as at June 2018.

Some of the above money has been borrowed and invested in the construction of dams with the view that electrification will address poverty among other challenges in Uganda.

Indeed, Hon. Kasaija affirmed that monies borrowed have been invested in dams such as Isimba and Karuma.

Noteworthy is the fact that the costs of Bujagali, Karuma and Isimba dams alone cover over 30.4% of Uganda's $10.7 billion debt burden. 

Have Ugandans however benefitted from monies borrowed and invested in the electricity and roads sector? 

Well, in 2015, the World Bank reported that that for every dollar invested in infrastructural projects, less than a dollar is recouped.

In addition, despite all the money that has been invested in the electricity sector, a dismal 22% of Uganda’s population had access to electricity as at June 2018.

Further, a look at the World Bank’s access to electricity data shows that in some instances, development of dams has had a negative impact on electricity access.

For instance, before commissioning of Bujagali dam in 2012, urban electricity access stood at 55.4%. This was in 2011.

In 2012 when Bujagali was commissioned, urban electricity access dropped to 51.2%. By 2015, Ugandan urbanites were in yet to recover with only 51.9% having access to electricity. Our rural counterparts fared worse. 

Even more indicting is the fact that according to 2016/2017 survey results released by Uganda Bureau of Statistics in 2018, poverty levels in Uganda increased from 19.7% in 2012/2013 to 21.4% in 2016/2017. Rural poverty rose to 22.5% and urban poverty to 9.4%! 

How then, are Uganda’s debts expected to pay off as the minister reassured Ugandans if increased borrowing is followed by increasing poverty?

Moreover, with the corruption, high costs of and procurement scandals that rocked the Karuma and Isimba dam deals, power from the two dams is unlikely to be as cheap as government promises it will be.

This means that the envisaged socio-economic transformation arising from completion of the two dams is unlikely to happen!

The author is the Senior Communications Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).

 

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.

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