UIA organises Uganda-DRC Investment Promotion Summit and Market Access Expo

KAMPALA– Uganda’s Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, through Uganda Investment Authority [UIA], is organizing the first ever Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]Investment Promotion Summit and Market Access Expo slated for June 27- 29th 2022.

The Summit, under the theme “Uganda-DRC Investment Promotion and Market Access”, will be held in the Congolese capital city of Kinshasa.

UIA is working with ACOPA-ONGd, the Congolese liaison entity that promotes investment and cross-border business in eastern DRC. The overall objective of the Summit and Expo is to promote and show case investment opportunities, create networks and joint venture partnerships aimed at enhancing investment and market access between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as to promote products manufactured in Uganda.

Speaking on May 23, 2022 at a press conference on the Summit at Uganda Media Centre, State Minister for Investment and Privatization, Evelyne Anite, said: “We are going to the DRC not for fun but very serious business of promoting investment and trade with Uganda. We are targeting five key sectors, namely, manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, services, real estate and trade”.

Minister Anite said the Summit is also aimed at promoting the formalization of informal cross-border trade between Uganda and DRC that has been going on for years.

The State Minister for Regional Cooperation, John Mulimba, said “the entry of the DRC into the East African Community family provides an opportunity to Ugandan investors to access new markets and opportunities for growth”, adding that “the new EAC now offers a combined market-driven economy of 300 million people and a GDP of 243 billion dollars”.

The State Minister for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi, called on Ugandan investors and business to seize the investment and trade opportunities to make money and develop Uganda.

The UIA Director General, Robert Mukiza, said through the Summit and Expo, Uganda aims to attract a significant number of Congolese investors to come and set shop in Uganda, taking advantage of Uganda’s strategic location in the heart of the EAC bloc, as well as popularize Ugandan products in the DRC and expand and deepen their market share.

Mukiza said the Summit also aims at attracting more Foreign Direct Investment into Uganda, as the investors would use Uganda’s strategic location to access the expanded East African Community market of over 300 million people, from the Indian Ocean coast to the Atlantic Ocean coast.

Mukiza added: “We invite Ugandan investors and businesses to participate in this first ever Uganda-DRC Investment Promotion Summit and Market Access Expo because the dividends would be greater.”

The Chair of the Board of UIA, Morrison Rwakakamba, said the DRC provides the best investment and trade opportunity for Uganda, pointing out a catalogue of Ugandan products that need to get traction into the huge DRC market.

On April 9, 2022, UIA organised the highly successful West Nile Investment Summit in Nebbi District under the theme “Mobilisation of local investment for industrialization, market access and job creation”. The Summit attracted a high-powered delegation from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the National Oversight Mechanism of the Framework Agreement, MNS, and members of the provincial Government of Ituri, and the ACOPA-ONGd, the liaison entity for promoting investment and cross border business in North-Kivu Province.

The West Nile Investment Summit connected with the political will of our two leaders, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and his Congolese counterpart, Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi.

The West Nile Investment Summit accelerated a new era in the economic and commercial relations between our two respective State entities at this historic moment when the DRC joins the East African Community.

The Summit agreed on a number of key resolutions, worth noting is Resolution 4, which states thus: “To organize a reciprocal Investment Promotion and Market Access Expo in Kinshasa, on 27th and 28th of June, 2022, and an Investment Promotion summit on

June 29, 2022, in Kinshasa”. It is against this backdrop that Uganda’s Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, through UIA, and in collaboration with ACOPAONGd, is organizing the Uganda-DRC Investment Summit and Expo, that will take place in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, from 27th to 29th June, 2022 under the theme “Uganda-DRC Investment Promotion and Market Access”.

The overall objective of the Summit and Expo is to promote and show case investment opportunities, create networks and joint venture partnerships aimed at enhancing investment and market access between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as to promote products manufactured in Uganda.

The DRC, a new Member of the East African Community, has a market of over 100 million people, and is an important and growing market for Ugandan products. Through the Summit and Expo, UIA aims to attract a significant number of Congolese investors to come and set shop in Uganda, as well as other foreign direct investors, taking advantage of Uganda’s strategic location in the heart of the EAC bloc.

Through the Summit, UIA also aims at popularizing Ugandan products and services in the DRC, expand, and deepen their market share. Investors and businesses are invited to register in order to participate in the first ever Uganda-DRC Investment Promotion Summit and Market Access Expo because the dividends would be greater.

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UAE Ministry of Economy partners with ICA-AP to boost the co-op sector

DUBAI – The Ministry of Economy of the United Arab Emirates days ago signed a co-operation agreement with the International Cooperative Alliance – through the latter’s Asia-Pacific Regional Office [ICA-AP], which aims to strengthen the country’s co-operative sector.

According to media reports, the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to diversify the country’s economy and promote co-operatives as a tool to achieve sustainable development.

The ministry also intends to amend the country’s co-operative legislation to help grow the sector and raise awareness of the model. The ICA-AP team will provide support during this process, highlighting best international practices.

ICA-AP will work with the ministry to develop a long-term strategy for the national co-op sector, identifying challenges and suggesting measures to improve its performance.

The UAE is home to 42 co-ops, mostly in the retail sector, running 200 outlets and branches nationwide with a cumulative profit of more than one billion dirhams. The goal is to help set up co-ops in other sectors and increase their contribution to the country’s GDP from less than 1 percent at present to 5 percent by 2031.

The agreement was signed on 17 May by Abdullah Al Saleh, undersecretary of the ministry, and Balsubramanian Iyer, regional director, ICA-AP.

“The co-operative sector plays a pivotal role in achieving the goals of sustainable economic and social development for the United Arab Emirates, and is an important tributary to the competitiveness and diversification of the national economy,” said Mr Al Saleh. “To improve its performance in accordance with the best international practices and enhance its role in the new economic model of the country, the country has achieved regional leadership in developing the co-operative model and providing the environment and policies that stimulate its growth.”

UAE has recently allowed the listing and trading of co-operative shares in its financial markets. “We continue our efforts today to complete the development plan for the co-operative sector to take its deserved role as one of the drivers of diversity, sustainability, innovation, high productivity and the transformation towards the future economy in the UAE,” added Mr Al Saleh.

“Co-operatives align well with the UAE centennial pillars,” said Mr Iyer, “which call for the government to be supportive and future looking, building a diversified economy, promoting values in education, and building a happy and inclusive society.

“Through our engagement, we will bring in international experiences, and showcase relevant models from different countries. Our approach will be to help promote the co-operative model, increase awareness, help engage youth and women, build capacity and in the process increase visibility and contribution of co-operatives in the UAE.”

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Prioritise cooperatives for power connection- Min. Ssempijja

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja has urged the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to prioritize the connection of cooperative-owned businesses to the power grid.

Bamulangaki made the appeal during his visit to Aratarach Cassava Cooperative Society in Nebbi district.

“The cooperative is doing commendable work by employing over 40% youths, but it is still producing at low capacity due to lack of access to electricity and water. This issue needs to be addressed at the national level,” he said.

The minister revealed that the Aratarach Cassava Cooperative Society is one of five cassava cooperative societies in the Nebbi district being implemented under the Agricultural Cluster Development Program (ACDP) championed by MAAIF.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), with funding from the World Bank, funded the construction of five mini cassava factories in Nebbi district. However, the factories have since faced ongoing power and water connection challenges due to their remote locations.

A case in point is Aratarach cassava cooperative society, a rural-based cooperative society operating in the remote sub-county of Kucwiny in Nebbi district, 8 kilometers from the nearest electricity power supply line.

According to Gerald Ongwech, the Chairperson, Aratarach Cassava Cooperative, the co-op was formed by former Functional Adult Literacy members (FAL) in the year 2001.

“It started with 31 fully registered group members but became a cooperative in 2013 with over 700 members, each of whom paid Shs 10,000 in membership fees.

Lost opportunities

Ongwech says the lack of access to the national grid is affecting the cooperative’s ability to add value to the cassava flour, which he says has a ready market.

“Much as we have a ready market for our cassava flour, the cooperative’s production capacity is limited due to the high cost of running it on generator power,” Ongwech said.

Already, the co-op has lost some potential clients due to its power challenges.

“We were approached by t Uganda Breweries Limited to supply them with 200 metric tonnes of cassava four per week, but had to shun the offer due to our current incapacity to meet the demand,” intimated Ongeyowun Innocent, the society’s Production Manager.

As a result, the co-op has, for now, limited itself to producing for the local market.

“We urge the government to connect the cooperative with electricity and water to run the cassava factory which is a source of employment to youths and widows,” Ongeyowun said.

One such member, Paska Unwangbanga, was all praises for the cooperative which, she says, has enabled her to meet her family’s daily needs, and pay her children’s school fees.

“The cooperative provides members with loans at affordable interest rates. It also employs some of the members and ensures our cassava is bought right from the plantation site,” she said.

Joyce Piwa, the focal person for ACDP Nebbi district, confirmed that most cooperatives in the district are hamstrung in their operations by lack of water and electricity.

“Government should consider promoting cooperative activities as one of the tools to eradicate poverty at the community level for socio-economic transformation,” she said.

Connection imminent

During his visit to the cooperative’s factory, Minister Bamulangaki promised that government would soon resolve the area’s power issues as the Karuma dam nears completion.

“The power scarcity in West Nile is temporary; very soon the region will be connected with power from Karuma dam, with a substation being constructed at Olwiyo in Nwoya district,” Bamulangaki said.

He urged the cooperative management to negotiate with the ministry of trade for marketability such that the cooperative products be known to the global market.

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Masindi women tipped on growing their SACCOs, SMEs

Women belonging to different women’s SACCOs and savings groups, as well as owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Masindi district have been trained on how to manage and grow then from one level to the next.

The one-day training was conducted by the All-in-One Women’s Association (ALOWA) at Kolping hotel in Masindi on Wednesday.

Godfrey Bahemuka, the Masindi district Community Development Officer (CDO), sensitized participants on the processes and procedures of forming SACCOs and savings groups, and on the roles of the elected leaders.

“As members, you should always know the vision, mission, and objectives of your groups and SACCOs. Most of you don’t know these things and yet they are key. That’s why many of your groups and SACCOs don’t last,” explained Bahemuka.

He also underscored the need for proper record keeping in all organizations involved in savings and credit, noting that this documentation is necessary for accountability.

The members were also taken through group conflict management and basic financial literacy.

Bahemuka also advised the leaders of different women groups to make use of the available government programs like the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) and Emyooga to get capital for their businesses.

Unite purposefully

Lilian Namirimu, the Executive Director, ALOWA urged women to unite with a purpose, and not only plan to come together when the government is planning to give out funds.

” As women, we need to work together and not in isolation. We shall achieve our targets if we are united,” Namirimu said, adding that unity would give them greater bargaining power in lobbying for their interests.

Namirimu said the association decided to extend this training to women because of the important role they play in promoting social and economic development.

Florence Achiro, the Chairperson, Women of Worth Catering Group, commended ALOWA for organizing the training.

“The knowledge we have acquired will enable us to improve on the management of our groups and businesses.”

Stella Alinaitwe from Masindi Central Market Vendors SACCO appealed for further training opportunities from other organizations.

“We really have inadequate knowledge on how to run these SACCOs. We need more training like this to equip us with the necessary information to grow our SACCOs and businesses.”

The meeting was attended by market vendors, produce dealers, and women leaders, among others.

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L. Albert floods submerge Shs 1bn modern fish market in Panyimur

Authorities in Panyimur Sub County, Pakwach district have been left scratching their heads after the only modern fish market and the leading source of revenue in the sub county was recently submerged by flooding water from Lake Albert.

Panyimur market is located in Sigla village West of Lake Albert, near where the White Nile kisses the lake on its way to South Sudan.

Unable to use the now-flooded market, many fish mongers have resorted to selling their fish from their homesteads, a practice that authorities say has affected revenue collection for the sub county.

“Panyimur market contributes over Shs 200m to the sub county’s revenue. Since the facility is greatly affected by the rising water level from Lake Albert, the sub county’s activities will greatly be affected drastically,” said the area LC III Chairman, Shabban Ofoi.

Panyimur’s Shs 1.4 bn modern fish market is the biggest in the entire West Nile region, and was constructed with the support of the Iceland embassy to enable quality assurance for fish handling at Sigla landing site and promote hygiene of fish at the stalls.

Ofoi says the fish market was built in phases starting 2013. It was completed last year and commission early this year. However, he says the market is yet to realize its full potential since it was first affected by the COVID-19-related directives that hampered trade for several months this year, and now by persistent floods that have submerged it.

The LC III Chairman is worried that the mitigation measures being put in place, such as building retaining walls to prevent water from entering the newly constructed fish market, may not be sufficient to resolve the flooding.

He also cited other government projects that have been affected by the floods, such as the Shs 1.3bn modern landing site at Dei as well as water projects worth about Shs 600m, also in Dei.

Human settlements have not been spared by the flooding either.

“Many human settlements and human activities at the landing side and as far as 100 meters from the buffer zones of Lake Albert have been destroyed,” Ofoi said.

Panyimur Market Chairman, Jeol Okorboth Mvor says the floods have killed off their businesses and put their livelihoods at stake.

“Our customers have no access to our business points due to the floods which have blocked the way to our shops.”

Okorboth adds that many businessmen at the landing sites are facing difficulty servicing their loans because their businesses have been affected by the floods.

“Since we don’t have business at the moment, financial institutions must visit the place and assess their clients’ situation to avoid doubts in paying back their loans,” Okorboth said.

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Delayed Masindi Port -Kitgum road works hamper business

Several businesses along the Masindi Port -Rwekunye, Apac-Lira-Kitgum road have been crippled by the deteriorated state, made worse by ongoing torrential rains and the heavy trucks that habitually use it.

Government contracted Turkish Gulsan Insaat Sanayi Turizm Nakliyat Ve Tecaret from Turkey and Sadeem Al General Trading from Kuwait to undertake the road works valued at Shs 750 billion.

The project has been split into two parts, with the Kuwaiti firm contracted to build the 90.9km Rwenkunyu-Apac stretch for Shs 337.5bn, while the Turkish firm will upgrade the 100.1km Apac-Lira-Puranga section for about Shs 416.3bn.

The road works are being undertaken with support from the Islamic Development bank.

A month after President Yoweri Museveni flagged off the tarmacking of Masindi-Pader to Acholibur Highway, motorists are having a hard time using the road given its current state.

When theCooperator toured the road, many passengers were seen struggling to access the road, sections of which had been submerged by water.

Due to the poor state of the road, road users, especially those seeking to access Apac town from Aduku Township, have been forced to use the longer route from Teboke-Chegere up to Kole Town Council to connect to Apac, Kole, Lira and Kampala city.

Simon Amanya, a Mbale-based businessman, says he is counting losses after his truck slipped off the road and fell into a swamp between Aduku and Apac. He also lost 200 sacks of maize worth over Shs 30m in the same accident.

“I have incurred a great loss due to the poor status of this road. My truck fell into water and most of my maize grains got wet. The vehicle got spoiled and as of now I don’t know how I will go to Mbale and how I will recover the losses. Government needs to do something about this road,” he said.

Jimmy Obura, a Tipper driver who operates on the Aduku to Lira road, says he has lost many customers as most now opt for alternative routes Lira city given the road’s poor status

“This road has forced many vehicles off this road due to frequent breakdown of vehicles.”

Lillian Adongo, residents of Alira parish in Aduku Sub County says that due to the bad road they can neither access medical services at Aduku Health Center IV nor transport their farm produce to Lira.

“The Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA) should rehabilitate this road as we await the planned tarmacking.”

However, Mark Ssali, the UNRA Spokesperson says the Authority is unable to rehabilitate the said road since the project has already been awarded to contractors for tarmacking. Ssali said that they can only come in when the situation goes out of hand.

“Yes, we are aware of the status of Masindi Port- Rwekunye, Apac-Lira-Kitgum Road, but according to the contract agreement form, we are not allowed to do repair of roads already awarded to contractors; we can only come in when the situation goes out of hand,” Ssali said.

“We are yet to send our team on the ground to access the magnitude of the situation and see what to do,” he said in a telephone interview.

Eng. Harriet Ogam, the UNRA Station Engineer in charge of Lango was unreachable for comment.

Bazil Okello Onac, the Kwania District LC V Chairman, observed that the poor condition of the said road is not only holding back local economic growth but also hampering regional trade. He asked the government to expedite the process of tarmacking the said road.

While flagging off the project recently, President Museveni noted that the road project once completed would increase connectivity in the region, facilitate trade and help exploit the agricultural opportunities in the area.

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Masaka Cooperative Union sets up credit arm to support members

In December 2019, Masaka Co-operative Union formed a financial cooperative to boost coffee production capacity in the region.

For the last 70 years, Masaka Co-op union has worked with primary societies involved in coffee production in the greater Masaka region that comprises the districts of Lyantonde, Ssembabule, Bukomansimbi, Rakai, Lwengo, Kalungu and Kyotera.

According to Emmanuel Ssenyonga, the General Manager, the union was started in 1951 to combat oppression of indigenous business people involved in the coffee sector by Indians who dominated trade in the lucrative crop.

“The Union was a hedge against the bad practices of buyers. Indians owned the factories at the time, and because Africans knew nothing, our farmers’ coffee was under weighed and they were paid less than their due,” says Ssenyonga.

In the 1980s, Masaka Union started to supply the export market directly and was thus able to provide farmers a better bargain on their coffee and even give them premium pay.

However, Masaka Co-op Union was, like other unions in the country, hard hit by the wars that rocked the country between 1979-85.

Joseph Kavuma, the Union Chairperson says the Masaka Cooperative Union has struggled to recover ever since.

“All union operations were halted. We even retrenched most of our employees and only remained with a skeleton staff of four people because business was no longer running,” Kavuma says.

In addition, the Union was forced to sell most of its enterprises including ranches and coffee factories to clear the outstanding debts.

Worse still, the Union remained without working capital to resume its normal coffee business.

Restoring through a SACCO

It is against this background that the union decided to set up the Masaka Union Co-operative Financial Services Limited (MUCOFI). Launched on December 8, 2019, the financial cooperative will contribute to the Union’s grand goal of reviving and boosting coffee production in the region.

The Union’s Chairperson hopes that, by providing farmers with affordable credit, MUCOFI will deliver them from the clutches of predatory lenders and enable them get a better price for their coffee.

“Our farmers got tired with private buyers because whenever they had a problem, they would sell their coffee during flowering stage. So we set up a financial Centre where farmers could get ‘coffee loans’ a lower interest rate of about 1.5% per month instead of being cheated by private buyers,” Kavuma explained

According to Bukenya Swaleh, MUCOFI’s accountant, the relatively new SACCO already has 456 members, with a turnover of Shs 1.1bn.

“Our capital base is about Shs 1bn and our loan portfolio stands at Shs 654 million,” said Swaleh

The SACCO has total savings of Shs 83m and members’ share capital stands at around Shs 40m.

However General Manager Ssenyonga says the union is slowly getting back to its feet by using the Shs 17.8bn partial compensation the Union received from government to resume coffee buying and export.

“We hope to facilitate more members and build stronger societies. This means more production and increased exports as a result. This is where we are heading to,” says Ssenyonga.

The Union has also embraced value addition and has started producing roasted coffee for local consumption.

“Right now, we have pilot experiments going on. Over the next five years we expect to introduce roasted coffee beans onto the local market so that we can start consuming our own coffee,” he said.

He called upon government to utilize unions and other cooperatives in providing quality inputs to farmers.

“In the early 1990s, the government used to acquire agricultural inputs through Coffee Marketing Boards and send those inputs to the unions in the districts, which would then dispatch them equitably to the farmers,” Ssenyonga recalls.

This system, he believes, gave government a better estimate of the appropriate inputs required by the farmers.

“This is unlike today where farmers’ inputs decisions are taken either by the NAADS Secretariat or Operation Wealth Creation officials (OWC), which results in wrong input and season timings, and poor quality deliveries.”

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MUK don urges government to quickly resolve MUBS staff salary disparity

Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Chairperson of the Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities (FASPU) called on government to resolve the outstanding issue of salary disparity for academic staff at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and align it with the salary scale for existing Public Universities.

In an interview with theCooperator, the FASPU leader revealed that the issue at MUBS is that different categories of staff earn different salaries based on different appointment terms, a practice he says does not cohere with the rules governing staff remuneration in public universities.

“We stand with MUBS staff and the Government must urgently address this matter, beyond which we shall not hesitate as public universities to lay down tools in solidarity with MUBS,” Kamunyu said.

On November 15, 2020, Makerere University Business School Academic Staff Association (MUBASA) committed to an indefinite industrial action by the teaching staff, citing inconsistency in their current salaries with the Government wage bill structure for other public universities.

“The issue is underpayment. As academic staff we expected our salaries to match what the Government gives to staff in other Universities,” said Brian Muyomba, the Chairperson, MUBASA.

He vowed that MUBS’s academic staff will not relent until their expectations are met by the Government.

Varied wage categories

Currently, six wage categories exist for different staff on the MUBS payroll.

620 out of 1,187 staff members were appointed by the MUBS University Council and are under the ministry of Public service salary structure, with a 38.7 bn wage bill per year.

Moreover, 80 staff members under the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) are still earning salary at their previous rank, despite having been promoted. The annual wage bill for this category is 6.5 bn.

The third category includes staff appointed by the Universities Council on permanent terms. 97 in number, they are paid by the University (not Government) with a wage bill of over 3.5 bn annually.

Staff who are paid by MUBS on appointment by the University Council on local contract terms are 46, while those appointed by the University Management under a similar arrangement number 299, with a wage bill of 1.3 bn and 7.7 bn per annum respectively.

The last category consists of 45 Administrative Assistants appointed by MUBS, with a wage bill of over Shs 864m per year.

In a letter dated September 1, 2020, Minister Muruli Mukasa recommended that the Government takes over the wage bill for 843 MUBS staff to match the pay scale for public Universities. He proposed that the government covers a wage deficit of over 4.92 bn that would enable the University meet its wage bill of 58.711 bn required for 2020/21.

“Considering that wage for only 843 staff has been observed to result in extremely low staffing levels of below 30%, the ministry therefore advises the management of MUBS to capture its staffing needs and submit in the recruitment plans for FY 2020/21. Once funds are provided, then these positions should be filled completely,” Muruli said.

Meanwhile, said the MUBS administration partly bears the blame for the current stalemate at the university.

“If there had been progress, maybe lecturers wouldn’t have threatened. This is an injustice that a normal management would appreciate and have it sorted. Much as the Government has resolved to have this ironed out, there are delays on the side of MUBS management,” Kamunyu said.

“We ask MUBS to cooperate with the Government such that this problem can be dealt with before we are all drawn into this course of action,” he added.

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