Posts tagged as: officer

South Africa:TB Hospital a Pillar of Hope to Besieged Matatiele

By Bandile Njonga

Matatiele — MATATIELE in the Eastern Cape is synonymous with demarcation deadlocks of the past decade and recent service delivery protests but will soon be mentioned in the same breath with a multimillion Rand, world-class facility to treat rampant tuberculosis. Valued at more than R436 million, the Khotsong TB Hospital has become a pillar of hope for communities residing in and around the municipality with a population of over 12 million. Furthermore, the project has set aside over R94 million in construction work for local small micro medium enterprises (SMMEs). Currently some 14 local SMME contractors have been awarded contracts worth a combined value of R8,1 million as of the second quarter of this year. Once finished, expectantly in 2018, the TB hospital will result in a world-class modern day hospital with over 120 beds together with staff accommodation covering an area of over 9 000m2 Already, more than 300 locals from Matatiele are benefiting from the construction upgrade. Since the start of the project, some 96 local people have received Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) accreditation. As one of the social and economic objectives of the project, candidate technical professionals with formal tertiary qualifications are employed as interns by the main contractor in order to acquire practical workplace experience on the site. Currently eight interns are employed on the project all coming from the local community. Fourteen interns will eventually benefit as the project progresses.

“Most of the training specialised in technical work, brick laying, plumbing, electrical cabling, painting, carpentry and pipe laying,” said Simlindele Manqina, Communications Officer at the Coega Development Corporation (CDC). CDC is implementing the project on behalf of the Department of Health (DoH) in the Eastern Cape. Salim Mohamed, Director Infrastructure Programme Delivery Health Facilities Development and Maintenance at the Eastern Cape DoH, said efforts behind providing training and development are meant to boost the skills level of the local community so that, people were equipped with skills that will sustain them post the construction life span of the project.

“This internship programme has already yielded success as one of the contractors has offered fulltime employment to one of the interns as their Health and Safety officer,” Mohamed disclosed. Matatiele shot to the national spotlight in 2005, the municipality was moved from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape, as part of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. The majority of residents objected to the move, leading to the formation of the African Independent Congress (AIC). The Constitutional Court in 2006 ruled that the part of the 12th amendment was invalid due to insufficient consultation with stakeholders. AIC and the ruling African National Congress have agreed to ensure Matatiele is incorporated back into KZN, hopefully by the end of November. At the end of September, a violent protest by the Route 56 Matatiele Forum, erupted over demands that rural roads from Matatiele to the border area of Lesotho tarred. About 15 people arrested and charged with public violence are out on warning. “Our demands still stand. However, the construction of the TB hospital is a step in the right direction towards delivery of services,” said Zolani Maqakelane, an activist with the forum. – CAJ News

South Africa

Zuma Fires Critical Communist Leader From Cabinet

President Jacob Zuma has fired his tertiary education minister, South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade… Read more »

Opposition Nasa Suspends Demos

By Silas Apollo

The National Super Alliance on Tuesday suspended its demonstrations against the electoral commission amidst claimed of police brutality on protestors across the country.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga said the coalition will give the way forward after the Mashujaa Day celebrations on Friday.

The decision, Mr Odinga said, was reached following the death of some of its supporters, who he claimed had been shot by police.

MATIANG’I

Mr Odinga, in a press statement, also pointed an accusing figure at the acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matinag’i and the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet accusing them of “facilitating security officers to execute a murderous expedition against unarmed and innocent civilians”.

“In honour of the innocent victims of the State, our protests will stay suspended. On Friday, we will mark the memory of these victims as heroes of the struggle for electoral justice at a venue to be disclosed later. On that day, we shall communicate our next course of action,” said the opposition chief.

Nasa, he said, is demanding police to immediately stop the brutality, which he termed as ill-advised and costly for the country.

TROOPS

“The government must stop this alliance between thugs and security officers and the unconstitutional and reckless deployment of troops to annihilate NASA supporters,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the High Court had temporarily lifted government ban on anti-IEBC demos in the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

The suspension follows a case filed by National Super Alliance Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya.

More Follows.

Kenya

Producers Earn Top Dollar From Specialty Tea Exports

Specialty tea from the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned the company as high as Sh29,973 ($291) a kilogramme at… Read more »

Chebukati Cannot Alter Presidential Poll Results – That’s Final

By Olive Burrows

Nairobi — In the public interest, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took the time to restate the position that the Chair of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, acting as the returning officer of the presidential election, cannot in any way alter the results from the constituency.

All five of the judges who heard an application for clarity on the matter from IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati, concurred that his role in the October 26 fresh presidential poll will be limited to aggregating the 291 results as captured on the constituency result forms 34B.

This, they reiterated, did not exempt the Chairman from verifying that the results on the forms 34B tally with those from the 40,883 polling stations from which they are computed and where discrepancies emerge, make them publicly known – but the results to be relied on in the declaration of a winner, the judges made clear, are those from the 291 constituencies as the IEBC in calculating the overall August 8 result, the court found, correctly interpreted the Court of Appeal ruling on the matter to mean.

“Nowhere in the majority judgement did this court criticise the IEBC and Chebukati reliance on the Maina Kiai case, on the contrary what this court took issue with was the decision by Chebukati to declare the result that had not been tested against the transmitted results in form 34A from the 40,883 polling stations countrywide,” Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu read out on behalf of the majority.

When making any discrepancies arising out of the process of verification known to the presidential candidates, observers and public at large, the apex court also made clear, Chebukati should also come out clearly on the impact of said discrepancies on the outcome of the election.

“Any inaccuracies discovered by the verification of forms 34A and B, even as he declares the results as generated from forms 34B to generate form 34C, the effect of such inaccuracies on an election depends on their gravity or otherwise and Chebukati must state whether the discrepancies affect the overall results or not.”

But the power to correct said discrepancies, the court maintained, rests with them.

And while expressing reservations with regard to its power to entertain Chebukati’s application, it exercised its jurisdiction to set the public record straight.

“We entertain serious doubts as to whether this court has jurisdiction to clarify its judgement… (but) in exercise of the inherent powers of this court, we shall therefore proceed to determine whether there is any matter to be clarified and if so, to what extent. This assumption of jurisdiction is all the more necessary so as to avert the danger of an impression being created in the mind of the public that there exists an ambiguity in the court’s judgement even where there might be none.”

Kenya

Producers Earn Top Dollar From Specialty Tea Exports

Specialty tea from the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned the company as high as Sh29,973 ($291) a kilogramme at… Read more »

EU Notes Strides in Poll Reforms, Urges More Transparency

By Jeremiah Wakaya

Nairobi — The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has urged the electoral commission to adopt timely reforms geared towards enhancing the transparency of next week’s fresh presidential election.

In a raft of recommendations detailed in a statement released Monday, the observer group encouraged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to promote consultative forums with various stakeholders and ensure regular news releases to clarify on issues of contention.

“The EU EOM has observed improved staff training, with lessons learned from field staff, review of legal compliance with the Supreme Court ruling, and more emphasis on the results process,” the Marietje Schaake-led group noted.

“However further clarity is still needed on how the 34B Forms (from constituencies) and the 34C Forms (at the national level) will be compiled,” the EU EOM further outlined in its list of recommendations totalling 18.

While making reference to the latest adjustments made by IEBC with regards to electronic transmission of results, the observer mission urged the commission to ensure its staff a properly briefed on the changes.

In a memo on Saturday, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba communicated to election managers the removal of the text component on its Results Transmission System (RTS) due to the inclusion of five candidates whose names had not been included in its results transmission interface.

To ensure a seamless results workflow, Chiloba said President Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) and National Super Alliance’s Raila Odinga will each be awarded a zero in the text section of RTS with the statutory Forms 34A and 34B being subsequently scanned and transmitted electronically to Constituency Tallying Centres and the National Tallying Centre.

Provisional results will thereafter be generated based on the electronically transmitted results forms to include votes garnered by Ekuru Aukot (Thirdway Alliance), Abduba Dida (Alliance for Real Change), and independent candidates Japheth Kaluyu, Michael Wainaina and Joseph Nyagah who were included in the October 26 repeat presidential election through an addendum gazetted by IEBC last week.

In its statement, the EU EOM also urged political players to organize agents in each tallying centre and polling stations for purposes of monitoring the counting of votes and tabulation of poll results.

“The IEBC is expected to allow up to five agents per party/candidate in each tallying centre, which in principle would allow for constant and robust coverage. Jubilee Party report that they have finalized recruitment of 41,000 agents to be deployed in each polling station and tallying centre,” the observer group stated.

It, however, noted: “The financial costs of recruiting and paying for such a number of agents can be a burden for political parties.”

Politicians were also warned against attacking institutions and making utterances that could heighten tension and divisions in the country.

In order to promote the integrity of the electoral process, EU EOM noted the need for live media coverage in all the 290 Constituency Tallying Centres.

According to the observer group, the availability of election results to stakeholders as and when the votes are counted and tallied will significantly increase transparency in the conduct of the fresh election.

Tanzania:Seven Die, 7 Injured in Post-Wedding Accident

By Mariam Juma

Manyara — FANFARE was demoted to tragedy when seven people died and seven others were injured when a truck rammed into the vehicle in which they were travelling at Getasam Village, after a wedding ceremony in Hanang, in Babati District, on Saturday evening.

The dead were identified as Selina Hando (35) from Babati; Amina Saha (50), a Duru villager, Hiit Gwande (50) from Riroda, Elizabeth Hilonga (25) from Heloton, John Timothy (17) and the driver, Wilson Daudi aka Simba (46), whose 15-year-old son’s name was not immediately established.

Initial reports indicated that the newlyweds, Mr Philip Samuel and Ms Flora Baso, were among the survivors, when the vehicle in which they were passengers – a Noah with registration number T 740 DJQ was knocked down by a lorry.

The driver of the Noah and his son died on the spot, and the bride was seriously hurt. The driver of the truck (registration number T 449 CDR) owned by Lake Hill Paradise Ltd of Singida, fled after the accident.

The Manyara Regional Traffic Officer (RTO), Ms Mary Kipesha, remarked that the driver of the smaller vehicle was at fault, remarking: “He turned right without signalling his intention by flashing the indi cator, prompting the speeding lorry driver to ram into the car, after failing to stop abruptly.”

Hanang District Hospital medical officer on-duty, Mr Chawokiwa Msangi, said they had preserved the seven bodies of the casualties, and were attending the survivors, except the bride, who was referred to Hydom Hospital.

Those admitted at Tumaini District hospital are Philip Samuel, Faustine Sebastian, Samuel Nade and Lina Isack. Two others whose names were yet to be established, were treated and released.

Getasam villag ers blamed the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) for not placing important signposts on the roads, to which they attributed many accidents. This is the fourth accident to occur at an area with feeder roads adjoining the Singida – Arusha Highway in less than 18 months. The accidents have claimed 17 lives, leaving 14 injured.

Tanzania

Maputo Envoy in Court On U.S.$133,000 Theft Charges

A FINANCE attaché at Tanzania’s High Commission in Maputo, Mozambique, Joyce Moshi, appeared before Kisutu… Read more »

School Boy Mauled to Death By Stray Dogs

By Philemon Suter

A six-year-old nursery school boy was on Monday mauled to death by stray dogs on the border of Elgeyo-Marakwet and Uasin Gishu counties.

Efforts by a passer-by to rescue the victim were futile.

According to Mr Ben Kipchumba, who took the victim to Iten County Referral Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, the boy was heading to school unaccompanied when the dogs attacked him in Kapsimbol.

“I spotted the large number of dogs and I went closer to see what they were up to.

“I thought they were eating an animal but they turned wild when I approached before I noticed they were mauling the boy,” he said, adding that he called for help.

“I borrowed a motorcycle and rushed the boy to hospital. Doctors said he was already dead,” he said.

The boy’s father Robert Kibet was undergoing counselling at Iten County Referral hospital.

KILL DOGS

The child’s uncle Fredrick Kiptum said local authorities were not concerned about the rising number of stray dogs in the border village.

“The family has not come to terms with what happened this morning. We are still asking many questions,” he said.

Keiyo North veterinary officer Roselyne Bundotich said residents had not reported the stray dogs to authorities.

She said plans to poison stray dogs in various towns and shopping centres in Keiyo North were under way.

Kenya

Ban on Anti-Polls Body Demos in City Centres Lifted

The High Court has temporarily lifted government ban on anti-IEBC demos in the central business districts of Nairobi,… Read more »

Three Dismissed, 3 Suspended Over Farm Inputs Scam

By Renatus Masuguliko

Geita — THE minister for Agriculture, Dr Charles Tizeba, has sacked three senior officials and suspended three others over embezzlement of funds meant for agricultural inputs in Geita region.

Dr Tizeba directed the ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PS), Engineer Mathew Mtigumwe, to Serve the officials with letters for effecting the decision, after they were implicated in a probe team formed in May this year to investigate into the matter.

In the same vein, minister ordered security officials to arrest and prosecute them over negligence and violation of the procurement law. According to the committee report, over 1,000 beneficiaries of agricultural inputs, including agents for the 2015/2016 season, public officials at village, district and regional level were implicated in the scam.

Dr Tizeba, who gave the directives at a news conference on the sidelines of the International Food Day here yesterday, said the government suffered a 29bn/- loss related to agricultural inputs during the 2015/2016 season.

He said the ministry would form another probe team to investigate the suspended officials over their probable association with the scam. The fired officials are Deputy Director of Inputs unit, Mr Shenal Nyoni, Agriculture Officer Grade I, Mr Michael Mayabu and Mr Frank Kabambwa, from the ministry’s headquarters.

The suspended officials, according to the minister, are the Director of Crops Development, Mr Twahir Nzalawahe, the Director of Procurement and Logistics, Mr Burhan Shaban, and Acting Deputy Director of inputs unit, Canuth Komba.

Dr Tizeba added that apart from negligence and blatant disregard of the law as public servants, the three sacked officials were among a group of five people who were suspended in April 2017 pending investigations into their conduct prior to forming of a committee of inquiry.

After completion of investigations a probe team concluded that the three sacked officials were directly linked to the allegations of embezzlement. In the 2015/2016 season, the government allocated 35.5bn/- for agricultural input subsidies.

However, the report showed that after the distribution of subsidies the debt submitted to the government exceeding the allocated budget for the subsidies for almost 30bn/The findings further revealed that, due to blatant disregard of the procurement law, some officials occasioned the printing of 2,099,778 inputs vouchers amounting to 78.1bn/- which was more than the actual budget for the procurement of inputs by 42.6bn/-.

Dr Tizeba said copies of the findings by a probe team would be distributed to all Regional Commissioners (RCS). The ministry’s PS said all the important procedures and regulations in the public service had been fully abided by, prior to sacking and suspending the ministry’s officials.

“A committee of inquiry will be formed by the ministry to probe the matter so that justice can be done to all the suspended officials,” said Eng Mtigumwe.

Meanwhile MARC NKWAMER reports that President John Magufuli has just overhauled the Board of Directors in charge of managing the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO), the public firm responsible for handling the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

According to an official dispatch signed on Monday by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, Dr Leonard M. Chamuhiro, the directive to that effect came through the Minister in charge of the portfolio, Prof Makame Mbarawa, who has appointed, Mr Gregory George Teu the new KADCO Board Chairman.

“The new appointment is in accordance with the ‘Public Corporation Act Cap 257 R.E. 2002/ sect 9(1) and (2)’ and therefore Mr Teu’s recruitment takes immediate effect,” reads part of the statement from the Permanent Secretary, Dr Chamuhiro sent on 16th of October 2017.

Under the changes, Mr Gregory George Teu (66) replaces Ambassador Hassan Gumbo Kibelloh, who headed the former Board of Directors at KADCO. In turn, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Mbarawa has revoked the appointment of Mr Suleiman Suleiman who used to serve in the dismissed board panel.

The Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) manages the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), which is the country’s second largest and second busiest terminal after Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport (JKNIA) of Dar-es-salaam.

The Kilimanjaro International Airport, dubbed the ‘safest’ terminal in East Africa, is strategically located about halfway between Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions and since these are the main tourist portals in the north, KIA with annual passenger flow of 600,000 travellers and handling more than 16 airlines, the terminal remains Tanzania’s major tourists’ landing spot.

Kilimanjaro International Airport has direct flight connections to Europe, the Middle East and several destinations on the African continent. Some of the international airlines using the airport are KLM, Edelweiss Air, Condor Air, Turkish Airline, Qatar, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, Rwandair, Fastjet and Precision Air.

In 2013, Kilimanjaro Airport was declared overall winner of the ‘Routes Africa Airport Marketing Award,’ which is highly regarded as the most prestigious awards in the industry as they are voted for and judged by the airline industry.

4000 Coffee Seedlings Planted at Launch of Planting Season

Photo: Nick Long/IRIN

Coffee nurseries (file photo).

By Eddie Nsabimana

There is need for closer collaboration between coffee buyers and sellers to cut expenses involved before tea reaches the final consumer, the State Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources has said.

Officiating at the launch of tea agriculture season 2018 A in Karongi District, Western Province, last week, Fulgence Nsengiyumva said all efforts must be made to make farming more profitable for farmers.

During the launch, more than 4 000 seedlings were planted on three hectares of land in Twumba Sector.

Addressing the community, mainly tea growers at Gisovu Tea Estate, Nsengiyumva said the government remains committed to support agriculture sector and called on tea growing sector players to continue their partnership for improved tea value chain.

He said, “People have got to know the value of tea. The government will keep doing its best to improve this sector, and more advocacy will be communicated to all concerned stakeholders to improve tea value chain for farmers’ improved economic welfare.”

Tea plantation in Karongi covers 2781 hectares, and 2600 tonnes were produced this year on the same area, an estimated 6 tonnes per hectare.

Need for manure varieties

The government targets to increase tea productivity to 100 000 tonnes by 2020 from 66,000 tonnes currently, an average increase of tea harvest on the area from current 7.5 tonnes per hectare to 9 tonnes by 2020.

This year, Rwanda exported 25,628 tonnes of tea with a total income of USD63.4 million, according to the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

However, farmers cited lack of adequate seeds, high cost of seeds and lack of alternatives to manure, among other challenges.

“These are issues that need to be addressed if we want to increase tea harvest,” said Samson Munyurangabo, a tea farmer in Twumba Sector since 1978.

To address this issue, the government plans to build a special modern factory that produces different varieties of manure with construction works set for April 2018.

Minister Nsengiyumva said, “Once we get our own manure factory, we will surely get more variety, which could hopefully increase production of different crops.”

Manure currently costs Rwf500 a kilo, but Francois Karamaga, the Chairperson of FERWACOTHE, a federation of tea cooperatives countrywide, has assured farmers that they will get it at Rwf365.

Amb. George William Kayonga, the NAEB Chief Executive Officer, urged tea factories to create their own tea seedling nurseries to satisfy the farmers’ demands.

Setting the price

Farmers say the price of tea is still low, compared to efforts and expenses invested.

But Nsengiyumva said, “The rise or decrease in tea prices is and will keep being determined by quantity of tea exported as well as market size.”

On transportation, Minister Nsengiyumva said that it would be sad to see people wasting a lot of tea produce on the way to factories.

Prices vary between Rwf194 and Rwf291 for a kilo of tea leaves, with Gisovu ranking as the top earner.

There are 42,840 tea growers countrywide, grouped in 19 cooperatives.

There are also 15 tea factories, with the Western Province covering over a half (8) of them, while two others are under construction for advanced tea processing services.

TRA Collects Sh64.65bn in First Quarter Revenue Boost

By By Alawi Masare

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Zanzibar Zone , has managed to collect a total of Sh64.65billion, equivalent to 108 per cent of collection estimates in a period of three months from July to September, 2017.

The TRA Taxpayers’ Education Officer, Mr Saleh Haji Pandu, revealed this in his Gulion Office in Zanzibar when releasing a report on tax revenue collections and payments spanning the past three months.

Previously, he said, they were expected to collect Sh59.77 billion, equivalent to 101 per cent of tax revenue collection estimates from business operators, investors and other services including businesses for motorized vessels.

“This has been possible as a result of the big efforts that we have made, as an authority, to ensure an increase of Sh4.87 billion beyond the Sh59.77 billion that we collected previously,” said Mr Pandu.

Mr Pandu made a clarification on month-to-month revenue collections, saying in July they managed to collect Sh22.1 billion, in August (Sh21.3 billion) whereas in September Sh21.1 billion was collected.

He said in initial revenue collection projections over the months they targeted to collect Sh19.3 billion in July, Sh19.5 billion in August and Sh20.8 billion in September.

For his part, Zanzibar’s Planning and Finance minister, Dr Khalid Salum Mohamed, said despite the big increase in various tax revenue collections, more efforts were still needed to ensure a much bigger increase in revenue collections.

Tanzania

Gender-Based Violence ‘On the Decline’

The rate of gender-based violence has decreased compared to a few years ago, it has been said. Read more »

Charcoal Users Feel Price Heat

By Ronald Musoke

Steven Byamukama has been vending charcoal for 20 years. His stall in Kisenyi, a low income section of Kampala city, is one of many on a charcoal dust covered and darkened patch almost a quarter of a football field. This is a dirty job and Byamukama employs an army of young men to do the heavy lifting. He handles the cash.

Like the other traders, Byamukama sells charcoal in various sizes; from longish large loads of over 75kg bags piled up on top of each other while others are in white high-density polyethylene sacks that contrast sharply with their black contents. He also displays smaller portions doled in plastic basins and discarded one litre paint tins.

The move toward the smaller portions is a result of rising charcoal prices. Many city residents can no longer afford the sack which goes for Shs80, 000, up from Shs60, 000 last year, a 30% price leap in an economy where inflation is well below 10%. According to Dr. Cornelius Kazoora, an environmental economist who has been studying the charcoal business for some time, what is happening is a “charcoal crisis.”

“Most people in Uganda are poor and the packaging of charcoal allows a person to get it for even Shs 1,000, cook a meal, and eat,” he told The Independent in an interview.

Byamukama sells a 20-litre plastic basin filled to the brim for about Shs 8000, while a smaller metallic tin called “Ddebe” goes for Shs5000.

But he complains that while the charcoal business used to be quite lucrative, his buying price has risen and his margins shrunk.

“Trees have become scarce yet the population is ever growing,” he says.

He describes how, when he started his business, it was easy to source good charcoal in the neighbouring districts of Luweero, Nakaseke and Kyankwanzi where the average distance is 50kms away from the city in central Uganda. These days, he says, most of the charcoal he sells comes from northern Uganda, at least 350km away.

Kazoora confirms this. He says people in the Cattle Corridor (Luweero, Nakasongola, Kyankwanzi, and Masindi) opened up land for plantation agriculture and livestock rearing– a development which reduced woodland in this area and has eventually affected the volume and quality of charcoal that is sold in Kampala.

To get a good stock of charcoal, Byamukama and his colleagues sometimes intercept the trucks transporting the commodity before they get into the city suburbs where competition between dealers is stiff.

He told The Independent that he now buys a sack of charcoal from truck drivers at between Shs 70,000 and Shs77, 000 and sells each sack at Shs80, 000 and, depending on demand, Shs90, 000.

Khamadi Musiimenta, another trader who has dealt in charcoal for the last 20 years in a market in Kamwokya, a suburb of the city, also recalls a time recently when most of the charcoal sold in Kampala used to come from the nearby districts and one could buy a bag of charcoal at Shs20, 000.

He says he gets his charcoal from as far as Adjumani district in northwestern Uganda and sells a bag at Shs 80,000. He says this is the first time they have seen charcoal prices shoot that high.

Ephraim Zinda, 34, who has been in the charcoal transport business since 2008 told The Independent that charcoal prices could be rising because local governments in the source districts in northern Uganda are getting tougher on charcoal burners. This has led to reduced supplies. But he says corruption contributes to the high cost of transport and the eventual user price.

Zinda says along the 350km route, even before he ignites the engine of his truck headed for Kampala from Gulu, he pays anywhere between Shs700, 000 to Shs1.5 million for a General Receipt to the National Forestry Authority. Then along the way, he must leave between Shs30, 000 and Shs20, 000 at every road block in Gulu town, Bobi, Kiryandongo, Luweero, Kawempe, Bwaise, and Kasubi. Zinda says this is the reason most trucks tend to move at night to minimize these unnecessary costs.

“Otherwise we might end up with nothing by the time we reach our destinations,” he says.

Charcoal remains the most preferred energy source for use in about 90% of households in Kampala while elsewhere the average is 65% with the rest using wood fuel. Overall, about 4,961 metric tonnes of charcoal is used by households in Uganda per day while institutions use a total of 887.3 metric tonnes of charcoal over the same period.

A 2015 energy ministry survey on the status of charcoal production, transportation, trade, and consumption noted that up to 2.144 million metric tonnes or 35,153,081 bags of charcoal each weighing 60kgs are produced and consumed every year in Uganda. This charcoal is valued at about US$38 million.

Wrong interventions?

Charcoal preference in Kampala is mostly a practical decision as most households do not have separate cooking areas to set up a wood fire and charcoal is more portable, smoke free, and burns hotter and longer. But with rising prices, many users and experts are looking for ways out.

Experts argue that in the longer term, economic benefits of charcoal must be replaced with new development options. They say the government needs to quickly find sustainable and safe energy options for rural and poor populations.

Currently, Uganda’s entire charcoal value chain is characterised by informal and inefficient systems and has received little interest from investors. It is characterised by inadequate enforcement of regulations, poor organisation of players, use of inefficient technologies, and lack of standards and unsustainable production practices.

Interventions that are spoken about often focus more on reducing the negative environmental impact of charcoal production and use and less on addressing the need for sustainable energy supplies for a growing urban population.

Urging the government to sensitize the population about the dangers of wood-based fuels to the environment, quickly enforcing measures against illegal wood harvesting, banning illegal charcoal production, and imposing heavy fines and taxes on charcoal and firewood trade, will salvage the environment but people have to cook.

James Kakeeto, the Chief Executive Officer of Creation Energy Limited, a Kampala-based renewable energy initiative told The Independent on Sept.22 in an email that Ugandans are still struggling to switch to cleaner fuels because even with all its disadvantages, charcoal remains the most adopted cooking fuel in Uganda and, this is largely determined by the fact that it is still considered cheap compared to other options such as LPG and electricity.

To most Ugandans, LPG is considered unsafe and risky in terms of causing possible fires in households. The fact that Ugandans have used charcoal for a long time means that the attachment is high, to the extent that the people find any other new option such as briquettes an inefficient inconvenience.

Kakeeto told The Independent that weaning Ugandans off wood-based fuels cannot be done in an instant, but rather gradually.

For a start, the government needs to mobilise financial resources to make the Biomass Energy Strategy, which seeks to promote investments in efficient biomass technologies such as briquettes and energy efficient cook stoves work. That would help cushion entrepreneurs from the investment risk associated with alternative and modern cooking fuels.

Charcoal to stay

For Simon Peter Amunau, the manager of the UNDP-funded Green Charcoal Project at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, charcoal is here to stay for the simple reason that electricity and LPG remains quite expensive for millions of Ugandans.

“What we need to do is to promote charcoal production in a sustainable manner,” he says, “The current charcoal production techniques are wasteful with only 10% of charcoal produced in the traditional kilns.”

Amunau says the ministry is promoting efficient charcoal producing technologies which are able to recover 30-45% of the charcoal.

He says if charcoal producers adopt these technologies, then Uganda will see a cut back on trees and forests which are being felled to produce more charcoal.

The energy ministry is also promoting tree planting in the districts of Nakaseke, Kiryandongo, Nakasongola, Mubende and Kiboga where already 4,000 hectares have been planted on private farms and NFA forest reserves.

Amunau said the ministry is also embarking on a campaign to work with all stakeholders along the charcoal value chain– forest owners, charcoal producers, transporters, vendors and the users–to promote tree planting; efficient production techniques, good charcoal packaging ways to reduce moisture content, as well as promoting energy-efficient stoves.

Kazoora agrees that charcoal will remain big business for decades but making LPG cheaper can reduce demand for it. He says most people in Uganda could opt for LPG (gas) but are put off by the high cost involved and the lack of facilities for sale of small potions as happens with charcoal.

“If the government forfeited revenue in the short run and started shifting people to LPG then it would be easy to enforce laws against tree cutting,” he says, “Things work better when there are alternatives.”

Environmentalists are already saying charcoal has put deforestation into over drive, exacerbating already deadly climate change effects which are killing people in their homes.

Uganda is losing 60 million metric tonnes of wood every year valued at Shs 1,179,385,920,000. The government on the other hand is also losing Shs 268,516,106,157 in uncollected permit and VAT revenue that could be used to sustain the sector.

Henry Neufeldt, an expert on charcoal and climate change at the World Agro-forestry Centre in Nairobi told The New York Times in June last year that in the next 30 years, many forests and landscapes will be degraded because of charcoal demand, and because of the lack of policies to counter that effect.

Meanwhile, energy experts say charcoal users might have to brace themselves for harder times as prices continue to rise, thanks to excessive demand in the urban areas.

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