All Uganda news

Uganda Diaspora

Subscribe to Uganda Diaspora feed
Updated: 54 min 7 sec ago

Uganda Adventures | My Visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kasenyi Safari Camp!

8 hours 27 min ago

By Ronnie Mayanja — In 1907 Winston Churchill embarked on an African safari, setting off from Mombasa and traveling through Kisumu to Uganda. At the end of his sojourns he would write a book, My African Journey, and coin a phrase that would later be used to describe Uganda to the outside world.

For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.

Churchill’s descriptions came to mind as I headed to Western Uganda from Kampala on a 6-hour, 400 km journey to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park includes the Maramagambo Forest and borders Kigezi Game Reserve, Kyambura Game Reserve and Kibale National Park in Uganda, as well as Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and occupies an estimated 1,978 square kilometers (764 square miles). I had last visited the area as a youngster when my dad took us along on his many safaris.

For this trip I had received an invitation from a friend and old Budonian diaspora returnee, Philip Kiboneka, who moved back to Uganda with his son after more than 30 years in the US where he worked for a biotech company. Philip left a successful life, choosing to return home to help tourism in Uganda live up to its potential.

Without a concession from the Uganda Government or the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Philip managed to buy some land outside the park boundaries and construct Kasenyi Safari Camp, which sits on about 40 acres of land in a prime spot frequented by tree-climbing lions in close proximity to Lake George, huge volcanic craters, lakes and various ecosystems of the African savannah.

I arrived with my niece Angela her best friend Anita around midnight and were greeted by Philip and his crew who had stayed up to direct us at the edge of his camp. It was quite interesting driving this stretch of vast savannah in the dead of night, the natural setting only interrupted by the security checkpoints that dotted the way till we got to the National Park. Security has been beefed up in the Rwenzori region due to sectarian unrest in recent years. After exchanging some pleasantries, Philip moved us to our cottage that had been built in an area I could call “lion alley”, being a popular spot for lions and their prides in the area.

I was pleasantly surprised to find, after driving many miles from Kampala, a hot shower and a flushing toilet on the fringes of a protected national park. Following a long day of travel I soon fell asleep, only to be awakened a few hours later by our host, who wanted us to experience the morning game drive at 6am., this being the ideal time for animals to do their hunting before going into seclusion to escape the savannah heat.

The view was spectacular and those doing hot-air balloon safaris must have enjoyed the panoramic sky view of the lakes and craters.The first night in the camp went smoothly but on Day 2 in the dead of night I startled from my slumber to a sound like no other– a male lion calling its pride to go hunting. It was then I knew why they call lions the king of the jungle.

Nothing can prepare you for the roar of a lion and it is no wonder all the animals tremble in fear when they hear it. I was stone-faced when I realized that our tent was the last one and perhaps most vulnerable to lion attack (later Philip would tell me that this adds to the adrenaline rush for some tourists). Later that morning I would learn that this was one of the biggest pride sightings, resulting in more than 100 vehicles driving down to the edge of Kasenyi Safari Camp to get a look.

The drive around this vast savannah was also the most interesting and the view a spectacle to behold, even exceeding my experience at Murchison Falls. I was able to see craters that were filled with thick forest and those that perhaps have not been disturbed by civilization since their formation.

This must be part of the underground forests that define the western Rift Valley and stretch down to Kyambura Lodge. We also drove 40 kilometers to Kazinga Channel, a body of water around Mweya Safari Lodge, rich in hippos, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, elephants and a wide array of bird species.

The hippo boat ride provided some cool refreshments and a closer look at some of the amphibious life and scenic beauty of Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward. For the birders this would be described as ground zero given the many species of birds you will find in this area.

Whether we have done justice in marketing this part of Uganda is a story for another day but for those living in the diaspora and have not experienced Uganda’s wildlife, Queen Elizabeth National Park will help you understand why many have described Uganda as “gifted by nature”. I was impressed by the UWA staff and the patrols there to enforce park regulations.

If you are looking for a safari that will allow you an opportunity to see lion prides up close and experience the sprawling savannah grasslands, you need to book a safari with Kasenyi Safari Camp. The professionalism of Philip Kiboneka, his son Wasajja and staff, along with the amenities offered, will leave a lasting impression when touring Queen Elizabeth National Park, the most visited national park in Uganda.

A night at the Kasenyi Safari Camp will range anywhere from $288 dollars for singles and $390 dollars for doubles. For details on how to book a Safari experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park call +256756992038 or +256791992038 or please visit www.kasenyisafaricamp.com or https://www.facebook.com/kasenyisafaricamp/

Photography by Ronnie Mayanja and Phillip Kiboneka.

Diaspora Returnee| The Courage To Return Home By Jaffar Tonda

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 09:17

By Jaffar Tonda — From inception, the plan was never to settle in the USA. A similar feeling resonates with most diaspora immigrants – the typical plan is to achieve a target and return “home.” I staged a plan to graduate from University, work for one or two years to get international experience and return to my motherland. Being coined an immigrant/foreigner was never appealing. After graduating with a degree in Accounting at Brigham Young University (BYU) Utah USA in 2006, I received numerous job offers from all the leading accountancy firms I applied to, thanks to BYU’s highly ranked accounting program.

My stint in formal employment entailed working as a treasury analyst with Morgan Stanley, New York and thereafter with Ernst & Young in Boston. However, despite the glamour that came with working at renown top firms, I chose to stick to the plan to return to Uganda. I chose to be proactive and remained committed to my return strategy. In this regard I encourage those towing with this idea — to avoid procrastinating their intended return home. Set a target, and execute it despite the general fear that may abound.

In 2008, Synergy Partners – a real estate development company was born. Why real estate? The numbers in the real estate sector were/are glaring: according to the National Planning Authority, Uganda faces a housing shortage of 8 million units. Therein I saw an opportunity to work towards bridging the housing gap. I did not have adequate resources when I embarked on becoming a real estate developer – it is a capital intensive business.

In all honesty I had no money. I chose to overcome the self-limiting belief that you cannot start a business if you do not have capital. Instead, I worked towards being knowledgeable, hardworking, and honest/trustworthy in my business dealings. I formulated concepts and like most entrepreneurs undertook the difficult patient task of prospecting capital until I found investors who believed in me.

Network, network, network. To aid my transition to home, I actively sought to expand my contacts/circle of friends. I encourage returnees to join various groups for example: health clubs, rotary, health clubs, business and professional associations, religious groups, and harness varied volunteer opportunities. I made an effort to not only join as many groups as I could, but also sought advice from established business leaders/mentors. If people trust you, they are typically willing to share their experiences. Learning from past experiences of others can help encourage, and/or help you avoid potential pitfalls/mistakes that you would otherwise make.

Uganda being a developing nation presents numerous opportunities for self-driven individuals to create additional value – both through formal employment and self-employment. I have discussed various tenets like planning ahead (and saving as a result versus “buying” that nice car on credit), being proactive, persistent/dedicated, overcome self-limiting beliefs, and networking.

Above all the aforementioned, I will close with persistence! From the inception, you will find challenges returning home – right from the airport! Eight years after my return, I am still saddened by the under development I see right from the airport to Kampala. You will face challenges finding a job that adequately rewards your skill set. You will face challenges registering and operating your business. However, remain positive by the reminder that the challenges you face are OPPORTUNITIES to add value!

This article was first published in the Ugandan Diaspora Event Magazine — 2016 edition as a way to inspire those wishing to return home but find themselves in the valley of indecision — Here is a story of someone who walked away from a successful accounting career in the US and is now doing well back in Uganda.

Email — jaffar@synergypartners.co.ug, Website — http://synergypartners.co.ug/

 

Daily Monitor | Presidential Handshake Is A Sign Of The Oil Curse

Sun, 01/15/2017 - 01:49

By Expedito Olimi — It’s close to a fortnight that Uganda is filled with utterances against the action of presidential handshake which saw the government’s treasury lose Shs6 billion. The money in question was given as appreciation for the contribution of the 42 officials towards winning a tax dispute that was a protracted legal battle in different courts, including a Ugandan Tax Appeal Tribunal and a commercial court in London.

After a deep reflection on the animal farm story, I am derived to say that Uganda is in a comparable situation of a once united farm built on the seven commandments of animalism. Now, the seven commandments that defined animalism have been corrupted by the “pigs” as defined in the context of the Animal Farm book. Esteemed readers who have come across this universally respected book clearly know how Mr Napoleon changed the game of politics and inequalities escalated the daily miserable life at animal farm.

This story in whatever scenario but to a greater extent in an abused political environment finds its application inevitable. In a Ugandan context, the application of this script is beyond the scope of the wanainchi because the drama going on is past what even Hollywood stars can offer.

Everyday, a scandal crops-up and all that is done is to defend the thieves of the home. Corruption which is total theft has been coined sweet names as handshake to justify dignified theft. The Shs6 billion cash handshake as it is called was an unconstitutional offer and more over the parties engaged such as the Attorney General as an advocate for government and his team in their respective jurisdictions were obliged to defend the country in the case where the government was engaged with the multinational oil company.

They did this as a constitutional mandate of serving the country as vowed during the State oath taken by each of the implicated parties upon assumption of their official roles. The positive results of winning the case would have been well celebrated if the compensation made was put into the national treasury to support government budget.

Quite a number of Ugandans have made exceptional contributions to the State but such handshakes are never made, except the decoration with a medal if one is lucky and close to the awarding sources. Since this case emanates from the oil treasure, it is sorry to state that the oil curse as it was coined is at conception stage. However, this oil curse could well be avoided if proper government accountability and zero tolerance to corruption in all its forms is enforced in Uganda. For God and my country.

Expedito Olimi,
olimicls2015@gmail.com
Centre for Life sciences

Source — Daily Monitor

Events | Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala Highlights — 2016 Edition

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 18:42

As Ugandans prepared to end the year Friday 30th December 2016 all roads led to Kampala Serena Hotel Victoria Ballroom — Venue for the 6th annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala. The event officiated by the H.E The Vice President, Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi recognized the continued positive impact on the economy by Ugandans living and working in the diaspora whose remittances now total 3.6 trillion shillings annually.

The Vice President further noted that the revenues remitted have empowered many people to start their own business investments resulting into further employment and generation of taxes for government.

Ssekandi thanked the sponsors of the event which he said is noble since it recognizes the work and services of Ugandans in the diaspora who are undertaking professional and semi professional activities that are not only marketing them as individuals but the country in general.

The Vice President later presided over the annual Diaspora Recognition Awards ceremony that saw this year’s Uganda Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award jointly go to the King and Queen of Katwe — Coach Robert Katende and Ms. Phiona Mutesi where recognized for their role in marketing Uganda abroad through their new film ‘Queen of Katwe’, representation of the country at the international chess tournaments and rehabilitating a number of street children by giving them hope through chess.

Other 2016 awardees included Mr. Henry Kerali Rupiny, in absentia, who is the World Bank Country Director Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ambassador James Mugume, retired Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was celebrating 46 years as a foreign service official and under whose tenure the Diaspora desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established, Dr. Nadaula Kanyerezi Mutema founder of the Village Mall Clinic who has ploughed back her professional expertise to treat Ugandans, Dr. Stephen Kaddu Deputy Director Dermatology and Dermatopathology Medical University and State Hospital in Graz, Austria.

The Patron Uganda Diaspora Network, Dr. Maggie Kigozi appealed to Diasporas to shift from giving money to their relatives but source for them appropriate machinery like hand tractors, produce millers that add value to commodities and which will enhance self sustenance.

Ronnie Mayanja, the coordinator of the Uganda diaspora network encouraged government to address the loopholes within dual citizenship and allow for Diaspora voting rights given the annual remittances. He also pointed to the negative tone and wrong mindset harbored by Ugandans back home who refer to the diaspora as nkuba-kyeyos, abasamma etc despite comprising a sizable number of professionals who are marketing the country positively.

The night was characterized by performances from artists Winnie Nakanwagi (Nwagi) Michael Ross, Jackie Akello, Kenneth Mugabi, Comedian Daniel Omara and fashion designs from Arapapa led by Santa Anzo and K. Raphael.

Event Production was done courtesy of DVI company and a special thank-you to Kampala Serena Hotel and all our partners for the continued support. See you at the next diaspora business breakfast and gala meet — Dec 29th and 30th 2017.

Source — Inside Report. Ugandan Diaspora News Photo Gallery appears courtesy of Guilio Molfese

MTN WebPhone App For Diaspora | Make Calls to Uganda From Anywhere In the World at Local Rates

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 20:34

Make Calls to Uganda from anywhere in the world at local rates

  • MTN introduces WebPhone app for smartphones, easing international calls to Uganda
  • Customers need to sign up for the service prior to travelling

Kampala, Uganda: – MTN introduced a new mobile and web app called WebPhone that is an alternative cost-effective way of communication for frequent travellers and those living in the diaspora.

The app is ideal for business travelers and those doing business outside the country that make frequent calls back home; and offers the same call rates as local call charges, to any network in Uganda.

Users can make calls over the internet either from a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone, by signing up for a virtual “WebPhone number” (032), which then becomes the username that is used to sign in to the mobile or PC application.

The mobile app’s sleek interface offers the user quick access to their phone contacts, as well as the option to make calls using either the WebPhone number (Phone Call) or the number of the SIM used in the mobile device (Regular Call).

The benefit of using the WebPhone number while calling from outside Uganda is that it is significantly cheaper than any of the currently available alternatives for making international calls to Uganda, making it the ideal solution for the business traveller

“We are pleased to introduce a product that offers convenience to our customers outside Uganda while dramatically reducing the cost of communication. This is inline with our commitment to offer our customers more value on all offers,” said the General Manager, MTN Business, Mr. Reginald Kafeero.

Ability to call non-smartphone users

While WebPhone relies on the Internet, its users have the unprecedented advantage of making calls to people without smartphones. This offers a key difference between WebPhone and other existing Voice over IP (VoIP) apps.

“With MTN WebPhone you can use the Internet to make calls to any Ugandan number from anywhere in the world at local rates, allowing you to spend only as much as you would spend while calling from an MTN fixed line in Uganda,” she added.

To get started, contact talkbusiness@mtn.co.ug to sign up for your 032 number, register and then start using the service. Alternatively you can visit the MTN Businesscentre at Plots 1 – 4 Nyonyi Gardens, Kololo to get signed up for the service.​

The MTN WebPhone app can be downloaded from http://mtn.co.ug/mtnwebphoneand is available for Windows PC, Android and iOS devices.

About MTN Uganda
Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile and Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As of 31st December 2015, MTN Uganda recorded 8.9 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.mtn.co.ug and for our football fans www.mtnfootball.com. Customers can also follow us on www.youtube.com/mtnug and www.twitter.com/mtnug for assistance.

About the MTN Group
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31st December 2015, MTN recorded 232.5 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at, www.mtnbusiness.com, www.mtn.com  andwww.mtnmmo.com

For more information, please contact:

Wendy Angu’ Deyo

0312120762

mediadesk@mtn.co.ug

DR Congo Politics | Kabila to Step Down After Elections In New Transitional Deal

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 12:02

Joseph Kabila will step down as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo after elections held before the end of 2017, under a draft agreement reached by political parties, according to a lead mediator from the Catholic Church.

Under the deal, reached on Friday but not yet signed, Kabila will be unable to change the constitution to extend his mandate and run for a third term, said Marcel Utembi, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Congo.

A transitional government will be put in place by March next year, said Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from neighbouring Kenya.

“During the time of the transitional government, they will be looking at appointing a prime minister from the opposition. That was vital for the opposition because it needed a bigger stake in the government,” she said. She said politicians in exile may also be allowed to return without a fear of prosecution.

However, “there seems to be a number of questions around opposition politicians within DRC who have been arrested. They won’t necessarily be freed anytime soon,” she said.

“What this agreement is talking about is a sort of commission to be set up that would look at these political prisoners case-by-case and determine their fate.”

If the deal is finalised, it will be Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. Kabila’s two-term mandate ended on December 19, but authorities have effectively extended it until 2018. His actions led to demonstrations, with security forces killing about 40 people just last week alone.

Western and African powers feared the failure to secure a peaceful transition of power could lead to a repeat of conflicts seen between 1996 and 2003 in eastern Congo in which millions died, mostly from starvation and disease.

Source — Al Jazeera

The Observer | Oil Should Not Over-Dominate Uganda’s Economy, World Bank Regional Chief – Henry Kerali

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 10:55

Written by Richard M Kavuma & Ronnie Mayanja — HENRY RUPINY KERALI hails from Erussi in Padyere county, Nebbi district, but was born in Arua hospital in 1957. Now the World Bank country director for Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Kerali was born to a forester father and a teacher mother. He grew up ‘around the country’ – as his father was transferred from one place to another.

He recalls attending primary school in Moroto, secondary school in Teso College, and then going to Makerere University to study civil engineering. After a teaching-assistant stint at Makerere, Kerali did his master’s and PhD at the University of Birmingham in England.

He would spend 20 years in Birmingham, rising to professor of transport economics – with more than 100 publications. In 2002, Kerali joined the World Bank in Washington, before becoming a regional director for the South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) and then going to West Africa in mid-2015.

As one of the highest-ranking Ugandans in the World Bank, Kerali is this year being recognized by the Uganda Diaspora Network for helping to promote the country abroad, Richard M Kavuma & Ronnie Mayanja spoke to Kerali about his journey from Erussi to the oil-exporting country of Ghana, and about the economics of oil and development

Henry Rupiny Kerali
Let’s start at home, what kind of environment did you grow up in?

Home kept shifting; we moved as dad was moving and also as he moved up the ranks, until he became a regional forestry officer based in Gulu.

So, yes, home kept shifting, although our home village in Erussi was where the real home was. We visited every year for holidays. That’s where the grandparents lived and you know, the African sense of home is the home village.

What are your earliest vivid boyhood memories?

I think running around in the village. We had big market days – Thursday and Tuesday. It is a small trading centre but particularly for the Thursday market, the population almost tripled because everybody came to sell their produce to buy something from the village market.

The whole area was coffee-growing; it’s high altitude; so, we had Arabica coffee as the main cash crop as we used to call them. And of course it’s very fertile; so, we had lots of food – bananas, sweet potatoes…

If you look back at the little boy in Erussi, did you have an early sense of what you wanted to be?

Probably it was too early to think of what I wanted to be. But I know I wanted to be successful in school. I was one of those who were studious. I would study. I wasn’t talented in sports, but I played a lot of squash and badminton [from secondary school]. I was good with rackets in general.

Your parents?

We were very close. I would put them on the strict side, but not very strict. Very religious. God-fearing, Catholics. So they imbued in us that sense of being God-fearing, righteous, upright. Every day we had a prayer at home and every Sunday we went to Church. So in that sense, a very strict Christian upbringing.

You have been away for some 30 years, do you still feel Ugandan or do the ties loosen over time?

Very much so. Despite being away for so long, I have maintained a home. I have a house in Kampala. I visit every year once or twice. In those 30 years, I may have missed two or three years when I didn’t come, but I maintain… and every time, I make it a point to go to the home village to recharge the batteries – my feeling of belonging to Uganda. To me it’s home. As the old adage goes, home is where the heart is.
As a high-level Ugandan expatriate, do you feel there are enough of you, or could there be more at that level?

We definitely could be more – when I look at other African countries and I see the numbers – for example, Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon. Particularly Senegal and Cameroon where the population numbers are [not very different from] Uganda, then the answer is yes, we could have a few more.

Is there anything that could help to make Ugandan professionals more competitive internationally?

The one thing that comes to mind immediately is language. When I look at why Senegal or Cameroon or even Ivory Cost nationals have been successful, it is that they speak both English and French. I think it is very important for international jobs holders to have that ability to speak another international language.

So, I would encourage young Ugandans to always take advantage when you have an opportunity to learn another language. I speak French. I can’t say I am very fluent but I do speak a bit of French. But I think our young generation should take this as a cue. We do have a number of Ugandans at the World Bank and IMF that are on the up and I do hope that they too will rise up to that level.

You are here with your family…

Yes. My wife and son are here. My daughter who is a medical doctor in the UK will be coming. The third one, unfortunately, cannot make it this time. She works in the United States.

Do they share your sense of home?

A little bit, maybe not as much. The unfortunate part of being part of the diaspora is that the next generation, your children, don’t have as much attachment as you do to your home country.

It is a common theme for most of us in the diaspora that we always lament about how to ensure that our children, and maybe grandchildren, will have the same level of attachment. I have tried to always come with them to Uganda but I don’t think they will ever have the level of attachment that I do. They may develop it gradually but it will take time.

Let’s now turn to issues related to your work at the World Bank. Ghana is an oil economy, and Uganda is preparing to pump oil; give us a sense of how oil in Ghana has impacted on the ordinary person.

Ghana discovered oil about [15] years ago and it’s only [in 2011] that they started to produce oil. The fortunate thing is that they have had time to prepare for it, to [make] laws on how to use revenues from oil and gas, and how to invest some of that revenue in future.

But they have also agreed to be part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). All that has helped Ghana because it is a much more transparent system than we have in other [oil-producing] countries in Africa.

In terms of how it has benefitted the ordinary person, it is still too early because it’s only in the last five years that they have really gone into producing oil and gas. And then you have had the impact of the downturn in commodity prices. So, the revenue stream from oil and gas has not been as much as probably expected.

But it has also had a negative impact because there was so much expectation that oil and gas would produce revenues. [And] in a way, the government started to spend on the expectation [of those high] revenues. So, this effectively resulted in very high debt levels in Ghana – now close to 70 per cent of GDP. The unfortunate side is that this has driven a lot of the macro-economic and monetary policies in Ghana at the moment.

Because of such very high debt levels, they have had a very high base rate or policy rate by the central bank – [around] 20 percent. This means interest rates at local banks are also going to be high; inflation is now coming down but it has been high – just under 20 percent for over two years.

In view of that, if you were to advise Uganda as regards oil, what would you say?

First and foremost is transparency, regarding the revenues from oil and gas. Second, diversification; let’s not get into the trap of what is commonly called the Dutch disease, of having one single commodity dominating the economy to the extent that all the other productive sectors are overshadowed.

It is very important for Uganda to maintain its levels of production – in fact increase its levels of production – in agriculture, tourism and so forth. Oil should not become the single most dominant factor in our economy. That would be putting ourselves in a very straitjacket – which is what Ghana is going through at the moment in that there was overdependence on oil that was beginning to creep up.

And so the drive in Ghana is to diversify. They are lucky they have land, and most of it is fertile. They are not as lucky as Uganda; they don’t have as much rain [or] water.

President Museveni commissions a road. Such infrastructure can only help reduce poverty if it is part of a broader package of interventions
You mentioned tourism; do you think Uganda should be doing more to benefit from tourism?

Definitely a country like Uganda has a lot of endowments which at present are underutilized. But tourism is very much a private sector-driven industry. It will require that there is the business environment – the regulatory framework, the licensing, permits, etc – that encourages investment by the private sector.

The government’s role will be to regulate and provide that environment where businesses can thrive – particularly the small and medium enterprises. Tourism, when you look at it in terms of per capita, is one of the highest employers that you can get anywhere in the world.

So, I would suggest that Uganda should look at its tourism strategy, and try to see: what are the bottlenecks that the private sector faces in investing in tourism facilities? What are the factors that at the moment limit the numbers that want to come to Uganda? And then it is the role of government to address these factors.

In Ghana at one point, GDP per capita was growing by 43 per cent but poverty headcount was falling by only 10 percent. How best would a country ensure that the benefits of oil-driven growth are shared more equitably?

To be fair to Ghana, they have been successful in reducing extreme poverty – incomes less than $1.75 per day. The challenge is what the World Bank [calls] sharing prosperity: how do you make sure that those in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution also see their income increasing as the economy is growing?

So, what kind of strategies would you recommend?

Making sure that the revenues are used to benefit the masses. So, public investments in infrastructure, for example, in health and education, are some of the things that these revenues should give a priority to. Those investments that will underpin growth that benefits the majority of the people.

The second aspect – all these extractives have a lifespan, 20 or 30 or 40 years and you run out. So, being able to create a reserve for future generations, a sovereign wealth fund, so that after you run out of oil, future generations can benefit from this.

You mentioned infrastructure, and we are big on infrastructure in Uganda. But when you do a road, for example, is it automatic that the new road will lead people out of poverty?

There are tools that we use to be able to assess whether a road or any other infrastructure will have a net economic benefit. The issue then is, is the investment implemented efficiently? In some cases you end up with the road costing two or three times more than was envisaged. So, what are the causes of those inefficiencies that result in doubling or tripling of costs? Some of it is pure and simple corruption – let’s not get away from that.

The second aspect is, if you build a road and you do not do anything else – you don’t help the farmers to increase their productivity; you don’t help the industries to improve their efficiency; that road will be there and you will have a few vehicles running up and down but it will never really generate the economic benefits that were intended. So, it’s not a question of just building [infrastructure] for the sake of it; it’s got to be a package of other things that have to be done in order to ensure economic returns.

What do you think about Uganda’s economic prospects?

I am not an expert on Uganda’s economy. But what I have observed is that we need to focus on and improve what is generally referred to as the business environment. How easy is it particularly for small and medium enterprises to thrive and to grow? Statistics show that most jobs are created by the private sector.

Out of that, the vast majority is small and medium enterprises. These are the companies, the shops, the small farms that employ anywhere up to 100 people. But if you have a million of these and each is employing just 20 people, that means you have 20 million jobs. So, Let’s think of it in those terms: what will it take for us to improve the business environment for small and medium enterprises to be able to expand?

You also mentioned agriculture, but how do you modernize and commercialise agriculture in a place like Uganda as you know it?

I see this as a significant potential and that leads me into what I hope to do when I retire. A part from tourism, we have an endowment in terms of land, very fertile land. We have a second endowment in terms of water in lakes and rivers and rainfall. [Let us] focus on increasing the productivity of our agriculture, particularly for the poor.

We have a major issue anywhere in Africa – not just in Uganda – where our inheritance system is such that the landowner divides the land among the children, and so you have an ever-decreasing parcel of land which leads to inefficiencies in production. So, let’s think of a way of helping particularly the poor and the rural communities to be able to aggregate the land.

And by so aggregating, they are not selling the land; they still own it but they cooperate in what they produce, which will then allow people to mechanize. And once you mechanize, once you have proper inputs, then you begin to increase productivity.

So, the concept of getting people to always sell their land [and] move out so that an industrial-scale farmer comes in, we need to revisit that. Don’t throw the [rural poor off the land] because if you do, they will end up in the slums in the towns and become another problem.

So, let’s work together. We are doing this in Ghana and Sierra Leone, where we help commercial farmers to work with individual smallholders and help them to aggregate the land and they all produce the same thing – whether it is rice, maize or cocoa. I know it’s working here, for example in the sugar industry, but let’s try and expand it to other crops.

What does it take to organize this?

It is getting people to understand what you are trying to do. If people misunderstand the concept, maybe they think you are trying to grab their land, then you get a lot of resistance. So, being able to get the people to understand, particularly the small farmers to understand that this is being done for their benefit and you are not here to steal from them, is the most critical part.

Then the second is being able to provide the inputs initially. The initial investments are quite high and farmers won’t have the kind of money. So, being able to assure them of that is very important.

Source — The Observer.

A related video interview was also recorded with Mr. Henry Kerali see link below — http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/12/23/diaspora-stories-mr-henry-kerali-world-bank-country-director-for-ghana-liberia-sierra-leone-talks-developmental-economics-and-uganda/

President Museveni’s New Year’s Message For 2017 – Full Text

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 10:26

Fellow Ugandans,

I greet all of you the people of Uganda and congratulate you on finishing the year 2016 and wish you a prosperous 2017. I extend condolences to the families who lost their dear ones in the year that is just ended.

During this year of 2016, we had successful general and local government elections. I congratulate Ugandans for voting their leaders peacefully. I also congratulate leaders who were elected. I call upon them to stay in touch with their communities as they will achieve alot when they work together.

At the beginning of this term of office, 2016-2021, I issued 23 guidelines/directives to government and so far in six months, the following have been achieved:

Finalized a plan for re-establishing the National Carrier (Uganda Airlines). This will reduce on the financial “haemorrhage” (donation) to other airlines by Ugandans and those travelling to Uganda.

Investment Climate Advisory and Management ─ Ministry of Finance has allocated Shs. 410 million to generating the statistical data for investors who wish to invest in the country. Availability of ready information will quicken decision making by investors.

Construction of more than 100 water schemes across the country in some of the following areas: Bukwo GFS; Bukedea, Parombo, Akoro, Olirim II, Bududa II, Bukwo II, Shuuku-Matsyoro GFS, Ogili GFS, Kiboga, Ruti/Rugando, Loro, Padibe, Pabbo, Rwashamaire TC, Nyamunuka TC, Amudat, Bibia/Elegu, Ovujo, Oyam, Nyahuka, Kasagama and Kaliiro, etc.

Provision of Water for Production: Expansion of Mubuku, Kibiimba and Doha schemes, completion of Kaharo gravity water scheme in Kabale. The following are planned: Andibo dam in Nebbi district, Rwengaaju irrigation scheme in Kabarole district, Ongole dam in Katakwi, Mabira dam in Mbarara, Olweny irrigation scheme in Lira district and Leyedam in Kole district and a number of small min-irrigation schemes will soon be under way to mitigate the current pattern of rainfall and stop depending on nature but use irrigation system. In order not to continue being dependent on nature, we are going to start with more irrigation schemes around mountain Rwenzori, Mt. Elgon and the Agoro hills. These are easier because we use gravity on account of the good gradient and just channel the water to the required points. With regard to the low-lands, we are encouraging the manufacture within country or, at least, assembling within country of affordable solar-powered water pumps.

I call upon individuals who have means to equip their farms with these pumps at their cost. Uganda Development Bank (UDB) should look into the possibility of using the money we give them to fund such acquisitions with low interest loans; may be 12% per annum or there about. Using government money, we shall slowly start equipping villages with communal solar-powered water pumps. We have, indeed, already started. There are already solar powered water pumps at Kandago in Rukiga, Nyadri in Maracha, Kololo in Adjumani, Inomo in Apac, Kabira in Rakai, Kibenyeya in Hoima, etc. These will be scaled up from being only water for consumption to irrigation this coming financial year (2017/18). 130 new water irrigation schemes are planned for FY 2017/18, across the country.

This is in order to immunize ourselves against the erraticness of the rains. This effort of irrigation, must, however, go hand in hand with the wetlands preservation and restoration as well as protecting all our fresh water bodies (Lakes and rivers). Where will, then, the water come from if we do not protect the water bodies?

Granting Oil Production Licenses:
Eight (8) production licenses were granted in August and these include: Mputa-Nzizi-Waraga, Kasamene-Wairindi, Kogogole-Ngara, Nsoga, Ngege fields operated by Tullow, Gunya, Ngiri, Jobi-Rii operated by Total.

Introduction of biometric registration of all small scale miners; Allocating location licenses to small scale miners; Expand the licensing regime that will streamline the small scale miners and the heavy investors in the mineral sector.

Government is in talks with the financiers of Bujagali to bring down the cost of power to affordable rates for industries. The other dams do not have that problem. The power from Nalubaale power station is now at 1.04US Cents, since the loan for constructing Nalubaale power station has been fully paid back. That of Bujagali is at 11US cents.

Right now, we, actually, have a surplus of electricity and we are building more dams as you know. Our plan is to build more and more dams, not only on all the sites on the Nile River (Ayago-840MW, Oriang-392MW, Uhuru-400MW, Kiba- 300MW etc.) but also to develop over 40 mini-hydro dams, already identified across the country. Some of them are already under construction. These are: Nyagak III 5.4MW, Nyamwamba 9MW, Muvumba 5.4MW, Achwa/Agago 83MW, etc.

With abundant and cheaper power, our pace of industrialization will pick up. We are going to provide electricity at the cost of 5 American cents per unit to manufacturers. More electricity and better network of roads will mean faster industrialization. As projected by the National Planning Authority (NPA), the middle income status will be attained by 2020.

I have told you before, how Uganda was bleeding on account of unnecessary and excessive importing (buying-kugula) and very little selling (kutuunda). What are called “rich people” in Uganda, specialize, not in building factories or hotels, but, in building shopping arcades that specialize in selling to our people all sorts of imported goods. As a consequence of this, Uganda donates to China US$ 875 million per year, to India US$1.154 billion per year, to EU US$637 million per year, to USA US$ 89 million per year, to South Africa US$ 257 million per year, to UAE US$406 million per year, etc. Yet our own exports to China are only US$54.7 million per year, to India only 24.8 million per year, to South Africa only US$4.7 million per year, to UAE only US$62.6 million per year.

It is only to the EU that we export US$433 million per year and to the COMESA-EAC that we exported goods and services worth of US$2 billion (in 2015). In this hemorrhage, textiles take US$888 million per year, cars US$568.7 million per year, leather goods US$0.22 million per year, alcohol and beverages took US$ 68 million (2015), foods and food extracts took US$612 million (2015). This is not only hemorrhage of money but also of jobs. Building up our textile industry, which we have already started on in modest ways, would not only save the US$888 million in imports but would also create for us a total of 45,000 jobs from about 25- 30 factories, each the size of Nytil, fully operational. As a result, KACITA group was sent to Ethiopia by me to study and came back converted. They are now ready to work with government in establishing factories for exports instead of imports.

Industrialization is, therefore, both an instrument of liberation and a means of achieving prosperity. Additionally, using our comparative advantages, we would also export to other countries, thereby earning even more money and creating even more jobs. We cannot blame our importers. Until recently, the basics that are needed to support manufacturing were not in place. Today some of them are: electricity, better roads, a more educated workforce, etc. It is time to, therefore, launch a massive effort for industrialization.

Fast tracking of Standard Gauge Railway to reduce the cost of transport. As you know, we are working with our relatives in Kenya to modernize the railway by building the Standard Gauge Railway. This will bring the cost of transport for a 32 metric tonnes container to Mombasa from US dollars 3500 by road, to US dollars 1650 by railway and it will only take one day compared to the present railway which takes 21 days. It will also save our roads from damage caused by the huge lorries carrying what should be ferried by the train.

This is all to do with manufacturing. As I repeatedly tell you, manufacturing is one of the four sectors that comprise our economy. The other three are: agriculture, services and ICT. Peace, electricity and improved road network are stimulating the process of manufacturing. The same stimuli influence services to some extent. Agriculture is, of course, linked to industry through agro-processing.

However, the biggest challenge we have in agriculture is cultural and historical. According to the census of both 2001 and 2014, about 68% of our homesteads are still in subsistence agriculture (only working for food but not working for money). Only 32% of the homesteads are in the money economy. Through Operation Wealth Creation, we are determined to change this. Coffee, fruit and/or tea seedlings are being given to all the homesteads with land of two acres and above. Our ideal model, as you know, is four acres.
Two acres, however, can also do something. In some areas, they grow cocoa. Each home must have, at least, one acre of food crops especially, drought resistant crops (cassava, bananas, Irish potatoes, rice etc). As far as coffee is concerned, a tissue culture laboratory is going to be built at Kituuza so that we can multiply high quality, disease-free seedlings industrially and quickly. OWC has been stopped from being everywhere and ending up being nowhere.

We are concentrating on, initially, the four cash-crops ─ coffee, cocoa, fruits and tea. As time goes on, we shall get them to distribute chicken, dairy cattle and pigs. The homesteads with one acre or less, will be helped with poultry for eggs, mushroom growing, onions, pigs and zero-grazing dairy cattle. Every homestead must be involved in money making. We cannot accept spectators in this effort. Maintaining 68% of our homesteads in pre-capitalist modes of production is a wrong form of conservation. Let us conserve other assets such as wetlands, forests, national parks, etc., but not under development.

The services sector is growing very well spurred on by peace and better roads. It is growing at the rate of 5.3% per annum. Especially for tourism, what is now lacking is publicity.
The Tourism Board will aggressively inform the world about our unique climate as well as flora and fauna. Services money is easy money for us, especially tourism.

The ICT sector has been facilitated by the building of the ICT backbone and the undersea cables to Kenya and Tanzania. This has lowered the cost of internet bandwidth from US$1,200 per month to US$ 300 per month and is expected to reduce further to US$150 per month within the next 12 months.

Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) should, therefore, use this new capacity to attract new investors in this sector.

With our brothers and sisters in Africa, through EAC and COMESA, we have already built regional markets for our producers. They can export to the region. We have also negotiated for external markets such as AGOA, EBA, the access to the Chinese and the Indian markets, etc.

All these efforts will translate into more jobs for our youth. Uganda already has 3,100 factories and 3,475 tourism related companies and assets. The two are already employing about 1.1 million people. This has been achieved in spite of the bottlenecks of lack of electricity and high transport costs in the past. Now that we are addressing the issues of electricity and transport costs, our progress will be faster.

Conclusion
Uganda has been at peace for the first time in 500 years, for many years now. Uganda will remain at peace. Nobody has the capacity to disturb this, however hard they might try. Therefore, my dear Ugandans, I can confidently tell you that the future is bright.

If we love one another, celebrate our diversity, resist division and stay united, we will achieve greatness. Let us all join hands and declare the New Year to be our year of prosperity. The year of building on the strong foundation we have laid to secure Uganda’s future.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year Two Thousand and Seventeen.

Bank of Uganda | Investing In Government Securities Now Easier And More Accessible To The Public

Tue, 12/27/2016 - 16:25

KAMPALA – Monday December 27, 2016 The Bank of Uganda (BoU) hereby announces that all licensed commercial banks now have direct access to the primary market for Government security operations. This means all 25 commercial banks licensed by BoU are now eligible to open CSD accounts at BoU for their clients, issue and accept bid submission forms on their behalf, settle their clients’ successful bids and buy their clients’ securities if the client wishes to sell.

This is part of Bank of Uganda’s ongoing commitment to make investing in government securities easier and more accessible to the public. BoUhas been working with various stakeholders on reforms to the Primary Dealership system toimprove the distribution mechanism for Government Securities.

Now prospective investors who want to open a CSD account in order to trade in Treasury Bills or Bonds can now pick account opening forms not only from the Bank of Uganda banking hall and website, but also from any branch of their commercial bank around the country.

Instead of filling in multiple forms to open a CSD account, there will now be a simplified two-page CSD account opening form. Also, investors who wish to participate in an auction where Government securities are first issued can now pick and submit bid submission forms at any branch of their commercial bank.

After the closure of a Primary auction, an investoris free to trade Government securities they already own in a market known as a secondary market. A client can now go to any commercial bank where they have an account if they want to sell their securities in the secondary market before they mature. Furthermore, if a client fails to sell their securities in the secondary market, they can sell them to Bank of Uganda through a process called re-discounting of Treasury Bills and Bonds.

In the case where clients want to find out whether the price they are selling or buying their securities in the secondary market is reasonable, they can visit the Bank of Uganda’s website under the Financial Markets tab for a guide to pricing in the secondary market.

Governor — Bank of Uganda.
GOVERNOR – Tumusiime-Mutebile (Prof.)
Website:www.bou.or.ug E-mail: info@bou.or.ug

Diaspora Events | Gifted Songwriter & Soulful Performer Kenneth Mugabi to Feature at the Diaspora Gala 2016 Edition

Tue, 12/27/2016 - 13:29

Kenneth Mugabi is a gifted songwriter and a soulful performer. His rich unique voice and his ability to write beautiful afro-soul music make him a unique and enjoyable performer to watch. Kenneth Mugabi’s music is an African version of neo soul. He blends his guitar and tube fiddle playing into his music to create a unique background sound for his rich vocals.

Kenneth Mugabi first caught public attention as one of the top contestants in the Coke rated Next Uganda competition. He has since been featured in many performances on a national platform. From serenading the country on National TV for the valentines show to doing performances with top local acts like Qwela and performing on same stage with international acts like Joel Sebunjo and Ali Keita.

Kenneth Mugabi released his debut album Kibunomu to a full house at Kampala Serena Hotel on 8th May 2016. It has been well received, selling hundreds of copies in the first week and enjoying massive airplays on national radio. Performances • Blankets and Wine UG • Bayimba Festival • Milege Festival • Doa Doa Festival • Qwela Junction Crooners edition. Kenneth Mugabi will be a featured artist an the 6th annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala 2016 edition.
Tickets now on sale at the Kampala Serena gift shop.

Diaspora Awards | Ambassador James Mugume Retires After 43 years in Foreign Service

Mon, 12/26/2016 - 09:37

Amb. James Mugume – Will be a Diaspora Award Recipient for 2016 for his role in creating a Diaspora desk at MOFA

On December 30th 2016 Ugandan Diaspora Network will recognize a number of notable Ugandans whose contributions have made a difference both at home and abroad. One such individual will be Amb. Mugume whose tenure as PS – Foreign Affairs saw the creation of the Diaspora Services Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Amb. James Mugume” retired  end of November, 2016 as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs after  a 43 -yr successful career in Uganda’s Foreign Service.

Before his appointment as PS in 2007, Amb. Mugume served as Director for International Cooperation at MoFA Headquarters (2000-2006) and as Deputy High Commissioner and AG. High Commissioner in Pretoria., South Africa (1994-2000). He also served at the Uganda Mission to the UN in New York in New York (1986-90) and the Uganda High comission New Delhi (1974-80)

When HE President K Museveni mandated MOFA to handle Diaspora matters in 2007, Amb. Mugume was more than prepared for the job. He had been part of the Ugandan Diaspora in Boston in  mid-1980s . He was  also instrumental in mobilizing the Ugandan diaspora in South Africa when he opened the Uganda High Commission in Pretoria in 1994.

During his tenure as PS/FA, Amb. Mugume put Diaspora issues at the Centre of Uganda’s foreign policy. He establish a Diaspora  Service Department which  has worked with various stakeholders to develop a National Diaspora Policy, support Diaspora Associations  around the world, create investment Compendium and develop proposals for a Diaspora Investment Bond. Amb. Mugume has championed conclusion of bilateral labor exchange agreements , especially with countries in the Middle East  with strong monitoring Mechanisms to protect Ugandan workers abroad.

Amb. Mugume was personally involved in the launch of the Annual Diaspora Activities in Uganda including the ‘Home is Best’ and the Annual Diaspora Dinner both of which take place in December.

Amb. Mugume a graduate of Makerere University’s Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (1973) and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Boston, USA (1986). He also took sabbatical studies  as Foreign Policy Fellow at University of Maryland at College Park, USA (1992)and Ecole Nationale d’Administratio in Paris (2003)

Amb. Mugume is married with two sons.”

Diaspora Stories | Mr. Henry Kerali | World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia & Sierra Leone Talks Developmental Economics in Uganda

Sat, 12/24/2016 - 03:38

On Wednesday December 21st I had the rare opportunity to sit down with the World Bank Regional Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Among the topics we discussed was Ghana’s oil discovery, Tourism, Diaspora Bonds, Remittances, Governance, Agriculture and Macro economic policies. We also discussed parallels of the commodity economies of West Africa and what they have in common with Uganda. (A special thank-you to Mr. Bart Kakooza – Media Plus for the production and Kampala Serena Hotel for allowing us access to their amenities – good viewing.

Mr Henry Kerali is the World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mr Kerali, a Ugandan national, joined the Bank in 2003 in the Infrastructure & Energy Department in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region. Before joining the Bank, he was a Professor at the University of Birmingham, England, specializing in the development of transport infrastructure.He led the research of developed economic cost-benefit models for assessing the feasibility of infrastructure investments. He holds a BSc (Eng.) from Makerere University, and MSc and PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Q&A — Ugandan Diaspora TV’s Ronnie Mayanja Talks to Mr. Henry Kerali – World Bank Country Director Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Prior to taking up this new appointment, Henry was the World Bank’s Regional Director for the South Caucasus, based in Georgia. He has previously also worked in different regions of the world including Latin America, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and ECA, and has also served as Sector Manager of the Bank’s transport program in the ECA Region.

He is married with three adult children. As a Professor, he has authored over 100 publications in various books, journals and reports. For leisure, he enjoys playing golf, cycling and Latin dance.

This year Mr. Henry Kerali joins the growing list of notable Ugandans recognized at the annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala for their outstanding contributions abroad. Join us Friday December 30th 2016 at 6pm as we crown the year and celebrate the Ugandan Diaspora community.

Event website — www.ugandandiaspora.com

A New Feature Film | The World Is Ending Tomorrow — By Bart Kakooza

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 22:05

‘The world is ending tomorrow’ is a 3-hour long feature movie based on real life occurrence that happened in Uganda at the turn of the century. It is a dramatization of events and activities that characterized a doomsday cult known as ‘The Movement for the restoration of the ten commandments of God’, which killed close to 1,000 followers.

The story revolves around Credonia. The country woman who claimed to have seen The Blessed virgin Mary in apparitions during which she was directed to spread the message of strict adherence to ten commandments to avoid the apocalypse damnation. She manages to convince and recruits 3 top catholic priests and a devout lay Catholic Church elder. The core group recruits close to 1,000 followers who sell their properties and bring money to the cult leaders and prepare for the end of the World. During the 12 years the cult was operational, many followers died under mysterious circumstance before the events climaxed into a mass murder in an inferno on 16th March 2000.

The movie opens with a distressed young man after watching a television news report about the inferno that had devoured the cult members in the countryside at the headquarters of the Movement for the Restoration of Ten Commandments of God. He is distressed because his cousin (Deus) had joined the group. He makes a telephone call to his brother back home, 400 kms away to find out about Deus’ fate. He is told that Deus had managed to escape from the cult a few minutes before the church went up in flames and arrived home critically ill.

The movie adopts a flashback mode in which Deus narrates story chronicling the events and activities, which are vividly dramatized. From the time Cledonia was selling local brew, the transformation following the alleged apparitions, the manipulation of the followers, the murders, the Catholic Church’s attempts to intervene, before the story climaxes into the fire that burnt the followers who had been herded into a church with nailed windows and doors. The movie depicts the vulnerability of ignorant country populace, which can be easily exploited by dogmatism, the fear of unknown and greed in pursuit of salvation leading to not only tragedies but also economic and social bankruptcy.

Director’s biography
Bart Kakooza is a Ugandan television journalist who has produced and directed many documentaries on a wide range of topics that have featured on major television channels. Starting his career in the late 1980s as a reporter at the Ugandan state owned television channel, Kakooza went on to work with various television production companies in Europe and US on projects that featured on BBC, CNN, Irish and Polish television channels and Aljazeera. In 1995 he founded Media Plus Ltd, a production company based in Kampala, which also doubles as an independent news footage provider. From 2001 to 2006 Kakooza worked with CNN as a producer for CNN Inside Africa program for the great lakes region.
‘The World is ending tomorrow’ is his first major feature film.

For details about the movie — email bartkakooza@gmail.com

Seasonal Greetings | Letter to a Kampala Friend By Muniini K. Mulera In Toronto

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 01:22


I need your financial help this Christmas
Christmas is here again. The tills and moneyboxes of the merchants ring with joy, not in remembrance of the saviour’s birth but in celebration of the saver’s spending spree.

This Christmas, the average American will spend US$929 (Sh. 3.3 million) on Christmas gifts. The figure for Canada is about US$600 (Sh. 2.2 million); Norway, US$592 (Sh. 2.1 million); and Britain, US$350 (Sh. 1.3 million). These figures do not include spending on decorations, gifts to self, food and other entertainment.

I do not have the current figure for Uganda, but a New Vision newspaper survey in 2014 showed that the average Ugandan respondent planned to spend a maximum of US$22 (Sh.80,000) that Christmas. All these figures represent hefty change, although how much people spend on Christmas is not my business. If you have the cash, have a great time.

However, I ask that you remember me. I really need your help. I mean financial help. Just a fraction of your Christmas budget. Oh, I do not ask you to give me the money. I ask that you support a cause that is very dear to my heart, namely, accessible quality education for the children and young people of Uganda.

All over Uganda are young people who are hungry for knowledge and employable skills. Like you and me who were beneficiaries of the generosity of strangers that set up an excellent education system, these young people need our support so that they too can have a secure future.

Education is a liberating asset that trumps everything else that we consider important. Not even healthcare beats it. Good education enables individuals and communities to live healthier lives and access better health care.

That is why I ask every Ugandan at home and abroad who has a bit of money, to identify a credible not-for-profit education project in their home district and give it a generous gift this Christmas.

The reason I encourage people to give money to education projects in their home area or region is because charity begins at home. Giving back to a community that made you is a joyful obligation.

Second, one is more likely to keep track of the progress of a project in their home area than one that is far removed. Third, the sum total of “locals” giving to their native communities is a simultaneous national investment in a common vision.

Of course you can give to your community and another community of your choosing. What is key is that you give in support of quality education.

This Christmas, I wish to applaud some individuals that have chosen to invest in efforts to build state-of-the-art non-profit education programs in Uganda.

Phoebe and James Gonahasa of Toronto, Canada, have been working very hard to complete the Amazing Love School in Namutumba, Busoga, an underserviced area that desperately needs a good quality school.

Phoebe and James are working with their community to create a school that, in addition to the standard curriculum, promotes good moral values and community service. They need only Sh.250 million ($70,000) to complete this not-for-profit school that offers enormous long-term value to Uganda.

Akello Miriam Atoro, a teacher who, until recently, lived and worked in Canada and the United Kingdom, will open the Gulu Montessori School (GMS) in January 2017. Located in Laroo Division of Gulu Municipality, the mission of the GMS is “to provide an exceptional educational experience that inspires a love of learning and nurtures the young child’s mind, heart and soul through the use of creative Arts and Sciences.”

Miriam, a woman of great faith and integrity, is spending her own savings to create a not-for-profit school that will be open to fee-paying students, but will offer full scholarships to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. To start a fully functioning school, Miriam and her team will need Sh. 970 million ($270,000).

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri of Michigan, USA, the founder of the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project in Kanungu District, continues to receive international acclaim and support because of the impressive results of his team’s hard work.

Central to his work with the Nyakagyezi (Nyaka) community is a major investment in education that has seen the construction of a school with modern facilities. Kaguri and his team serve as an inspiration for those who seek positive transformation of communities, literally one brick at a time.

A small group of Banyakigezi have supported the Kigezi Education Fund (KEF) since its formation in 2003. Through KEF, the flagship project of the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), these Banyakigezi who live in Canada, UK, USA and Uganda have funded three fully equipped Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres (Rukungiri, Kisoro and Nyarushanje Technical Institutes), and an electrical and plumbing college program at Nyakatare Technical Institute.

The Board of ICOB has also approved funding for a brand new ICT Centre at Kizinga Technical School in Kabale District that is expected to be fully operational by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

These and other not-for-profit efforts deserve your financial support. I recommend these four projects without reservation because I know they are led with integrity, transparency and fidelity to accountability.

I encourage every community in Uganda to invest in accessible high quality education of our children and young citizens. The best Christmas gift is one that gives hope and opportunities through quality education for young Okello, Mukasa, Kamure, Gidudu and Rubaganzya.
I wish you a very blessed, happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

Please donate to the Kigezi Education Fund at http://www.abanyakigezi.net/education-fund/

Royal Events | The Kabaka To Host The Buganda Diaspora Day Event On 28th Dec 2016 At Lubiri, Mengo

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 18:05

Press Release — The Buganda Diaspora Day 2016 organized by the Buganda Government will be held on 28th December 2016 at 3pm in Lubiri Mengo. This year’s organizing committee Chairman is the Buganda Government Minister of Health, Ow’ekitiibwa Dr. Ben Kiwanuka Mukwaya and will be deputized by Ow’ekitiibwa Bwenvu, Buganda Government Minister of State for Buganda External Affairs.

To enable the organizing committee to present a befitting and honorable event, adopted a paid for event with afew distinguished invites. Each adult will be charged US$50. A family of two with one minor (a child under 17 years old) will be charged US$100. Addition children, age between 12-17 each will be charged US$25. The Diaspora subjects are encouraged to bring your relatives.

The Buganda Diaspora Day organizing committee further informed all Buganda Diasporas who plan to attend this year’s event that it would like to identify a youngster/youth (8-17 years) raised in the Diaspora and who can recite or read a simple Luganda poem. The poem will be composed and written by the Luganda Association. Secondly, the organizing committee wishes to identify a youngster/youth, raised in the diaspora, who can share his/her experience (including challenges) of growing up in the diaspora.

This may be presented in English. Anyone (including families) traveling to Buganda for this year’s Christmas holidays who plans to attend the Buganda Diaspora Day event and wishes to propose the identified/capable youngster/youth is requested to please contact any of the Kabaka’s Representatives.

Long live Ssaabasajja Kabaka!

Diaspora Events | UIA – Home is Best Diaspora Summit 2016 – Dec 21st Hotel Africana

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 07:58

Press Release — Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bank of Uganda, is organizing the Home is Best Diaspora Summit 2016 scheduled for Wednesday 21st December 2016 at the Hotel Africana in Kampala.

The Diaspora Home is Best Summit is one of the major efforts to bring the Ugandan Diaspora into active participation in private investment home, not only as a contribution to the national development, but to provide a ‘soft landing’ for members when they decide to come back home.

The annual summit brings together a cross-section of Ugandans in Diaspora, as well as the public and private sector in Uganda. It takes place in December when most of Ugandans trek home to join their families during the festive season.

The summit focuses on Uganda’s investment opportunities and challenges, as well as the role the Ugandan Diaspora can play in investing back home and in mobilizing the international business community to invest in the country. Each summit pays special attention to priority sectors like agriculture (commercial farming and agro-possessing), services like education, health care and tourism accommodation, mining, ICT, multimedia etc.

Over the years, since 2004, the summits have acted as a platform for the Ugandan Diaspora to present their views and issues to the Government of Uganda on the investment climate and issues to do with the social, economic and political enablers in the country’s quest for development.

The Summits have since been hosted in Kampala, Mbale, Gulu, and Masaka, taking on a regional approach to enable the Ugandans in the Diaspora to appreciate the developments and investment potential all over the country.

This year’s Summit, though held in Kampala, will focus on the investment potential and investment developments in Eastern Uganda. The Summit’s focus this year is on how the Ugandans in the Diaspora can contribute to Uganda’s goal of becoming a Middle Income country by 2020.

UIA expects about 300 participants to attend the Summit with a third of these being Ugandans in the Diaspora. Hon Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, is expected to preside over the Summit.

The Diaspora Summit would not be complete without the annual Diaspora Breakfast and Gala organized by the Ugandan Diaspora Network (UDN). UIA is privileged to partner with the Network, whose Patron is Dr. Maggie Kigozi and we are grateful to Mr. Ronnie Mayanja  for his tireless efforts at ensuring that the scheduled Diaspora events take place as planned every year.

Thank you very much

Mr Lawrence Byensi
Ag Executive Director
Uganda Investment Authority

Diaspora Gala 2016 | Featured Artist Winnie Nwagi — Unveils New Music Video “Kano Koze!”

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 18:21

Winnie “Nakanwagi” Nwagi is a Ugandan singer signed to Swangz Avenue, best known for her award winning single Musawo. She was the second runner-up in the second season of “CocaCola Rated Next” in 2014. She has released a number of songs including Embeera, Katono Katono, Gwenoonya and Kyowulila.

She released her commercially successful single Musawo in early 2016. Musawo was played on both radio and television and attracted attention the Ugandan singer Irene Ntale when she did an acoustic version of the song. We NOW bring you Winnie Nwagi’s latest music video. Catch her LIVE at the Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala — 2016 edition.

Inspiring Stories | Meet the Real King of Katwe — Coach Robert Katende

Mon, 12/05/2016 - 00:58

By Ronnie Mayanja — The inspiring story of Robert Katende, the man behind the success of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi, begins in a small town in Kiboga District where his teenage mother had to place her son in the care of his grandmother. Uprooted by the Ugandan Bush War insurgency of those years, Robert and his grandmother eventually made it to Kampala.

Later, living in the slums of Nakulabye, he was taken in by two different aunties. Against all odds, he made it to Kyambogo University where he pursued a degree in civil engineering. It was there that he started volunteering with Sports Outreach and two years later, in 2002, he began working for that organization full time.

Having played for Miracle Football Club, Top TV F.C. and Sports Outreach Ambassadors (SOA) F.C. under Coach Aloysius Kyazze, Robert’s ability to help young people with their soccer skills came easily. He also worked with Divine Waters Ministry in partnership with Sports Outreach to drill wells in Gulu. His exemplary and innovative leadership in 15 years of service have seen him as Project Coordinator in Katwe, Sports Outreach Director, Kampala and Nairobi, and more recently Sports Outreach Director for Africa.

He introduced and developed chess programs in the slums of Kampala, Nairobi and in the internally displaced people’s camps (IDP) in Gulu, Northern Uganda, an area severely affected by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Katende helped the young program participants attain the skills needed to become a credit to their communities.

The impact of the chess ministry program has now hit the international scene with the Walt Disney Pictures movie, Queen of Katwe, which depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi and her rise from the slums to become a chess champion. Robert Katende worked on the movie as a consultant, helping in particular with the chess scenes.

After running the chess program in Katwe for two years, Robert reached out to the Uganda Chess Federation to have the kids participate in the National Secondary School Chess Tournament. After being turned down several times, he persisted and they were eventually given a slot as guest participants, since his program was not part of a school.

Their momentous appearance at the National Secondary School Tournament in 2005 simply amazed the Uganda Chess Federation officials and participants. The kids from Katwe had come from disadvantaged backgrounds and were very young, but the chess board was the equalizer, allowing them to prove their abilities.

The Federation made Robert the Chairman of the Chess in Schools Committee and later Director of Development. In 2006 Phiona became National Junior Chess Champion of Uganda, a title she held for three consecutive years. In 2009 the Katwe chess players represented Uganda at the African Children’s International Chess Tournament held in Sudan. It was during this period that ESPN, the sports network, wrote about Phiona and Robert’s successes.

In 2010 Phiona qualified to represent Uganda at the World Chess Olympiad in Russia at the age of 14. After the ESPN article the writer was inspired write a book to tell the story of Phiona Mutesi and coach Robert Katende. Phiona later represented Uganda at the World Chess Olympiad in Turkey and the World Chess Federation recognized Robert’s work that used chess as a vehicle of positive social impact for less privileged children in the slums. He was later appointed the General Secretary for the Social Action Commission of the World Chess Federation.

Robert has been asked to share his formula for success in other African countries. This has taken him to Rwanda, Kenya and Cameroon where he has conducted chess seminars for instructors. Currently Robert runs chess centers in five different Kampala slums and seven centers in Gulu communities. He also travels the world inspiring others to unlock their potential and has spoken at the Women in the World Summit, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation staff conference, Sports Outreach banquets and is a member of the American Speakers Bureau.

With degrees in water engineering, information technology and computer engineering, Robert also volunteers to help secondary school and university students. Robert and his wife Sarah live in Kampala and have three beautiful daughters–Mercy, Hope and Queen. They host other children he now mentors. Next year he also plans to launch the Robert Katende Foundation to help inspire and transform lives by empowering others.

Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi will be Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award recipients at the annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala Event — Dec. 30, 6:00 PM at the Serena Hotel, Kampala. (www.ugandandiaspora.com)

A special thank-you to Coach Robert Katende for granting Ugandan Diaspora News this interview —  This story can only be reproduced by the express permission of the author! 

Inspirational Music | Sinach – I Know Who I am (Official Video)

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 23:40

Sinach, an award winning songwriter, worship leader and recording artist is a key member of the LoveWorld music team of Christ Embassy who started singing at a very young age. She is one of the most famous singers in Nigeria today with her hit gospel albums and hit singles.

One such popular tunes getting crossover appeal and powerplay across Africa is — I know who I am. We at Ugandan Diaspora News proudly present this inspirational video with the hope that it will inspire somebody today!!

Event Video | The Ugandan Diaspora Business Breakfast and Gala Dinner Official TVC

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 22:43

The 6th Annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala will be held at Kampala Serena Hotel on 29th – 30th Dec 2016. We shall also celebrate some notable Ugandan Diaspora Success Stories. We are now pleased to unveil the official TVC for the event. Please share with your networks! Online ticket purchases can be made using eventbrite — https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-ugandan-diaspora-social-networking-event-dec-30th-serena-hotel-kla-tickets-29327817291?ref=ebtnebtckt

Pages