Change habits or perish, Museveni tells youth on World Aids Day

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned the youth to take their lives seriously in face of the HIV/Aids disease which he said is killing 17,000 Ugandans every year, adding that a UN report has indicated that girls are four times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts.

Records from the Ministry of Health indicate that the increased infections in the country have been driven by multiple sexual partnerships as well as transactional sex, which the youth have been identified to be engaged in more.

The Covid-19 lockdown was also blamed for interfering with efforts to control the Aids epidemic when it disrupted outreach services and access to care, increasing the worry among the people that the Ebola restrictions currently in Mubende and Kassanda could lead to a spike in HIV infections in the two districts.

Behaviour

Museveni, who spoke during the World Aids Day celebrations held in Rukungiri, western Uganda, said the main cause of rising HIV infections now appears to be changed behaviour “where you do what you should not do”.

“I am really determined to insist on behavioural change,” the president said.

“Infections among young people (15-24 years) accounted for 37 percent of all the new HIV infections in the year 2021, with new infections occurring more among young girls compared to the boys in the same period,” said the Minister of the Presidency Milly Babalanda in a statement presented to Parliament ahead of the World Aids Day celebrations.

She said that over 1,000 Ugandans are infected with HIV every week and about 325 people die weekly from Aids-related causes, while statistics also indicate that infections are high among school-going age group.

1.4 million HIV patients

According Dr Nelson Musoba, the executive director of the Uganda Aids Commission, there are 1.4 million people living with HIV in Uganda and the country needs about $263 million to treat the patients annually.

Dr Musoba said that only $40 million is available for treatment of patients on retroviral therapy alone.

While lauding the US government for its continued support, President Museveni pledged more support for HIV/Aids treatment. He said treating one patient costs about $200 annually.

The US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), has been providing funds in excess of $400 million for the provision of antiretroviral drugs to over one million Ugandans.

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned the youth to take their lives seriously in face of the HIV/Aids disease which he said is killing 17,000 Ugandans every year, adding that […]

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International community has let Ugandans down, says Besigye

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has accused the international community of turning a blind eye to rampant human rights violations in his country.

Although it is the responsibility of Ugandans to hold their government accountable, he argues, the West has decided to ignore what is going on in Uganda.

“Ugandans have first and primary responsibility to cause their government to account to them,” Dr Besigye told NTVKenya on Wednesday evening.

“We know that we have [a] duty. The first duty is to demand that we are treated in accordance with the law, with the constitution and international covenants. We have been doing pretty much … that.”

Human rights universal

He added: “However, human rights are universal and any abuse of human rights anywhere is abuse of human rights everywhere because if you don’t address it, you will fall [victim to] it sooner or later.

“Therefore, we expect [that] indeed the international community has an obligation that it should discharge in ensuring that the kinds of human rights abuses that have been taking place in Uganda are checked. Unfortunately, that has not taken place.”

The veteran opposition politician said Western countries are not bothered about human rights violations in Uganda because they need the help of President Yoweri Museveni in combating terrorism in and outside the East African region.

He said “Western countries are very much concerned about terrorism that has gripped the world, and because our forces are available or conscripted into that fight in Somalia, Sudan, in other places,” they pretend not to see what is happening in Uganda.

“This is shameful and I think it should stop because you cannot say you’re fighting terrorism while [turning] a blind eye [to] abuse of human rights,” he said.

Disappearances

The number of people disappearing because of criticising Mr Museveni’s style of leadership, he claimed, has gone a notch higher compared with Idi Amin’s era.

“Day in, day out people are disappearing. The list of [disappeared] people has been given to [the] government, including Parliament … [This is the list] of people who have disappeared and taken in broad daylight by people who are from security [agencies],” he said.

He added, “Some have been released with horrible torture marks on them and displayed in courts. [These kinds] of abuses cannot be debated.”

Vowing that he was not ready to give up on the struggle for a better Uganda, Dr Besigye said the problem is not about getting a new leader but removing power from the people who carry guns and giving it to the unarmed people of Uganda. Uganda’s independent institutions, he said, need to be freed from state capture.

State capture

“In 2011, I personally came to the conclusion that elections cannot solve the problem we have at hand. There is complete state capture of the institutions of the state,” he said.

“What is needed in our country now is not political contestation at elections – it is a liberation struggle to free our state institutions, free the country from capture by force that has gone on.

Once that is done, he added, Ugandans can then “organise a transition to a democratic space pretty much in the same way that Kenya did”.

He also dismissed claims that the liberation struggle in Uganda has failed because the opposition has failed to unite in order to bring change. He argued that every election cycle, Ugandans remain united and their efforts to elect someone other than President Museveni are frustrated by state capture of institutions.

Ugandans want change

“The people of Uganda who want change have been uniting behind a candidate they think offers the best opportunity for change and that is why every election has been a two-horse race. You have not found an election where votes are distributed among 10 candidates,” he said.

“It has always been a two-horse race because people who want change just look for what will give them the best chance to have that change.”

Dr Besigye noted that power in Uganda is mediated between the military and the family of President Museveni.

He added that the reason it is “always difficult for one candidate to challenge the kind of government that we have is [that] the people who control power sometimes control wealth”.

“Controlling institutions and capturing the state also leads to capture of state resources. Once you have unlimited control over resources, it is easier to sponsor a candidate and encourage all kinds of candidates to come up. Sometimes it is not easy to stop [a] multiplicity of candidates,” he said.

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Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has accused the international community of turning a blind eye to rampant human rights violations in his country. Although it is the responsibility of Ugandans […]

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Uganda seeks Kenya partnership in deal to boost tourist numbers

Uganda’s tourism players are reaching out to Kenya in a controversial bid to help bridge market access challenges for Kampala’s hospitality offers.

The players in Kampala see Kenya’s coastal exposure to the world as a starting point where tourists arriving in Kenya can go on to visit Uganda on the same visa while using Uganda Airlines as a connecting carrier.

But that could bring new threats to Kenya’s own local sites, as well as affect market share for Kenya Airways, which has for years dominated the Kenya-Uganda route.

Mutual benefit

But if this plan works, the proponents argue, Kenya and Uganda will mutually benefit, with Uganda profiting from Kenya’s networks to attract visitors. Kenya in the meanwhile will have its tourists visit Ugandan sites at a discounted price, which stakeholders say could break monotony for repeat clients who have explored Kenya.

Alex Tunoi, the regional manager in charge of domestic and Africa tourism at the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), said they are aware of the proposed deal, but downplayed its potential to eat Kenya’s lunch.

“East Africa market has great tourism potential for Kenya; with a population of over 200 million, a growing middle class, improved infrastructure and relaxation of travel restrictions. KTB is focused on growing arrivals from the region,” he told The EastAfrican.

“Investment in these markets is bearing fruit with both Uganda and Tanzania emerging among top 10 key sources markets for the destination.”

Lucrative packages

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Kampala will offer lucrative packages to tourists arriving at Kenya’s coastal sites to explore its natural, adventure, leisure, business and cultural attractions.

Uganda intends to balance trade with Kenya by working with coastal tourism stakeholders to tap into Kenya’s booming beach tourism.

The first package is set to go online later this year after deliberations from a conference between Uganda and Kenyan on November 17.

“The partnership will ensure thousands of tourists visiting either Kenya or Uganda move freely between the two countries. The tourists can have breakfast at the beach and lunch in a safari in Uganda,” said Paul Mukumbya, Uganda’s Consul-General in Mombasa.

“The November conference in Mombasa will explore Uganda, ‘the Pearl of Africa,’ to give overview of the tourism attractions as well as specifying the investment opportunities in the tourism sector in Uganda and Kenya,” he said.

Eased travel requirements

The two countries are banking on eased regional travel requirements for EAC citizens to improve the balance of trade by jointly promoting beaches and parks in the region.

Citizens of the two countries can use their national identity cards to cross borders while international tourists will use the East Africa single visa to tour the two destinations.

Besides, both countries belong to the one-tourism visa programme that also includes Rwanda. Tourists arriving in one country can use the same tourist visa to cross to the other.

The challenge in the past has been the transportation connectivity.

The plan now is to use Uganda Airlines to connect tourists from Mombasa to Entebbe but once Kenya Airways starts direct flights from the coastal city, Kenya Coast Tourist Association chairman Victor Shitakha says people will have more options.

Packages for bus trips

Uganda Airlines flies between Mombasa and Entebbe three times a week. However, officials say other airlines will not be locked out and they will go as far as selling packages for bus trips.

“The move will create networks and synergies and we are not in competition but we complement each other, where we shall come up with packages marketed together [and] sell both safari and beaches as one package. We are working with Kenya Tourism Board to make it happen,” said Mr Shitakha.

Kenya remains Uganda’s biggest source market for tourists in the region, accounting for 29 per cent of total arrivals in 2018, the highest figure reported before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to figures by the Tourism Research Institute.

Rising numbers

At least 95,000 Kenyans visit Uganda every three months, according to the Ugandan Consulate in Mombasa. It expects this figure to rise.

Last year, Kenya received 870,465 tourists compared to 567,848 in 2020, with the US leading as the major tourist source with 136,981 arrivals, followed by Uganda (80,067), Tanzania (74,051), the UK (53,264) and India with 42,159 visitors.

Before the pandemic, Uganda received over 1.5 million tourists in 2019 and registered over 512,000 travellers in 2020. However, the country’s tourism industry is poised for recovery with renewed emphasis on intra-African travel market as a key marketing strategy.

In 2019, the Tourism sector contributed 7.7 per cent of Uganda’s gross domestic product and created over 667,000 jobs.

Tourism data from 2019 shows that its top three Africa source markets include Rwanda (32 per cent), Kenya (24 per cent) and Tanzania at six per cent.

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Uganda’s tourism players are reaching out to Kenya in a controversial bid to help bridge market access challenges for Kampala’s hospitality offers. The players in Kampala see Kenya’s coastal exposure […]

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Uganda blocks contacts of Ebola patients from foreign travel

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said contacts and suspected contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to leave the country in order to prevent the disease from spreading to other countries.

He said a list of confirmed contacts has been given to the immigration authorities who will prevent them from international travel.

The country has also started screening people at airports and land border points of entry for temperature, symptoms and history of contact.

during his fourth televised address to the country since the outbreak of Ebola in September, President Museveni said that his Uganda’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola disease are starting to pay off as few new cases are currently being recorded as compared to how the situation was a few weeks ago.

Confirmed cases

As of Wednesday, there are 141 confirmed cases. Fifty five of these have died while 73 have recovered and 13 are admitted to the Ebola treatment units.

Two districts of Kassandra and Mubende, which are the epicentres of the outbreak, are currently under lockdown, with public transport restricted to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the country.

“In the past 21 days, the number of new cases has reduced to an average of three per day. This was because of intensifying control interventions which included door-to-door sensitisation of the communities by the village health teams, training of the health workers on infection prevention control in both public and private health facilities, safe dignified burials of all deceased in the communities and hospitals, and early treatment of cases at the Ebola treatment units,” Mr Museveni said.

Since these interventions were instituted, Mubende district, which recorded the first case and is regarded as a high-risk area, has not recorded a new Ebola case for the past 18 days.

Flouting rules

However, even with the efforts in place, many people, especially from high-risk areas, continue to flout the rules, which has seen the disease reach six districts across the country currently. A case was recently reported in Jinja, 80km east of Kampala, on Saturday. Two more people have succumbed to the disease in the area.

According to President Museveni, progress in containing the disease is being hindered by, among other things, a passenger relay system by boda bodas that allows contacts to escape areas under lockdown and subsequently spread the disease, frequent visits to traditional healers, myths, misconceptions, and misinformation, and escape by Ebola contacts under quarantine.

In his Tuesday address, the president ordered the Ministry of Health and local government leaders to intensify sensitisation of the boda boda riders on the dangers of aiding contacts to leave places under lockdown.

Traditional healers barred

He added that all traditional healers and witchdoctors have been prohibited from carrying out their activities and that trucks carrying logs, which have been discreetly transporting people, are prohibited from moving into and out of Mubende and Kassandra districts with immediate effect for the next 21 days.

The president noted that reports from the tourism sector players indicate that tourists have been cancelling their trips to Uganda and that some have even postponed their bookings in hotels and lodges due to the Ebola outbreak. In addition, several international conferences and meetings have been postponed and some moved to other countries due to the outbreak.

“I would like to reassure the international community, tourists and conference organisers and the entire Ugandan population that the government has put in place measures to control the outbreak. The Ebola outbreak is localised to only six out of the 146 districts. Uganda remains safe and we welcome international guests,” Mr Museveni said.

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said contacts and suspected contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to leave the country in order to prevent the disease from spreading to […]

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‘Death every day’: Fear, fortitude in Uganda’s Ebola epicentre

As Ugandan farmer Bonaventura Senyonga prepares to bury his grandson, age-old traditions are forgotten and fear hangs in the air while a government medical team prepares the body for the funeral — the latest victim of Ebola in the East African nation.

Bidding the dead goodbye is rarely a quiet affair in Uganda, where the bereaved seek solace in the embrace of community members who converge on their homes to mourn the loss together.

Not this time.

Instead, just a handful of relatives accompany 80-year-old Senyonga as he digs a grave on the family’s ancestral land, surrounded by banana trees.

“At first we thought it was a joke or witchcraft but when we started seeing bodies, we realised this is real and that Ebola can kill,” Senyonga told AFP.

His 30-year-old grandson Ibrahim Kyeyune was a father of two girls and worked as a motorcycle mechanic in central Kassanda district, which, together with neighbouring Mubende, is at the epicentre of Uganda’s Ebola crisis.

Under lockdown

Both districts have been under a lockdown since mid-October, with a dawn to dusk curfew, a ban on personal travel and public places shuttered.

The reappearance of the virus after three years has sparked fear in Uganda, with cases now reported in the capital Kampala as the highly contagious disease makes its way through the country of 47 million people.

In all, 53 people have died, including children, out of more than 135 cases, according to latest figures by Uganda’s health ministry.

Everyone is afraid

In Kassanda’s impoverished Kasazi B village, everyone is afraid, says Yoronemu Nakumanyanga, Kyeyune’s uncle.

“Ebola has shocked us beyond what we imagined. We see and feel death every day,” he told AFP at his nephew’s gravesite.

“I know when the body finally arrives, people in the neighbourhood will start running away, thinking Ebola virus spreads through the air,” he said.

Ebola is not airborne — it spreads through bodily fluids, with common symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

But misinformation remains rife and poses a major challenge.

In some cases, victims’ relatives have exhumed their bodies after medically supervised burials to perform traditional rituals, triggering a spike in infections.

In other instances, patients have sought out witchdoctors for help instead of going to a health facility — a worrying trend that prompted President Yoweri Museveni last month to order traditional healers to stop treating sick people.

“We have embraced the fight against Ebola and complied with President Museveni’s directive to close our shrines for the time being,” said Wilson Akulirewo Kyeya, a leader of the traditional herbalists in Kassanda.

‘I saw them die’

The authorities are trying to expand rural health facilities, installing isolation and treatment tents inside villages so communities can access medical attention quickly.

But fear of Ebola runs deep.

Brian Bright Ndawula, a 42-year-old trader from Mubende, was the sole survivor among four family members who were diagnosed with the disease, losing his wife, his aunt and his four-year-old son.

“When we were advised to go to hospital to have an Ebola test we feared going into isolation… and being detained,” he told AFP.

But when their condition worsened and the doctor treating them at the private clinic also began showing symptoms, he realised they had contracted the dreaded virus.

“I saw them die and knew I was next but God intervened and saved my life,” he said, consumed by regret over his decision to delay getting tested.

“My wife, child and aunt would be alive, had we approached the Ebola team early enough.”

A powerful weapon

Today, survivors like Ndawula have emerged as a powerful weapon in Uganda’s fight against Ebola, sharing their experiences as a cautionary tale but also as a reminder that patients can survive if they receive early treatment.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng urged recovered patients in Mubende to spread the message that “whoever shows signs of Ebola should not run away from medical workers but instead run towards them, because if you run away with Ebola, it will kill you.”

It is an undertaking many in this community have taken to heart.

Doctor Hadson Kunsa, who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients, told AFP he was terrified when he received his diagnosis.

“I pleaded to God to give me a second chance and told God I will leave Mubende after recovery,” he said.

But he explained he could not bring himself to do it.

“I will not leave Mubende and betray these people at the greatest hour of need.”

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As Ugandan farmer Bonaventura Senyonga prepares to bury his grandson, age-old traditions are forgotten and fear hangs in the air while a government medical team prepares the body for the funeral […]

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Uganda to close schools after eight children die of Ebola

Uganda will close schools nationwide later this month after 23 Ebola cases were confirmed among pupils, including eight children who died, the country’s first lady said on Tuesday.

Janet Museveni, who is also the education minister, said there had been cases in five schools in the capital Kampala, as well as the neighbouring Wakiso district and Mubende, the epicentre of the outbreak.

She said the cabinet had agreed to close pre-primary, primary and secondary schools from November 25, two weeks before the scheduled end of term.

“Closing schools earlier will reduce areas of concentration where children are in daily close contact with fellow children, teachers and other staff who could potentially spread the virus,” said the minister and wife of President Yoweri Museveni.

On Saturday, Uganda extended a three-week lockdown on Mubende and neighbouring Kassanda, the two central districts at the heart of the outbreak which has claimed more than 50 lives.

The measures include a dusk-to-dawn curfew, a ban on personal travel and the closure of markets, bars and churches.

Since the outbreak was declared in Mubende on September 20, the disease has spread across the East African nation, including to the capital Kampala.

But the president has said nationwide curbs were not needed. 

Fifty three people have died of Ebola out of 135 cases according to government figures dated November 6.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week said Uganda had registered over 150 confirmed and probable cases, including 64 fatalities.

Uganda’s last recorded fatality from a previous Ebola outbreak was in 2019.

The strain now circulating is known as the Sudan Ebola virus, for which there is currently no vaccine, although there are several candidate vaccines heading towards clinical trials.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, with common symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea. 

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments

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Uganda will close schools nationwide later this month after 23 Ebola cases were confirmed among pupils, including eight children who died, the country’s first lady said on Tuesday. Janet Museveni, […]

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Uganda’s HiPipo named among top digital innovation champions

The Global Business Leaders Magazine has named Uganda’s financial technology company HiPipo among this year’s world’s top 20 companies accelerating innovation in the digital financial services market.

Hipipo, which was the only African company on this American magazine’s list, was specifically applauded for championing digital innovation and financial inclusion across Africa under their ongoing Include Everyone programme.

“With a keen interest in women empowerment, HiPipo’s events help reduce the barriers perpetuating the gender gap by providing women with technical and business skills in digital financial services. It enables sustainable and inclusive growth and drives financial inclusion by advocating for reducing widespread interoperability issues leading to the exclusion of poor and vulnerable groups in the financial system,” the magazine noted.

Retail payment systems

Through the implementation of various initiatives, the company supports the creation of domestic and cross-border instant retail payment systems that enable wide economic growth.

The firm is also facilitating the delivery of affordable and innovative financial products to poor and vulnerable groups by advocating for use of digital financial services to support the establishment of sustainable and inclusive growth. It is also supporting fintechs and their collaborators to make it easier and cheaper for customers to engage with the formal financial inclusion ecosystem.

Other companies on the world’s top 20 list include Naborforce, Helpware, Proximity Space, Gulf Data Hub, SMT Energy and Motus Inc. The rankings looked at companies at the forefront of digital innovations across the world, with special emphasis on inclusion.

Championing inclusion

HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya said that appearing on such a list was a testament to the company’s 18-year journey of championing inclusion for everyone.

“It is always refreshing to see our work appreciated by reputable organisations such as the Global Business Leaders Magazine. These are indeed fruits of a dedicated team determined to change lives of people especially (those) found at the bottom of the pyramid,” Kawooya said.

Founded in 2005, HiPipo was started by a team of young enterprising minds who came together with the desire to change and excitement about billboard charts and people awards.

Promoting local music

It began by promoting local music using digital means and awards. The firm eventually started the HiPipo Music Awards in 2012.

Through their Include Everyone programme, the company first organised the Digital Impact Awards Africa in 2013, which eventually led to initiation of other programmes focused on low-income digital users, special interest groups such as women, PWDs, rural organisations and small formal and informal businesses.

Headquartered in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb, HiPipo has conceptualised and actualised several sector-changing initiatives to put Africa’s digital innovators on the required pedestal, helping them solve problems.

These include the 40-Days-40-FinTechs and FinTech Landscape Exhibition, the Women-In-FinTech Hackathon, Summit and Incubator and one of the continent’s most distinguished awards for digital innovation – the Digital Impact Awards Africa.

Main innovations’ beneficiaries

Mr Kawooya said that these initiatives and their related activities, publications and implementations have put HiPipo among the most important conveners of the various players in the fintech and digital financial services space, with its actions and advocacy geared towards having the unbanked and the marginalised as the main beneficiaries of these innovations.

As a result, the company has attracted partners and top funders like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“In future, we strive to continue doing our best. We are planning to implement and scale initiatives on the continent that increase the number of African women in leadership positions through efforts such as the Women-In-FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator. With financial exclusion persisting in Africa due to various reasons, HiPipo is aiming to accelerate its advocacy for the demand of creating instant and inclusive payment systems across Africa,” Mr Kawooya said.

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The Global Business Leaders Magazine has named Uganda’s financial technology company HiPipo among this year’s world’s top 20 companies accelerating innovation in the digital financial services market. Hipipo, which was the only […]

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Nairobi moves to lift barriers on Ugandan milk, poultry products

Only the work rate of President William Ruto’s new technocrats can fulfil Kenya’s pledge to unban Uganda’s poultry and milk products into its market by unbinding the restrictions imposed last year to protect local producers.

Last week, while at a function at the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), President Ruto gave the strongest hint that he would open up the Kenyan market to Ugandan products and do away with the protectionism exhibited by his predecessor’s regime.

“Uganda should bring cheaper milk here because they can produce it more cheaply. We should (also endeavour) to add value to our milk,” he said.

The idea, the Kenyan leader argues is to allow in goods from neighbours in exchange for their opening up to ensure Nairobi benefits from the provisions of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which it can exploit instead of quarrelling.

Value addition

“We should be adding value (to our milk), producing butter, powder for sale in the DRC, Central Africa and West Africa and we import cheaper milk from Uganda for our consumption,” said Ruto.

“Why should we quarrel with Uganda? It is because we have refused to take our rightful place in our continent. We should have taken action earlier but allowed Uganda to occupy this space. We must (therefore) have a different conversation.”

Kenya will, instead, task the Kenya Development Corporation to help producers improve the value of their products and target the broader market offered by AfCFTA.

“We now have the market infrastructure for us to take over the market in our continent. The reason our continent imports milk, powder and food is because Kenya has not taken its rightful place.”

Trade Remedies Act

But the immediate task of lifting the ban will bank on the bureaucracy involved. As is the tradition, presidential declarations do not amount to policy until the local technocrats turn around the way of doing things, in writing.

“The ban on Ugandan milk was not imposed by us (Trade) but by another ministry (Agriculture). Only they can lift the ban,” said Johnson Weru, Kenya’s Trade Principal Secretary.

“There is a specific process under the Trade Remedies Act of 2017. We have not prescribed any action under the Act and will have to sit down with Uganda under a bilateral arrangement.”

The PS hinted that trade, Agriculture and EAC Cabinet ministers will hit the road to ensure the trade bans of Ugandan milk are lifted by the end of 2022.

Road to unban milk products

Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has already met and held discussions with his Ugandan counterpart Frank Tumwebaze, on the road to unbanning the milk products this week. On Thursday, Mr Kuria formally took office, providing certainty to the Ministry charged with trade policy.

But EAC issues fall under a different docket handled by new Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano. Successful unbanning will depend on priorities the three ministries will focus on.

The plan to lift the ban is informed by Dr Ruto’s policy and plan to open up trade in the region to increase intra trade within the EAC, which is currently below 20 percent.

Volumes matter

Trade hostilities between the two EAC partner states began brewing in December 2019, when Kenya stopped importing Ugandan milk, particularly the Lato brand. And in July 2020, Kenya followed up with a ban on Ugandan sugar, against an earlier agreement to increase Uganda’s sugar exports to Kenya.

Kenya averted the ban on the export of its agricultural produce to Uganda after Nairobi agreed to lift restrictions on imports of poultry products from the neighbouring country at the end of last year.

The bilateral talks in December discussed and resolved trade issues touching on poultry, eggs, sugar and fish.

But immediately he took over from President Uhuru Kenyatta, Dr Ruto wants to have the ban on Ugandan goods totally lifted.

Open up more markets

The East African Business Council Kenyan chapter welcomed the move by president Ruto saying it will open up more markets for Kenyan goods as well.

“The point is for neighbours to trade with each other. It is the volume of that trade that matters rather than who is selling more eggs, milk or beans to the other, otherwise we will never grow. We must open up the market so that everybody can trade freely,” said Mucai Kunyiha, EABC board member and former chairman of KAM.

“People must also be able to trade in what they are competitive in because if we have expensive milk in Kenya, then you can’t sell it to Uganda. Conversely, since Uganda has cheaper milk, we must allow them to sell to us.”

The move is likely to see milk retail cheaply on Kenyan shelves where a litre milk costs Ksh78, the highest in recent times.

Struggling dairy farms

However, he warned that it could also impact negatively on Kenya’s dairy farms that are struggling.

“We have two levels of impact. We have two levels of producers, there are producers who are not competitive in Kenya; these will be outcompeted by the regional products which is a negative impact to some people,” Kunyiha explained.

“But on the positive scale, East Africa commerce grows, because that is the whole point of regional trade. Open markets are useful for us.”

“EAC intra-trade is between five to 10 percent of each country’s capacity and needs to be boosted. However, as we worry about Uganda, what about milk from Brazil, milk powder from New Zealand?” he posed.

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Uganda, Rwanda to beat Kenya in dollar millionaires growth

Kenya will trail Uganda and Rwanda in terms of growth in the number of super-rich individuals with investible assets worth more than $100 million over the next decade, due to more conducive business environments in the two East Africa Community states.

Kenya is projected to post a 55 percent growth in the number of centi-millionaires over the next 10 years to 2032, trailing Rwanda at 70 percent and Uganda at 65 percent, said a report by research firms New World Wealth and Henley & Partners.

Globally, Vietnam, India and Mauritius are expected to post the fastest growth in centi-millionaires in the decade at 95 percent, 80 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

The report said Kenya remains strong in wealth creation partly due to well-developed and neutral news media outlets that form investment decisions.

“It is important that most major outlets in a country are neutral and objective. A well-developed financial media space is especially important as it helps disseminate information to investors,” the report says.

Besides a favourable financial media, Kenya remains a favourable holiday destination for the centi-millionaires. The country is ranked the 9th top holiday destination for the mega-rich, with the Hamptons in the US, leading the pack.

Read: Tanzania has the only dollar billionaire in East Africa: report

“American centi-millioanires travelling to Kenya for the annual migration boosts the nation’s tourism industry, with luxury hotels and lodges such as Giraffe Manor (the most Instagrammed hotel), Kichwa Tembo tented and Angama Mara cashing in to accommodate the moneyed guests” Maryanne Maina, the chief executive officer of Swan Maison Concierge Paris, said in a comment in the report.

A separate report by New World Wealth and Henley & Partners last month ranked Nairobi fifth in terms of the number of dollar millionaires. The report showed Nairobi has 5,000 high net worth individuals (HNWI).

The report showed Nairobi is also home to 240 multi-millionaires, who have a net worth of more than $10 million, and 11 centi-millionaires, who are worth more than $100 million. It, however, does not have a dollar billionaire.

Kenya has 8,500 dollar millionaires, according to the Africa Wealth Report 2022, which was released by the same firm in April. This means that Nairobi is home to 59 percent of Kenya’s HNWIs, underlining its status as Kenya’s economic hub and richest city.

However, no African city made it to the list of the top 20 cities globally that have the highest number of dollar millionaires, which was dominated by US cities.

Henley & Partners Chief Executive Juerg Steffen noted that 14 of the Top 20 wealthiest cities in the world are in countries that host formal investment migration programmes, and actively encourage foreign direct investment in return for residence or citizenship rights.

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Kenya will trail Uganda and Rwanda in terms of growth in the number of super-rich individuals with investible assets worth more than $100 million over the next decade, due to more conducive […]

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Puzzle of ‘missing’ Ugandan MP’s Nairobi-Kampala journey

A Uganda Member of Parliament who was reported missing after taking a taxi in Nairobi, Kenya, is reported to be in Kampala.

Just hours after media reports that he was reported missing when he boarded an Uber taxi from the Kilimani area on Sunday morning to the Nairobi City Centre, Bukigai County MP David Wakikona on Tuesday afternoon told The Monitor that he is in Kampala.

On Tuesday, details emerged of how the Ugandan legislator left Samra Court, located along Argwings Kodhek Road in Nairobi, and made his way to Kampala.

The Nation established that the legislator left the Nairobi apartment without informing any of his colleagues from the Uganda Parliament. 

Mr Wakikona on October 3, 2022, arrived in Kenya alongside fellow MPs including Abdi Fadhil Kisos Chemaswet (Kween County), John Ngoya (Bokora), Paul Busiro (Busiro) and Clerk of the National Assembly Opio Emmanuel.

Read: Ugandan MP missing in Nairobi after boarding taxi

On October 9, he asked a guard at the city apartment to get him a taxi to drop him off at Tom Mboya Street. It has been established that upon reaching Nairobi Central Business District, the Ugandan legislator proceeded to Latema Road where he booked a Molo Line matatu to Nakuru City.

A senior detective privy to the matter said that once in Nakuru, he then boarded another vehicle. His phone signal showed that by 2 pm he was in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. He then proceeded to Bungoma County before travelling to Kampala.

Unaware of Mr Wakikona’s whereabouts, his colleagues filed a missing person’s report at Kilimani Police Station, prompting Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers to track him down to the Kenya-Uganda border. The officers could not get hold of the MP as he had already crossed into Uganda.

 “A missing person report was filed at Kilimani police station and the DCI took over the investigations. The MP has already returned to Uganda,” Kilimani Sub-County police boss Andrew Muturi said on Tuesday.   

Shortly after reports of Mr Wakikona’s disappearance appeared on Tuesday, he issued a statement in Uganda saying he was safe and asked local journalists to find him within Parliament Buildings in Kampala.

“I am here [in Kampala], you come to Parliament you will see me,” he said.  

Political career

Since he was re-elected in the 2021 Uganda General Election, Mr Wakikona has been embroiled in a court case challenging his academic qualifications.

His main opponent, Mr Wilson Watila, moved to court challenging his election victory. Mr Watila garnered 2,177 votes against 4,108 polled by Mr Wakikona.

Mr Watila rejected the poll results and filed a petition at the Mbale High Court, accusing his opponent of electoral malpractices, which he alleged had denied him victory.

He also cited discrepancies in the names on the academic documents belonging to his rival, saying that he did not swear a poll deed before his nomination.

Mr Watila claimed that the ‘O’-Level certificate presented by his rival indicates that he is David Wakikona Wanendeya while the ‘A’- level certificate reads Wakikona Wanendeya David.

He also said that his certificate from Soroti Flying School carries Wakikona D. Wanendeya while his advanced flying certificate reads Wakikona David. 

But Wakikona’s lawyers from Tumusiime Kabega and Co. Advocates told the court that the affidavits that accompanied the petition were defective since they were prepared by a commissioner of oaths who never had a valid practicing certificate.

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A Uganda Member of Parliament who was reported missing after taking a taxi in Nairobi, Kenya, is reported to be in Kampala. Just hours after media reports that he was reported […]

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Uganda’s fuel smugglers: The Opec Boys (anti-)heroes of the marginalized?

Smuggling in the Ugandan border region of West Nile has a long and chequered history. It straddles the fine line between legitimacy and legality.

Governance and conflict researcher Kristof Titeca has studied smuggling in the border region since 2003. He explains the dynamics.

What’s the history of smuggling in Uganda’s West Nile region?

The term smuggling often brings strongly negative connotations, and is often associated with criminality and violence. However, smugglers aren’t always associated with these negative connotations by the communities in which they are embedded.

The West Nile region in Uganda illustrates this dynamic. This area is located in northwestern Uganda, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

When colonialists introduced the borders demarcating Uganda, Zaire/Congo and Sudan, this divided ethnic groups but didn’t stop the interaction between them. Continued untaxed trade – or smuggling – was considered legitimate.

In addition, smuggling – both then and now – is viewed as a survival mechanism.

For example, during successive wars and rebellions affecting the region, many people fled across borders. When former Ugandan president Idi Amin (a West Niler) was ousted from power in 1979, the residents of West Nile feared revenge and fled to eastern Congo and southern Sudan. Similarly, violence in southern Sudan in the early 1990s, and in more recent times, forced many (South) Sudanese to flee to northern Uganda. Smuggling constituted an important livelihood for many during these times, and laid the basis for contemporary trading networks and practices.

Smuggling is also linked to people feeling marginalised or oppressed. And the West Nile region feels marginalised by the Yoweri Museveni regime.

Also Read: How Epra lost war on fuel marking job

Smuggling in this border region has to be understood in this context: as a way of making ends meet despite of – and in opposition to – a regime perceived to marginalise them. Smuggling is regarded as legitimate employment. And an important form of social mobility, a rags-to-riches story present in the wider social imaginary of the population.

How pervasive is smuggling in Uganda?

Data from the Bank of Uganda and Uganda Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2018, Ugandan informal exports – or smuggled products – were worth US$546.6 million. For their part, smuggled imports were worth US$60 million.

But these numbers are an underestimation as they are based on data from official border posts, which excludes goods smuggled through many unofficial smuggling routes.

Moreover, the data shows that for the DRC – which in 2018 accounted for almost half of Uganda’s informal trade value – informal export and import figures are almost always higher than the formal ones.

What does the story of the Opec Boys tell us?

The Opec Boys – a term used to refer to fuel smugglers operating in the region – are a telling illustration of the dynamics of smuggling in the West Nile.

In my research, I have studied the Opec Boys at different moments in their history over the last 20 years.

Their roots can be traced to the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was when much of the population of north-western Uganda fled to neighbouring DRC and Sudan after the overthrow of the Amin regime.

During this time, a number of exiled young men made a living from smuggling fuel. They didn’t stop doing so upon their return to Uganda. They started an organisation that came to be known as the Opec Boys. Many other young men returning to their home areas, with no education or assets, were drawn into this fuel business.

They would sell smuggled fuel in jerrycans on street corners in the region’s major urban centres. There was a general shortage of petrol stations in the area, and their fuel was cheaper. The Opec Boys got their smuggled fuel in different ways: some smuggled it themselves from Congo, others used “transporters” who were mostly young(er) boys on bicycles, smuggling the fuel via back roads to avoid security officials. Others bought their fuel from truck drivers, who equally smuggled their fuel into Uganda.

The Opec Boys were the most important supplier of fuel in the area until the late 2000s. Around this time, the increased number of fuel stations, and the changing tax regime in DRC pushed many of them out of business. While they still exist, their activities are less prominent.

What did they come to represent?

The Opec Boys were considered an important social-economic and political force in two major ways.

First, they came to constitute an important manifestation of what sociologist Asef Bayat’s calls “un-civil society”. This is an unconventional, uninstitutionalised form of civil society. It operates through ad hoc, direct and sporadic action through which it represents the interests of the urban informal sector. This definition applies to the Opec Boys.

Particularly during the 1990s and 2000s, they would – led by a charismatic leader – come to the defence of actors within the urban informal sector, such as market vendors or motorcycle taxi riders. They, for example, intervened when urban authorities wanted to forcefully remove streetside kiosks by blocking roads and organising protests.

Second, in doing so, they are an illustration of historian Eric Hobsbawm’s “social bandits”. This is through their links to the population and their composition – young, unemployed men, and (certainly in their early phase) often ex-rebels considered “natural material for banditry”.

Their smuggling activities provide employment to, and absorb, a potentially dangerous group: low-skilled, landless young men. In a region with a history of rebel groups, this is seen as an important stabilising factor, allowing for the voicing of discontent through trading activities rather than illegality.

For these reasons, attempts to take formal action against smuggling in the West Nile region often lead to demonstrations and riots.

In February 2022, for instance, riots erupted in Koboko town. These were directed against Uganda’s tax collecting agency – the Uganda Revenue Authority.

Protestors set the authority’s offices on fire after tax collectors allegedly hit and injured a suspected fuel smuggler (the authority denied this happened). The smuggler was reportedly carrying 320 litres of fuel in sixteen 20-litre jerrycans from the DRC. During the riots, one person was shot dead and several others wounded.

Months earlier, the shooting of a suspected smuggler also led to violent demonstrations.

However, this doesn’t mean all smuggling is romanticised. Smuggling in goods such as drugs or weapons is looked at very differently, and doesn’t have the same legitimacy and popular support.

In sum, smuggling is looked at as more than a strictly economic activity; it’s a social and political one. In local social imaginaries, it’s seen as an act of resistance, a way to fend for oneself in difficult circumstances.

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Smuggling in the Ugandan border region of West Nile has a long and chequered history. It straddles the fine line between legitimacy and legality. Governance and conflict researcher Kristof Titeca has studied smuggling in […]

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Muhoozi’s ambition putting Museveni-Ruto ties at risk

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba this week either marked a milestone in his political career or blotted ties between his country and Kenya. It depends on where you stand.

At 48 years, is the youngest general in Uganda today. But that title is already held by five other people in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), including his father President Yoweri Museveni. This week, President Museveni also dropped him as Commander of Land Forces, which means he is a general with no army.

So, what was the endgame of his controversial tweets in which he suggested an invasion of Kenya to occupy Nairobi in two weeks? In public, officials in Nairobi said they would let the matter slide after President Yoweri Museveni apologised to Kenya. In private, President William Ruto’s officials were so miffed they threatened to cancel his attendance of Uganda’s 60th independence anniversary in Kampala on October 9.

An earlier invitation to Dr Ruto to open a business forum in Kampala on Tuesday was not honoured. Initially, Nairobi dismissed the tweets. But then the general tweeted on about his supposed love for former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who he lamented should have tried a third term (under Kenyan law, that is unconstitutional), his admiration of revolution rather than democracy and aspiration to make Kenya and Uganda “one country.”

In Kenya, the feeling among some government officials is that Muhoozi is unhappy with the election of Ruto rather than Raila Odinga who was backed by Kenyatta. Nairobi diplomats indicated they expected “clarification” from Uganda. By Friday, Ruto’s team had indicated the president would attend the independence anniversary.

The tweets drew an apology from President Museveni, but he defended promoting Muhoozi saying he was focusing on the positives while discoursing negatives.

“I ask our Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent by General Muhoozi, former Commander of Land Forces,” he said.

The Ugandan leader said it was not proper for any public officer to comment about the affairs of another country or interfere in any way in the affairs of a brother country.

Thorny election issue

Yet this also gives a dilemma for Museveni: How to tame his son while keeping a domestic polity intact, and a fledgling bromance with Ruto. When Ruto campaigned for election, his closeness to Museveni became a subject of controversy in Kenya, leading to a ban on his travel to Uganda. Officials suggested there had been undue influence from Uganda in Kenyan elections, forcing Kampala to clarify it had no role.

On Thursday, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga did suggest there had been foreign interference in the elections but did not directly accuse Uganda. He said the election had been stolen by “the work of a group of right-wing politicians and a group international monopoly capital.”

Beyond local elections, however, Ruto’s ethnic relations to some Ugandans in the east of that country is seen by Museveni as crucial. Kenyan President is said to have investments in Uganda, which explained closeness to the Ugandan leader.

Museveni also needs to keep his generals at home happy, even as he juggles the succession balls, some say. Muhoozi sees himself as the heir-apparent and suggested so in his tweets.

Balam Barugaharra, his confidant, says the rank of general is preparation for the presidency. He says they hope he gets appointed minister so that he can interact more with ordinary Ugandans and understand their plight.

At a recent function in western Uganda, Barugaharra told the president that Muhoozi was Uganda’s “standby generator,” in case he chose to step down.

In what looks like a formal introduction to the public and business sphere, Gen Muhoozi is expected to be chief guest at Business Breakfast in Kampala on October 12. The conference, sponsored by some of the leading brands in Uganda such as New Vision, Uganda Breweries and Uganda Airlines, is organised by an unfamiliar organisation, Kef Uganda.

But to some insiders, the president has lost patience with an erratic Muhoozi. At the height of what Ugandans thought was a problem in the military three months ago, Deputy Chief of Defense Forces Lt-Gen Peter Elwelu issued a standby order class one, which Muhoozi immediately countered, prompting a meeting in Ntungamo and chaired by the President in which Muhoozi was asked to desist from tweeting.

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Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba this week either marked a milestone in his political career or blotted ties between his country and Kenya. It depends on where you stand. At 48 years, […]

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Bobi Wine claims he was arrested in Dubai, grilled for hours

Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has claimed that he had been detained in Dubai on Friday night and grilled for hours.

“Landed in Dubai at 8:30pm. It’s now 5am. I’ve been held & interrogated for 8hrs. They asked me about NUP, its leaders, their phone numbers, my family members & their contacts! I have all necessary travel docs. They’ve confiscated my passport & my phone. Am literary under arrest,” the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader tweeted early Saturday.

An hour later, he added, “In Dubai to perform at a charity concert to assist some of the Ugandan immigrant workers. Been held at the airport for almost 10 hours, being interrogated mostly about NUP! My phone and passport have now been returned. Hopefully things go as planned. Will give an update.”

He was scheduled to perform at a concert.

Mr Kyagulanyi is the second Ugandan Opposition politician to be held in another country in less than two weeks—the first one having been Mr Chapa Karuhanga, a founding member of one of the country’s opposition party the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who was on September 29 detained in an immigration facility in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, over unclear cases.

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Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has claimed that he had been detained in Dubai on Friday night and grilled for hours. “Landed in Dubai at […]

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A father’s pain: Why president’s ‘avenger’ son is EA’s nightmare

After a storm of 16 tweets that threatened war on Uganda’s eastern neighbour Kenya, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni seemed to have had just enough headaches from his son, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

So he sacked him from the position of Commander Land Forces but, in a surprise twist, promoted him to the highest military rank of Uganda’s armed forces – General.

It was unprecedented, needless to say, that unlike generals before him who’d waded into political commentary and were detained, charged at the Court Martial and kept away from both position and rank, Gen Muhoozi even got a prized apology issued on his behalf by the president to the Kenyan people.

But what is distinctive about Gen Muhoozi? Is it simply that he is the president’s blood? Does he represent a core part of Museveni’s rule and succession? Or is it, as some have pointed out, a case of a privileged, spoilt child?

Read: Museveni apologises to Kenya over Muhoozi tweets

It’s a complicated picture.

Politicians vs securocrats

In November 2020, smack in the heat of the presidential campaigns, the arrest of National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine changed the nature of Uganda’s security forever.

President Museveni had toyed with political solutions to beat back the growing dissent, mostly in central Uganda. After a 36-year rule, the fatigue of supporting his National Resistance Movement (NRM) had started to show in Uganda’s population. In by-elections, voters punished the NRM for service delivery failures. Their candidates, for whom the president campaigned, were voted out. The winning trick for Bobi Wine was populism matched with a massive stoking of social anger.

Read: Uganda sees ‘parallel’ diplomacy from Muhoozi

Unable to fully understand the unfolding defeats, Museveni asked the party to “go to the ghetto” and sell its agenda. In a few months, it had scraped up new friends. Buchaman, a singing duo of Bobi Wine, came close; Catherine Kusasira, a musician, even got a job as a presidential adviser; Bebe Cool, a singing nemesis of Bobi Wine, became a prominent campaign figure for the NRM.

But the political dissent wasn’t abating. In the kitchen, security officials were mooting their own ideas. For one, many of them were uncomfortable with the rise and rise of Bobi Wine.

He had sailed through a by-election in Kyadondo East against the combined force of the NRM and the opposition Forum for Democratic Change. After a bitterly fought by-election in Arua, in the northwest, which the NRM lost to the opposition candidate Kassiano Wadri, Bobi got into the crosshairs of the securocrats.

He was accused of pelting the presidential convoy with stones and was arrested, tortured and dragged before a military court. Security officers told the court that guns had been found in his room, and an elaborate plan was laid out as part of evidence to pin him to a treason charge. The trial picked the eye of many international actors.

Muhoozi had been watching the events from the background. Then, only a special adviser to the president on special operations, he had limited scope. But his role in the country’s security was becoming more pronounced.

Read: Muhoozi Twitter storm reveals the app’s new power in Africa

After the November 2020 riots, it wasn’t in contest where power lay in Uganda. The boots stepped out, and 54 people were shot and killed in a 47-minute army operation.

A snap reshuffle saw Muhoozi returned to the centre of Museveni’s rule as Commander of the Special Forces Command, an elite army set up to guard the president initially, but which morphed into the most tactical and fluid of Uganda’s different army sections.

Muhoozi and his friends in the army returned to command Uganda’s security infrastructure – the Late Lt-Gen Paul Lokech was at Police, Muhoozi at SFC and Maj-Gen Kayanja Muhanga as overall commander for Kampala.

Read: Muhoozi’s ambition putting Museveni-Ruto ties at risk

That trio delivered what Museveni initially wanted of Kampala: A quiet, subdued and politically numb city.

But the ensuing headache is what Museveni wasn’t ready for.

The Rwanda problem

After crossing the border to Rwanda and meeting with President Paul Kagame, Muhoozi returned triumphant, ending a standoff that had seen the two countries’ borders closed for three years. He had cleared a mountain of errors committed by Ugandan security that had led to icy relations. He pushed for border reopening, and openly invited President Kagame to his 48th birthday.

To crown the moment, at his birthday celebration, he would secure a handshake between Museveni and Kagame, former bosom buddies, who had not spoken to each other for long.

But it’s at the height of this diplomatic win that Muhoozi muddied the waters. In a tweet in early April, he said the Rwandan army would be allowed into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to help deal with the security crisis there. The tweet, which was fast-deleted, caused a stir in the Congolese parliament. Uganda had negotiated careful entry into the DRC for its “Operation Shujaa” to pursue Ugandan extremist Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces, and thereafter help construct roads. In terms of access, the Congolese army limited the UPDF’s operational area to a triangle in eastern DRC, and insisted that any or all operations would be carried out jointly with the government’s Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FARDC. Uganda would seek, in that small triangle, to destroy ADF and FARDC would learn from them operational efficiency. The agreement was tabled before the DRC parliament after pressure from Congolese politicians. Uganda army’s history in eastern DRC hadn’t all been pretty, having been accused of plundering the DRC in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and fined heavily for it. Their re-entry had to be carefully managed.

Museveni picked on a battle-tested soldier, and friend of Muhoozi, Maj-Gen Kayanja Muhanga to lead the operation. Muhoozi, as Commander of the Land Forces, would play a pivotal role in planning and co-ordination. The Congolese looked at Muhoozi as the commander and prosecutor of the war, and when his tweet announced that Rwandan forces would be granted access to the eastern DRC, even though it was only his opinion, it was hard to tell fact from opinion.

An agreement for Uganda to construct roads was retracted. A stormy parliamentary session in Kinshasa rebuked Muhoozi and asked that he be reprimanded.

Sources in Kampala say Museveni called Muhoozi for a dress-down on the tweets. Angry at the reprimand, Muhoozi tweeted in quick succession that he would quit the army and retire. Then, in 11 hours after that tweet, he deactivated his account. People familiar with this episode say Muhoozi was unhappy with his father.

In a more recent tweet, Muhoozi had given away bits and pieces of this troubled moment in which he wrote; “My father doesn’t drink… I drink and I have saved him many many times”.

Muhoozi had been, in that tweet, defending “perfectly capable people” who were victimised due to their drinking of alcohol. That tweet too, was deleted.

In comes Ethiopia

Museveni had steered clear of the Ethiopian conflict, choosing silence with the strategic aim of mediating the conflict between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal government in Addis Ababa and the rebel regional Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF. His son, on the other hand, was of a different mind, tweeting in November 2021, of support for the TPLF much to the horror of Uganda’s diplomats and Ethiopian government.

Abiy flew to Entebbe to insist on Uganda’s position being clear on the conflict. Ugandan diplomats sought to allay the concerns of Addis with limited success. Months later, this August, Muhoozi was sent, together with Uganda’s state minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem – also a former first son – to Ethiopia to meet with PM Abiy. After the meetings, he tweeted that he was “optimistic” that an African solution would be found to an African problem, but remained adamant about deleting tweets in which he supported the TPLF.

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After a storm of 16 tweets that threatened war on Uganda’s eastern neighbour Kenya, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni seemed to have had just enough headaches from his son, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. So […]

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Ruto in Kampala for Uganda’s Independence Day celebrations

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday received his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto at Entebbe International Airport, ahead of Kampala’s celebrations to mark 60 years of independence from Britain.

But the anniversary had been marked with tensions between the two neighbouring countries after Museveni’s son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, last week issued a series of tweets that derided Ruto’s election and joked about the ease with which his troops could capture Nairobi in two weeks.

The tweets forced Museveni to apologise personally to Kenya, and remove Muhoozi as head of Land Forces. He, however, took no further action. Instead, the Ugandan President promoted his son to a full general, making him the youngest Ugandan soldier today to hold such a title.

President Ruto’s team had threatened to skip the ceremony over the tweets unless an apology came but even after that, it was expected that the two leaders would hold a bilateral session in Kampala on Saturday to discuss the issue.

Read: A father’s pain: Why president’s ‘avenger’ son is EA’s nightmare

Uganda is Kenya’s biggest trading partner with Kampala relying on the Port of Mombasa for most of its imports.

The trip is Dr Ruto’s first to Kampala since he was elected President and the Supreme Court validated his victory last month. Prior to travelling to Uganda, he was in Addis Ababa for the launch of Safaricom Ethiopia. He is also scheduled to visit Tanzania in this first regional tour.

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday received his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto at Entebbe International Airport, ahead of Kampala’s celebrations to mark 60 years of independence from Britain. But the […]

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Uganda’s Owen Falls dam: a colonial legacy that still stings

Uganda’s Owen Falls hydropower plant has a rich history that predates the country’s independence in 1962. The plant is located across the White Nile and sits between the towns of Jinja and Njeru on the shores of Lake Victoria. It is about 85 kilometres east of Kampala.

Uganda was a protectorate of the British empire from 1894 to 1962. In 1947, English engineer Charles Redvers Westlake recommended the construction of a hydroelectric dam at Owen Falls that was supposed to be East Africa’s largest power project.

The governor of the Protectorate of Uganda, Sir Andrew Cohen, wrote at the time that the Owen Falls dam would open new horizons of opportunity and prosperity for Uganda and all who lived there. Cohen went on to note:

“Despite its technical complexity and the fact that we have had to draw upon skill and experience from many parts of the world, it belongs to Uganda and to Uganda’s people. The power which the dam will provide and the industries it will make possible will bring solid benefit to everybody in the shape of increased wealth; above all, it will bring new opportunities to Africans.”

At its completion in 1954, the dam immediately expanded Uganda’s electricity supply capacity from 1MW to 150MW. But the expected boom in electricity consumption didn’t happen. One textile mill and a copper smelter were the only industrial establishments to crop up.

The Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) – which was established on 15 January 1948 – resorted to selling between one third and one half of the electricity generated to Kenya.

The institutional arrangements for constructing the dam left a damaging legacy that is still felt today. The British established governance arrangements for Nile waters that effectively granted Egypt veto power over all construction projects on the Nile. This legal regime continues to cause conflict between Nile riparian states to this day.

Owen Falls’ construction has to be seen as part of a racist colonial project, the sole objective of which was the exploitation of peoples and their resources to maximise British interests.

Empire’s twisted logic

At the end of World War II there were protests throughout the British empire as demands for independence began picking up pace.

In Uganda, the country’s new colonial governor, Sir John Hathorn Hall, was forced to take action. Some of the steps he took were informed by the need for the colonial government to show restless and poverty-stricken Ugandans that it was interested in promoting economic growth, industrialisation and development.

The dam was supposed to help Ugandans utilise their own natural resource – the water in Lake Victoria – to provide themselves with a significant level of energy independence.

But, in the twisted logic of the empire, achieving this goal was constrained by London trying to achieve interests elsewhere. In this case, British agricultural interests in Egypt.

In 1929, Egypt and Britain had signed the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, which was designed to harness the waters of the Nile River and its tributaries to produce raw materials, notably cotton, for British industries.

The treaty, which created what are today known as historically acquired rights, was concluded without input from Uganda or other Nile riparian states.

These rights allocate virtually all Nile waters to Egypt and Sudan. They also grant Egypt veto power over all construction projects on the Nile River and its tributaries.

As Ugandans would later find out, the British had, without their permission, placed Egyptian officials in a position to veto development projects in Uganda and other upstream Nile Basin states.

Despite the fact that the Owen Falls dam was to be constructed on the White Nile in Uganda, Uganda was forced to obtain permission for its construction from Egypt.

Source of tension and conflict

The 1929 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and the 1959 Nile Treaty – which was a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Sudan – continue to fuel conflict between the downstream and upstream states in the Nile Basin.

In fact, Ethiopia’s refusal to abide by and be bounded by these colonial anachronisms has forced officials in Cairo to threaten to go to war to maintain Egypt’s acquired rights.

In accordance with the spirit of the 1929 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, colonial Uganda was forced to submit the documents for constructing the Owen Falls dam to Cairo for approval.

The construction of the dam would be the responsibility of the UEB, which was also to administer and maintain the project. However, the interests of Egypt were to be represented at the construction site by an Egyptian resident engineer, who would instruct the UEB on the discharges to be passed through the dam.

It is no wonder that when Ethiopia announced its intention in 2011 to construct a dam on the Blue Nile, Egypt sought similar concessions. Just as it had demanded of colonial Uganda, Egypt sought to maintain technical staff at the site of Ethiopia’s dam to monitor its operations.

Racism on site

The racist foundations of colonialism were quite evident at the Owen Falls dam site. For example, after estimating that the job would require a labour force of 2,000, the UEB built labour quarters for Europeans and Asians, complete with a club, community centre and swimming pool, at the Amberly Estate north of Jinja.

But it chose to house all African staff in quarters located across the bridge in Njeru.

These discriminatory economic and social policies would spill into the post-independence period and be exploited by dictator Idi Amin for his personal interests.

When she died on 8 September 2022, some Ugandans remembered Queen Elizabeth II as the young monarch who, in 1954, inaugurated the Owen Falls dam as a symbol of energy independence and ushered in a new era of industrialisation and economic development in Uganda.

But others remember her as the person who, over 70 years, presided over a country that reminds them of brutal exploitation, including the theft of their resources.

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Uganda’s Owen Falls hydropower plant has a rich history that predates the country’s independence in 1962. The plant is located across the White Nile and sits between the towns of […]

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Porous borders stoke Ebola fears across the region

Uganda health officials are suggesting expanded lockdown measures but President Yoweri Museveni has clarified that the government will not enact Covid-like restrictions that saw schools and worship centres shut down

Health authorities across the region are scratching their heads on how to counter the health and economic threats posed by the growing Ebola emergency in Uganda, even as economies struggle to recover from the effects of Covid-19.

This week, President Yoweri Museveni clarified that his government has ruled out Covid-like restrictions that saw borders, schools, entertainment and worship centres shut down for more than one year.

Ebola threat

The Ebola fear is not restricted to Uganda as health officials in the region continue to contend with porous borders that put the entire region at risk.

But an even bigger fear is that restrictions at border points could hurt movement of people and goods.

Read: Uganda Ebola outbreak: Here’s what you need to know

On Thursday, Dr Anthony Kafumbe, the East African Community (EAC) acting deputy secretary-general for Productive and Social Sectors, said the EAC Secretariat would work with partner states to co-ordinate emergency preparedness and response at common borders.

“I urge partner states to enhance surveillance and laboratory testing especially at border areas; to implement appropriate infection prevention and control measures and increase risk communication and community awareness of the disease,” he said.

“I ask partner states to consider the deployment of the EAC mobile laboratories to the strategic outbreak hotspots and at the various border point of entries.”

Taking measures

This week, Rwanda reinstated the use of non-contact thermometers across all its border crossings.

Rwandan health workers, in protective gear and face masks, were at the Gatuna and Kagitumba borders, engaging cross-border travellers, taking their temperature and noting down their travel history.

Although Rwanda has not suffered a single Ebola case in the past, Uganda’s Mubende District – the epicentre of this year’s outbreak – is about a six-hour drive from the border.

“The Ministry of Health strongly urges each and every one to be cautious and seriously comply with the preventive measures against Ebola,” reads a statement from Rwanda’s ministry of Health.

It warned against “unnecessary visits and contacts with people who have travelled to areas affected by the Ebola outbreak.”

The public has been advised to report all visitors from Uganda and observe high hygiene.

Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

By Friday, Ebola cases had been detected in Mubende, Kyegegwa, Kagadi and Kassanda across 120 kilometres, the World Health Organisation said in its bulletin.

“Some 400 had been identified and will be monitored as the search continues to identify other people who may be at risk,” it said.

WHO said confirmed cases need supportive care to improve their survival chances. The agency deployed three viral haemorrhagic fever kits with medical supplies, medicines and personal protective equipment to an isolation unit set up in the Mubende Regional Referral Hospital with plans underway for an additional Ebola treatment unit. “More kits will be deployed based on need,” a statement said.

Uganda will also receive $500,000 to support the country’s control efforts and another $300,000 from WHO’s preparedness programme to support readiness activities in the neighbouring countries, including screening, awareness campaigns and isolation centres.

Read: Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

The WHO had earlier in the week praised Uganda’s response and especially testing capacity for Ebola, with 5,000 tests having been done by Wednesday.

But health officials in the affected areas are expressing frustration that the localised measures imposed to contain the spread were being violated, and suggested expanded lockdown measures.

So far, there are 31 confirmed cases and six confirmed deaths.

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services at the Ugandan Health ministry, said some people suspected to have contracted the disease had escaped from Mubende Hospital a week ago before samples taken from them had been tested. Results for one of the said people turned out positive, but his whereabouts remain unknown.

Risky behaviour

Officials say they have since tightened security at quarantine facilities, but are still worried of a possible community infection.

Yet when detected and treated early, the risk of dying from Ebola is significantly reduced.

In Kasese district bordering DR Congo, another suspected Ebola patient escaped from a health facility on Wednesday morning.

As the emergency escalated this week, the country has reported that five doctors and an anaesthetist have been gone into isolation for treatment after contracting Ebola in the line of duty.

“Initially, there were issues with personal protective equipment. In the areas where the patients reached first, the health workers there were not having PPEs,” Dr Herbert Luswata, the president of an association of doctors in the country said.

One of the health workers, a Tanzanian doctor, died on Saturday while receiving treatment. He was in Uganda pursuing a Master of Medicine in Surgery course at Kampala International University.

Sheila Nduhukire, the spokesperson of the National Medical Stores, says they have since supplied adequate PPE stocks to the Mubende Regional Referral Hospital.

On Friday, Health officials in Kenya said they were investigating a suspected case of Ebola in Kakamega County, western Kenya. The patient had recently travelled to eastern Uganda to visit relatives, officials said.

Mumias West Disease Surveillance Co-ordinator Boaz Gichana said the patient had been admitted at St Mary Hospital isolation unit awaiting laboratory results.

Last week, the Kenyan government issued an Ebola alert and called for screening of travellers at entry points on the border with Uganda.

Read: Ebola survivors to forego sex for 90 days

Tanzanian Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu has meanwhile directed regional commissioners from high-risk Ebola regions to strengthen the rapid response teams to control possible spread of the disease.

The high risk regions are Kagera, Mwanza, Kigoma, Geita and Mara in the Great Lakes zone and Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Songwe for their high interaction with foreign citizens.

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Uganda health officials are suggesting expanded lockdown measures but President Yoweri Museveni has clarified that the government will not enact Covid-like restrictions that saw schools and worship centres shut down […]

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Uganda’s Sarrai Group cleared to resume operations in Mumias Sugar

Uganda-based Sarrai Group has been cleared to resume operations at Mumias Sugar Company in western Kenya after the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended a High Court decision to kick the firm out of running the troubled miller.

The appellate court said in a ruling that they were persuaded that the Sarrai Group together with KCB-appointed administrator PVR Rao had demonstrated that their appeal will be rendered useless if the decision cancelling the lease in April is not suspended.

High Court judge Alfred Mabeya had cancelled the 20-year-lease granted to Sarrai and appointed Kereto Marima as the administrator, pending a process to pick a new company to lease the Mumias plant. The miller was placed under receivership by KCB Group in 2019 over mounting debts.

KCB argued that its rights as secured creditors will diminish if Mr Marima’s actions pursuant to his appointment are not stayed.

“Indeed, they fear that they may not be able to recover the securities. To our mind, these fears are not idle,” appellate judges Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed and Sankale ole Kantai said.

In the intended appeal, KCB and Sarrai argue that the trial court erred in undermining its interest as a secured creditor by holding that public interest surpasses the interests of the creditors.

The lender said Mr Marima will continue with the process of administration including the taking over the assets that had been charged to secure Mumias’ indebtedness to KCB and deal with the assets in whichever manner he deems fit its detriment.

KCB Group further said there was no guarantee that it will be able to recover its securities, should the intended appeal succeed.

Sarrai, in an affidavit of Mr Rakesh Kumar Bvats, a director, said the revocation of the lease had far reaching economic and social consequences to several people in the western region like employees who will definitely lose their jobs, as well as farmers.

Lawyer Jackline Kimeto, who is also a creditor, however, opposed the application saying KCB and Sarrai had not approached the court with clean hands. She said they had all along deliberately failed to comply with several court orders and that granting the prayers sought would be used as a shield to perpetuate illegal activities and disobedience of court orders.

Ms Kimeto said suspending the decision and allowing Sarrai to re-enter the premises of Mumias and continue with activities based on a nullified lease poses more irreparable harm, substantial loss to all other stakeholders, in the event that the nullification is upheld by the court of appeal.

Last week, Justice Wilfrida Okwany who was hearing a contempt of court application against Sarrai Group for going on with operations at the company, withdrew from the case citing several reasons, including her transfer from the Commercial division.

Her withdrawal follows that of the presiding judge of the division Justice Mabeya, who disqualified himself from the case in July. The file will be taken to Justice Mabeya who will pick another judge to hear the application.

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Uganda-based Sarrai Group has been cleared to resume operations at Mumias Sugar Company in western Kenya after the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended a High Court decision to kick the […]

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Uganda’s Ebola death toll hits 23

The death toll in Uganda resulting from the Ebola Sudan strain has reached 23, health officials have said.

Read: Ebola infections, deaths rise in Uganda

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior communications officer, said the latest situation report indicated that as of Monday the country has a cumulative 36 cases of Ebola, 18 of which are confirmed and the other 18 are probable.

“The deaths stand at 23, five confirmed and 18 are probable. In the last 24 hours, we registered two new cases and two more deaths,” he said.

Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

The Ebola taskforce officials in Mubende District, the epicenter of the outbreak, revealed that five out of the deaths have occurred at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital where they have set up an isolation centre, while the other cases were registered from the community.

Ms Rose Mary Byabasaija, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and head of the area Ebola taskforce, on Monday said that while the number of admissions at both the emergency and isolation facilities stands at 38, the confirmed cases are 16.

“It is unfortunate that we have a positive case among the seven people that escaped from the isolation facility at Mubende Hospital. We have now got clues that will possibly help us get the woman that escaped from the facility. Both the security and health surveillance teams are tracking down the escapees,” she added.

Read: Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

The taskforce has also beefed up security at Mubende Hospital to ensure that all Ebola cases are isolated from the surrounding community to prevent spread of the disease.

“We have requested for extra deployment from police at the hospital,” the RDC said.

Meanwhile, a spot check in public places such as markets in Mubende revealed that many people are not heeding to the government’s calls to take measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. Most shops did not have hand washing facilities.

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The death toll in Uganda resulting from the Ebola Sudan strain has reached 23, health officials have said. Read: Ebola infections, deaths rise in Uganda Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior communications officer, […]

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Ebola infections, deaths rise in Uganda

The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates.

Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said that apart from the four confirmed deaths, 17 other fatalities are probable cases of Ebola infection. He added that the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Uganda rose to 16 at the weekend, with 18 others listed as probable cases of infection.

Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

“Cases reported outside Mubende include three in Kyegegwa and one in Kassanda but all linked to the index case in Mubende,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said, adding that there were “no confirmed cases in [the capital] Kampala”.

Health authorities said samples from suspected cases are being analysed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

The ministry appealed to residents to adhere to preventive measures and report any suspected cases to nearby health facilities or authorities.

Read: Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

At the weekend, officials expressed concern over the gaps in contact tracing.

While delivering his message at the national taskforce meeting at Mubende District headquarters on Saturday, Lt Col Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander, said they are tracing 213 contacts.

“As we speak today (Saturday) we have 213 cumulative contacts. Contact tracing is still a challenge madam. The biggest proportion, numbering 118 (55 percent), are health workers, meaning that community contacts have not all been listed which creates a challenge,” he said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng demanded a robust contact tracing.

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The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates. Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel […]

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TotalEnergies walks a tightrope as fresh hurdles threaten to delay pipeline project

International oil major TotalEnergies will on October 10 answer to charges of environmental and human rights abuse before the European Union parliament in Brussels in a new threat to the actualisation of its East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) and related upstream oil projects in Uganda’s Lake Albert region.

The European parliament has summoned chief executive Patrick Pouyanné to Brussels to justify the project that the lawmakers denounced last week.

He will appear before the parliamentary Committee on Environment, Food and Natural Resources, as well as that of Human Rights. The outcome will determine how the company navigates this latest crisis.

Hit by opposition from environmentalists on one side and beleaguered by financiers on the other, Total is now walking a tightrope as it pushes ahead with the Eacop.

Last week, the European Union parliament passed a resolution calling for the French oil major and its joint venture partners to delay the projects by one year, to address environmental and human rights concerns.

That decision was dismissed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who said the country will look for alternatives if Total obeys the European Parliament.

The oil company, siding with President Museveni, has also vowed that the projects – now in the development phase – will not be halted.

As Total pondered how to navigate this crisis, President Museveni was on a warpath with the company, whose 62 percent stake makes it the biggest shareholder in Eacop. Uganda National Oil Corporation (UNOC) and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation own 15 a percent stake each, with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) owning eight percent shareholding.

First, while meeting ruling party MPs’ caucus on September 16, the president warned that should TotalEnergies cave in to pressure from the EU parliament and halt Eacop or pull out of the project agreement, he is ready to drag them to the international court of arbitration.

He later tweeted dismissing the EU parliament’s resolution but more significantly, he fired a warning shot at the French oil giant.

“We should remember that TotalEnergies convinced me about the pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU parliament, we shall find someone else to work with,” read the tweet on September 16.

Total is a corporate citizen of the EU and could be swayed by the lawmakers.

However, it is obvious that the EU parliament’s resolution has shaken government officials in Uganda’s ministry of Energy, as well as those at TotalEnergies and the Eacop Company, who have all previously been very economic with information. They are all now scrambling to volunteer information about the project, either through media briefing or on their websites.

For example, the Eacop Company this week uploaded on its portal the status of compensation of project affected persons (PAPS) – a key tenet on which the EU censure is partly based, as well as the environmental and social impact assessment.

Before the Brussels resolution, this information was not available.

Displaced persons

With construction slated to start by end of this year, only 331 out of a total of 9,513 Eacop’s PAPs in Tanzania will be physically displaced and have been selected for replacement housing, but the website says “construction of these houses is ongoing” without giving completion timelines.

In Uganda, out of 3,648 PAPs, only 203 will be physically displaced, and majority of these have elected for replacement housing. These too are under construction according to the website, but no completion dates are given.

The EU parliament resolution puts the figure of those affected at more than 100,000 – mainly farmers, who are already being displaced from their lands without prior and fair compensation, a number that the resolution also quotes as putting communities at imminent risk of displacement.

Uganda government agencies are also sweating to dispel claims that Eacop will cross numerous protected ecosystems, which will be impacted by the heated pipe operating at 50 degrees Celsius. Officials counter that there only five small rivers and out of the 1,443km of the pipeline, only eight percent is a forest reserve.

Protected areas

The EU resolution called for an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert, referring to the 132 wells that Total plans to dig into the Murchison Falls National Park.

“They will find it very hard to navigate past this,” said Omar Elmawi, co-ordinator of the Stop Eacop campaign, a network of organisations opposed to the project.

“This project has many problems. The biggest amongst them is the human rights violations,” he added.

EU parliament resolutions often bite those targeted if the European Council, the arm that implements policy, adopts them. So far, the council has said little.

TotalEnergies has kept a brave face in the face of the EU parliamentary resolution’s far reaching ramifications, which could put on hold the $10 billion investment.

The project was signed off in February this year by TotalEnergies with joint venture partners CNOOC and Uganda National Oil Company.

Since the resolution was passed on September 15, the French oil giant has played the sovereignty card, tweeting that Uganda and Tanzania are sovereign states that have made the strategic choice to exploit their natural resources to contribute to the development of their countries, and as such, are not bound by resolutions of the EU parliament.

“TotalEnergies recalls the significance of the Lake Albert/Eacop project for Uganda and Tanzania, and we shall do our utmost to ensure the project is carried out in an extremely exemplary manner in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, social and economic progress and sustainable development, including the environment and respect for human rights,” said Pouyanné.

“The EU resolution to stop the construction of pipeline is not binding on all nations in the world, Europe, European Commission or even a sovereign country like Uganda or Tanzania,” said Ali Ssekatawa, the director of Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Uganda Petroleum Authority.

“The progression of our project will go ahead, and even rigs that are needed to extract oil have reached Mombasa, and efforts are underway to bring them to Hoima and Buliisa so that they start operating,” Ssekatawa added.

Sticking with schedule

Indeed, executives of TotalEnergies and state-owned UNOC say the projects will proceed according to schedule, with site preparation for the two upstream oil production infrastructure at Kingfisher and Tilenga currently underway.

The joint venture partners – TotalEnergies, CNOOC and UNOC – target commercial production of oil and gas in 2025, and are prepared to defy EU calls to delay the project.

The projects main infrastructure is a $5 billion 1,443km long pipeline from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzania port of Tanga.

The EU resolution piles on a series of financial and reputational crises that Eacop faced as well as protests in several cities over the project. There were also delays and postponement due to tax disputes between Uganda and TotalEnergies.

For instance, the shareholders were expected to announce financiers that would put in the project’s debt financing before end of July 2022, according to Peter Muliisa, the chief legal and corporate affairs officer at UNOC.

But UNOC chief Proscovia Nabbanja says the shareholders are yet to reach financial close for the project and are still raising equity contributions, which will make up 40 percent of the required $5 billion, while the remaining chunk is debt financing, which “is proceeding as planned.”

She revealed that all International Finance Corporation standards on the environmental and social impact assessment, land acquisition process and technical standards – which are key to obtaining financing – have been achieved and verified by independent auditors hired by lenders.

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International oil major TotalEnergies will on October 10 answer to charges of environmental and human rights abuse before the European Union parliament in Brussels in a new threat to the […]

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Uganda increases surveillance as it confirms six more Ebola cases

Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Thursday reported six new cases of Ebola, raising the total number of confirmed cases to seven.

On Tuesday, the country confirmed the first fatality from the disease after a 24-year-old man died in Mubende District, central Uganda, and was confirmed to have been infected with the virus.

“As of today, we have seven confirmed cases – one confirmed Ebola death and seven probable [Ebola] deaths. We have listed 43 contacts [of the victims] and we are doing contact tracing,” said Dr Henry Kyobe, the Ebola Incident Commander.

Read: Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

He added that they forecast an increase in infections but actions are underway to protect the population and health workers.

“There are trial drugs using the monoclonal antibody technology. Largely, the treatment is mainly on supportive care. This [Sudan] strain has no vaccine,” Dr Kyobe said.

“For now we are concentrating on making sure we inform the population about what it is, guiding them on the measures to be able to protect [themselves], guiding them to show us where contacts are –identify them to be able to get patients early in care.”

Read: Kenya on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Also read: South Sudan on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Meanwhile, health authorities in Uganda are increasing surveillance and contact tracing of Ebola cases, widening their nets to many more parts of the country in a bid to control the spread of disease.

Health ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, told The East African on Thursday that the ministry had mapped out 13 districts, in the proximity of the Mubende epicentre, for contact tracing with more than 42 contacts identified by Thursday.

“We have also deployed our rapid response teams to all these districts which will orient health workers and prepare them for a possible outbreak,” he said.

The rapid response units will also be tasked with activating district health task forces, risk communication to communities and evaluation of laboratory preparedness in all the 13 districts earmarked as vulnerable.

Earlier in the week, Dr Diana Atwine, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary at the Health ministry, expressed worry over the fact that the country only has in store vaccines for the Zaire strain that has twice affected it, but not for the current Sudan strain it now faces.

According to Mr Bayo Fatunmbi, the head of disease prevention and control at the World Health Organization office in Kampala, vaccines for the Sudan Strain are currently being tested.

The Sudan strain was first recorded in Sudan in 1976 and in Uganda in 2011.

Uganda has experienced three Ebola outbreaks with its deadliest being that of 2000 that killed hundreds of people, including the lead medic Dr Matthew Lukwiya.

Around the country public places, authorities have heightened surveillance and are encouraging hand washing and proper disposal of waste.

In Mubende district which is the current epicentre of the outbreak, local leaders have ordered markets and entertainment places to close while crowded parties and burial are being restricted.

On Wednesday, the ministry of health issued new measures and standard operating procedures to inform national response to curb the spread of the contagion to both health workers and the public.

These measures include hand hygiene and proper use of Personal Protective Equipment; cleaning and waste management; safety with laboratory samples; managing exposure to the virus; burial protocol; and reducing home transmission risk.

Uganda’s neighbours Kenya and South Sudan have already heightened surveillance for the disease after Kampala confirmed its first case earlier in the week.

South Sudan has stepped up vigilance along its borders with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ainebyona said that Uganda is currently not worried about the border areas since the outbreak is far from border districts.

Ebola is a highly contagious disease transmitted to people from animals and rapidly spreads through human-to-human infection.

First identified in 1976 in the DRC, the virus, whose natural host is the bat, has since set off a series of epidemics in Africa, killing around 15,000 people.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

At present, there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020. It is currently battling another outbreak

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Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Thursday reported six new cases of Ebola, raising the total number of confirmed cases to seven. On Tuesday, the country confirmed the first fatality from […]

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Kenya exports to Uganda drop as rest of EAC soar

Kenya’s exports to Tanzania grew the sharpest among all East Africa Community (EAC) markets in the six months to June, new data shows, outshining the country’s slumped performance in its top trading destination, Uganda.

Statistics by the Central Bank of Kenya shows Kenya’s exports to Uganda dipped 8.5 per cent to Ksh46.77 billion ($386.3 million) during the half year compared to a similar period in 2021—breaking a growth trend in all EAC markets including Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan.

Kenya’s exports to Tanzania jumped the highest by 46 per cent to Ksh28.66 billion ($236.7 million) extending a good trade run between the pair amid ongoing elimination of non-tariff barriers. There was a 39 per cent growth in Kenya’s exports to Rwanda in the half year to June to hit Ksh19.28 billion ($159.2 million). Kenya’s exports to South Sudan were up 34.11 per cent to Ksh13.73 billion ($113.4 million) in the period.

Although Uganda remains Kenya’s main export market, frequent trade tiffs over items such as sugar, eggs and milk have often soured trade. For instance, in June Uganda accused Kenya of sparking a fresh trade row by reintroducing a levy on eggs from the neighbouring country.

Uganda said Kenya is now taxing its eggs at a rate of Ksh72 ($0.59) a tray, bringing back a levy that had been suspended last December following bilateral talks between Kampala and Nairobi. The latest row came at a time when the two countries are yet to resolve a long-standing dispute on milk after Kenya barred Uganda’s dairy products in 2019.

Kenya had in the last two years restricted exports of poultry and dairy products from Uganda, straining the relationship between the duo. The issue on poultry was resolved after Uganda threatened to ban Nairobi from exporting its goods to the landlocked neighbor. In 2020, Kenya barred sugar from Uganda and sugarcane, costing traders who were exporting the raw material to sugar mills billions of shillings as the crop was left to rot on trucks at the border.

Contrastingly, Kenya’s trade with Tanzania has grown steadily in the past years in the wake of improved relations between the two countries after years of feuds that at one point resulted in retaliatory measures such as trade bans.

Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart, Samia Suluhu ended persistent strained trade ties between the two largest economies in the six-nation EAC bloc which have, for years, hindered the smooth flow of goods and services.

Data by the KNBS shows that the value of Kenya’s exports to Tanzania jumped 43.39 percent to Ksh45.6 billion ($376.6 million) in 2021 compared to the previous year. Tanzania’s exports to Kenya on the other hand grew 95.3 percent last year—nearly double-to Ksh54.47 billion ($449.9 million) last year.

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Kenya’s exports to Tanzania grew the sharpest among all East Africa Community (EAC) markets in the six months to June, new data shows, outshining the country’s slumped performance in its […]

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Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

Health experts on Tuesday urged Uganda to focus on preventing and controlling the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, noting that there is no vaccine against the rare Sudan strain that has been confirmed in the country.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed an Ebola outbreak in the country after the virus was detected in Mubende, central Uganda. One death was confirmed while six other deaths are suspected to have been caused by Ebola, but remain unverified.

Bayo Fatunmbi, head of disease prevention and control at the World Health Organization office in Uganda, told reporters that the Sudan strain is rare and had only occurred in Sudan in 1976 and in Uganda in 2011.

“We have done something before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we find that the vaccination that worked with the Zaire virus [strain] will not be useful for this particular Sudan strain,” he said. He added that another type of vaccine is currently being tested.

Diana Atwine, Uganda’s permanent secretary at the Health ministry, said that while the country has the vaccine for the Zaire strain, there is no vaccine for the Sudan strain.

She said a team of epidemiologists has been sent to Mubende to investigate the source of the index case, a 24-year-old male who died on Monday.

“There is no need to panic at all because Uganda is well known for handling epidemics. We have built capacity, and we want to assure the public that we shall contain this epidemic,” Ms Atwine said. 

She added that Uganda is working with partners like the WHO to contain the spread of the deadly disease. 

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes various symptoms, including fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, generalized pain or malaise, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. According to the WHO, the fatality rate for those who contract Ebola ranges from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on the viral sub-type.

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Health experts on Tuesday urged Uganda to focus on preventing and controlling the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, noting that there is no vaccine against the rare Sudan strain […]

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South Sudan on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Uganda

South Sudan is stepping up vigilance along its borders following an outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Uganda.

Kampala on Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the country, with experts confirming that it was the deadly Sudan strain that currently has no vaccine.

On Tuesday, South Sudan’s undersecretary in the Ministry of Health, Victoria Anib Majur, urged communities living along the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to report any suspicious cases of Ebola to health authorities.

“We are very concerned about the Ebola outbreak in Uganda because we share the border. We have a lot of movement across the border. Our families are in Uganda and Ugandans are on this side,” Majur told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

She also urged the public to refrain from eating bush meat as the Ebola virus can spread from animals to humans through contaminated bush meat.

Majur added that national assessment teams will be deployed in the border areas of Yambio and Nimule bordering DRC and Uganda, respectively.

On August 21, the DRC government announced an Ebola outbreak after detecting the virus in a 46-year-old woman living in the city of Beni, in the province of North Kivu. This came just a month after it had declared the end of the 14th Ebola outbreak in the country.

Majur added that Juba would partner with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) to promote public awareness of the Ebola virus disease.

Fabian Ndenzako, the acting WHO Representative for South Sudan, said that the Ministry of Health has already activated the incident management system for Ebola virus disease.

“There is a lot of movement across the border, so it’s really important that this incident management system is really activated. We don’t have a case in South Sudan but, given the proximity and closeness, we have to prepare,” Ndenzako said.

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South Sudan is stepping up vigilance along its borders following an outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Uganda. Kampala on Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the country, with experts […]

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Uganda confirms Ebola outbreak

Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday.

Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende to investigate after unknown number of residents succumbed to what was initially reported as a “strange illness” until Monday’s confirmation.

“Uganda confirms an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mubende District, Uganda. The confirmed case is a 24 year old male a resident Ngabano village of Madudu Sub County in Mubende District presented with EVD symptoms and later succumbed,” the Health ministry said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng was reported to be in New York, and sources said officials first briefed President Museveni. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which neighbours Uganda to the west, is currently battling an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, which causes a deadly haemorrhagic fever. 

According to the World Health Organization, the disease is transmitted to people from animals and spreads through human-to-human infection.

Uganda has had at least three previous outbreaks of Ebola, the deadliest being in 2000 that killed hundreds, including the lead treatment officer Dr. Matthew Lukwiya.

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Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday. Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende […]

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Uganda on alert as malaria cases and deaths rise

A resurgence of malaria cases and deaths in Uganda is worrying the medical fraternity amid reported shortage of medicines.

According to Jimmy Opigo, the programme manager for malaria control at the Ministry of Health, preliminary findings point to a drop in usage of mosquito nets, mutation of the malaria parasite and increase in drug resistance.

“We are also studying whether Covid-19 could have had some impact,” Dr Opigo said.

Some private and public hospitals in high risk districts are reporting an increase in the number of malaria patients seeking treatment in the facilities, health workers said.

“Most of the inpatients at our facility are malaria patients although we have many outpatients coming in daily. Most of the drugs we have been stocking for the bigger part of this year are malaria drugs,” said Annet Nsole, a lab technician at Kasana Health Centre in Luweero district.

According to August data from the Ministry of Health, about 46 districts across the country are currently experiencing a surge in the number of new malaria infections.

“We have made some progress. We had over 70 districts, and we are now down to 40. But it’s still one third of the country, and that is really high,” Dr Opigo said.

In the last two weeks of August, the country registered 199,695 new cases with 35 deaths. Since the peak of the upsurge in January, the average number of bi-weekly new infections stood between 200,000 and 250,000.

This year’s figures are higher than last year’s average of between 100,000 and 120,000 new bi-weekly infections, Health ministry’s data shows.

The ministry has reported that about 23 percent of districts lack enough Artemisinin-based combination therapy stocks for treatment of patients.

Increased supplies

“This is mostly because of logistical constraints. But currently as government, we are increasing supplies in terms of medicine and mosquito nets in high risk areas. In some others, we are spraying. We are now enhancing case investigation and running media campaigns to create awareness within the population,” Dr Opigo said.

But most of these interventions have been constrained by limited funds.

According to Dr Opigo, the Health ministry spends about $140 million annually in the fight against malaria but the current upsurge has created a funding gap. Recently, the ministry secured $14 million from the Global Fund to help them finance the current upsurge, but officials say more funding is still needed.

“We run long-term grants of about three to four years so what we did was to call forward the money for 2023 to help us increase medicine supply mostly. We are sourcing for more so we can be able to fill the gaps created by the increasing consumption arising from the upsurge,” Dr Opigo said.

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A resurgence of malaria cases and deaths in Uganda is worrying the medical fraternity amid reported shortage of medicines. According to Jimmy Opigo, the programme manager for malaria control at […]

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Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety among major players who depend on it.

The order, issued as President Ruto took office, is set to have far-reaching ramifications.

The key question is what China’s reaction will be, given that Kenya must still meet its end of the bargain on the standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo operation numbers and debt repayments.

But more importantly, will be whether port operations’ efficiency that has currently seen goods reach Uganda in a record four days after being offloaded at the Mombasa port will continue. The shortened time was due to the seamless systems that directly fed the SGR, and onwards to the Nairobi Inland Container depot and the Naivasha dry port.

Kenya’s move also comes as neighbour Tanzania steps up its efforts to connect the Dar es Salaam port with other East African countries through the Central Corridor.

Speaking on Tuesday in his first address to the nation after his swearing-in as the fifth president of Kenya, President Ruto defended his move to undo the policy of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

He said his actions were aimed at restoring thousands of jobs that had been lost in the logistics sector in Mombasa when former president Kenyatta issued an order for all cargo coming through the port of Mombasa to be hauled by the SGR, and cleared at either Nairobi or the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD).

“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearance of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restores thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” said President Ruto on Tuesday. But even as cargo operations are ordered back to Mombasa, the question now is how Kenya will repay the SGR loan considering that the repayments will more than double in the financial year starting this July, when there will be increased payment of principal sums to the Exim Bank of China for the project.

Read: Hard times for Kenya SGR as port operations return to Mombasa

Exim Bank of China funded 90 per cent of the $3.6 billion line from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Kenya’s Treasury projects debt repayments to Exim Bank of China will rise to $800 million in the next financial year, a 126.61 per cent surge from the revised $351.7 million budgeted for this year. Redemptions to the Chinese lender will increase to $605.16 million, from $174.98 million this year. Interest obligations will rise 8.55 per cent to $191.88 million, from 176.7 million, according to Treasury data tabled in the National Assembly.

Set volumes

According to the take-and-pay agreement, the Kenya Ports Authority undertook to consign to Kenya Railways a set volume of freight and cargo in order to collect adequate funds to pay off the SGR loan.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in the first six months of this year, SGR recorded a total of $750 million in revenue. Some $610 million was for cargo volumes with revenue for the past five years totalling $4.6 billion. Passenger revenues were $760 million over the same period, an indication that SGR depends on freight to remain afloat.

In December 2019, then-president Kenyatta flagged off a cargo train from Nairobi to Naivasha, marking the start of operations at the Inland Container Depot. Soon after, he issued an order to evacuate onward cargo to Naivasha.

Kenyatta’s administration forced importers to use the SGR to ensure minimum guaranteed business to repay the $3.7 billion debt taken to build it. The directive saw the government transfer goods clearance to Naivasha, and enforced compliance, affecting thousands of workers and companies in the logistics sector in Mombasa.

The move was met by protests from Uganda and South Sudan, which are the main transit users of Mombasa port. They said then that Naivasha lacked adequate cargo handling facilities, thus making the cost of transport to their respective countries more expensive.

Protests

Long-distance cargo transporters also protested the directive, saying the government’s move would raise the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to the final consumers of the imported goods. They moved to the High Court to have the mandatory directive rescinded and succeeded, but the government, through the KPA, appealed and the directive stood.

To date, an appeal challenging orders quashing the directive requiring all cargo to be transported to Nairobi and the hinterland exclusively through the SGR is yet to be determined by the Court of Appeal.

Last November, the appellate court suspended the execution of orders quashing the directive issued by a five-judge bench of the High Court, pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the KPA.

Read: Reprieve for regional importers as court stops SGR rule

KPA argued that the directives were meant to operationalise the take-and-pay agreement, which is key to ensuring the loan for the construction of the SGR is repaid without any hitches.

In his campaign rallies in the run-up to the presidential election, Dr Ruto harped on the fact that the transfer of port operations to Naivasha was against the agreement made during the conception and construction of the SGR.

President Ruto said the Naivasha dry port was put up to benefit a few individuals, and dealt a blow to the economy of Mombasa.

Contrary order

But as the new order to revert cargo clearance to Mombasa takes effect, stakeholders now say it will be a blow to East African countries that use the port, and is contrary to the contract between Kenya and China on how to pay the loan.

“With the latest move by the current government, this means the Naivasha ICD where five EAC countries were last month issued with title deeds by former president Kenyatta, might cease to be lucrative. This means, the investment at the dry port, a facility on more than 1,000 acres, which is estimated to handle two million tonnes of cargo every year, will go to waste,” said Simon Sang, secretary-general of the Dock Workers Union.

“We are asking the government to invest more in Malaba and Busia borders to reduce congestion considering heavy traffic expected in the coming months,” he added.

Most of the cargo handled at the Mombasa port is destined for Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for 30 percent of imports and exports through there.

Last month, Kenya concluded the issuance of title deeds to five countries — Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan — to establish dry ports in Naivasha, despite their earlier reluctance to use the dry port as an alternative to Mombasa.

Then-president Kenyatta hosted the title deeds handing-out ceremony in Naivasha, where a special economic zone is being established. Uganda and South Sudan were offered land at the dry port in 2019, and since then have done little by way of putting up the necessary infrastructure such as cargo handling operations because of lack of a title deed as proof of ownership.

Evacuating cargo

 As the President Ruto directive is implemented, shippers say the seamless connectivity from the vessel to SGR to Nairobi or Naivasha reduced congestion, both at the port and also vehicular traffic along the Northern Corridor.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Lagat said the SGR idea was to fully connect port and border towns. This would be via both the SGR and metre gauge railway (MGR) to minimise costs.

Read: Costs, competition drive truckers to innovate

Mr Lagat said the SGR and MGR shortened the time taken to evacuate cargo from Mombasa to Malaba by 62 percent, and costs by 58 percent.

“What importers consider is cost and efficiency. If the consignment reaches on time at the cheapest cost, that is what they will go for. The introduction of the railway is what we have been pushing for as it will give importers an alternative means of hauling their cargo considering bottlenecks associated with the Northern Corridor,” said Mr Lagat.

He added that the new railway had reduced cases of cargo loss as there is less diversion than is experienced with trucks.

The order by President Ruto will also derail Kenya Railway Corporation’s move to improve efficiency by connecting Mombasa and Malaba via rail. Starting this January, cargo from Mombasa port destined for Malaba was to be loaded onto the SGR to Naivasha, from where it would be transshipped onto the MGR line at the Naivasha ICD.

Faster by rail

The freight train and connectivity, if successfully implemented, will take less than 40 hours to ferry cargo from Mombasa to Malaba railway yard compared with by road transport which takes 96 hours. It would also offer a cost reduction to $860 from $2,000 per container charged by road hauliers.

Also by collecting goods from the Naivasha ICD, importers from neighbouring countries will have reduced the distance covered by road hauliers by more than 400 kilometres.

Kenya chose to rehabilitate its 100-year old MGR from Naivasha to Malaba after it abandoned its bid to extend the SGR line to Kisumu, and on to the Ugandan border, after failing to secure a multibillion-shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of the SGR line.

Kenya Railway managing director Philip Mainga had said that the freight train has the capacity to handle 120,000 containers annually.

In December 2021, KRC gazetted promotional charges to haul cargo from Mombasa to Malaba at $860 for 20-foot container weighing up to 30 tonnes, while that above that cost $960. A 40-foot container above 30 tonnes was charged at $1,100, and those above were charged $1,260 without considering last mile cost. Since 2019, after the introduction of SGR freight train, transporters and container freight owners have been counting losses as all cargo ended up on the freight train to Nairobi and Naivasha.

As a result, container freight stations, which handled up to 95 percent of the cargo offloaded at Mombasa, were left to manage less than 10 percent of Mombasa-destined cargo.

Job losses

According to the Container Freight Stations Association (CFSA), more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs since the launch of the SGR and introduction of the mandatory haulage of cargo by train to Nairobi and Naivasha ICDs.

“We had to let go more than half our workers as businesses struggle. All these job losses have happened at the Mombasa port as a result of the reduction in trucked cargo volumes,” said CFSA chief executive Daniel Nzeki.

Kenya Transporters Association condemned the government’s move to force importers to use the SGR saying it does not want to tell the public the hidden costs of using the cargo train to ferry containers.

“It costs $860 including value added tax to transport a 20-foot container to and from Nairobi using a truck but the SGR costs more than $920,” said KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo.

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association chairman Roy Mwanthi echoed Mr Wang’oo’s sentiments, saying they now expect business to return to normal.

“The move by President Ruto is commended and now we want the executive order to be implemented immediately,” said Mr Mwanthi.

He added that the Naivasha Inland Container depot will remain a futuristic spot, and that “the government facilities should be left open to those willing to use them, and the government should make them efficient”.

SOURCE

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda"

Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety among major players who depend on it.

The order, issued as President Ruto took office, is set to have far-reaching ramifications.

The key question is what China’s reaction will be, given that Kenya must still meet its end of the bargain on the standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo operation numbers and debt repayments.

But more importantly, will be whether port operations’ efficiency that has currently seen goods reach Uganda in a record four days after being offloaded at the Mombasa port will continue. The shortened time was due to the seamless systems that directly fed the SGR, and onwards to the Nairobi Inland Container depot and the Naivasha dry port.

Kenya’s move also comes as neighbour Tanzania steps up its efforts to connect the Dar es Salaam port with other East African countries through the Central Corridor.

Speaking on Tuesday in his first address to the nation after his swearing-in as the fifth president of Kenya, President Ruto defended his move to undo the policy of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

He said his actions were aimed at restoring thousands of jobs that had been lost in the logistics sector in Mombasa when former president Kenyatta issued an order for all cargo coming through the port of Mombasa to be hauled by the SGR, and cleared at either Nairobi or the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD).

“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearance of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restores thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” said President Ruto on Tuesday. But even as cargo operations are ordered back to Mombasa, the question now is how Kenya will repay the SGR loan considering that the repayments will more than double in the financial year starting this July, when there will be increased payment of principal sums to the Exim Bank of China for the project.

Read: Hard times for Kenya SGR as port operations return to Mombasa

Exim Bank of China funded 90 per cent of the $3.6 billion line from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Kenya’s Treasury projects debt repayments to Exim Bank of China will rise to $800 million in the next financial year, a 126.61 per cent surge from the revised $351.7 million budgeted for this year. Redemptions to the Chinese lender will increase to $605.16 million, from $174.98 million this year. Interest obligations will rise 8.55 per cent to $191.88 million, from 176.7 million, according to Treasury data tabled in the National Assembly.

Set volumes

According to the take-and-pay agreement, the Kenya Ports Authority undertook to consign to Kenya Railways a set volume of freight and cargo in order to collect adequate funds to pay off the SGR loan.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in the first six months of this year, SGR recorded a total of $750 million in revenue. Some $610 million was for cargo volumes with revenue for the past five years totalling $4.6 billion. Passenger revenues were $760 million over the same period, an indication that SGR depends on freight to remain afloat.

In December 2019, then-president Kenyatta flagged off a cargo train from Nairobi to Naivasha, marking the start of operations at the Inland Container Depot. Soon after, he issued an order to evacuate onward cargo to Naivasha.

Kenyatta’s administration forced importers to use the SGR to ensure minimum guaranteed business to repay the $3.7 billion debt taken to build it. The directive saw the government transfer goods clearance to Naivasha, and enforced compliance, affecting thousands of workers and companies in the logistics sector in Mombasa.

The move was met by protests from Uganda and South Sudan, which are the main transit users of Mombasa port. They said then that Naivasha lacked adequate cargo handling facilities, thus making the cost of transport to their respective countries more expensive.

Protests

Long-distance cargo transporters also protested the directive, saying the government’s move would raise the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to the final consumers of the imported goods. They moved to the High Court to have the mandatory directive rescinded and succeeded, but the government, through the KPA, appealed and the directive stood.

To date, an appeal challenging orders quashing the directive requiring all cargo to be transported to Nairobi and the hinterland exclusively through the SGR is yet to be determined by the Court of Appeal.

Last November, the appellate court suspended the execution of orders quashing the directive issued by a five-judge bench of the High Court, pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the KPA.

Read: Reprieve for regional importers as court stops SGR rule

KPA argued that the directives were meant to operationalise the take-and-pay agreement, which is key to ensuring the loan for the construction of the SGR is repaid without any hitches.

In his campaign rallies in the run-up to the presidential election, Dr Ruto harped on the fact that the transfer of port operations to Naivasha was against the agreement made during the conception and construction of the SGR.

President Ruto said the Naivasha dry port was put up to benefit a few individuals, and dealt a blow to the economy of Mombasa.

Contrary order

But as the new order to revert cargo clearance to Mombasa takes effect, stakeholders now say it will be a blow to East African countries that use the port, and is contrary to the contract between Kenya and China on how to pay the loan.

“With the latest move by the current government, this means the Naivasha ICD where five EAC countries were last month issued with title deeds by former president Kenyatta, might cease to be lucrative. This means, the investment at the dry port, a facility on more than 1,000 acres, which is estimated to handle two million tonnes of cargo every year, will go to waste,” said Simon Sang, secretary-general of the Dock Workers Union.

“We are asking the government to invest more in Malaba and Busia borders to reduce congestion considering heavy traffic expected in the coming months,” he added.

Most of the cargo handled at the Mombasa port is destined for Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for 30 percent of imports and exports through there.

Last month, Kenya concluded the issuance of title deeds to five countries — Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan — to establish dry ports in Naivasha, despite their earlier reluctance to use the dry port as an alternative to Mombasa.

Then-president Kenyatta hosted the title deeds handing-out ceremony in Naivasha, where a special economic zone is being established. Uganda and South Sudan were offered land at the dry port in 2019, and since then have done little by way of putting up the necessary infrastructure such as cargo handling operations because of lack of a title deed as proof of ownership.

Evacuating cargo

 As the President Ruto directive is implemented, shippers say the seamless connectivity from the vessel to SGR to Nairobi or Naivasha reduced congestion, both at the port and also vehicular traffic along the Northern Corridor.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Lagat said the SGR idea was to fully connect port and border towns. This would be via both the SGR and metre gauge railway (MGR) to minimise costs.

Read: Costs, competition drive truckers to innovate

Mr Lagat said the SGR and MGR shortened the time taken to evacuate cargo from Mombasa to Malaba by 62 percent, and costs by 58 percent.

“What importers consider is cost and efficiency. If the consignment reaches on time at the cheapest cost, that is what they will go for. The introduction of the railway is what we have been pushing for as it will give importers an alternative means of hauling their cargo considering bottlenecks associated with the Northern Corridor,” said Mr Lagat.

He added that the new railway had reduced cases of cargo loss as there is less diversion than is experienced with trucks.

The order by President Ruto will also derail Kenya Railway Corporation’s move to improve efficiency by connecting Mombasa and Malaba via rail. Starting this January, cargo from Mombasa port destined for Malaba was to be loaded onto the SGR to Naivasha, from where it would be transshipped onto the MGR line at the Naivasha ICD.

Faster by rail

The freight train and connectivity, if successfully implemented, will take less than 40 hours to ferry cargo from Mombasa to Malaba railway yard compared with by road transport which takes 96 hours. It would also offer a cost reduction to $860 from $2,000 per container charged by road hauliers.

Also by collecting goods from the Naivasha ICD, importers from neighbouring countries will have reduced the distance covered by road hauliers by more than 400 kilometres.

Kenya chose to rehabilitate its 100-year old MGR from Naivasha to Malaba after it abandoned its bid to extend the SGR line to Kisumu, and on to the Ugandan border, after failing to secure a multibillion-shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of the SGR line.

Kenya Railway managing director Philip Mainga had said that the freight train has the capacity to handle 120,000 containers annually.

In December 2021, KRC gazetted promotional charges to haul cargo from Mombasa to Malaba at $860 for 20-foot container weighing up to 30 tonnes, while that above that cost $960. A 40-foot container above 30 tonnes was charged at $1,100, and those above were charged $1,260 without considering last mile cost. Since 2019, after the introduction of SGR freight train, transporters and container freight owners have been counting losses as all cargo ended up on the freight train to Nairobi and Naivasha.

As a result, container freight stations, which handled up to 95 percent of the cargo offloaded at Mombasa, were left to manage less than 10 percent of Mombasa-destined cargo.

Job losses

According to the Container Freight Stations Association (CFSA), more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs since the launch of the SGR and introduction of the mandatory haulage of cargo by train to Nairobi and Naivasha ICDs.

“We had to let go more than half our workers as businesses struggle. All these job losses have happened at the Mombasa port as a result of the reduction in trucked cargo volumes,” said CFSA chief executive Daniel Nzeki.

Kenya Transporters Association condemned the government’s move to force importers to use the SGR saying it does not want to tell the public the hidden costs of using the cargo train to ferry containers.

“It costs $860 including value added tax to transport a 20-foot container to and from Nairobi using a truck but the SGR costs more than $920,” said KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo.

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association chairman Roy Mwanthi echoed Mr Wang’oo’s sentiments, saying they now expect business to return to normal.

“The move by President Ruto is commended and now we want the executive order to be implemented immediately,” said Mr Mwanthi.

He added that the Naivasha Inland Container depot will remain a futuristic spot, and that “the government facilities should be left open to those willing to use them, and the government should make them efficient”.

SOURCE

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda"

Uganda to introduce fines for internet misuse

Misuse of internet in Uganda will now attract hefty fines and longer jail terms, following amendments on the Computer Misuse Act 2011 that were passed last week.

The amendments, now awaiting the president’s signature to become law, seek to enhance the provisions on unauthorised access to information or data, prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian, and to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech.

According to the new law, one will face a fine of Ush16 million ($4,200) or face 10 years in jail, or both, for unauthorised sharing of people’s data.

Equally offensive will be information shared to ridicule others. Any misleading or malicious information about or relating to any person through a computer and offenders could face up to seven years in jail.

The provisions have caused an uproar, with opponents claiming that it they would take away their right to access information.

Mathias Mpuuga, the leader of the opposition in parliament, said that the new law would be challenged in the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it is inconsistent with some provisions of the law on the rights of the citizens.

During the debate on the Bill, MPs only rejected the clause that sought to bar convicts from holding public office or running for elections in 10 years.

Gorreth Namugga, the Mawogola South representative who read the minority report on the Bill, had earlier urged the House not to pass the proposed law since many of the clauses are already catered for in existing legislations and in some instances, go against the country’s Constitution.

The current act has been used by police to arrest critics and online trolls who post about the first family and other government officials.

SOURCE

Misuse of internet in Uganda will now attract hefty fines and longer jail terms, following amendments on the Computer Misuse Act 2011 that were passed last week. The amendments, now […]

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Uganda furious at EU for censuring oil project over rights abuse

The Ugandan parliament has dismissed a resolution by the European Union (EU) parliament to halt the development of the country’s oil sector, citing environmental concerns and human rights abuses, as economic racism.

Thomas Tayebwa, deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, said the motion by the EU parliament seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socio-economic growth and development.

“It also seeks to deny Ugandans and East Africans the benefits and opportunities from the oil and gas sector. This represents the highest form of economic racism against developing countries,” Tayebwa said.

Earlier, the European Parliament had fingered the joint oil production and transportation by Uganda and Tanzania, calling on the EU and the international community to exert “maximum pressure” on the two countries over associated human rights abuses and environmental concerns.

The parliament, sitting in Strasbourg, France, advised EU members, the international community and project promoters and stakeholders to “put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert.”

But Uganda disagrees.

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU bloc, with only 10 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa, with 20 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for three percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down on development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda,” Tayebwa added.

Arrests

Uganda and Tanzania are developing a cross-border oil extraction and pipeline project comprising the installation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

The 1,443km pipeline will run from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port .

At least 80 percent of the thermal-insulated pipeline is in Tanzania and will be buried underground.

The EU legislative body called on the Ugandan government to release those still in custody for protesting the development, noting that various human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors have been reported to have suffered criminalisation, intimidation and harassment.

Read: Oil pipeline $5b financing headache as activists pile pressure

They include Maxwell Atuhura, an environmental rights defender and field officer in Buliisa for the NGO Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

Federica Marsi, an Italian journalist, was also arbitrarily arrested on May 25, 2021. Others are Joss Kaheero Mugisa, the chairman of the NGO Oil and Gas Human Rights Defenders Association, who spent 56 nights in jail without being sentenced by a court; Robert Birimuye, leader of people affected by the EACOP project in Kyotera District, who was arbitrarily arrested; Yisito Kayinga Muddu, coordinator of Community Transformation Foundation Network, whose house and office were broken into; and Fred Mwesigwa, who testified in the case against TotalEnergies in France and was subsequently threatened with murder.

Read: East Africa oil and gas: The Total takeover

The EU Parliament revealed that a mission from the EU delegation and the embassies of France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands was barred from entering the oil zone on November 9, 2021.

The MPs urged players in the project to study the feasibility of an alternative route for the project to better protect sensitive ecosystems and the water resources of Uganda and Tanzania, and limit the impact on the watersheds in the African Great Lakes region.

But environmentalists have argued that nearly a third of the pipeline will run through the basin of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, on which more than 40 million people depend for water and food production. It will cross more than 200 rivers and run through thousands of farms. They argue that an oil leak or spill would have catastrophic consequences.

The oil fields prospected for drilling are within Uganda’s oldest and largest national park, which conservationists argue threatens one of the most ecologically diverse and wildlife-rich regions of the world.

But EACOP contends the pipeline is buried and “once topsoil and vegetation have been re-instated, people and animals will be able to cross freely anywhere along its length”.

SOURCE

The Ugandan parliament has dismissed a resolution by the European Union (EU) parliament to halt the development of the country’s oil sector, citing environmental concerns and human rights abuses, as […]

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Uganda Passes Regressive Law on “Misuse of Social Media” and Hate Speech

Uganda’s parliament on September 8, 2022 passed a draconian law that criminalises various uses of computers and digital technologies and largely curtails digital rights.

Among the key regressive provisions is the prohibition of the “misuse of social media”, described in clause 6 as publishing, distributing or sharing information prohibited under Uganda’s laws. A highly punitive penalty has been prescribed for the offence: imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to UGX 10 million (USD 2,619), or both.

Other retrogressive provisions in the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 are prohibition of sending or sharing of unsolicited information through a computer, and prohibition of sending, sharing or transmitting of malicious information about or relating to any person.

Prior to the enactment of the law, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) presented its analysis of the Bill to parliament’s Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), which indicated that the proposed amendments would be a blow to the enjoyment of online civil liberties. However, the committee has disregarded most of the feedback received from stakeholders listed in the Committee report, many of whom raised concerns on the digital rights gaps within the Bill..

In presentations to the parliamentary  committee, CIPESA argued that rather than introducing new, poorly defined offences, the amendments should have focussed on addressing existing retrogressive provisions in the law on computer misuse, such as section 24 on cyber harassment and section 25 on offensive communication, which have been used severally to criminalise freedom of expression, including through arrests and prosecution of journalists, activists and government opponents. Moreover, trolling, cyber harassment, unauthorised sharing of intimate images, and other forms of online violence against women and girls, are not addressed either.

Gorreth Namugga, the shadow minister for ICT and a member of parliament’s ICT Committee, said in a minority report that the issue of misuse of social media was not discussed in the committee and was not among the clauses the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill sought to amend. She added that the ICT Committee did not make a deep analysis of the issue, and none of the organisations and individuals consulted by the committee offered any input on the matter.

In introducing the offence of misuse of social media, the committee reasoned that, while considering the Bill, it observed that “the information technology evolution had created a new medium of communication called social media that is not fully regulated in the existing laws, yet it is “the commonest platform of Computer Misuse.” The committee therefore deemed it fit to define social media and to regulate it.

Accordingly, the Bill defines social media as a set of technologies, sites, and practices which are used to share opinions, experiences and perspectives. It cites as examples YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Reddit, Quora, Skype, Microsoft Team and Linkedin.

The new law will provide that “a person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information, prohibited under the laws of Uganda or using disguised or false identity, commits an offence.” It adds that where “prohibited” information is published, shared or distributed on a social media account of an organisation, the person who manages the organisation’s social media account shall be held personally liable for the commission of the offence.

There remain questions as to how the committee introduced provisions on misuse of social media that were not in the Bill, not subjected to stakeholder consultation and, according to the minority report, not discussed by committee members. Moreover, the term, “under the laws of Uganda” with reference to prohibited information is very broad and ambiguous. This could be used by the government and its agencies to target critics and would largely curtail freedom of expression and access to information.

Uganda is not new to regressive control of digital technologies. In 2018, the east African country introduced a tax through the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act that required users to pay a daily tax in order to access social media services. The tax, which dismally failed to raise the anticipated revenues, was  replaced  with a 12% levy tax on internet data. The country’s digital taxation regime has become a key impediment to inclusive access and affordability, with millions of citizens still left out of the digital society. Uganda also routinely blocks access to the internet and social media. Since January 2021, Facebook has been blocked in Uganda on orders of the government.

While the new law attempts to define “unsolicited information” as meaning “information transmitted to a person using the internet without the person’s consent, but does not include an unsolicited commercial communication.” The guidance offered by the provision only extends to interpretation of the earlier blanket provision that had been proposed in the Bill. It does not provide any guarantees for the protection and enjoyment of freedom of expression and access to information.

In submissions to parliament, CIPESA stated that, besides undermining civil liberties, many provisions of the Bill duplicated existing laws such as the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, 2010 and the Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019, and would be difficult to implement

According to the minority report, all the clauses in the Bill are already catered for in existing legislation and in some instances offend Uganda’s constitution. The report states: “The fundamental rights to access information electronically and to express oneself over computer networks are utterly risked by this Bill. If passed into law it will stifle the acquisition of information. The penalties proposed in the Bill are overly harsh and disproportionate when compared to similar offences in other legislations. This Bill, if passed, will be a bad law and liable to constitutional petitions upon assent.”

Despite the largely regressive law, there are some positives, such as defining and proscribing hate speech and i the law provides and if rightly employed they could potentially improve on certain aspects regarding the digital civic space. Thus;

  • The addition of the element of intent in clause 3 in the definition of the offence of unauthorised access is quite progressive. It potentially helps to exonerate innocent individuals from wanton prosecution of what would constitute criminal access over innocent and unintended access. The Bill did not have the element of intent which is core to determination of criminal liability to qualify the offence.
  • Clause 3 was initially overly broad to the extent of discouraging the public from sharing information to the best interests of the child such as their protection from danger and harmful practices. The amendment in clause 3 in as far as it provides for circumstances under which information about children may be shared will serve to ensure that while privacy of the child is paramount, their best interest should not be disregarded.
  • Clause 4 of the Bill defines hate speech which was not previously provided for. It goes milestones in addressing hate speech which has for decades posed challenges to public order, security and persons. Furthermore, section 41 of the Penal Code Act on sectarianism presented uncertainties having limited the definition of sectarianism to groups of religion, tribe, ethnic or regional origin.
  • The law recognizes other laws on disciplinary action against errant leaders. Thus, the deletion of clause 7 is commended. It is a progressive move against a potentially excessive and discriminatory provision as was initially presented in the Bill.

The newly passed Bill is a threat to digital rights and digital civic space and falls short of the key international minimum standards. As such, it is imperative for the law to be challenged in court and for the president to deny its assent and return it to parliament for reconsideration.

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Uganda’s parliament on September 8, 2022 passed a draconian law that criminalises various uses of computers and digital technologies and largely curtails digital rights. Among the key regressive provisions is […]

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Uganda to allow investors to stay in wetlands

Uganda has ordered all its citizens to vacate wetlands and forest reserves but will allow investors who had set up factories to operate in the meantime because they were misled.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the government is allowing the investors to occupy the catchment areas because they could have been unaware they are protected areas.

“If those [investors] were misled, they will be tolerated because they were not told from the word go, but those [locals] who went there [wetlands] having been warned are the ones we are targeting,” he said.

He made the remarks while unveiling the International University of East Africa as the venue for the upcoming East African Food security symposium and expo scheduled for October 14 to 16.

The government’s move against wetlands encroachment is due to pollution, which is taking a toll on Lake Victoria and other water bodies, Mr Kasaija said.

In July, the government removed rice on an estimated 30-acre wetland in Otuke District in northern Uganda to dissuade farmers from cultivating in catchment areas.

President Yoweri Museveni had ordered all encroachers out of wetlands in January..

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Uganda has ordered all its citizens to vacate wetlands and forest reserves but will allow investors who had set up factories to operate in the meantime because they were misled. […]

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Uganda farmers, millers seek ban on maize exports

Ugandan farmers and millers are seeking a ban on the export of maize so as to retain husks used for the manufacture of animal feeds.

Following the disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine and Russia in the wake of the Moscow invasion, countries in East Africa have been competing for the limited maize stock for consumption and producing animal feeds.

The government estimates the country will produce about 2.5 million tonnes of maize this year, down by half, due to poor rainfall.

Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze said the farmers and processors want the government to only allow the exportation of maize flour. “Their argument is that this would bring in more value and also make animal feeds available and cheaper,” he said.

Mr Tumwebaze said the government would study the impact of such a ban.

Uganda is a major source market for Kenya, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Ugandan farmers and millers are seeking a ban on the export of maize so as to retain husks used for the manufacture of animal feeds. Following the disruption of grain […]

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How William Ruto’s election as Kenya president will impact Uganda

The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court on Monday is the gift that keeps on giving that Kampala could only have wished for. 

When Dr Ruto takes over the mantle next Tuesday as Kenya’s fifth president, Kampala will be waiting with bated breath on whether he will reinvigorate the dull spark in Uganda-Kenya relations. Both countries are like Siamese twins tied to the umbilical cord. They share dialects, ethnicities and cultures. 

Read: Inside Museveni-Ruto friendship

They routinely spar over, especially trade, but nothing serious. The uneasy political triangle in Nairobi between Dr Ruto and his archival, five-time presidential contender, Mr Raila Odinga, briefly spiralled to Kampala, but it was nothing serious.

Yet, according to diplomatic sources, the Kampala regime frowned upon the possibility of the Odinga presidency. Kampala’s many misgivings with Mr Odinga, whose election petition the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed over lack of evidence, include frolicking with President Museveni’s implacable foe, Dr Kizza Besigye.

The embers of anti-Ugandan sentiments are also strong in Mr Odinga’s strongholds in parts of western Kenya. During the 2007 election violence, following the contested polls that pitted Mr Odinga against Mwai Kibaki, a section of metre-gauge railway was uprooted and Uganda-bound cargo trucks were targeted. In the aftermath of last month’s Kenya polls, Uganda-bound cargo trucks were re-routed.

Dr Ruto’s romance with the Kampala establishment jolted some in Nairobi in the months leading to the August elections. While his win has been hailed as breaking the back of dynasty politics, his Kenya Kwanza manifesto under the theme “Shaking up Kenya through Bottom Up Economy” hardly mentions his foreign policy prescriptions, which raises fears that his administration might not break ranks nor alter much of his predecessor’s policies.

Uganda barely has a foreign policy—it is largely conjured based on the mood of the Executive—but in his manifesto for 2021-2026, President Museveni detailed several ways to further relations with especially the East African Community (EAC).

Kenya, which serves as Uganda’s gateway to the sea, is an economic powerhouse in sub-Saharan Africa. As such, the country has sparred with Uganda and Tanzania over non-tariff barriers to curtail imports and promote the domestic market.

Read: Kenya’s change of guard: Why neighbours watch every step

Unlike Uganda, which has a lot at stake, Tanzania reciprocates swiftly whenever Nairobi takes such a hard stance.

The outgoing Kenyatta administration enacted the Foreign Service Act—signed in November 2021—to guide Kenya’s foreign relations and engagements, including regional integration, which will be tried and tested to the fullest by the incoming government.

During his first term as Deputy President, Dr Ruto represented Kenya on a number of foreign assignments, including addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016. The delegation seems to have waned as his relationship with his boss soured.

SGR venture

Besides cementing bilateral relations between the countries and offering room for intra-trade, Kampala also hopes that the Ruto administration will rekindle plans and agree to finance the remaining sections of the shinny Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) connecting Malaba en route to Kampala, which plans were first reached in 2008.

The arrangements for the much-touted SGR were subsequently concretised in 2012 with the two countries agreeing to construct China Class One standard, whose design classification according to the Chinese standards, is one with annual passengers/freight traffic volume for the near-term, which is more than or equal to 20 metric tonnes.

While the plan was to borrow money jointly from China’s Exim Bank for the regional project, Nairobi did not live up to its promise and started parallel negotiations shortly and acquired $3.8 billion for the Mombasa to Nairobi section, and later the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha at $1.7 billion.

Kenya eventually took its foot off the gas pedal on the plans after Uganda, with the backing of French oil giant now TotalEnergies EP, opted for the southern route as the least cost for the route of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

The Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), a loose cooperation of EAC involving Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan—to work together on joint infrastructure projects, including the SGR stretching from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to Kampala en route to Kigali and Juba—also collapsed. There is all indication of little appetite for the NCIP, especially after the bruising ego Kampala-Kigali disagreements and it will remain to be seen if Dr Ruto can revive the coalition.

SOURCE

The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court […]

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Landslides kill at least 15 in western Uganda

At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of residents displaced.

Several others are reported missing or feared dead as search and rescue operations by Uganda Red Cross officials, residents and local authorities intensify.

Red Cross officials said the death toll had risen to 15 after five more bodies were retrieved from the debris on Wednesday morning. Six other people have been rescued and transferred to a nearby hospital.

“Majority of the dead are mothers and children,” Uganda Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasita said in a statement.

Simon Buhaka, the local council chairperson, said the bodies had been retrieved from the debris of collapsed houses following the night rain that lasted about six hours.

Mr Buhaka said most homesteads were knocked down at 3 am when their occupants were sleeping.

Locals have been using rudimentary tools like hoes and spades to search and retrieve the victims’ bodies.

Kasese District, where the disaster occurred, is prone to landslides, especially during the rainy season, because it sits in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains that straddle the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After a prolonged drought, heavy rains have fallen on much of Uganda since late July, causing deaths and flooding and the destruction of crops, homes and infrastructure.

Last week, two people died following a mudslide in neighbouring Bundibugyo District. Additionally, two people were swept away by floods in Kirembe, Kasese District.

In July, flooding caused by heavy rains killed at least 24 people in Mbale district in eastern Uganda.

The country’s weather agency had warned it would be hit by unusually strong and destructive rains in the August-December season and advised people living in mountainous areas to be vigilant or evacuate to safer areas.

SOURCE

At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of […]

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Kampala reels under burden of unbearable noise and air pollution

Early Sunday morning, a booming voice off the speaker of a church about 100 metres from my house in Kampala’s Kawempe suburb, wakes me up and keeps me awake all the way to 7am when I finally decide enough is enough.

I head to the church to ask whoever is responsible to reduce the noise. To my surprise – and dismay – there are only two people in the church: preaching to an empty house.

My pleas to have them reduce the sound fall on deaf ears, and I will have to endure their utterly unnecessary noise for the whole day.

Uganda’s Noise Standards and Control Regulations restrict noise levels to 40 decibels in residential areas and 60 decibels in commercial areas.

Sacred cows

In my estimates, however, this particular church – and indeed most churches in Kampala – emit noise levels not below 100 decibels at any one time. According to Ugandan law, this is an offence punishable by up to 18 months in jail or a fine of up to Ush18 million – or both.

There are many churches that send out preachers onto the streets daily or on particular days and the cacophony of noise from the speakers they use and hooting from vehicles.

“Places of worship, bars and schools that are set up in residential areas are always bound to emit unacceptable levels of noise, but it is Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) that is mandated to regulate them because it is the body that issues the operating licenses,” says Tony Achidria, the senior communications officer at the National Environment Management Authority.

But it seems like KCCA lets many entities abuse their licenses and be disruptive. In February, Dorothy Kisaka, the executive director of KCCA, hosted over 1,000 Kampala bar owners to address the increasing noise pollution in the city.

She noted that most complaints to city authorities concerned “noise pollution, from operations of the bars and people of faith within the five zones of the city,” KCCA said in a news release.

Churches and street preachers seem to get away with noise pollution because people are afraid of inflaming religious sentiments.

In February, Hudu Hussein, the Resident City Commissioner of Kampala city, issued a 30-day ultimatum to street preachers. “Our good pastors, we love you so much but I am giving you an amnesty of 30 days to evacuate the streets. We want a more serious city. All pastors, vendors, beggars and other groups should leave the city,” Hussein said.

His decree got various reactions, with some people supporting him, and others condemning him. Preachers warned Hussein over his hard line he had taken.

Less than a month later, Mr Hussein was transferred from the city to Yumbe, 520km north east of Kampala, in a reshuffle announced by President Yoweri Museveni in March.

Away from the preachers, most Kampala shop owners now place loudspeakers in front of their shops advertising their range of products – exacerbating the cacophony already created by unrelenting motor vehicle horns and sirens that characterise Kampala streets.

The noise makers include more sirens from VIPs than ambulances, police and fire trucks as well as hooting from the thousands of commuter taxis and boda bodas.

Such sleep disruption can lead to sleep disorders while over-exposure to noise pollution can lead to hearing loss.

A recent report by the WHO estimated that up to 1.1 billon people aged between 12 and 35 around the world are at risk of hearing loss due to the noise pollution that now characterise many of the world’s metropolises.

According to Achidria, the major contaminants are dust from unpaved roads, use of wood fuel, burning of domestic solid waste and motor vehicle emissions.

He added that industries contribute the least pollution because they are regularly monitored, and that his organisation was ramping up monitoring across the city to collect enough data that will be used to sensitise the public.

Besides noise and air pollution, increasing water pollution also continues to threaten lives in Kampala, with the biggest offenders being people’s homes because of poor waste management.

“Again, industries don’t pose a serious problem in water pollution because they are few in number and are easily monitored. Monitoring at domestic level is difficult because the homes are way too many,” Mr Achidria said.

The National Water and Sewerage Corporation, mandated to distribute water and manage sewage in the country, says it spends hefty sums of money on treating water to make it fit for human consumption hence the high price of a unit of water, now at Ush4,300 ($1.1). This follows an increase in the past three months.

Still, researchers have found the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the water. The contamination is due to poor waste management and badly-designed pit latrines and release of waste into streams that flow to Lake Victoria.

The poor waste disposal poses a big risk of cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery breaking out in communities that rely on water from these sources, and Kampala has had many outbreaks of cholera in the recent past.

SOURCE

Early Sunday morning, a booming voice off the speaker of a church about 100 metres from my house in Kampala’s Kawempe suburb, wakes me up and keeps me awake all […]

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Kampala reels under burden of unbearable noise and air pollution

Early Sunday morning, a booming voice off the speaker of a church about 100 metres from my house in Kampala’s Kawempe suburb, wakes me up and keeps me awake all the way to 7am when I finally decide enough is enough.

I head to the church to ask whoever is responsible to reduce the noise. To my surprise – and dismay – there are only two people in the church: preaching to an empty house.

My pleas to have them reduce the sound fall on deaf ears, and I will have to endure their utterly unnecessary noise for the whole day.

Uganda’s Noise Standards and Control Regulations restrict noise levels to 40 decibels in residential areas and 60 decibels in commercial areas.

Sacred cows

In my estimates, however, this particular church – and indeed most churches in Kampala – emit noise levels not below 100 decibels at any one time. According to Ugandan law, this is an offence punishable by up to 18 months in jail or a fine of up to Ush18 million – or both.

There are many churches that send out preachers onto the streets daily or on particular days and the cacophony of noise from the speakers they use and hooting from vehicles.

“Places of worship, bars and schools that are set up in residential areas are always bound to emit unacceptable levels of noise, but it is Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) that is mandated to regulate them because it is the body that issues the operating licenses,” says Tony Achidria, the senior communications officer at the National Environment Management Authority.

But it seems like KCCA lets many entities abuse their licenses and be disruptive. In February, Dorothy Kisaka, the executive director of KCCA, hosted over 1,000 Kampala bar owners to address the increasing noise pollution in the city.

She noted that most complaints to city authorities concerned “noise pollution, from operations of the bars and people of faith within the five zones of the city,” KCCA said in a news release.

Churches and street preachers seem to get away with noise pollution because people are afraid of inflaming religious sentiments.

In February, Hudu Hussein, the Resident City Commissioner of Kampala city, issued a 30-day ultimatum to street preachers. “Our good pastors, we love you so much but I am giving you an amnesty of 30 days to evacuate the streets. We want a more serious city. All pastors, vendors, beggars and other groups should leave the city,” Hussein said.

His decree got various reactions, with some people supporting him, and others condemning him. Preachers warned Hussein over his hard line he had taken.

Less than a month later, Mr Hussein was transferred from the city to Yumbe, 520km north east of Kampala, in a reshuffle announced by President Yoweri Museveni in March.

Away from the preachers, most Kampala shop owners now place loudspeakers in front of their shops advertising their range of products – exacerbating the cacophony already created by unrelenting motor vehicle horns and sirens that characterise Kampala streets.

The noise makers include more sirens from VIPs than ambulances, police and fire trucks as well as hooting from the thousands of commuter taxis and boda bodas.

Such sleep disruption can lead to sleep disorders while over-exposure to noise pollution can lead to hearing loss.

A recent report by the WHO estimated that up to 1.1 billon people aged between 12 and 35 around the world are at risk of hearing loss due to the noise pollution that now characterise many of the world’s metropolises.

According to Achidria, the major contaminants are dust from unpaved roads, use of wood fuel, burning of domestic solid waste and motor vehicle emissions.

He added that industries contribute the least pollution because they are regularly monitored, and that his organisation was ramping up monitoring across the city to collect enough data that will be used to sensitise the public.

Besides noise and air pollution, increasing water pollution also continues to threaten lives in Kampala, with the biggest offenders being people’s homes because of poor waste management.

“Again, industries don’t pose a serious problem in water pollution because they are few in number and are easily monitored. Monitoring at domestic level is difficult because the homes are way too many,” Mr Achidria said.

The National Water and Sewerage Corporation, mandated to distribute water and manage sewage in the country, says it spends hefty sums of money on treating water to make it fit for human consumption hence the high price of a unit of water, now at Ush4,300 ($1.1). This follows an increase in the past three months.

Still, researchers have found the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the water. The contamination is due to poor waste management and badly-designed pit latrines and release of waste into streams that flow to Lake Victoria.

The poor waste disposal poses a big risk of cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery breaking out in communities that rely on water from these sources, and Kampala has had many outbreaks of cholera in the recent past.

SOURCE

Early Sunday morning, a booming voice off the speaker of a church about 100 metres from my house in Kampala’s Kawempe suburb, wakes me up and keeps me awake all […]

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Death toll from Uganda floods rises to 21, many more ‘feared dead’

The death toll in the weekend flooding triggered by heavy rains in eastern Uganda has risen to 21, the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) said Monday.

Esther Davinia Anyakun, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, said seven of the dead were found in Mbale District, while three were found in Kapchorwa late Sunday.

URCS spokesperson Irene Nakasiita said 11 more bodies were retrieved from the River Nabiyonga on Monday morning, which brings the number of dead to 21.

“The rains have caused a lot of havoc that is beyond individual and community capacity. We ask the general public to leave all the potential waterways both in hills and valleys, landslide-prone areas; we don’t want to lose more lives,” the minister said.

The URCS said heavy rains had displaced thousands of people, and more than 1,000 households had been affected in neighbouring districts, while four others had been put on high alert.

The country’s meteorological department warned about the northern, eastern and midwestern parts receiving heavy rainfall in August two days before the incident occurred.

n Sunday, police and the military were called in to help in the search and rescue operations in Mbale, where stranded residents could only watch helplessly as their belongings were washed away by the floodwaters.

Mbale City resident commissioner Ahamada Waashaki on Sunday told AFP that “many more people are missing and feared dead.”

“There is a lot of destruction, roads cut off, buildings submerged as a result of heavy rain that started last night until this morning,” he said.

Rivers burst their banks

He said the situation deteriorated after the Nabuyonga and Namatala rivers burst their banks, causing flooding across most parts of the city.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja visited the scene of the disaster in Mbale, which lies about 300 kilometres (180 miles) northeast of the capital Kampala.

“Police and military marine forces will be coming to help in the rescue and search for dead bodies as we provide relief to the affected population,” her office said.

Floating bodies

Two local reporters told AFP they had seen bodies floating in the muddy brown floodwaters before being removed by police.

Several cars were also washed away, along with household goods and personal items as residents moved to higher ground for safety.

“In the past we experienced flooding but not the level of lives lost and destruction of property seen this time,” Waashaki said.

Nabbanja suggested environmental damage caused by human activity was to blame.

“I believe this disaster would have been avoided if people did not encroach on river banks,” she said in video shared by her office.

Source

The death toll in the weekend flooding triggered by heavy rains in eastern Uganda has risen to 21, the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) said Monday. Esther Davinia Anyakun, Minister […]

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Uganda delays July salaries for civil servants

Civil servants in Uganda will have to wait unusually long to receive their July salaries, the government said on Wednesday, rattling sections of workers who blamed the administration for negligence.

In a letter sent to all ministries, departments, agencies and local governments, the Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate said that all public officers would this month not receive their salaries by 28th as per the Public Service Standing Orders.

“At the beginning of every financial year, this ministry issues a salary structure as a framework that guides the service on the amount of salary to be paid to each category of public officers in that financial year. Issuance of the salary structure for FY 2022/23 has been delayed,” she said in the letter.

Ms Bitarakwate added that the delay has then caused a spill-over effect on the timelines for processing and payment of salaries for the month of July 2022. The government financial year runs from July to June.

“By copy of this letter, commercial banks and other financial institutions are informed accordingly and requested to waive penalties on late loan repayments by the public officers,” she said.

The news has been received with scorn by civil servants, especially among teachers who make up the majority of employees in the government payroll.

Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), told the Monitor that the situation should never have become an emergency because the government was fully aware of its obligation.

“Therefore, they should not bring plain excuses that they are working on a (payment) system when they knew that they were going to change the system,” he said.

Also read: Uganda arts teachers end strike with no pay rise

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Civil servants in Uganda will have to wait unusually long to receive their July salaries, the government said on Wednesday, rattling sections of workers who blamed the administration for negligence. […]

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Museveni lauds Africa-Russia ties as US fires back on Lavrov’s visit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is ready to sell oil and wheat to African countries even as the US Mission in Uganda opened a Twitter storm against Moscow.

Mr. Lavrov on Monday met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, where they discussed the issue of rising fuel and food costs in Africa following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

In a joint press conference at State House Entebbe, Mr Lavrov, on the second leg of his trip to four African countries, said the two discussed “the current energy situation and the food crisis”.

“We sell oil to all the interested countries, and if there is a state that is interested or willing to buy our oil, whether it’s India or an African state, then there are no obstacles to this,” said Russia’s top diplomat.

“Not only do we sell oil, but we provide assistance in terms of developing its own infrastructure like refineries and oil products. So we are committed to having a discussion with our Ugandan friends on this topic,” he added.

Mr. Lavrov, who started his four-nation Africa tour in Egypt, then the Congo Republic before heading on Monday to Uganda, from where he will proceed to Ethiopia, observed that Africa has been hard hit by the economic dimension of the sanctions imposed against Russia.

US reaction

But upon arrival in Kampala, Russia’s top diplomat immediately triggered a reaction from the US Embassy in Uganda, which took to Twitter on July 25 to comment about the current food crisis in the country.

“Great to see the $21 million USAid food aid for refugees and vulnerable groups in [Uganda] reaching people through WFP’s Karamoja response.

“We applaud WFP’s work to address the dire food security situation exacerbated by price [increase] due to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine,” the Embassy tweeted.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major producers and exporters of wheat, whose supply on the global market was affected after the war started in February this year, which triggered sanctions against Moscow that prevented it from selling its oil.

While the sanctions do not affect food supplies directly, they have prevented Russian banks from using an international payment settlement system that would otherwise make it quick for importers to pay for supplies. Ukraine can also not export its wheat as its key ports are mined to prevent the entry of ships.

Last week, the two countries, on the mediation of Turkey, agreed to reopen the ports, but it may take several weeks before mines are removed and trust is re-established. In fact, there were reports of continued shelling even after Ankara brokered the deal.

Read: Russia, Ukraine seal grain deal in Istanbul

Africa’s stance

In Uganda, President Museveni did not give details but hinted that the two leaders discussed how to avert the food crisis in Africa while millions of tonnes of wheat cannot be shipped from Russia.

“In the sanctions by the West against Russia, they don’t mention that they have sanctioned wheat or fertilisers – it’s not part of the list. But the West has stopped Russian ships from calling on a number of ports. So, how will the fertilisers go?” President Museveni posed.

The Ugandan leader also said sanctions against Russian banks were top on the agenda of the discussions as it is also fuelling the food crisis because the global financial institutions are not allowed to do business with Russia, which affects payment for wheat imports.

President Museveni explained Africa’s position on the Ukraine-Russia war, which saw Uganda and other countries from the continent abstain and take a neutral stand on the sanctions during the UN General Assembly in March.

Read: Why Africa is divided on Putin’s war

Also read: Russia reacts to Kenya’s stand on Ukraine war

Mr Museveni said that people with “limited understanding” want African countries to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine but argued that the Eastern Europe nation had “stood with Africa for the last 100 years” as part of the continent’s anti-colonial movements and can only be condemned when “it makes mistakes”.

“We highly appreciate the right balance and responsible position that has taken Uganda together with other African states in light of the current events in Ukraine,” Mr. Lavrov said.

Source

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is ready to sell oil and wheat to African countries even as the US Mission in Uganda opened a Twitter storm against […]

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WHO donates 2,400 monkeypox test kits to Uganda

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated 2,400 monkeypox test kits to Uganda to help in its response against the spread of the infectious disease.

The WHO also accredited three labs — the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), National Health Laboratory Services, and another under the US Department of Defense — to carry out the tests.

While receiving the kits in Kampala on Tuesday, Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said the donation would strengthen Uganda’s surveillance.

“We have been carrying out tests for monkeypox. In the beginning, we were taking tests to South Africa as we run the race to make sure that the cartridges are available in Uganda,” she said. 

She added: “Subsequently, the department of defence of the US government brought in the cartridges and we started testing in-country as we wait for WHO to accredit the laboratories that would test so that our results are internationally recognised.”

To date, the country has carried out more than 70 tests for the monkeypox virus, and all have turned out negative, meaning the disease has not been detected in Uganda.

Read: Monkeypox: Uganda isolates six

“We do not have any case of monkeypox in the country. However, that is not to say we are not worried. We border the DR Congo, which has been having cases of monkeypox for the last 10 years. And we trade with DRC and we have relatives in DRC,” she said.

WHO declared the outbreak of monkeypox, a disease which is ravaging non-endemic countries, a public health emergency of international concern.

Read: WHO triggers highest alert on monkeypox

“Uganda has labs that are capable of doing the tests and under the guidance of UVRI, this will be put to good use. It is important to have the surveillance to prevent monkeypox,” WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, said after donating the test kits.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated 2,400 monkeypox test kits to Uganda to help in its response against the spread of the infectious disease. The WHO also accredited three […]

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Why Muhoozi’s stature is making generals in Uganda uncomfortable

n just a short time, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the once quiet military officer who until recently had not shown any political ambitions, has become a household name. The First Son and Commander of Uganda’s Land Forces has stormed the national political stage, assisted by social media platforms, especially Twitter.

His army of youthful supporters call him “presidential material,” “Chairman MK,” “next president,” “role model,” among other flattering titles.

Then there are Team MK, MK 2026 and others who don tee-shirts with the general’s photo and billboards and posters declaring their support for him.

His increasing influence, both in the army and the general population, has elicited mixed reactions. There are many in the senior ranks of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) who are silently uncomfortable with the general’s growing status and influence, especially those in the bush war that brought President Yoweri Museveni to power in 1986.

Read: Muhoozi in Nairobi to deliver ‘special message’

His involvement in combat has included engagements in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia — where Uganda is part of the African Union’s peacekeeping force — and, more recently, in Karamoja, a region bedevilled by cattle rustling for many years.

So, some of the veterans in the NRM and the army feel sidelined in favour of an upstart who is inexperienced to handle serious military assignments.

Hamstrung by history

Some have told local media of the fear among UPDF rank-and-file to oppose Gen Muhoozi because of the possibility of becoming president after his father.

Sources say that although senior generals are not sure Museveni will relinquish power to his son, they are taking the gamble to support the son’s plans just to be on the right side of history.

According to sources within the army, Gen Muhoozi’s presidency is supported by most colonels and majors-general below the age of 60, who see themselves as the biggest beneficiaries in case of promotions and job postings.

Gen Muhoozi’s contemporaries are now senior officers in influential positions. He enjoys support in the elite Special Forces Command who are charged with security of the President and other national strategic installations and whom he commanded for years.

A couple of months ago, a Kampala lawyer, Gawaya Tegulle, sued Gen Muhoozi, saying his national and district birthday celebrations, and political pronouncements, were inconsistent with Article 208 (2) of the Constitution that provides that UPDF shall be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to civilian authority as established under the constitution. But the court is yet to summon Gen Muhoozi or set date for hearing of the case.

Read: What’s in a birthday? The curious case of Muhoozi’s national event

Using the same Constitutional provisions and army code of conduct, in May 2005, the former director-general of the Internal Security Organisation (the country’s intelligence network), Henry Tumukunde was arrested and jailed for comments during a radio show in which he made political statements.

He was blocked from retiring from the army, but forced to resign as army representative in Parliament. In November 1999, Col Kizza Besigye authored a dossier critical of the government.

His quick decision to challenge Museveni in the presidential election saved him from court martial.

In December 1996, senior army officer David Tinyefuza (now David Sejusa) accused the government of failing to end the war in the north of the country. Sensing danger, he quickly opted to resign, but was blocked by the establishment.

The army has always come out to clarify tweets from Gen Muhoozi. For example, Brig-Gen Felix Kulayigye, UPDF spokesperson, recently said tweets by Gen Muhoozi about the Ethiopian Tigray rebels were personal, and not of the army.

Read: Uganda distances itself from Muhoozi tweets on TPLF

While talking to BBC’s Focus on Africa this week, Mr Kulayigye said: “I am aware of everything the military does. And if you noticed, that was a tweet not from the Commander of the Defence Forces of UPDF, not from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence. So it can’t be our official position. Information concerning the official position of Uganda’s Defence ministry on matters relating to other militaries is given officially, not through tweets.”

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n just a short time, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the once quiet military officer who until recently had not shown any political ambitions, has become a household name. The First Son […]

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