No Turning Back For Africa’s First Solar Bus

A 35-seater solar bus branded Kayoola is an automobile described as Africa’s first solar-bus, a Ugandan-made Kiira Motors' Kayoola prototype electric vehicle having a collocate of two electric batteries that can charge on the solar panels built on its roof. It was launched in Feb 2016 at the Mandela National Stadium in Kampala.

One year down the road, government has increased the budget allocation for the development of Uganda’s Renewable Energy Science and Technology which increased from Shs14.2 billion it got in the 2016/17 fiscal year to Shs 71.9 billion in the 2017/2018 budget.

East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) was also launched by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Hon. Eng. Irene Muloni to act as an abode for further research and development of renewable energy innovations.

Kayoola was designed by Makerere University’s College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), where the first ever Centre of excellence for East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) is situated.

During the launch of EACREEE, Hon. Eng. Irene Muloni said the Centre will proceed to contributing towards increased access to modern, affordable, sustainable and reliable energy services in Uganda and the East African region.

Established by the partner member states of the East African Community (EAC) with support from the Austrian Development Agency and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), EACREEE is destined to making sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) a reality in 2030. The center is based at Makerere University’s College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) and operates through a network of National Focal Institutions among all East African States.

According to the Principal of Makerere University College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology Assoc. Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, EACREEE is geared towards increased access to energy security and mitigation of negative externalities of energy systems (such as pollution) by creating an enabling environment for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets and investments.

Assoc. Prof. Henry Alinaitwe said that the centre will also promote all appropriate and sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, promote small-scale and medium-scale hydro power projects, and Bio-fuel projects which prove to be sustainable and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cooking projects.

“EACREEE will also support and execute Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency activities and projects which cover one or more EAC Partner States focusing primarily on activities and projects with regional impact or national projects which demonstrate high potential for scaling-up or regional replication,” he  said.

While launching the centre, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Hon. Eng. Irene Muloni said adequate renewable energy is key in promoting industrialisation and subsequently achieving Uganda’s middle income status by 2020. She therefore said that the creation of this facility will support the efforts to realise this target.

“Majority of Ugandans are in the rural areas and they rely on bio mass including charcoal and agricultural waste for energy. Fortunately, 85% of the energy Uganda relies on is renewable and thus need to fully tap into its potential. Only a few of the population are connected to the electricity power and this remains a major constraint to industrial activities particularly manufacturing,” she unequivocally stated.

In a bid to counter these shortfalls, Minister (designate) Muloni said the regional strategy is working towards wider penetration of renewable energy through its Northern Corridor Integration and Standardized High Voltage projects.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General Jessica Ariyo thanked the Austrian Development Agency and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) plus the Government of Uganda for their continued support toward the development of the centre to advance science and technology in Uganda when she said that,

 “The center is a milestone in the integration process and needs to be taken seriously. We hope that this will facilitate a dialogue and exchange of ideas between stakeholders in the private sector within the EAC member states.”

Describing industry and energy as important sectors, the Director General of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Mr. Philippe Scholtes noted that the two sectors should stand alone if countries need to achieve sustainable development.

Mr. Philippe Scholtes said that Member states should work hand in hand for inclusive and sustainable development if they want to achieve industrial development.

“This is what UNIDO is up to and I believe we are not the only ones in the race. The African Union adopted this. And in October 2015, the UN concluded that the general assembly of industries that anyone who wants to involve in energy activities should stand out for sustainable development. It is also important to note the COP21 in Paris last year 2015 agreed to encourage countries engage in better use of energy,” he said.

Renewable energy is a boom in Africa and Uganda has invested $134 million since 2015. In a speech read by the current Makerere University Vice Chancellor elect, Prof. Banarbas Nawangwe, the former Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu said that the university is ready to promote all appropriate and sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency across East African region.

This includes the development of research in electric and solar-powered vehicles, solar water pumps for irrigation to farmers in remote off-grid countryside. Though the bus is intended for urban areas rather than inter-city use because of the restrictions on how far it can travel, according to Kiira Motor’s CEO in a statement told New Vision that by 2039 the company will be able to manufacture all the parts and assemble the vehicle in Uganda in order to cut on the pollution resulting from over dependence on gasoline vehicles.

Environment: Kayihura, Uganda's Little Hands Go Green To Plant Trees

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura is incorporating tree planting into Uganda Police’s Community Policing initiatives as a way of protecting and conserving the environment in the country. This resonates well with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recent call to protect and conserve the environment.

Gen Kale Kayihura is teaming up with Uganda's Little Hands Go Green and My Kid is A superstar to rally residents in different divisions of Kampala to plant trees. This initiative comes as a boost to Uganda's Little Hands Go Green is organizing the Green Festival 2017. The festival which will take place at Kololo Airstrip on Sunday, 3rd September, 2017 inspires children to embrace tree planting.

Uganda's Little Hands Go Green is being supported by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), MilkMan , The Ministry of Environment, Eskom Uganda, Movit , Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), NBS Television and the CIA to organize the annual festival. Each child who attends the festival returns home with a free fruit seedling for planting at their home, community or at school.

Gen Kale Kayihura has been at the forefront of inspiring the police officers to work with communities as they execute their statutory mandate of serving and protecting Ugandans by keeping law and order. He has recently traversed various parts of the country encouraging neighborhood watch schemes and other community policing initiatives. 

The IMO commander Frank Mwesigwa has as a result been traversing the five divisions of Kampala to ensure that there is a massive reduction in crime all over Kampala. The IGP will plant fruit trees in various areas of Kampala in partnership with Uganda's Little Hands Go Green and My Kid is A superstar the organizers of the only Green Festival in Africa.

How Online Booking Is Helping Hotel Business In Uganda

The Internet has caused massive change in the hotel industry, Greg Petzer, General Manager, Speke Resort Munyonyo reveals, explaining that new technologies, new competitors and newly empowered customers have fundamentally altered the face of the hotel business.

He however says that this massive change also bring opportunity, a pronouncement Dhaval Machhar, the General Manager of Forest Cottages, agrees with. “In last five years internet has played extremely dramatic role in business growth of Hotel industry globally and in Uganda,” Machhar confesses.

“Almost each & every traveler is engaged in any short online search before they go for either official tour or for leisure,” Machhar adds. Petzer further explains that with internet a hotelier can control the information ‘you publish and distribute to most booking channels’.

“With the right information shared across all distribution channels you have limitless ways to know your customers better, coordinate their requests, anticipate their needs, develop appealing promotions and improve service,” Petzer says.

Hoteliers talked to for this article said the use of internet is driving direct online bookings, which is a positive for the industry. Petzer explains that hoteliers in Uganda are equally catching up with the trend.

Petzer says: “Hotels have adopted online booking to make it easy and attractive for international travelers. Many customers from Europe, United States and Asia have gone digital. E-commerce has many uses in business, including in the tourism industry.

“In an increasingly competitive market place, tourism products require an effective distribution strategy for a firm to reach its target tourists and local markets. E-commerce mainly helps in the generation of leads, presenting information about the tourism product to the customers and facilitating the transaction process electronically using the World Wide Web.

“The Internet is here to stay, and many businesses have made their first leap to the Internet with a web site, and many are now moving forwards using the Internet, not only as an advertising and promotion platform, but as an active business platform,”

The internet, according to people in the hotel business gives them a ‘24/7’ platform to receive reservations which are commission free. The internet also reduces workload and as Petzer says ‘it’s simply good customer service’. The option of online payment eases transactions.

Machhar however cautions that cybercrime is on high nowadays, ‘so all guests should take care when using credit cards online’ because ‘you need to make sure you are using secure payment gateway’.

Petzer advises that ‘if you decide to use a third-party site, choose a well-known and reputable brand’. “Get recommendations for trusted travel companies or sites from your network of friends and family,” he advises.

“Use a credit card instead of a debit card to book online. In case the website is phony, you won’t have given the cybercriminals direct access to your bank account. Many credit card companies offer fraud protection,” Petzer further advises.

 He says that upon completion of the transaction and reservation ‘always call the company afterward to confirm’. “If there is no record of your reservation, it’s better to know sooner rather than later. You’ll be able to alert your credit card company, report the fraud, and still have time to book reservations with the real deal,”

Asked what factors consumer considers when choosing a hotel online, Petzer explained that description of the hotel, online ratings and reviews, social media presence and content of hotel website are key.

“Our online customers do choose us because of positive guest reviews, budget rates, safari style accommodation with comfortable facilities and of course the forest.” Machhar of Forest Cottage explained.

“Forest cottages is the only place in the heart of Kampala where you can feel like you are somewhere up country. You don’t feel like you are in Kampala. Our place is like a real tropical forest - lush green full of nature. Till date we have spotted more than 25 spices of birds at forest cottages and grows 9 different type of fruits in our forest.”

Make An Entry Into Uganda Tourism Sector With This Degree Training

There is renewed focus directed at reinvigorating Uganda’s tourism industry. These efforts have in the past few years received enormous backing from both government and the private sector. Some people have started harvesting.

However, amidst this hope, one disadvantage stands in the way of Ugandans intending to work in the country’s tourism industry – the lack of necessary education and training. This lack of know-how and skills to work in the industry has seen Ugandans lose jobs to Kenyans.

This skills gap has woken up regulators and high learning institutions to start training Ugandans. Uganda Tourism Board has on different occasions called on private sector players who are the helm of the industry as service providers to improve on their skills through training; training institutions are heeding to this call.

Victoria University, a private university in Kampala, is inviting interested students to apply for the three year Bachelor of Tourism and Hotel Management ahead of their August intake. The course covers a wide range of topics in the tourism sector.

All one needs to qualify for this course is Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education or its equivalent with two principle passes obtained at same sitting or a Diploma in Tourism and Hotel Management or in related course from recognized institution.

“This course welcomes students into the exciting and diverse hospitality and tourism industry. While providing an understanding of the scope and complexity of the industry, the course covers key hospitality issues, management definitions.” Abdul Kalanzi, marketing and recruitment specialist at Victoria University, said.

He elaborated that students after graduating can build careers and work in restaurants, hotels, beverages operations, casinos, theme venues, entertainment centers, cruise lines, and countless other hospitality and tourism business.

Tourism in Uganda is a major driver of employment, investment and foreign exchange, contributing trillions of Ugandan Shillings to country's coffers. Tourism can be used to fight poverty in Uganda.

Tourist attractions in Uganda include national game parks, game reserves, traditional sites, natural tropical forests. Traditional occasions like Mbalu in eastern Uganda, boat riding, waterfalls etc.

Speke Resort Munyonyo In Fresh Weekend Offers

Luxury hoteliers’ Speke Resort - Munyonyo and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort owned Speke Group of Hotels recently announced special Weekend Packages on bed & breakfast basis as a commitment to offer best competitive rates along with quality services to guests.

Ajit Singh, Rooms Division Manager, Speke / Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort revealed that this package gives clients more options to choose from and pay less. “At Speke Resort we are committed to offering best competitive rates along with quality services to our valuable guests,” he said upon unveiling the new packages.

“We have come up with a special Weekend Package on bed & breakfast basis in addition to our existing full board basis weekend package rates, giving you more options to choose from and pay less by selecting the option that suites you best as per your requirements.” He added in an email revelation which was shared with customers.

According to Singh, all resident guests are entitled to free usage of Gym, Swimming pool, Steam & Sauna. The Weekend package rates include 30 minutes boat & 10 Minutes pony ride. Use of Gym, Swimming, and Steam & Sauna is free of charge for all our residents.

While Extra person or child in the room (Speke Resort) will be charged US$ 35 per night on bed & breakfast with an extra mattress and US$ 68 per night for Full Board.  Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort doesnt provide extra mattresses.

Protecting Environment Is A Matter Of Life And Death, Says Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni emphasized that protecting the environment is a matter of life and death for humanity cautioning that ‘we must do all it takes to protect the environment lest we perish.’ The president was speaking as guest of honor during World Environment Day celebrations in Ibanda District on Monday.

“All those interfering with nature are doing a great disservice to themselves and will ultimately pay a heavy price. God created for us a wonderful environment to live in but by degrading it, we are going against his will. Water is our life and we should not interfere with anything to do with water or the environment.

“We have not had enough rains for the last two seasons in Uganda and experts attribute it to the attack on the environment by people who invaded wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers that contribute 40% of the rains we get and we can’t go on like that,” he added.

The President, therefore, said that government is soon amending and strengthening the environment protection law to ensure that nobody should do any activity in a radius of 50 meters from a river bank, 200 meters from a lake shore and advised all people living or practicing agriculture in wetlands and forestry reserves, to leave them peacefully.

Important for tourism

Museveni further said that protecting the environment is also important for tourism noting that the sector earns the country much more foreign exchange than most economic activities the country is engaged in.

The President, who described the environment as the genetic bank, appealed to all citizens of Uganda to prioritize environmental protection for the good of the current and future generations. He emphasized that they ought treat whoever is attacking the environment as their number one enemy.

Rain catchment areas

The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, said that wetlands, forests and water bodies are important rain catchment areas and that whoever attacked them in a country like Uganda that is largely agricultural and dependent on rainfall, must be resisted.

On behalf of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program Country Director, Ms. Rosa Malanga, said that humanity must find ways of connecting with nature, protect it, respect it and safeguard the world heritage. She commended Uganda for being one of the few countries that have put in place a legal framework to protect the environment.

The French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms. Stephanie Rivoal, noted that humanity shares the same planet and there must be a collective duty to protect it selfishly for the sake of the future generations.

She said that the planet belongs to nobody but to everybody and it is, therefore, a duty of everybody to ensure that it is safe for humanity. She appealed to developed countries who contributed greatly to climate change to take a leading role in mitigating the causes of climate change.

Environmentalists Run For Trees In Ibanda

On Sunday, 4th June, thousands of environment protectionists thronged Ibanda, western Uganda, to take part in The 2017 Environment Run which was a precursor to Monday’s World Environment Day celebrations. This year's World Environment Day theme is "Connect with Nature".

The 2017 Environment Run, under the theme ‘Run for Trees’ was organized by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, Eskom Uganda, Hima Cement among other partners. It attracted all calibers of participants who also planted trees as a gesture of their commitment to protect the environment.  

State Minister for Environment Hon Kitutu Kimono, on Thursday flagged off the World Environment Day Celebration Caravan at the NEMA offices in Kampala. The team carried out a number of activities which included planting trees in schools and various other strategic locations. The ‘caravan’ cleaned Ibanda town on Saturday a day before the historic Sunday run.

The caravan was embraced by NEMA officials, the Woman Member of Parliament (MP) for    Ibanda Hon Jovin Kaliisa and other district officials, a team from Uganda Little Hands Go Green led by CEO Joseph Masembe, pupils and student from different schools and the local people. The activities created awareness and set a precedent. 

“A wise man will always plant a tree whose shade he knows he will never sit under,” Joseph Masembe explained why it is important for people to plant trees and ensure a humane environment in the future.

“We owe it to our children and grand children to deliver to them a green inheritance.” He added, emphasizing the need to protect the environment because the future needs a habitable environment. Uganda joins the world on Monday to commemorate World Environment Day.

Photos: Little Hands Go Green, NEMA Set Pace For Environment Day Celebrations

This year’s environment day celebrations have picked momentum in Ibanda district, Western Uganda. This year's World Environment Day theme is "Connect with Nature". Environment concerns are getting global attention with a motive to protect Mother Nature.

State Minister for Environment Hon Kitutu Kimono, the Executive Director (ED) of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Woman Member of Parliament (MP) for    Ibanda Hon Jovin  Kaliisa and the CEO Little Hands Go Green Joseph Masembe flagged off the World Environment Day Celebration Caravan at the NEMA offices in Kampala.

The team that set off on Thursday, including school children, planted trees in different areas on their way to Ibanda as part of the drive to create climate change awareness. The team has planted trees in Mpigi, and Buwama and Nkozi enroute to Ibanda. Various schools have joined the noble cause.

Below in pictures we bring you highlights some from different activities being undertaken by stakeholders ahead of environment day celebrations on 5th June.

Sheraton Begins Ramadan With A Corporate Dinner

Sheraton Kampala Hotel hosted their Muslim clients to a mouthwatering dinner as a kick off to the month of Ramadan.The dinner was held to thank the Muslims for the continued support to the hotel and to also wish them a fruitful fasting period.

The diner was attended by clients from various organizations and industries with a guest profile ranging from managers, ambassadors, business people, media personalities to mention but a few together with their spouses. A wide spread of food and soft drinks were served to the guests.

The guests were first ushered in to separate dedicated rooms for prayers and the guests then proceeded to the main dining area to break their fast for the day.

“During this Ramadan season, Sheraton has prepared special menus customized to the preference of our clients and a special prayer place to relieve our customers from the stress of where to pray from and break their fast.

We shall also have a designated corner for Iftar every day at Paradise restaurant. We wish all our Muslim clients a fruitful and successful Ramadan and may Allah grant them all their wishes. “commented Mr. Jean Philippe Bittencourt.

He also added that In the coming days we shall also hold a very special Iftar Dinner for about 400 Muslim children from disadvantaged backgrounds – this being one of our CSR initiatives and a way for the Hotel to give back to society.”

 

NFA Under Fire Over Illegal Logging In Bugoma Forest

By George Busiinge

The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has come under fire from the communities neighboring Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district for abetting illegal lumbering. Residents accuse NFA officials for laxity, which has fueled the illegal timber trade and charcoal burning within the forest. 

They expressed their concern during a two day collaborative meeting organized by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) held at Kabwoya sub county headquarters  in Hoima.  Annet Agaba, a tree planting coordinator for Kidoma Conservation Development Association told the meeting that NFA officials don't respond to calls when residents notify them about the activities of illegal loggers. 

She explains that when the Community Forest Management groups entered partnership with NFA, the Bugoma forest was in a very good shape, but the laxity of NFA officials has fueled lumbering. Charles Byamuleme, a resident of Kyangwali Sub County accuses NFA especially the forest supervisors and police personally deployed to guard the forest for conniving with illegal loggers to cut down trees. 

Stuart Maniraguha, the Budongo Range Manager, said the issue of illegal lumbering involves both residents and community members. 
He said they are strengthening partnerships with communities and other stakeholders to ensure the reserve is protected and free from illegal activities. 

Joan Akiza from National Association of Professional Environmentalists -NAPE called upon all the stakeholders to work together in order to prevent the cutting of timbers and charcool in Bugoma forest and promised total support as NAPE . 

 

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