Rajiv Ruparelia, the lead Director of Ruparelia Group of Companies has been honored for his outstanding contribution, work and supporting the Youth of Uganda in the struggle to fight unemployment.The recognition comes from Young Power Uganda, a registered Ugandan Youth Group that is composed of thousands of Ugandan Youth across the country with the main purpose of joining efforts with the Government of Uganda to promote the youth.
Rajiv Ruparelia has over the past seven (7) years taken the unique initiative in the Ruparelia Billion dollar Business Empire to employ thousands of Ugandan Youth most especially in Rosebud Flower Farm, Premier Roses Flower Farm and Crane Bank. As director in the Ruparelia Group, Rajiv has helped youth get jobs in the Groups hotels like Munyonyo Common Wealth Resort, Speke Hotel, Kabira Country Club, Speke Resort Munyonyo, Dolphin Suites and Forest Cottages.
Other youths are being employed by Sanyu FM, Gold Star Insurance, Meera Investments, Crane Management Services, Kampala Parents School, Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) Delhi Public School Uganda (DPS), Victoria University Kampala, Ruparelia Foundation, Crane Financial Services among other outstanding organisations and companies.
The Working for Youth Award was awarded to Rajiv Ruparelia for his direct positive actions to Ugandan Young people such as himself. The Youth Group Award recognizes his significant contribution to the Ugandan Youth Communities.
Rajiv is a Young Entrepreneur who has demonstrated support to other young entrepreneurs across the country. The Award also recognized his leadership in Project Management as he is currently the one of the Country’s number one driver in construction projects such as Speke Apartments on Wampewo Avenue, The Cube at Kisementi and Hardware City Complex on Entebbe Road for Nakasero Traders proving himself as a Construction Magnate.
The Youth Group also recognized the unique depth of expertise and skill he has at managing the billion dollar Ugandan Organization that was recently recognized by Forbes, an American business Magazine that features finance, industry, investing, , technology, communications, science and also well-known its lists and rankings such as Africa's 50 Richest List - Forbes that features Ruparelia Group.
Rajiv Ruparelia is a Young man that has Uganda at Heart specifically focused at achieving development goals of other Ugandan Youths. Young people throughout Uganda are undertaking projects and initiatives ranging from poverty alleviation to Entrepreneurship in their diligent efforts at promoting and enhancing growth and development in Uganda.
Promoting youth participation;
Promoting economic empowerment of young people;
Take action for equality between young women and men in business;
Promoting environments in which business can be made;
Providing quality education (Kampala Parents School, Kampala International School, Delhi Public School and Uganda’s leading top quality University, Victoria University).
Engaging young people to protect the environment among others.
Upon his recognition Rajiv also the Managing Director Crane Management Services Limited (C.M.S.), a highly professional property management company, with a Strong asset base and forms part of a financially sound group having diversified business interests, including: banking, insurance, hotels, international trade, Forex Bureau operations, leisure resorts and property management & development among others said
“This Year we are scheduled to employ a minimum of 3,000 Ugandan Youth at Namulonge Flower Farm and Speke Apartments at Wampewo Avenue”. In Down town Kampala, we are slated to providing Rental Shops and Offices to Youth in IT, Website Design, Advertising and Marketing and they will pay affordable business rent starting from Ugx 600,000/= per month”.
Other powerful organizations and Institutions that have been awarded this prestigious award are Capital Shopper Group of Posiano and Eva Ngabirano (who provide hundreds of Jobs to youth and provide them quality Lunch on a daily basis), The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Gender, Mr. Pius Bigirimana for starting and implementing Youth Livelihood Program where Ugx 100m is recovered back on a weekly basis from Youth Ventures, Robert Kabushenga for organizing Pakasa Forum where Youth converge and learn from Successful Entrepreneurs as well as Smile Telecommunications that employs 90% Youth.
Uganda is ambitiously fast tracking her tourism potential to make a quick buck from foreign and local tourists eager to discover the East African country. In this optimistic quest for tourism glory, the country will need partners who understand and are willing to push the agenda.
Some of the most crucial partners that are central in realizing this target are the hoteliers running a successful hospitality industry operating at an international level. Without a proper and a top notch hospitality players tourism adventures will only hit a dead end.
In this interview, Jean – Philippe Bittencourt, the General Manager of Sheraton Kampala Hotel explains to Baz Waiswa, the editor, Earthfinds, the role the five star hotel is playing in advancing the country’s tourism agenda, what the hospitality industry must do and the potential of Uganda’s tourism.
You joined Sheraton Kampala Hotel in January, describe you experience working at the hotel in the last five months?
We are meeting people, entities and getting more familiar with the strategies of the country in terms of tourism even though because of elections things are a little bit on standby. Now that elections are over, I hope that things that must be done to promote tourism will be done.
We all agree that Uganda needs a lot of exposure, promotion and presence at key events like international exhibitions. We need to create an image for Uganda that differentiates it from neighboring countries and that represents an added value, a different experience that the tourists are looking for.
This focus should be directed in the area of events. Events help filling up that gap. Kampala should be able to host international events. These events are fixed sometimes a year earlier therefore we should have a package that is attractive for the organizer to come to this destination.
A lot of things must be done in between us in the hotel business. We are working tightly together because when we are talking about big events, conventions, everybody benefits.
Infrastructure is a big challenge, especially the roads; access to Entebbe - Kampala is a need that must be resolved as soon as possible. When I hear about 2018, I think it is too long and we in the hotel hear people complain about that road. They also complain about the traffic in town but mainly the road to the airport because losing a flight is a challenge for the traveler especially for people with tight agendas.
Training is another area we need professionals. We need specialized institutions to train people to work in all the hotels opening up in the country. Today it is the hotels full filling this role. It’s time to have a reliable institution with good back up probably a partnership with an international educational institute that can give support and prepare the trainers.
A hotel employees people in different areas from finance to kitchen, waiters, chambermaids, human resources, IT among others. We need specialized people who can understand the complexity of a hotel.
What sort of experience do you bring to Sheraton Kampala Hotel considering that the hotel industry is still young and yearning to learn a thing or two from the industry ‘big boys’?
I have more than 30 years of experience gained while working for different international brands. I work for Sheraton today but I have worked with other international brands so I have good knowledge of different approaches to benefit a hotel.
I have worked in different continents so I am familiar with different cultures and I have capacity to easily adapt and understand new environments. I have opened new hotels, refurbished hotels. One of my missions here is to carry out the renovation project of Sheraton Kampala Hotel. It requires a good understanding of how to manage projects.
One of my key factors is that I am very human oriented, I tend to understand and mingle with people easily, socialize and become familiar with the environment easily. Uganda has good people. When you come to Uganda, you immediately feel that you want to stay here for long. So I hope I can bring something for the long term, not only to Sheraton but to Uganda.
What has been your experience working with hoteliers in Uganda especially those outside Sheraton?
Well there are very good competitors not only hotels but there are plenty of restaurants opening especially in Kampala with well-trained people. That is interesting to see. I have been meeting different either hotel owners or managers because I am part of Uganda Hotel Owners Association.
I am the chairman of Kampala Chapter so I have been talking with authorities like Uganda Tourism Board or the ministry of tourism about these action plans and strategies on how to make sure the tourism figures increase.
There are four priority areas that must be taken care of as everybody agreed. These are promotion and market, taxes (especially airport tax which is too high at $100), training staff and of course infrastructure. Apart from airport tax, the amount of tax hotel owners pay is high but we have requested the authorities to look into it.
Uganda is positioning itself as a key tourism destination to the world, as a five star hotel and stakeholder in the tourism sector how are you planning to aid this effort?
We try to respond positively to any initiative as suggested by the tourism board. We participate with them in different international trade shows. We have an agenda as Starwood, we try to visit neighboring countries especially Kenya where we get very many clients coming from there. We also look for new markets - we are looking at China.
We have been participating in those big international trade shows with a focus on tourism like ITB Berlin Tourism Expo. We try to be present at different channels where we can create visibility. We believe in online business so we try to be reactive and present on social media. We try to make things lively by responding.
From your experience as a hotel manager what do travelers/tourists look for in a hotel before they make their booking decision?
The world we are living in is a turbulent world especially when it comes to safety and security. So that became extremely important in any type of hotel. Hotels with an international brand are a target so at Sheraton we became much more conscious of that.
We have invested a lot of money in ensuring that there is reinforcement, training, and all sorts of process and procedure to make sure the guests feel secure when they are here.
People are looking and demanding for technology. You might be on holiday but you want to keep in touch with your emails, friends, family or office. Today it is very difficult to detach yourself from a professional life and personal life even when you are in a moment of leisure.
Then of course the comfort - from the type of room, the facilities you find in a hotel room. The guest room is not only a place to sleep but where people can get entertainment. Some people work in their rooms. Some spend a lot of time in the rooms watching movies. All these must be there.
The hotel must provide a good experience in terms of food and beverages. People like to discover different fusion of cuisines. When they come to Uganda, they want Ugandan food, then another day they want to try Italian food, so we must have all these different options.
When we talk about food it must be health. People are conscious about their health, their shape, so you need to have these health menus. Then there is food restrictions, people have allergies for certain products.
Some religions don’t eat certain foods so when making a menu you should be in consideration of all these issues. Like at the moment, we are in Ramadan, we must have an iftar, which is the break of fast, it is much appreciated by our Muslim clients. We have a specific place for prayers so they know we care about them. We are also looking at our clients from China, South Korea. We need to customize some of our services.
Tourists when want to see nice people, beautiful girls or guys well dressed. They want nice music, good selection of wines and beers.
One of the challenges hotels in Uganda face is a lack of experienced workforce. What has been your observation regarding this trend and what is Sheraton doing to build capacity for local hotel employees?
Uganda have very good people here but they need right institutions to prepare them. Kenya kick started their tourism industry so many years ago, it was the first destination in this region for tourism, today you have new markets, new options, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The people here in Uganda are naturally welcoming, they have a beautiful smile, they just need to learn through training and practice. Exposure is very important, so I strongly recommend to young people here, if they have a chance to go out of the country to do so.
They will come back with a different background and perception. If someone has not seen anything other than what he or she is used too then it is difficult to know what an international traveler expects. Everyone has different expectations
The hotel business requires a certain set of standards, what can upcoming hotels do to stay afloat, what can they learn from Sheraton?
They must invest in professionals who can run the business. It is important to have professionals that know what the business is about. Sometimes the problem with independent hotels is that the owner is from real estate background, his perception of a hotel is of a client, he needs a professional to run the business.
Sheraton is known as a high-end hotel occasioned mostly by foreigners, how would you describe the archetypical Sheraton Kampala client?
Our customers are international travelers, people who are doing business or leisure, they are well connected, so they know what they want. They are demanding, demanding of all those services that are now a necessity today. If internet was not working, they would get mad and crazy with us because to them it is like water, they don’t take it for granted. Wherever they go they find it.
And lastly, why should someone visiting Uganda for the first time stay at Sheraton? Warm regards,
We are an international brand. Almost 80 years of existence. Then the security of the site, we are considered to be one of the safest place in town and the service that we provide, our facilities and everything that a customer will find here, says Sheraton is the best property in town.
We have our 50th anniversary in 2017, so we are trying to work on the agenda of celebration. 2017 will be a great year for us. We are moving on with the project of renovating the building, the rooms, invest in infrastructures which are necessary.
We are making sure that we are part of big local events like the Kampala Restaurant Week. We are also trying to be innovative and bring new offers. We are proud being part of this history, being in Kampalanfor so many years. We are honored to be the first international hotel in Uganda.
We should be prepared for competition, they are very many hotels and restaurants coming up but we have a loyal clientele that feels comfortable here because they are well known and recognized. They feel like they are home.
A lot of guests don’t come here for just one night, sometimes they stay for weeks, months, so they have their own preferred rooms, chambermaids, and waiters to take care of their needs. This kind of tailor made service is important.
I have met guests who have come here since 1992, it’s amazing to hear that. Other hotels have opened but they prefer to come here. Some people have their important events here. There are marrying here, they got married here and their children are getting married here.
I met a client who wanted to celebrate their 40th anniversary in the same room they had their honeymoon. People are attached to this hotel because it part of their history. So we must preserve that.
Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has said they will use money collected from the 12th edition of the MTN Kampala Marathon, which took place last year, to build biogas toilet facilities in Uganda Primary Education (UPE) aided schools.
The Executive Director of KCCA Jennifer Musisi said most schools use firewood to prepare meals for pupils which makes it expensive to run these schools. The biogas which will be tapped from toilets constructed using funds from the Marathon will be used in school’s kitchen and for lighting.
The telecom company delivered Shs500 million collected from the Marathon, conducted under the theme “Run for Kampala” and attracted close to 20,000 participants, to KCCA towards the development of the city’s schools bio-toilet facilities at their head office Thursday morning.
Kampala has 79 government grant-aided primary schools with a total enrolment of close to 70, 000 pupils under the jurisdiction of KCCA. The average pupil – toilet stance ratio stands at 50:1, an improvement from an average ratio of over 80:1 from when KCCA took over.
Musisi said some schools still have a high toilet stance – pupil’s ratio. Police children schools have a ratio of 111:1. This challenge is also made worse by the lack of piped water. Schools that lack piped water depend on wells.
The MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Brian Gouldie said KCCA was selected in its capacity as the administrator of the earmarked city schools around the five divisions of Kampala. Gouldie added that the money raised will also go towards improving access to sustainable sanitation and safe water for the vulnerable urban communities especially children.
The 2015 MTN Kampala Marathon partners included Huawei Uganda, New Vision, Stanbic Bank Uganda, Rwenzori Water, Spedag Interfrieght Uganda and Uganda Athletic Federation (UAF).
Today’s youths are faced with a myriad of challenges in their quest to find a footing in a competitive modern society that requires enormous strategic planning, grooming and making of spot on choices and decisions.
However, experts believe that how one ends up in life is solely a combination of the choices they make in their youthful days, the education path they take, careers they choose and lifestyle to live.
In preparation for the kind of adult members of society they want to become, students of Victoria University had a chance to hear and learn from people who have been there, done it and came out on the top.
This was during a one day career day hosted by the University at their Jinja road campus located in the heat of Kampala. The event was hosted under the theme ‘Student of the Future’
The career day was facilitated by seasoned journalist and founder of The Independent Magazine Andrew Mwenda, renowned speaker Ethan Musoloni, and Makerere College of Health Sciences Mulago professor Dr. Sabrina Kitaka.
James Sakka, the Executive Director of National Information Technology Association (NITA-U) also addressed students who attended the career fair. Over 200 students attended the event that aimed at shaping their career choices.
Dr. Sabrina Kitaka speaking to students at the career day encouraged them to work hard in silence and let their success make the noise. She counseled that chasing a goal without a plan is just a wish.
The Makerere College of Health Sciences Mulago pediatrician said students must be flexible, look after their lives and be “students who make a difference for others” in society adding that students should plan their future carefully and know exactly what they want to be in life.
In his opening remarks, Dr Stephen Isabalija, the vice chancellor of Victoria University, told students that the responsibility to determine their future was in their hands. Musoloni, who has made his name as a motivational speaker scorned that ‘if you have 9 poor friends you are bound to become number 10’ an implication that the kind of friends matter a lot in shaping one’s future.
“You always have to work hard for your future, emphasize being known for something and be different.” Musoloni told students. “Young people want all the good things in life but they don’t want to get up and work to achieve it. A farmer does not sit and wish for harvest but goes to the garden and cultivating.” He added.
In his address before students, Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and entrepreneur, advised students not to define success basing on money but "on the passion that drives you." He urged students to build their own image but not to imitate successful people.
Dr. Kitaka despised students who spend much of their time on social media doing nothing instead of paying attention to activities that can change their lives for the good. She warned of the threats that technology advancement pauses to young people.
“Young people are absorbed in Facebook, WhatsApp. They are addicted to social media. Some of the Masters students that I teach hardly concentrate on what I am saying because they are stuck on their phones.” She said.
James Saka the ED of NITA-U encouraged students to purposefully use technology because ICTs has grown to become a big resource for information especially for school going youths.
“Today, the internet is a source of information but young people continue to misuse it instead of acquiring more knowledge to use in their academic work. Some other creative youths are using social media to do business and engaging in work that pays them like social media marketing,” Saka stated.
He however was quick to highlight the security risks involved when technology especially social medias are misused. He warned of internet based fraudsters who are out to con unsuspecting people.
A global wave of actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground has been gathering momentum all over the world. Already seen in countries such as UK, over 300 people shut down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine for a day. Hours later, 10,000 people from all over the Philippines gathered in Batangas City to demand an end to coal.
All these huge actions are in the name of ending the dark activities of fossil fuel companies. As such, the potential harms of Uganda’s budding oil well as well as the building of pipelines towards Tanzania should never be overlooked. With economic specs on, oil and gas looks like a worthy undertaking. But zooming towards the real world infested by climate change syndromes, you are instantly shocked by the obvious contributions of burning fossil fuels to climate change.
While “Phasing out fossil fuels,” is a decision already reached by 195 countries including Uganda during the 2015 United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris, the land locked country is embarking on gigantic fossil fuel investment. Anyone with a reasoning mind can hesitate here.
The fossil fuel industry, with its companies and lobbies, not only harm our planet by producing greenhouse gas emissions that create climate change. They also breed bad blood infecting democratic systems by using corrupt practises, bribery and tax evasion to accomplish their goals, ultimately affecting our governments.
Across Africa, the impact these damaging lobbies are as abysmal as coal pits. From South Africa to Libya and from Nigeria to Uganda, there are rising worries that African heads of states’ tough grips on power is akin to the prospects about the mineral wealth in their respective countries, a feeling that has not spared Uganda as regarding President Yoweri Museveni’s 30 year old regime.
Newspapers recently quoted the president say: “You hear people say ‘Museveni should go’, but go and leave oil money,” at a campaign rally in eastern Uganda. The same source says Museveni’s obsession with the country’s largely untapped oil reserves will either prove a benefit or a curse to Uganda. But experience shows that a curse is inevitable.
Talk of the devil, to start with, already there has been perilous court turmoil over oil firm contracts and negotiations on building a refinery. Oil and gas was discovered way back in 2006, around the same time as Ghana, which started production in 2010. Uganda is expected to start its pumping hers in 2018.
Even darker, these resource agreements are shrouded in secrecy, keeping millions of Ugandans in the dark about events in the sector. A group of civil society organisations – including ActionAid Uganda, Global Rights Alert, Seatini, Advocates coalition for development and Environmental Transparency International Uganda – has launched an online petition urging president Museveni to make the extractives sector more transparent but the outcomes are still disappointing.
“Winfred Ngambiirwe, the executive director of Global Rights Alert told journalists in Kampala: “We would also like government to make a binding commitment by agreeing to take tangible steps to better involve the citizens in the development of oil and gas sector.”
While many Ugandans are pinning their hopes for a better life on the fledgling industry and oil is expected to earn the country more than $3bn annually for close to two decades once production begins, our hopes may be a waste. But damages including climate change, health hazards, corruption and possibilities of wars in the oil rich region are even heavier and disheartening than the expected revenues by all measures.
The climax of such a “tragedy of endowment” – as development economists of Makerere University call will be reached when truths begins to unfold as trickling oil money is diverted by the further military ambitions of the future leader and strengthening their arsenals rather than focusing on pursing the economic and social welfare of the public.
Again, everyone should be wary because fossil lobby has known for years of the existence and potential damage of climate change and has never acted accordingly. An investigation from last year showed how Exxon Mobil knew about climate change as early as 1977, but this did not prevent the company from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation.
Furthermore, they fund climate change denial through big foundations and organisations, and promote solutions that are in line with their corporate interests, but many times not enough to preserve the planet.
In 2015, a study proved that ExxonMobil and Kochs family are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout mainstream media and public discourse. For many years, anonymous billionaires donated lumpsum valued at $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science.
Thus, for a developing country neither free from the dangers of climate change nor safe from kleptomaniac political systems as Uganda, the people should demand accountability now and during production. Doing so, we are clearing the path of development off unaccountable governments, but above all, protecting our ecosystems against the harms of fossil fuel industry and block the rise of oil-greedy governments.
This article has been written by Boaz Opio, Climate Change Campaigner Kampala Uganda
MTN through its social responsibility vehicle called ‘MTN Foundation’ has donated Ushs109 million to boost a Rotary health project designed to avail free medical treatment to needy communities.The project dubbed the ‘Rotary Family Health Days’ (RFHDs) was launched last week in partnership with Rotary Uganda, Centenary Bank and the Ministry of Health.
RFHDs are meant to avail free treatment to communities. The project started on the 29th April and will end on 7th May 2016. This year’s theme is “Good Health, Happy Families”. “Through the MTN Foundation, MTN Uganda is constantly committed to improving the lives of its customers and communities. The Rotary Family Health Days are a great opportunity for MTN Uganda to give back to our communities.
We believe our contribution to this noble cause will go a long way in changing the lives of many communities where Rotary Uganda will be setting up the different camps,” Gouldie said. MTN also encourage everyone to observe the days to get free medication from the Rotary camps that will be equipped with free, quality and professional medical care.
The medical camps will offer both specialized and general services in areas of cancer screening (cervical and breast); child immunization and nutrition; family planning and maternal health; HIV/AIDS counselling and testing; dental services; optical and many other common community health concerns.
The Rotary Family Health Days are not only meant to provide free medication to communities but also help solve the common health issues suffered by communities like Malaria, HIV/AIDS, family planning to mention but a few.
According to Steven Mwanje, board Chair of Rotary Family Health Days project, the program is employed in six countries which include Uganda, South Africa, Lesotho Swaziland, Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. “This program has reached over 470,000 people in Uganda and 1 million worldwide and is implemented in areas with inadequate medical facilities like limited drugs and majorly the hindrance to proper medical care,” he said.
“I am very grateful to Rotary Uganda, MTN and Centenary bank for this noble cause and I will not take it for granted. We believe that this will change a lot of lives especially for communities that still have inadequate medical care and medication that is perceived as expensive or inaccessible. We encourage all communities to utilize these days to improve our health status.” Said Doctor Anthony Mbonye from the Ministry of Health.
Over 82 camps will be set up all over the country and these will be deployed with 23 medical personnel from 10 health centres. There will be a team of 5 experts from USA, Canada, India and Uganda that will be deployed at Laaro Health Centre IV to specifically attend to maternal and child health issues.
Thirty (30) Excellent Ugandan employees working in Chinese enterprises were last week commended for their exceptional performance by the China Enterprise Chamber of Commerce in Uganda.
The award ceremony that took place at China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Headquarters at Sekiwunga Hill, Kitende, was the first of its kind and organized by the China Enterprises Chamber Of Commerce in conjunction with Chinese enterprises of Uganda. These awards seek to recognize the most hardworking, disciplined and diligent Ugandan employee.
Mr. Lu Jing, President of CCCC, the Chairman of the China Enterprises Chamber of commerce noted that the chamber has up to the present created 40,000 jobs with its 83 Chinese Company members in the chamber and sought to recognize the most outstanding Ugandans among others.
“On this occasion of the celebration of International Labor Day, the chamber is prepared to honor 30 excellent Ugandan employees to recognize their outstanding performances and sincere dedication to the Chinese business community. These employees are also honored for setting good examples, learning from role models and striving for better performance among their valued colleagues”, he said.
On the same Occasion, Hon. Kamanda Bataringaya, the State Minister for Labor, industrial relations and employment appealed for more investors to open up more companies in other parts of the country to create more jobs for more Ugandans.
“I appeal to the Chairman Mr. Lu that more companies should come to Uganda and not only open business in Kampala but to other districts because there are also fertile grounds for development and creating of more employment opportunities”, he said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E Zhao Yali commended the government and people of Uganda for providing a peaceful environment for Chinese companies. He further sighted that because of the peaceful environment for business, there has been a socio-economic transformation brought by Chinese companies through tax, employment and training.
“Every year, companies like Huawei and China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) pay approximately two and four million dollars respectively in tax. It’s a big contribution to the country.
I thank Tian Tang Group who employ not below 1700 employees, that is commendable. All the 83 Chinese companies in the chamber have up to date employed 21,000 Ugandan employees. The total number of Ugandan employees work for Chinese companies in Uganda is more 44,000 according to a figure from Uganda Investment Authority.
The Government of the People’s Republic of China every year puts 40 scholarships to the government of Uganda in bachelor degree, master degree and doctorate degree and 300 opportunities of short courses for government workers”, said Chinese Ambassador to Uganda H.E Zhao Yali.
An education expert at Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) has advised that students must be resilient when tackling obstacles that stand in their way of education.
Steve Lang, the school director at KISU while addressing the school’s open day gathering explained that young learners are faced with many challenges, which, together with teachers, must be able to solve.
He further explained that KISU is working towards producing self-reliant and self-motivated students so that they are competitive in the employment sphere. “We want them to be thoughtful and analytical. We want them to understand issues by asking their teachers why and how other than just what.” Lang explained.
He stated that KISU, a leading international school strives to ensure that students are active learners, self-motivated and that they engage themselves in their own learning process. “We must do all that we can to ensure they have the best chance of succeeding in this context.” Lang said.
At the school’s open day, students exhibited their school work, finished art and crafts pieces, paintings, fabrics, music and dance while parents and other guests were treated to a sumptuous meal and a variety of drinks.
The school is owned by the Ruparelia Group headed by businessman Sudhir Ruparelia. The group has other schools including Delhi International Public School, Kampala Parents School and Victoria University Kampala. Kampala International School is home to about 600 students from 60 nationalities.
It was established in 1993 with a population of 67 students. It has sections of pre-primary, primary and secondary. It offers international curriculums including the National Curriculum of England and Wales.
Uganda doesn't spring to mind for most people when coming up with a list of the world's oil-producing nations. But, in fact, 10 years ago more than two billions of barrels worth of oil were discovered in the landlocked nation, where nearly 40% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
Since the oil discovery, many Ugandans have made the connection between oil, government revenues and how it has the potential to improve their lives, and that of the poor service delivery in much of rural Uganda. To them, oil is seen as a cash cow to save Uganda from its worst demons.
But it’s a connection that is over rated. Reports on ground indicate complete absence of corporate social responsibility on the part of contracted oil companies drilling the resource. The locals, and in particular those whose existence depends on local lakes and rivers, have suffered a lot.
Many local residents have been displaced from their land with little or no compensation. Most of them have been deriving their livelihood from fishing and farming. They are poor, but rather than benefitting from the discovery of oil near their homes, their source of survival hangs in balance. Where others see business opportunities, these locals see themselves as losers.
With countries like Tanzania and Mozambique home to major new oil and gas reserves, the prospect of massive new investments in Uganda's energy sector has sparked debate between those who say the country has a right to use whatever resources it has and those who are pushing it to avoid high emissions growth for the sake of the planet.
Climate change should caution us about the dangers of the conventional economic idea that any kind of economic growth is good. It is ironic that, as the developed world rings in the end of fossil fuel era, Uganda is poised to begin it. It is, of course, about economic growth, development and money.
Uganda, like many African oil producing countries has been given a pass when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. In international climate talks, the “politically correct” stance has been that, first developing countries did not cause this mess; second, they need to focus on building out energy access to their populations; and third, their poor are most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. So, as the ‘’victim’’, Uganda just like other African countries should be given free rein to grow carbon use.
Uganda is looking to build an oil refinery and huge oil pipeline from albertine region to Indian Ocean coast. This appetite to extract oil is driven by deeply entrenched local and international business entities with little regard for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), global carbon budgets and most importantly recently adopted COP 21 Paris agreement which calls for transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. Of course one has to wonder as this seems to be a dangerous energy path for the country.
So like many developing countries, Uganda faces two possible development pathways: one driven principally by renewable energy, or one pulled by the temptation of fossil fuels: oil and gas. The idea of infinite economic growth, which proves so attractive to economists, investors and financiers. It is premised on the assumption that there is an infinite supply of earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being exploited beyond the point it can replenish itself.
On the other hand, the shift to renewable energy resonates with a sustainable mode of economic thinking. It should teach Uganda a lesson that oil and gas reserves will create short-term booms, but these can collapse as many oil-producing countries are discovering in the face of plummeting oil prices.
Of course, if we consider how developed countries have attained their development through the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas development may seem an automatic path to go for Uganda too. However, this assumption teaches a simple lesson but which is fundamental. We need to debunk the myth Ugandans are holding that becoming an oil producing nation guarantees a rocket ride to a modern future.
Our country must commit itself to international legally binding Paris accord which calls for real action to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean and renewable energy by 2050.
Uganda is largely an agricultural country however modernisation of agriculture is probably the most important developmental challenge facing Uganda, Bank of Uganda reveals. The central bank also warns that without agricultural modernisation it is very difficult to envisage how Uganda’s economy will ever be able to achieve middle income status.
The revelation was made by Dr Louis Kasekende, Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda at the High-Level Meeting on Developing Approaches for Financing Smallholder households in Uganda organised by Uganda Agribusiness Alliance.
The meeting discussed the Topic: Shaping the Future of Smallholder financing in Uganda. Below is the speech made by the deputy governor at the meeting which took place at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday April 20, 2016.
The vast majority of farmers in Uganda are smallholders and produce almost all of the country’s agricultural output. “Ninety six percent of total farm output in Uganda is produced on farms of five hectares or less in size. There is no feasible route to agricultural modernisation which does not place the smallholder at its centre.
Although Ugandans often perceive themselves as “blessed by nature”, our agricultural performance has been poor for several decades. Aggregate output growth has been weak and the growth that has occurred has largely been the result of increases in land acreage under cultivation and increases in the agricultural labour force.
Both average land and labour productivity have been stagnant for decades. The 2012/13 Uganda National Household Survey indicated that two thirds of farmers are classified as subsistence farmers. An earlier survey found that even the most commercialised quintile of farmers marketed only fifty percent of their output.
Modernising smallholder agriculture in Uganda will require helping farmers to improve their farm practises, utilise more modern farm inputs, especially high yield variety (HYV) seeds and produce more output for the market, thereby raising yields per acre and labour productivity.
We know, from the work done on demonstration plots supported by development agencies that farmers can, in principle, achieve large increases in their crop yields even with relatively low input technologies combined with the adoption of good agricultural practises. Ugandan smallholder farming has the potential for transformation but the constraints to this transformation are both large and multifaceted.
A lack of access to finance by smallholders is one of these constraints, although not necessarily the most binding constraint for the majority of smallholder farmers at this early stage of agricultural development. To tackle the multiple constraints to the modernisation of smallholder agriculture, we need to adopt, and persevere with, a holistic long term approach. Such an approach should have four key components.
The first, and probably most important in the early stages of agricultural development, is to provide agricultural extension services which can reach the majority of smallholders throughout the countryside and provide advice on the adoption of good agricultural practises and the optimal crops to be grown, given the characteristics of their farms, as well as post harvest handling and storage.
Agricultural extension services must be supported by good agricultural research. Both agricultural extension and agricultural research have the characteristics of public goods, because the dissemination of agricultural knowledge from one farmer to another means that social benefits exceed private benefits. Hence they should be subsidised through the Government budget.
The second component of a holistic agricultural strategy should be to strengthen land rights. As in many African countries, land tenure systems in Uganda are often complex and the ownership or usufruct rights of farmers are often unclear and insecure.
This deters farmers from making long term investments in land improvements and it is also an impediment to access to formal sector credit, because land with unclear ownership is not suitable for loan collateral.
The third component is better rural infrastructure, especially rural feeder roads. The commercialization of farming is impeded by the high costs of transporting farm inputs and outputs, from farm gate to and from the market, because of poor roads.
High transport costs drive down farm gate prices of farm output and drive up input prices, which undermine the commercial viability of farming. More public investment in the construction and proper maintenance of rural feeder roads is essential to support the modernisation of smallholder agriculture.
The fourth component is improved access to finance. As I noted earlier, this may not be the binding constraint for many smallholders, especially subsistence farmers. Access to finance will only benefit those farmers who have the knowledge and capacity to use purchased farm inputs to raise their productivity in a manner which generates profits and which does not expose them to a potentially ruinous level of risk.
This probably currently applies to only a minority of smallholders in the country, although the number of smallholders who could benefit from finance should rise substantially if the other constraints to agricultural modernization are effectively tackled.
In formulating policies for the development of agricultural finance best suited to support the modernisation of smallholder farming, it is necessary to address two important questions: what specific type of financial services do smallholder farmers need? And what types of financial institutions are most appropriate for delivering these services? A third important question is whether the provision of finance to smallholders warrants any form of public subsidy. I will not attempt to provide comprehensive answers to these questions but I will offer some thoughts on them.
Smallholder farmers will probably need a range of financial services, beyond the provision of credit, to support their efforts to modernise. These services will include savings and probably insurance products. The latter are especially important to mitigate the risks that arise from possible crop failures and the volatility of farm gate prices, which are a deterrent to commercialisation.
I don’t think it is likely that commercial banks will be the main vehicle for providing financial services to smallholder farmers, because the banks’ business models entail transactions costs which are too high to make serving customers with micro-savings and micro-loans commercially viable.
Instead other types of financial institutions which can access customers at lower cost and develop lending models which can mitigate the risks of lending to customers with little formal collateral are more suited to providing financial services to the smallholder sector. These institutions include microfinance institutions, including those which take deposits, and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs).
There may be a case in principle for subsidising the provision of financial services for smallholders, because rural financial markets are undoubtedly afflicted with market imperfections, but I don’t think it is a very compelling one in practice.
Clearly the public resources available for supporting agricultural modernisation are highly constrained and it would be a more efficient use of these scarce resources to focus them on providing public goods such as agricultural extension services rather than in reducing the cost of credit.
Furthermore, the availability of subsidised credit creates incentives for its misallocation; it is very difficult to target subsidised credit effectively at those borrowers who need it the most and prevent it being diverted to richer farmers instead.
Finally I want to stress the importance of more research into all aspects of agricultural finance and its efficacy for agricultural modernisation. The characteristics of smallholder farming in Uganda are very heterogeneous.
What types of agricultural finance work best in different circumstances (different crops, different land tenure systems, etc) is mainly an empirical question for which economic principles can only take us so far.
There is no substitute for detailed empirical research, for example research involving randomised controlled trails. I hope that Ugandan researchers will take up this challenge and help to guide us in charting the way forward for agricultural modernisation in Uganda. On that note I will conclude. Thank you for listening.