Health Ministry warns of Monkeypox

KAMPALA– The Ministry of Health has said Uganda is yet to record a case of Monkeypox but says Ugandans must be cautious as the disease has been recorded in 23 non-endemic countries globally and at least eight endemic countries within the African tropical belt that covers Ugandan as well.

“To- date no case of Monkeypox has been registered in Uganda. Eight endemic countries in Africa including DRC have reported an outbreak of Monkey Pox,” Dr. Henry G.Mwebesa, the Director General Health Services.

In a press statement, Mwebesa has urged the general public to remain vigilant and report any suspected patients to the nearest health workers or the Ministry.

He said the Ministry, working with partners, is closely monitoring the evolving situation of the outbreak of the disease in the different parts of the world.

To avoid catching the disease, Mwebesa has advised the public to avoid direct physical contact with an infected person, including avoiding sexual contact with an infected person.

He added those conformed as infected with Monkeypox should isolate themselves at home or in an appropriate facility until the scabs have fallen off.

He said Monkeypox patients must abstain from sex, including oral sex, adding that during this period, patients should be given supportive medical care to ease symptoms such as pain or itchiness.

He urged the public to test for Monkeypox in case one develops a rash, fever,feeling of discomfort.

Monkey Pox is caused by a virus of the same name that is closely related to smallpox, health experts say.

Monkey Pox was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a disease causing a pox were discovered in monkeys held in captivity for research. It was first seen in humans in 1970 in the DRC and it is now endemic in Central and West Africa.


Symptoms for Monkeypox normally appear between five and 13 days after infection, although it can take up to 21 days for them to appear. Early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Once fever has appeared, a rash tends to erupt, concentrated on the face, hands and feet before spreading to other areas of the body. It can spread to the inside of the mouth, the genitals and the cornea. The rash progresses until it forms a scab which falls off, and in some cases large sections of skin can drop off the body.

Although symptoms often ease within a month, one in ten cases can be fatal. Children are particularly susceptible.

WHO intervention

A global research consultation convened days ago by the World Health Organisation [WHO] R&D Blueprint gathered over 500 experts and more than 2000 participants to discuss knowledge gaps and research priorities for monkeypox, in view of the recent outbreaks of the disease in both endemic and non-endemic countries.

Researchers and high-level experts from all over the world met virtually for two days to review the available evidence on the epidemiology of the virus; its transmission dynamics.

They also discussed the clinical characteristics; one health research; community engagement; and countermeasures for managing the disease, including clinical care, treatments, and vaccines.

They agreed that effective countermeasures should be made available based on where the need was greatest.

Participants agreed that strengthened collaboration among researchers in endemic countries, who have a wealth of experience and data on the disease, along with researchers from other countries, would ensure that scientific knowledge advances more quickly.

Experts underlined the need for expedited studies to better understand the disease epidemiology, its clinical consequences, and the role of various modes of transmission.

In addition, research needs were highlighted such as; comprehensive One Health approach to understand animal-to-human transmission and animal reservoirs; development and evaluation of better diagnostic tools that can be available around the world.

Other areas identified to fight the disease were; improved approaches to communicate and engage communities in affected areas; studies to optimize supportive clinical care; documentation of the best control and treatment practices; and prompt and transparent communication of data and scientific evidence.

Experts also emphasised the need for clinical studies of vaccines and therapeutics to better document their efficacy and understand how to use them in this and future outbreaks.

They also called for implementing without delay public health activities such as communicating prevention information, enhanced disease surveillance, contact tracing, isolation of cases and optimized care of people with the virus, should be used to limit spread and help the people affected, no matter where they are.

This consultation is part of a range of WHO activities in response to this multi-country outbreak.

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AfDB launches new initiative to build financial acumen of African cities

KAMPALA– The African Development Bank [AfDB] and United Cities and Local Governments, a global umbrella group for local and metropolitan governments, have announced the launch of a new programme to build the capacity of municipal chief financial officers across the continent.

The Municipal CFO Initiative was announced recently during the 9th Africities Summit held recently in Kisumu, Kenya.

The new initiative will enable cities to tap into financial markets more effectively in order to fund their local infrastructure and development projects. There is a pressing need for city infrastructure to grow and expand to meet the demands of Africa’s rapidly urbanizing cities.

“Such capacity-building programs play a catalytic role in the long term development of cities and turning municipalities into robust discussion partners for a broad range of funders,” said Alice Nabalamba, Chief Urban Development Officer in AfDB’s Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development Department.

The programme will get underway in September 2022; 10 municipalities will participate. Financial officers that take part will learn finance, accounting, and debt and risk management skills to improve the creditworthiness of their cities. Participants will also have the opportunity to undertake site visits to African bourses, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Abidjan Stock Exchange.

“A number of municipalities are almost ready to access financial markets, which will dramatically improve their capacity in financing projects. Unfortunately, they don’t have a deep comprehensive understanding of how to start,” said Dr. François Paul Yatta, Director of Programs at United Cities and Local Governments Africa. Yatta was speaking during a panel titled, Understanding the ecosystem of investors interested in African cities.

The low level of financial capacity in African municipalities was the subject of much discussion during the summit. “Municipalities have to inspire confidence, build a positive and engaging narrative to capture the attention of both public and private finance,” said Hastings Chikoko, Managing Director for Africa at C40, a global network of mayors that partners with the AfDB.

AfDB made a number of presentations during the conference. They included the unveiling of the first component of its Sustainable Urban Development action plan, a blueprint for its interventions to reinforce subnational credit and municipal finance.

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Gulu City earmarks Shs 500mln for laboratory

GULU – Gulu City Council has earmarked Shs 500 million for the construction of a laboratory to test building materials as the authorities battle the use of substandard materials in the building and construction industry.

The money to be used in building the laboratory is part of Gulu City’s Shs 48.7 billion budget for the 2022/23 financial year that begins on July 1, 2022.

The city’s engineer Christo Balmoi told theCooperator on Friday in an interview that the proposed laboratory would be used to test all the construction materials in the city in a bid to counter fake products on the market.

“We have issues with standards and specification of steels and we are concerned about the buildings which are not long-lasting,” Balmoi further explained.

The City Mayor, Alfred Okwonga noted that they are overwhelmed by the unplanned settlements as developers bypass the physical planning processes and guidelines.

Okwonga revealed that the council has released its 2022/2040 physical planning for the city, which he said would be approved later this year to uphold the standard of infrastructural development.

Meanwhile, the city council summoned all the engineers for the first-ever city engineers’ conference over the weekend to discuss the proposed physical planning ahead of the approval.

The Nwoya district civil engineer Albert Oloya commended the council for the approved plan of the laboratory which he said will help to maintain the standards of the infrastructural development.

Police recently sealed off Golden Gate Hotel in Gulu City as the building developed multiple cracks. Preliminary investigations, among others, reveal that the former Gulu Municipal Council did not supervise the project, which gave a leeway to the developer to do what he wants, without going by the approved plan.

It should be remembered that On October 2, 2013, government brought into force the Building Control Act to ensure decent, safe and planned building structures. Under the same act, the Building Review Board and Building Committees were instituted to execute functions in-line with the objectives of the act.

The act empowers the Building Review Board and the Building Committees to stop any construction operation that is found not to be in compliance with the regulations. The act also regards any omission, commission and negligence of an individual that leads to a building accident punishable by law.

However, non-compliance to the laws and regulations is a root cause of many of the building collapses across Uganda.

Meanwhile, advisors say building authorities should consider a phased approval of building works as a way to ensure that building developers adhere to the laws and regulations all through the building process. “This can however only be achieved if the financial and resource capacity of the building authorities is increased,” they say.

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Kabarole farmers decry poor yields from fishing project

KABAROLE – Farmers in Kabarole district are counting losses after investing in a cage fishing project that has produced poor yields.

In October last year, government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services [NAADS] launched a Shs 5 billion project to promote cage fish farming on the crater lakes in Kabarole district.

However, seven months later, farmers have harvested poor fish yields, earning less money than what was invested.

According to the chairperson Nyabweya Twimukye Fish Farming Group, Samuel Asinguza, they invested about Shs 4.5mln but they have harvested fish worth about Shs 1mln, which he said is a big loss.

“We received two fish cages that were installed in Nzigamira Crater Lake in Kasenda Sub-county and more than 5000 fingerlings were stocked in the two cages. Today [Friday], we have harvested one of the cages but we are disappointed with what we have found there,” Asinguza said.

He said that much as the farmers still like the project, “It is so disappointing to invest a lot of money in such a project and you end up getting less than even what you invested.”

“There might be good money in this project but we need to at least have a demonstration garden as a pilot project. Let government invest at least 90 percent and farmers put in the 10 percent and we first learn from it,” Asinguza observed.

Gideon Ruta the district councilor representing Kasenda Subcounty but is also a beneficiary of the project said the fingerlings that were supplied to farmers were of poor quality, which led to poor yields.

“I think the government should double their efforts to establish what the cause was. Whether it is the nature of the water in the lakes or the quality of the fingerings that were supplied,” Ruta said.

He said government should revise its top- to- bottom approach when dealing with communities, which he said has cost the farmers in the cage fishing project.

“This is very embarrassing because government has invested a lot of money. The fish we have harvested is of a small size much as they were mature enough,” he said.

The Kabarole district fisheries officer, Brian Baguma said they expected better results at the begging of the project. However, like farmers, he said the fish harvests are embarrassing.

Baguma said they encountered challenges in monitoring the project because of lack of the equipment such as boats for use in monitoring the fish cages.

He said though government gave them start-up feeds, it was a challenge for members to contribute to the feeds, as they were expensive.

“The startup feeds that were given to these groups were lasting for three months however; others used only what was given to them throughout.”

He said the fish species that were supplied to farmers were verified and supplied by NAADS.

He however noted that despite the fact that the fingerlings were supplied by NAADS, the district technical team should be provided with the necessary equipment to monitor the project.

“For example, we were supposed to do sampling and grading but this was not done. We were supposed to separate the big fish from the smaller fish. We were also supposed to remove the inner net at two months but all these were not done because there was no boat to use,” he said.

The Kabarole Resident District Commissioner, Festus Bandeeba said that they have been receiving reports about the poor performance of the fish project in terms of lesser yields.

He said his office would engage the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal husbandry and Fisheries [MAAIF] to ensure they bring in researchers to establish what could have gone wrong.

“I have also realised that there is no monitoring boat that would have been used to monitor the progress of the project. The technical team should be very close to these farmers, advising them on what to do,” he said.

Kabarole district has 49 crater lakes, which are mainly used, as tourist sites with few fishing activities. Of the 49 crater lakes, only 22 were tested and cleared for cage fish farming.

Seven crater lakes were identified to kick start the project, two from Ruteete, four from Kasenda and one from Kichwamba.

These crater lakes were selected after a feasibility study on the nature of the waters and their history of supporting fish life.

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Lango farmers asked to explore fish farming

LIRA– Farmers in the Lango sub region have been asked to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the Parish Development Model [PDM] and venture into fish farming if they are to generate more income for their households.

Fiona Acayo Birungi, a prominent fish farmer and chief executive officer of Dewilo Fish Farm in Amuca, Lira City West Division, said starting fish farming is not expensive and stressful like other farming enterprises.

“It is simple, easy to manage and the most important factors are land and a source of water,” she said.

According to experts, soil quality with very low pH in order to retain water, hydrology of the land and a constant water supply all year round, are necessary when venturing into fish farming.

If necessary, according to Alebtong district production coordinator, Dr. Charles Noki, a borehole should provide backup water, especially in the dry season to enable the fish farm to operate all year round.

Acayo said her husband got the idea to start fish farming as they were baking bricks in a swamp in Amuca, Lira City.

“Every time we could get there [swamp], most of the places we dug the previous day had been flooded and we started thinking on what to do to fight this water,” she said.

One day my husband said, “Don’t you think we can put fish here and we make money out of it?”

Acayo and Owilo would then spend Shs 70, 000 on procuring fingerlings, which they dropped in the flooded holes within the site.

“It started performing fairly well and we got attracted by digging a fish pond and dropping more fingerlings,” she added.

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Mao on Apaa land dispute: Give mediation and reconciliation chance

GULU– The President General of the Democratic Party [DP] Norbert Mao has urged the government and political leaders in Acholi and Madi to seriously consider a community-led mediation and reconciliation process if the two communities involved in the Apaa land dispute are to reconcile.

Mao blames local leaders from both Acholi and Madi for reigniting the conflict which has since led to loss of several lives and properties as well as affecting the provision of social services like education and health among others.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with theCooperator days ago, Mao also demanded that government rescinds the surveys and boundary opening which put Apaa in Adjumani. Mao said since pre-colonial times, Apaa was known to be part of in Kilak County the then Gulu district before Amuru was elevated to district status.

Mao who was also Gulu district Chairman and Member of Parliament for asked government to stop taking sides while handling the conflict in the region that experienced instabilities over decades.

After several attempts to reconcile the two communities through political, cultural, and religious approaches, Mao thinks the opportunity should now be given to most affected communities to handle the matter by themselves.

Other players interested in resolving the conflict, Mao said, could watch and advise from the sidelines. He gave the example of the Juba Peace Agreement where several stakeholders got involved at different levels to bring about peace in South Sudan.

“We need to create an environment where the most affected people in the conflict can have meetings to reconcile and begin to peacefully coexist after forgiveness. I think this border dispute can be overcome. We have many other tribes living in different parts of the country. For example, how many Madi’s do we have living in Elegu, Bibia Atiak in Amuru District and the Acholi’s living in Adjumani?”Mao asked.

Recently, Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative Chairperson, John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese called on the leaders of Amuru and Adjumani districts to unite and tell the truth, saying outsiders might not help in solving the conflict as they could have selfish interests in the contested area.

Wilson Acuma, a resident of Apaa township said, “ Whereas they are being called to forgive and reconcile, the government should stop siding with the Madi community.”

He said what the communities want is their right to access land, live in peace, and receive social services, regardless of the border demarcations.

Acuma alleged that the reason why the conflict has persisted is “because some government officials are using their counterparts from Adjumani to attack them, evict and grab their land, which is their ancestral land.”

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Court to rule on Mbarara Gatsby application in late June

MBARARA– An application filed on May 11, 2022, by Mbarara Gatsby Small Scale Enterprises Association Limited [MGSSEAL] seeking to join Uganda Investment Authority [UIA] in a court suit against the tenants of Gatsby industrial park, is set for ruling on June 28, 2022.

Lady Justice Joyce Kavuma of Mbarara High Court said court would determine whether MGSSEAL is free to join UIA in the main case where tenants are challenging UIA for handing over the Gatsby industrial park’s land title to MGSSEAL, also operating in the same industrial park.

David Kamukama, lawyer for the respondents, said, “Filing the rejoinder to our case is unnecessary because for us we sued Uganda investment authority, not MGSSEAL”.

“They are seeking court to permit them to be on the record to be heard for which we object because we know whom we sued and know where our remedy lies but they cannot provide that remedy,” Kamukama added.

Kamukama’s prayer is that MGSSEAL’s application is dismissed by court as his clients battle with UIA in the main case.

However, Abbas Advocates, representing the applicants [MGSSEAL] did not show up in court.

The applicants submitted, “If the applicant is added as a defendant/respondent, it would avoid multiplicity of suits as all questions involved in this matter would have been completely settled.”

“Unless the applicant is joined as a defendant/respondent in the matter, this Honourable Court risks being misled by the Respondents/applicants,” reads the application


Victor Kansiime, of Millionstars Health Products Limited says tenants under their umbrella Ankole Small Scale Industrial Association [ASSIA] are challenging the manner in which UIA made MGSSEAL a landlord of industrial park when they are part of the many business operating in the same premise.

Other eight aggrieved tenants include; Agribusiness and Real Estate Investments, Active Living Uganda Limited, Bontao [U] Limited, Bold Energy Limited, Esperanza Distributors Limited among others.

On August 17, 2021, the state minister for investment and privatization Evelyn Anite oversaw the handover of the park land title to MGSSEAL.

Kansiime said MGSSEAL issued letters and threats to the rest of the tenants threatening to evict them from the industrial park, a thing they are challenging in court.

“As tenants we were subjected to intense pressure, intimidation and threats before we ran to court and a temporary court injunction was put,” he said.

Kansiime said they are 24 companies under ASSIA operating from Gatsby Industrial Park.

MGSSEAL occupies 5.1 hectares of the contested land that has 60 housing units and accommodates 60 different enterprises.

ASSIA was unable to pay back the loan of shs 2.09 billion secured from East African Development Bank [EADB]. President Museveni would ask the government through UIA to pay off the loan to secure the association’s property from attachment.

And in 2021, Museveni ordered UIA to give back the land title to ASSIA. However, UIA, alongside minister Anite would hand over the land title to MGSSEAL, which made ASSIA run to court.

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Amuru district trains stakeholders on PDM

AMURU– Stakeholders of The Parish Development Model [PDM] in Amuru district have been sensitised on the latest government programme launched to fight household poverty across the country.

Under the PDM each parish in the country will receive Shs 100 million per year for five years to fund group income-generating activities. Government, through the PDM, aims to move 3.5mln households from a subsistence economy to a money economy.

The PDM funds are expected to be wired to the districts’ accounts in the new financial year that kicks off on July 1, 2022, two weeks after the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija would have read the proposed Shs 48.1trn national budget.

Days ago stakeholders including LCII chairpersons, Parish and Sub County Chiefs, Sub County and Town Council Chairpersons of the National Resistance Movement [NRM] and extension workers were sensitised about the programme Pabo Town Council.

The PDM stakeholders in Amuru district were drawn from the 58 parishes and 13 sub-counties and town councils.

During the training, the Amuru district Chief Administrative Officer [CAO], Thomson Obongo warned the stakeholders against collecting money from community members during the registration period, adding that this is a free government programme.

He said that there`s growing concern that members would be charged fees for registration and photocopying of documents among others.

“Usually during such engagements, chances are high that the committee tends to put some charges for members to pay before being registered. If we learn of this, the entire Parish SACCO will face the consequences,” Obong warned.

Obong noted that by June 9, 2022, all the parishes should have established their Parish Development Committees [PDCc] who will be charged with identifying, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the enterprises that groups would have chosen to embark on.

Michael Lakony, the Amuru district LCV Chairperson said that after forming the parish committees and eventually SACCOs, members would be trained on financial management.

Lakony noted that the aim of the training was to equip the members with knowledge and explain their roles in the programme.

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EAC boss to concentrate on regional trade and peace next year

ARUSHA– Deepening economic integration, strengthening regional peace and security mechanisms, and implementing the road map for the attainment of the East African Community [ EAC ] Monetary Union are some of Dr. Peter Mathuki’s key priorities in steering the regional integration agenda in the next year.

The EAC Secretary General underscored these priorities during a virtual forum dubbed, ‘State of the EAC Forum – SG’s 1 year in office,’ seeking to share the progress, achievements, and challenges of the EAC in the last year, and the way forward.

He listed the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] into the bloc, adoption of 35 percent as the 4th Band of the EAC Common External Tariff, and resolution of 23 pressing Non-Tariff Barriers [NTBs] among the key achievements the Community registered during the last year.

“On November 12, 2021, the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment [SCTIFI] finalized and adopted the review of the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act, 2017 and referred it to the EAC Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs for legal scrubbing,” noted Dr. Mathuki.

Further, he shared that five EAC Partner States had launched their own Trade Information Portal [TIP]. The portals map out all imports, exports and transit procedures, including fees and time in the respective Partner States in an effort to enhance regional trade.

“The Secretariat is currently mobilizing funds to enable the Republic of South Sudan develop its own Trade Information Portal so as to minimize trade bottlenecks in the region,” he added.

On the Monetary Union, the Secretary General shared that four EAC Partner States; Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have expressed interest and submitted their applications to host the East African Monetary Institute [EAMI].

“A verification Committee undertook a verification mission to the Partner States that have applied to host EAMI, to verify their suitability, and compiled a report that will be tabled before the 42nd Meeting of the Council of Ministers scheduled for later this month,” said the Secretary General.

On the EAC Political Federation, Mathuki revealed that national consultations for the drafting of the EAC Political Confederation Constitution have so far been held in the Republics of Burundi and Uganda, and plans are at an advanced stage to hold similar consultations in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan in the 2022/2023 Financial Year.

In highlighting the challenges faced by the Community in the last one year, the Secretary General pronounced the Covid-19 pandemic as a major challenge. “The Covid-19 pandemic grossly affected the implementation of the Community’s activities, projects and programmes,” said Mathuki.

He also noted that efforts where underway to ensure the conclusion of the process of developing a sustainable funding mechanism for the Community.

“The conclusion of the sustainable funding mechanism will address the financial challenges that the Community is experiencing, as we continue to engage with development partners to support EAC projects and programs,” he added.

“The EAC will in the coming year focus on strengthening regional governance, political commitment, and inclusivity to improve peace and security in the build-up to an EAC Political Confederation. In addition, the EAC will also prioritise Infrastructure development and increased participation of different stakeholders such as the private sector in the regional integration process,” Mathuki said.

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BoU raises CBR to 7.5 percent in June

KAMPALA– The current global inflationary pressures have forced the Bank of Uganda [BoU] to raise the Central Bank Rate [ CBR ] by 1 percentage point to 7.5 percent, from 6.5 percent in April, further warning that his institution would continue to raise the CBR based on the global economic outlook.

According to BoU Deputy Governor, Michael Atingi-Ego, the CBR was raised to contain supply and demand imbalances, caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict that has resulted in the increase in the prices of commodities.

“The worsening economic outlook, uncertainty, and risks ahead motivated the MPC [Monetary Policy Committee] to tighten monetary policy to contain demand pressures until supply catches up,” he said.

He said BoU would continue to raise the CBR until inflation is firmly contained around the medium-term target.

Atingi-Ego: “BoU will phase out the remaining targeted credit relief measures for the education and hospitality sectors on September 30, 2022.”

Covid-19 Liquidity Assistance Program [CLAP] for managing potential liquidity risks arising from the pandemic as well as the restriction on payment of dividends and other discretionary distribution of supervised financial institutions expired on May 31, 2022, he said.

Atingi-Ego while reading the Monetary Policy Statement [MPS] on Thursday said inflation was increasing rapidly and spreading broadly across the basket of consumer goods and services, even though he said bumper crop harvests could lead to lower food prices.

He said the annual inflation headline and core inflation rose to 6.3 percent and 5.1 percent in May 2022 from 2.7 percent and 2.3 percent in January 2022 respectively, further noting that the prices of essential commodities such as cooking oil, soap, food, fuel, and transportation have risen sharply.

He mentioned that the supply and demand imbalances were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and heightened by the Russian-Ukraine conflict are the underlying sources of broader price pressures.

He said the adverse global economic developments and higher inflation have diminished the prospects for domestic growth which is now projected in the range of 4.5 -5.0 percent in 2022, which is lower than the previous projection of 5.5-6.0 percent in April 2022.

“Nonetheless, in the medium-term, the economy will grow at 6.7 percent supported by public and private investments in the oil sector,” he said, adding that weaker domestic demand and tighter financial conditions would constrain investments.

He said risks to the growth outlook are; weaker global growth, escalation of geopolitical conflicts, persistent supply chain disruptions, heightened global economic uncertainty and inflation.

The downside risks, Atingi-Ego, said are dampening consumer confidence, heightening exchange rate volatility, and prolonging weak growth in private sector credit.

Particularly he said a stronger tightening of monetary conditions by advanced economies aiming to control inflation could intensify portifolio outflows from frontier markets like Uganda, thereby weakening the shilling exchange rate.

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