Posts tagged as: private

RURA – Regulating for Safety, Fairness and Efficiency

By Joseph Mudingu

In line with its policy of economic development and good governance, the Government of Rwanda established the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) to contribute to the achievement of its socioeconomic goals.

PATRICK NYIRISHEMA, the RURA Director General, explains about the mandate and what the institution has been able to achieve in the past seven years. The New Times’ JOSEPH MUDINGU writes.

RURA as a multi-sectoral regulator was established in 2002.The whole idea of the government deciding to put up a multi-sectoral regulator was to create an institution that can build capacity and synergies across different sectors that drive economic development.

RURA regulates all the utilities that include ICT, Transport, and Energy sector, Water, Sanitation and Media

Unlike many countries which have delegated regulatory authorities, Rwanda decided to establish one that is efficient and cuts across all utilities.

From the establishment of RURA, a lot has happened from 2010.

Operational Mandate

As a regulator, RURA sits between the government which is the policy maker, the private investors who are the operators and the consumers.

The regulators’ mandate is primarily to ensure that government policies have been put in place and that they are being implemented by the service providers.

At the same time, we also make sure that the private investors in different sectors are profiting and are able to sustain their operations, getting return on investment.

We also ensure that while in the private sector people are making profits, the services are affordable to the citizens. So as regulators we work between the policy makers, private investors and the consumers.

In line with that mandate then, what we have done as RURA over the last seven years was to build the right capacity to be able for example to have economic regulation tools in place that help us set tariffs in various sectors like transport, electricity and water.

RURA recently started to handle tariffs in petroleum, sanitation services and even in sectors that don’t have tariffs; we put mechanisms in place to make sure that services are affordable, reasonable and fair in ICT and Telecom sectors.

Technical capacity

In terms of building technical capacity, RURA has built technical capacity to be able to monitor quality of service in the telecommunication sector, to be able to manage spectrum and use of frequency in the country.

We have also built capacity to be able to verify international traffic, transport sector by being able to inspect and track and to make sure that the policy objectives are being accomplished and that operators are fulfilling their obligations.

ICT

In the ICT sector, from 2010 to 2017 there has been an increase of 5.3 million from 3.1 million mobile subscriptions to 8.4 million today.

On internet penetration, there has been an increase from 1.6% to 36%. The ICT sector received the highest Foreign Direct Investments in 2016.

There has been an increase in subscriptions because internet is more affordable than ever before. In 2014, the Alliance for Internet Affordability ranked Rwanda as number one in Africa.

ICT sector is an enabler that has allowed for connections and communication with suppliers, consumers and partners, saving time and resources.

When the Northern Corridor Initiative Projects created a one area network, traffic grew four times from 2 million minute calls to 10 million minute calls. In-between the increment, transactions are growing and businesses are expanding, taxable incomes increasing and institutions that are IT intensive-based all benefiting.

Transport

In the transport sector, a new transport policy was put in place in 2013 and we have since done a lot of transformational changes in the transport sector.

We have moved from a time when transporters in Kigali would wake up in the morning and decide where to operate depending on where they think they can get passengers or change direction half way through journey.

Today there is zoning in the whole city where operators are accountable with specific working hours from 5am to 11pm in the night.

We have moved from having small mini-buses to big buses which of course not only increase our capacity for mass transit but also help reduce traffic congestion in the city.

Some buses on routes between Kigali and the rest of the country have introduced electronic ticketing that has brought a lot of efficiency in the delivery of service in the intercity transport sector.

Though we still have three years to 2020 and that we have ambitious targets to meet in various sectors, we can confidently say that a lot has been accomplished.

Energy

In the energy sector we have moved from a time when it was 100% government involvement in electric generation and distribution to a time now when we have a lot of independent power producers in the market who have been licensed to produce electricity and feed the grid.

Sanitation

There have also been significant strides in re-organization of sanitation services, put in place proper licensing frame work, tariff benchmarks and works for the local government to ensure that every single sector in Kigali has a solid waste collection company which wasn’t always the case.

Every single commercial premise and households in Kigali today are accessible by a solid waste company.

For a country that is striving for a clean, green environment, sanitation services are very crucial and for Rwanda there has been a lot of progress there.

Media

Rwanda was among the seven countries in Africa that were able to immigrate from analog to digital broadcasting in record time.

At global level the target was June 2015 and Rwanda was able to do it one year earlier in July 2014 which is an accomplishment worth noting.

Visionary leadership

We have benefited as an institution from the visionary leadership of his Excellency President Paul Kagame where in all these sectors he has taken the leadership most especially in the ICT.

The clear policy direction and the commitment have been given at a national level and from all the other efforts that have created a good environment for investment.

The national effort to create a very business friendly environment is something that has helped RURA in accomplishing her mission.

Partnerships

As a regulator, RURA works with other regulators and institutions that have different mandates in the various sectors that we regulate.

For example, the Standards Board puts a standard in place and based on that standard we put a regulation that is enforceable.

The Standards Board, for example, puts the standards that a petrol station has to meet and RURA puts a regulation that requires all petrol station operators to meet those standards.

Another example is the Central Bank which regulates financial services like mobile money yet it is a service offered by telecom companies that are licensed and regulated by RURA.

So RURA has established an MoU with the Central Bank that defines various roles and responsibilities to make sure that there is no overlap.

For the city of Kigali, we work with them in many things regarding all the services in the city. When the City, for example issues a construction permit, RURA follows it with an installation license.

There is a joint inspection term in the transport sector comprising of RURA, City of Kigali and National Police which ensures that all the transport companies are complying with the laws and regulations and that quality services are being delivered.

So as RURA, we coordinate our efforts with the city of Kigali across all the sectors we regulate like electricity, water, by making sure that all the residents in city of Kigali have access to these services.

One last comment I can make is that we have not had any difficulty in coordinating with other institutions and we have only benefited with these institutions that have played different roles that were needed for private investors to succeed.

N.B: This is a sponsored article

Mastercard U.S.$1 Million Grant Set to Ignite Business Growth in Rwanda

In support of Rwanda’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growthhas confirmed its commitment to a grant of up to USD$1 million over three years to support the growth of small business owners in Rwanda.

According to a press statement by Mastercard, to ensure that the first phase of the roll out of the grant is successful, Mastercard has partnered with theAfrican Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), locally known as Inkomoko. The team develops and grooms entrepreneurs in industries such as technology, agriculture and energy – three of East Africa’s biggest and fastest growing sectors, and priorities in Rwanda.

Announced during at the 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF Africa) in Kigali, Rwanda, Mastercard committed to supporting Rwanda’s vision of financially empowering its citizens, with the grant established to support achieving this goal. The commitment is in line with driving poverty out of Rwanda through job creation, ensuring gender equality through equal access to opportunities, and delivering decent work prospects which will enable economic growth.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are key drivers of the local economy – currently making up 97.8 percent of the private sector in the country.Inkomoko’s one-year programme removes the barriers local entrepreneurs face in the areas of skills development, networks, and financing, through providing mentoring, technical support, capacity building, and direct access to affordable capital. What makes the partnership between Mastercard and Inkomokouniqueis the support of both Rwandan nationals as well as some of the 160,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda.

In collaboration with the United Nations Agency on Refugees (UNHCR), the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and MastercardCenter for Inclusive Growth, Inkomokowill roll out aprogramme aimed at fostering the social and economic independence of refugees in Rwanda.With a large population of refugees, the role of private and public partnerships remains crucial to the inclusive growth and development of all those displaced. Mastercard, together with the African

Entrepreneur Collective,has committed to assisting entrepreneurs in Rwanda regardless of their circumstances, a vision shared and driven by the Rwandan government. “Connecting entrepreneurs, especially women and refugees, to the networks that power the modern world – like financial services – unlocks their economic potential and accelerates a cycle of equitable and sustainable economic growth,” says Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

The Inkomoko entrepreneurship programme aims to restore the dignity of refugees living in Rwanda by empowering these small business owners with vital support to grow their businesses. The programmewill work with 4,000 refugees in Rwandaover the next three years.

“The intention is to connectrefugees with the tools and skills necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs to improve their own livelihoods, create jobs for others in their communities, and contribute to Rwanda’s larger economic development. Rwanda’s refugee camps and host communities are places of vibrant social and economic activity with bustling markets, shops, restaurants, and industries,” says Julienne Oyler, Executive Director of African Entrepreneur Collective.

Supporting and developing entrepreneurs in these areas will have tremendous impact on the communities themselves and the country at large.Rwandahas become a bustling centre of commerce in Africa, and by implementing programmes that broadly target high potential local entrepreneurs, broad-based economic growth can be advanced by equipping the country’s next generation of business owners with the right tools to hone their financial literacy – the foundation of financial inclusion and growth.

In this way, the support provided as part of the grant not only falls in with the country’s Vision 2020 strategy to create a knowledge-based, cashless economy with 90 percent financial inclusion, it also contributes to Rwanda meeting its Sustainable Development Goals, most notably in terms of eradicating poverty and driving gender equality through the empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Facilitating inclusive growth is an important way to build social and economic development, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth remains committed to working with partners in both the public and private spheres to drive that development.

“Microentrepreneurs drive the local economy, and through our partnership with African Entrepreneur Collective, we look forward to empowering them with the tools and training to grow their businesses and advance the lives of their families and communities,” concludes Singh.

Zimbabwe: Timber Processing Giant Courts Suitors

THE country’s largest timber processing firm, Allied Timbers Zimbabwe (ATZ), a strategic parastatal sitting on 130 000 hectares of land, is courting suitors to help it construct electricity generation plants at its saw mills across the country using bio waste.

The Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) can report that the State-owned company, which has more than 10 estates in Manicaland, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces, made moves last week inviting potential suitors to partner it in the proposed power projects.

Investors into these projects are expected to design, build, finance, operate and transfer the facilities under Public Private Partnerships.

Allied Timbers, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Climate, which is headed by Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, however, could not say how much was required to generate renewable energy using bio waste.

“ATZ aims to establish fuel briquette processing plants and electricity generating facilities at its sawmills and processing sites across Zimbabwe that are mainly in the Eastern Highlands to optimise and fully convert these huge quantities of post harvest and post processing waste that include saw dust, off cuts, lops and tops,” the company said in a statement.

It is unlikely that ATZ would find a domestic investor for its proposed projects due to the liquidity crunch in the country, meaning that the company would therefore be forced to court offshore investors for the power projects.

If this happens, the company would have to deal with the contentious indigenisation law, a situation which might make the deal unattractive.

In fact, ATZ has been in the market for more than two years now, seeking about US$5 million for retooling and recapitalisation.

The company only secured a US$2 million line of credit from Agribank last year.

ATZ early last year was forced to abandon contract milling.

The company had about 50 contracted saw mill operators in an arrangement where the harvested timber was equally shared between the company and the contractors.

This arrangement was to cover ATZ’s production shortfalls since it did not have adequate capacity and was also used as a black empowerment tool.

The contractors were significant contributors towards ATZ’s overall production until it decided not to renew the contracts last year, citing massive timber leakages and to instil a sense of order in the manner the company managed its estates.

It also said the rate at which the forests were being extracted was unsustainable.

Further, the company claimed that prices for its products were much higher than prices charged by contractors for similar products.

The fact that ATZ is a huge company, its overheads are huge and its break-even price is also high when compared to prices charged by contractors.

ATZ, however, lifted the suspension of contractors in June last year, re-hiring them to augment production.

The company said it had instilled order and had re-hired them in a manner that helps it to manage harvesting of trees on a sustainable basis while at the same time empowering locals.

Government in 1988 separated assets and liabilities of the Forest Commission into State Forestry and Commercial Forestry leading to the birth of Forestry Company of Zimbabwe in 2001, which took over commercial operations then housed under Forestry Commission.

The idea of unbundling the commission was to separate regulatory activities from commercial activities.

The intension was to enable both institutions to effectively pursue their mandates, with funds from the commercial wing supposed to assist in funding regulatory functions.

So the commercial wing gave rise to Forestry Company of Zimbabwe, later rebranded to ATZ while regulatory activities were reconstituted into Forestry Commission.

Its operations involve plantations, harvesting, and processing, marketing and selling of both pine and gum. It has been exporting its products to Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and has plans to expand its export market.

Only 59% of Dar Waste Is Taken to Dump – City Report

By Janeth Mesomapya

About 700,000 tonnes of solid waste is produced in Dar es Salam annually, yet only 59 per cent of the waste is transported to Pugu Waste Dump.

This was said in the city yesterday during a solid waste management conference, which brought together stakeholders from private organisations led by the International Solid Waste Association and Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

The conference basically focused on how Pugu Waste Dump site could be improved by investing in recycling technology and in effective and sustainable waste collection.

According to Dar es Salaam City Council Director Sipora Liana, increased waste production is still a persisting problem, so there is a need to invest in modern technology to manage industrial and domestic wastes.

She explained that currently the council was finalising agreements with 10 factories for recycling plastic and iron waste, while another factory would soon start recycling glass waste.

“We also have another project of Sh80 million to start an industry for recycling paper waste – that is turning it into charcoal,” she added.

Ms Liana explained that her office had a budget of Sh1 billion for buying land in Kigamboni, which would be used as another waste dump and increase waste management in the city.

For his part, the First Secretary of the Economic and Trade Policy of the Embassy of The Netherlands Eugene Gies said his office in partnership with other stakeholders would conduct thorough research on Pugu Waster Dump to find out how the project would work.

“If the site is improved the city will definitely experience great strides in social and economic development starting with increased employment opportunities and public health. There is still a challenge in waste collection and management not only in Dar es Salaam, but also in other parts of the country.

Tanzania

Magufuli Fires 9,932 Civil Servants

President John Magufuli has instantly sacked 9,932 workers who have been found using fake certificates. Read more »

Nigeria: Edo-Azura Power Plant Excites World Bank, IMF

By Adibe Emenyonu

Benin City — The Edo State Government’s performance index in promoting Independent Power Plants (IPP) as a business model and opening up economic opportunities has received international recognition, as it became the cynosure of over 10,000 international personalities at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Spring Meetings last week in Washington DC, THISDAY reliably gathered.

This was as the Azura Independent Power Plant, financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which was expected to provide electricity to 14 million consumers, was highlighted to display how the World Bank Group’s collaboration supports the development and implementation of infrastructure development.

The Azura Power Plant project was initiated during the administration of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, in which Governor Godwin Obaseki, as the Chairman of the State’s Economic Team, facilitated the project to the state, thereby making Edo state an investor destination in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Azura power project included the construction, operation and maintenance of a 459 megawatts gas-fired open-cycle power plant near Benin City, and was necessary to add power to the national grid while being considered a priority project for the federal government.

With the ability to produce 459 megawatts in the first phase alone, the plant is expected to be the first greenfield Independent Power Project post sector reform to come online and has been described as a ground-breaking project set to pave the way for future private sector driven IPPs in Nigeria.

A statement from the office of the Chief Press Secretary (Interim), Mr. John Mayaki, disclosed that in a special publication widely circulated at the World Bank IMF Office Complex where over 10,000 participants were in attendance titled: “Nigeria: the Azura-Edo Independent Power Plant”, it was revealed that the power plant was part of a scheme called the Energy Business Plan (EBP).

It was further explained that the sponsors raised a total of $868m through equity contributions, while the power plant would deliver much-needed additional power to Nigeria, and, in turn, the broaden the West African power grid.

“The project is expected to provide access to affordable electricity to about 14 million residential consumers at a fraction of the cost of self-generated power”, the statement added.

Nigeria

Economy Would Be Out of Recession By Second Quarter – Central Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has restated that the Nigerian economy would come out of the recession in the second quarter… Read more »

Army Officers Set for Huge Pay Rise

Photo: The Observer

UPDF soldiers (file photo).

By Olive Eyotaru

UPDF soldiers of all ranks are set to receive a massive salary raise in the 2017/18 financial year, which starts on July 1, The Observer has learnt.

According to figures that this newspaper has obtained from the ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, the biggest beneficiaries will be officers holding the two most senior ranks in the army.

A General is set to receive an 86 per cent salary increment, raising the pay from about Shs 2 million to Shs 3.77m, while a Lieutenant General will receive an 83 per cent pay rise, from Shs 1.87m to Shs 3.4m.

The salary of a Major General will rise by 40 per cent from Shs 1.7 million to Shs 2.4m while a Brigadier will receive Shs 2m, up from Shs 1.6m (a 33 per cent rise). Soldiers’ salaries are not taxed.

All the other ranks, right from a Private at the bottom of the military chain to Colonel, will also receive a considerable improvement in their earnings, which is set to further bloat the army’s already large salary and wage budget.

MINISTER CONFIRMS

The minister of Defence, Adolf Mwesige, confirmed the army’s salary enhancement plans during a meeting with the parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs committee yesterday.

“We have a proposal which has been blessed by the High Command and Defence Council to make sure that the minimum a private should get is at least equivalent to a primary school teacher’s salary,” Mwesige revealed. “That decision was adopted and we want the committee to support it so we get funds to pay our soldiers. We know it is not enough but we could begin from there.”

Mwesige, who was flanked by senior ministry staff and senior UPDF officers, was in Parliament to defend the Defence ministry’s Shs 1.396 trillion budget proposals for the 2017/18 financial year, which they had earlier submitted as part of a ministerial policy statement.

In the policy statement, the minister noted that one of the defence ministry’s medium-term plans is to “gradually and affordably increase the salaries of soldiers until they come in line with the salaries of teachers and medical workers.” The statement says they also plan to enhance the salaries of scientists attached to the UPDF.

“The salary of the UPDF personnel is still low; there is need to raise the salary of the Private to equate to that of a Grade III teacher. This will go a long way in improving the morale and welfare of the soldiers,” he said.

According to our source, the issue of salary increments for army officers has been discussed by the army’s senior leadership, right from the High Command, Army Council, and top management of the defence ministry.

In addition to salaries, UPDF members also receive allowances, food rations, medicare provided to the troops and their families, as well as formal education provided to the children of all the soldiers.

PIECEMEAL INCREMENTS

In the 2017/2018 financial year, Defence is set to receive Shs 1.396 trillion, up from 1.263 trillion that was allocated to it in the current period. According to the ministerial statement, about half of the budget (Shs 641 billion) will go into paying wages and salaries of the soldiers.

However, according to the ministerial statement, the government is unlikely to enhance the salaries of all the UPDF officers at the same time. This will mean that some of the proposed salary increments will only be effected in the subsequent financial years.

It is not clear which ranks will be catered for in the next financial year, as the Defence ministry did not delve into the matter at Parliament. However, according to the ministerial policy statement, the initial salary enhancement would require Shs 87.594 billion. Yet, due to inadequate funds, the ministry intends to provide only Shs 43.594 billion in the 2017/18 budget and the rest of the money in 2018/19 financial year.

The chairperson of the Defence and Internal Affairs committee, Judith Nabakooba (Mubende Woman), said Parliament will have the final say on whether the Shs 43.595 billion should be included in the next financial year’s budget.

TOO LOW?

Minister Mwesige let the cat out of the bag at Parliament after Ntoroko MP Ibanda Rwemulikya raised a concern over the low salaries hitherto paid to the soldiers.

Later, when The Observer took Rwemulikya aside and offered details about the proposed increments from its own sources, the MP was not impressed.

Focusing his discussion on the lower ranking soldiers, Rwemulikya said the government must work to raise the salaries of privates to at least Shs 700,000.

“The Shs 400,000 they are proposing is too meager,” Rwemulikya pointed out. “These people have families and need to save. While we welcome the small increment, it should be further enhanced over the next financial years.”

Shadow Defence Minister Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) was alarmed at the discrepancies in the salary increments, noting that the percentage increment for top ranking army officers was disproportionate to those of the low cadres, which creates a large salary gap.

“While it is commendable to enhance their salaries, this is still too low,” Olanya said. “If you look at the soldiers at the rank of a private, most of them engage in battles in Garamba and South Sudan, risking their lives while the Generals sit in air conditioned offices. But look at their miserable pay!”

‘Battles’ Over Priorities in Our National Budget Are Misplaced

opinionBy David K. Mafabi

At this time of the year, in the corridors of the executive, parliament and the technocrats, last touches are being put to the national budget for the financial year 2017/2018.

As usual, the debate rages involving political leaders, technocrats, ‘civil society’, etc – regarding what are supposed to be the priorities in the budget. Development partners continue to make their pitch. The other week, some partners said we should give more to the health sector. Now, others still, have waded in – saying the place of honour belongs to the education sector! Anyhow, this is also the road to the oxymoron of “unfunded priorities”.

Yet, at the overall and national strategic level, this should be a settled matter – for the next 30 years or so. In 2007, government agreed a Comprehensive National Development Planning Framework (CNDPF), which provided for the development of a 30-year vision to be implemented through: three 10-year plans; six five-year National Development Plans (NDPs); Sector Investment Plans (SIPs; Local Government Plans (LGDPs); Annual Work Plans and Budgets.

This is the process which led us to the national vision statement, “A transformed Uganda society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country” – the roadway to the firm placement of Uganda in a competitive upper middle-income country status, with a per capita income of US$9,500, within 30 years.

GDP growth would be sustained at the minimum of 8.52% per annum over the period. First World status would be attained within half a century.

Under Vision 2040, a number of sectors/subsectors/projects were identified as being critical: the development of a high-tech ICT city; massive irrigation schemes; phosphate industry; iron and steel industry; the development of five regional cities (Gulu, Mbale, Kampala, Mbarara, Arua); the development of five strategic cities (Hoima, Nakasongola, Fort Portal, Moroto, Jinja); the development of four international airports; standard gauge railway network with high-speed trains; oil refinery and related pipeline infrastructure; multi-lane paved national road network; globally competitive skills development centres; nuclear and hydro power plants; science and technology parks in each regional city; international and national referral hospitals in each regional city.

In other words, while we could and must discuss the opportunities and fundamentals involved in this process, the national accumulation and saving required to complete this journey, issues of management and implementation, the socio-economic vehicles for implementation, etc – the strategic direction is very clear.

This, should be at the heart of the national economic doctrine (even dogma!) for the next four decades. And we should not waste too much time over non-essentials.

In the meantime, we have continued, and we intend to continue, to look at the experience of some of our partners, as they transited. In this respect, today we very briefly look at the journeys of Sweden and Norway – essentials in transformation from backwardness to modernity.

Sweden experienced two parallel economic processes from 1790 to 1815. On the one hand it underwent an agricultural revolution leading to the commercialization of farming, and on the other, a so-called proto-industrialization, with small industries being established in the countryside – with workers switching between agricultural work in summer, and industrial production in winter.

All this fed into the first industrial revolution of 1815 to 1850. Significantly, Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce compulsory, universal education in 1842.

Exponential export growth (agricultural produce and steel), construction of railway lines and massive investment take-off, characterized the period 1850 to 1890.

This was the prelude to Sweden’s second industrial revolution of 1890 to 1950. Our purpose is not to delve into the content of the two revolutions – it is to underline the centrality of industrialization to transformation.

Regarding Norway, before industrialization, her economy was based on agriculture, timber, and fishing. Fishing was a supplement to farming and, in many cases, a primary household subsistence activity.

This changed with the advent of Norway’s industrial revolution – synonymous with a prolonged period of national capital formation starting in 1865.

Industrialization produced the first textile mills in the middle of the 19th century. It is, however, important to appreciate that the first large industrial enterprises, just like in the United States, appeared simultaneously with the appearance of a new bourgeoisie in industry and banking.

One important point about Norway. The state is directly involved in the commanding heights of the economy: the petroleum sector, through Statoil; hydro-electric energy production through Statkraft; aluminum production through Norsk Hydro; the largest Norwegian bank DNB; the telecommunication provider Telenor; etc. The state controls 31.6 per cent of publicly listed companies.

In all, scientific economic sense must hold, so that, as a people, we remain focused on the objectively indicated and necessary path for transformation.

The author is Private Secretary for Political Affairs, State House.

Army Accused of Discrimination When Appointing Top Posts

Photo: Samara Scott/U.S. Army Africa

Ugandan army parade (file photo).

By Ibrahim a Manzil

Ministry of Defence officials and senior officers from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces have been put on the defensive over claims of regional imbalance and sectarianism in appointment of top technocrats and commanders.

Led by Defense Minister Adolf Kasaija Mwesigye, the officials on Wednesday fended off criticism from mainly opposition members on the Parliament’s Defense and Internal Affairs Committee.

Shadow Internal Affairs Minister Muhammad Kivumbi (DP, Butambala) lifted the lid off the controversial issue saying: “I have been a constant voice advocating for national representation in the UPDF especially in the administration. It is fairly absurd, skewed in one region I want to see whether progress has been made.”

Mr Kivumbi read out names of officials from the Finance department of the Ministry of Defense, saying all but one “come from the same region.”

Irritated by Mr Kivumbi’s claims, Mr Mwesigye said: “I don’t think it is proper for us to look at people through sectarian lenses, these are public servants most of whom are posted by the Ministry of Public Service.”

Lt Col Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Veteran Affairs, said Mr Kivumbi’s statements were incorrect since the region he says benefits is a minority in the ministry.

“It is not fair to read names selectively… even the region they are saying to be a majority is a minority,” retorted the visibly irritated Lt. Col. Rwamirama.

Not done, Obongi County MP Hassan Fungaroo Kaps reinforced Mr Kivumbi’s allegations, warning Committee Chairperson Judith Nabakooba (NRM, Mityana) against “protecting sectarianism.”

“What we raised here is not promoting sectarianism but we are fighting it… madam chair don’t protect sectarianism,” he said.

Ms Nabakooba had warned the MPs against “going personal and promoting sectarianism.”

Chief of Defense Forces Gen David Muhoozi rebuffed Mr Fungaroo’s claims, saying: “I come from West Nile.”

He added that “the leadership is sensitive to regional balance,” by reading out names of commanders he said are sourced from all parts of the country.

Mr Simon Mulongo, a former MP and security analyst, in a telephone interview with the Daily Monitor said “the question of regional balance has been there in the ninth Parliament, we took it up to challenge the establishment and the explanation has been historical.”

He added: “We are not yet there but I think there is an attempt to correct it as you can see in the new structure… I think Kivumbi should make his criticism constructively.”

Mr David Pulkol, a former External Security Organisation chief told Daily Monitor that lack of regional balance in the army is a recipe for disaster.

“The army is not an enterprise of the private sector. This is ethnocentrism which must be resisted,” he said.

UPDF Act amendment

Mr Kivumbi asked ministry officials whether they have any plans to realign the section of the UPDF Act because whenever President Museveni summons the Army Council, he omits Gen Mugisha Muntu (the leader of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change) yet he is number one on the list of council members provided in the Act.

In response, Mr Mwesigye said they have a Bill to amend the UPDF Act to incorporate such issues.

Mr Fungaroo asked whether Gen Muntu ever gets invited to the meetings, to which Mr Mwesigye responded in the affirmative.

Gen Muhoozi later told Daily Monitor that Gen Muntu receives invites because “as far as I know, nobody has stopped Gen Muntu from attending the Army council meetings they send a [military] radio message, it (invitation) is not personal.”

Asked whether Gen Muntu, a retired officer, has equipment to receive the radio message, Lt Col Rwamirama said he (Gen Muntu) is privy because he has an aide but he doesn’t want to attend because of his political inclination, nobody would stop him.

Gen Muntu neither answered nor returned repeated phone calls to his known mobile phones.

He did not respond to several text messages.

Mr Mulongo, however, said Gen Muntu’s attendance of the Army Council meetings will be “a threat to national security because FDC is not just a political opposition, it is opposed to the establishment.”

“It is true that our troops from Somalia have not been getting their allowances from the month of October to March because the AU (African Union) has not paid the allowances. However, their local salaries are going to their accounts.”

Uganda CCM and the Global Fund At Odds Over Funding Request

analysisBy David Garmaise

Proposed program split and stand-alone RSSH component turned down

On 20 March 2017, the deadline for applications in Window 1 of the current funding cycle, the Uganda country coordinating mechanism (CCM) submitted a funding request containing three components: TB/HIV, malaria and RSSH (resilient and sustainable systems for health). The CCM also submitted a proposed program split for its 2017-2019 allocation.

The Global Fund Secretariat turned down the proposed program split. In so doing, the Secretariat effectively told Uganda that it could not use a portion of its allocation for a stand-alone RSSH component. The CCM was unhappy with the position taken by the Secretariat.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at what happened.

The story starts with the announcement in December 2016 that Uganda was allocated $465 million for 2017-2019. In the allocation letter that it sent to the Uganda CCM, the Secretariat said that the $465 million was “for HIV, TB, malaria and building resilient and sustainable systems for health.” In the letter, the Fund provided the following indicative program split:

HIV – $255.6 million

TB – $21.1 million

Malaria – $188.3 million

Total – $465.0 million

The indicative program split did not specify any amount for RSSH. This was not unusual; this is how it works in all countries. While the Global Fund encourages investment in RSSH that will improve treatment and prevention for HIV, TB or malaria, it does not specify a separate amount for RSSH in the indicative program splits. Instead, the Fund encourages countries to use some of the funds shown for HIV, TB and malaria in the indicative program split if they want to finance RSSH activities.

In its allocation letter, the Global Fund said that it “strongly encouraged” a joint application including two or more disease components and RSSH investments. It added, “Should you decide to submit separate disease component applications, we request that all cross-cutting RSSH interventions [be] included in one funding request, ideally the first one…. The funding designated to cross-cutting RSSH interventions does not need to be documented in the program split unless a stand-alone RSSH funding request is planned.”

The allocation letter said, “As part of the principle of country ownership, it is up to the CCM to assess the best use of funds across eligible disease components… . Applicants can either accept the Global Fund program split between components or propose a revised split, which will be reviewed by the Global Fund.”

The Uganda CCM proposed a revised program split that included $21.3 million for a stand-alone RSSH component. To arrive at this amount, the CCM proposed to reduce the TB portion of its indicative program split by $1.3 million and the malaria portion by $20.0 million. This produced the following proposed program split:

HIV – $255.6 million

TB – $19.8 million

Malaria – $168.3 million

RSSH – $21.3 million

Total – $465.0 million

Stand-alone RSSH component

There are currently two principal recipients (PRs) for Uganda’s HIV, TB, malaria and HSS grants: the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) and the AIDS Support Organization (TASO). The CCM secretariat told Aidspan that the CCM proposed adding a third PR to manage the HIV, TB and malaria grants and proposed RSSH initiatives.

According to the CCM, the RSSH component of its funding request contained six modules and related interventions (see Table 1 for details).

Table 1: Modules and interventions included in Uganda’s RSSH funding request

Module

Interventions

Strengthen financial management and oversight

Strengthening the audit function for Global Fund grants in the Office of the Auditor General.

Strengthening internal audit and oversight processes for Global Fund grants in the project management unit of MoFPED.

Supporting an annual physical verification of assets procured through the Global Fund.

Strengthen in-country procurement and supply chain systems

Expanding storage capacity at the national medical stores and at a regional JMS warehouse.

Strengthening the logistics management information systems at health facilities.

Strengthen data systems

Strengthening the capacity of health management information systems (HMIS) to include data for HIV, TB and malaria indicators, and analyzing and using the data.

Expanding, integrating and harmonizing logistic management information systems (LMIS), electronic medical records and the Human Resource Information System with HMIS.

Improving routine HMIS data collection, reporting, analysis and use.

Conducting assessments of health facilities.

Strengthen and align to national strategic plans

Building the capacity of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to do modelling for HIV, TB and malaria programming.

Supporting oversight and monitoring meetings of civil society organizations’ and PLWHIV groups’ SCEs (self-coordinating entities).

Strengthening the capacity for integrated regional performance monitoring and supporting supervision of HIV, TB and malaria activities.

Supporting (a) integrated regional HIV/TB, malaria and sector review meetings; (b) MOH supervision visits to districts and 14 regional referral hospitals; and (c) quarterly supervision and mentoring to health facilities by performance monitoring teams.

Community responses and systems

Strengthening and scaling up community-based mechanisms for ongoing monitoring of health policies, performance and quality of service.

Strengthening community-led advocacy initiatives and developing leadership skills, supporting participation in community, national and international events, and engaging “duty-bearers” for practice and policy reform in HIV, TB, malaria, sexual and gender-based violence, and human rights in 25 districts.

Strengthening coordination between district disease-specific networks to address bottlenecks related to access, care and retention in HIV, TB, malaria and reproductive, maternal and child health services.

Supporting mobilization and institutional capacity building for networks of people living with the diseases and other vulnerable groups.

Program management

Grant management.

PR2 administrative costs for RSSH, HIV/TB and malaria grants.

Rejection of proposed program split

In an email sent to Vinand Nantulya, the chair of the CCM, on 23 March 2017, the fund portfolio manager for Uganda, Dumitru Laticevschi, said, “In the situation when vital TB and Malaria commodities remain un-budgeted, we do not accept (a) the reduction of the TB allocation by US$1,266,115; (b) of the malaria allocation – by US$20,000,000 and (c) the creation of a stand-alone RSSH allocation of US$21,266,115, mainly covering higher-risk activities.”

In a separate letter the same day, Laticevschi elaborated on the Fund’s reasons for rejecting the proposed revised program split. “Our review indicates that mission-critical interventions remain unfunded,” Laticevschi said. “LLINs [long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets] are budgeted at 52% of the need; GeneXpert at 40%.”

Laticevschi said that the $21.3 million that the CCM proposed for the stand-alone RSSH component would fund interventions “which either belong to the disease allocations, or are outside the immediate focus of the portfolio.”

“The RHSS funding request includes alarmingly large budgets for high-risk activities, without evident links to the desired systemic and disease outcomes,” Laticevschi said. “The high administrative costs ($3M), HR ($2.25M) and travel-related costs ($6.7 million) cannot be justified. The value of communications materials (budgeted at $1.88 million) is questionable, and we do not support the dilution of the Global Fund’s focus by the proposed expansion into the private pharmaceutical sector ($1.18M).”

Laticevschi said that “on the basis of the inefficient allocation, we have rejected the proposed disease split [sic]. To enable the progression to the TRP review, we request that before the 31st March 2017, the program split is reversed to the one communicated by the Global Fund on 15 December 2016.” Laticevschi added: “We discourage the stand-alone design of systems strengthening grants.”

Reaction of the CCM secretariat

In an email to CCM members dated 23 March 2017, the CCM secretariat said that with Uganda’s standalone cross-cutting RSSH grant being scrapped, the country was left with a huge gap in funding to cover the PRs’ grant management costs as well as administrative and human resources costs for the cross-cutting interventions, coordination and oversight components.

The CCM secretariat described additional repercussions of not approving a program split that contained funds for a stand-alone RSSH component: “The Global Fund will not invest in strengthening Uganda’s Procurement and Supply Chain Management systems, specifically – strengthening the country’s warehousing and storage capacity.”

The CCM secretariat explained that Uganda’s health system comprises both the public sector and the private sector (which includes the not-for-profit and private for-profit sectors). In the RSSH funding request, $1.2 million had been allocated to strengthening supply chain infrastructure – specifically for the design, construction, installation, equipping and commissioning of a new warehouse for JMS (Joint Medical Stores), which is a private, not-for-profit warehouse.

The CCM secretariat said that the non-public sector PR, TASO, currently stores and distributes all the health and pharmaceutical products it procures with Global Fund grants through JMS warehouses. Despite JMS being a private sector warehouse, it handles, stores and distributes Global Fund-supported commodities procured by TASO and distributes these to various health facilities including not-for-profit (faith-based) health care facilities and hospitals where a significant proportion of Ugandans access healthcare services.

In addition, the CCM secretariat said, in the RSSH funding request, $5.7 million had been allocated to the completion of the national medical stores (NMS) new warehouse. “Scrapping the standalone cross-cutting RSSH grant will mean that the Global Fund will not invest any more funds in strengthening and expanding the country’s current warehousing, storage and distribution capacity.”

Yet, the CCM secretariat said, Uganda’s Global Fund grants are heavily commoditized, with significant funding already allocated to, or invested in, the procurement of essential medicines, health care and pharmaceutical products. “Stopping investments in strengthening warehousing and storage capacity may not be a sustainable approach given Uganda’s commodity-heavy Global Fund grant portfolio,” the CCM secretariat stated.

Revised funding request

An emergency meeting of the Uganda CCM Board was held on 29 March to discuss the situation. At that meeting, the CCM decided that in view of the position taken by the Global Fund, it had no choice but to abandon its plans for submitting a stand-alone RSSH component.

The CCM asked the Global Fund Secretariat for an extension to 6 April 2017 to revise and resubmit its funding request. It was granted an extension to 4 April. This allowed Uganda two days to respond to any items that the Global Fund Secretariat flagged for clarification ahead of the 6 April deadline for forwarding all funding requests to the Technical Review Panel (TRP). The CCM submitted its revised funding request on 4 April.

In its revised request, the CCM took the amount it had budgeted for the stand-alone RSSH component and re-allocated it to the other components, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Re-allocation of Uganda funding request

Redistribution of the $21.3 million previously allocated to the stand-alone RSSH component of the funding request

1.

Malaria component of the funding request

$18.4 m

2.

TB component of the funding request

$2.5 m

3.

HIV component of the funding request

$0.3 m

TOTAL

$21.2 m

Note: Discrepancy in the total due to rounding.

Of the $18.4 million re-allocated to the malaria component of the funding request, $17.6 million was to cover LLINs and related program activities. Of the $2.5 million re-allocated to the TB component, $1.3 million was for GeneXpert equipment, accessories and TB-specific community activities related to finding TB cases; and $1.2 million was for strengthening community responses and systems.

When it submitted the revised funding request to the Global Fund on 4 April, the CCM also submitted a revised program split, as follows:

HIV – $256.0 million

TB – $22.4 million

Malaria – $186.7 million

Total – $465.1 million

This program split was accepted and the funding request has been sent to the TRP.

The CCM has also asked the Government of Uganda to fund RSSH interventions totalling $4.6 million, and it has asked in-country development partners to fund $0.5 million.

Additional feedback from the Global Fund Secretariat

In light of what happened with the Uganda funding request, when we were preparing this article we posed several questions to Seth Faison, the Global Fund’s Director of Communications. Here are three of those questions along with Faison’s responses:

1. Question: Does the Fund encourage countries to create stand-alone cross-cutting RSSH components?

Answer: The Global Fund strongly encourages countries to invest in strengthening systems for health that will improve treatment and prevention of HIV, TB or malaria. We encourage stand-alone RSSH components, if and when they make sense. We oppose setting up separate RSSH components for their own sake. In many situations, it makes more sense to invest in disease programs that include elements of systems strengthening. In all cases, each application for funding has to be compelling, taking into account country context.

2. Question: How can the Fund, on the one hand, encourage countries to divert funds from their HIV, TB and malaria allocations in order to come up with enough money for a stand-alone cross-cutting RSSH component – and then, on the other hand, criticize countries for “weakening” their response to the diseases in the process? Where else can a country come up with money for an RSSH component except by taking it from the HIV, TB and malaria components?

Answer: We do not encourage countries to divert funds from HIV, TB and malaria allocations; we encourage countries to do so only where it makes sense. In this instance in Uganda, the proposed RSSH element did not have a clear link to how the expected systems would benefit the disease component. More important, it would have reduced funding for essential treatment, where essential treatment is urgent and significant. Funding for RSSH should never get in the way of procuring or acquiring indispensable commodities such as ARVs or mosquito nets.

3. Question: Does not at least some of the feedback and guidance provided to Uganda by the Secretariat fall within the purview of the TRP? The way this has evolved, Uganda developed an RSSH funding request with six modules and numerous interventions, but the request won’t ever be reviewed by the TRP.

Answer: The Global Fund Secretariat can and should make basic determinations before a proposal goes to the TRP. In this case, the funding request did not make sense. It was going to be a new initiative funded under a new PR, implying extra administrative costs, while essential treatment would have to be cut.

Editor’s Note: Regarding this last answer from Faison, as noted above, the CCM secretariat clarified to Aidspan that the proposed third PR would manage the HIV, TB and malaria grants as well as the RSSH initiatives.

The letters and emails referred to in this article are on file with the author.

Agri-Exporters to Benefit From Export Growth Fund

Photo: The New Times

Horticulture exports (file photo).

By Emmanuel Ntirenganya

Donatilla Nibagwire acquired a $100,000 (about Rwf80 million) loan from Export Growth Fund in 2016 to further her market penetration. She doubled her export volumes from two tonnes of fruits and vegetables.

Nibagwire exports bananas and eggplants, among other produce, mainly to Belgium, Gabon and India. She has been engaged in the business since 2001.

“The airline that used to charge me $1.6 a kiliogramme has since reduced the charges to $1.25 because the trade volume increased,” she said.

Nibagwire was speaking on Wednesday during a local producers and exporters’ breakfast meeting in Kigali, which intended to find solutions to financial, production and market related issues.

The Export Growth Fund (EGF) was initiated by the Government in November 2015 to help spur the country’s export mainly through supporting small and medium enterprises engaged in exporting local products, which had difficulties accessing financial services.

The Fund was started with Rwf1.5 billion from the Government and, in 2016, KFW, a German development bank, bankrolled the facility with Euro 8.5 million, bringing the total amount in the Fund to about Rwf10 billion.

Farmers and exporters who attended the meeting said that they used to get bank loans at interest rates of between 16 to 20 per cent. But due to the intervention, interest rates now stand at between 10 to 14 per cent, thanks to a 6.5 per cent subsidy.

However, Dr Livingstone Byamungu, the chief investment officer at the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), said there is a low uptake for the facility’s support as only eight projects have been financed at a tune of Rwf1.35 billion.

He said there was little interest to use EGF’s services due to lack of awareness about the facility and how it works.

“We want the agri-business sector to use the money to scale up exports,” Byamungu said, pointing out that the Government will be injecting Rwf1 billion annually into the Fund.

Kinazi Cassava Plant managing director Emile Nsanzabaganwa said EGF can support farmers to solve the issue of lack of raw materials.

The Rwf10 billion plant, which processes cassava for both the local and export markets, has been operating at about 30 per cent of its daily capacity.

How the facility works

The president of the Chamber of Rwanda Farmers at the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Christine Murebwayire, said, thanks to the Fund, farmers will help ensure sustainable produce and market and lessen the country’s import bill.

“As farmers, we have to change our mindset and improve operations. We should use this facility and other government financial opportunities to increase both the quality and quantity of our produce,” she said.

Epimaque Nsanzabaganwa, the horticulture division manager at National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), said they have been negotiating with airlines such as RwandAir and KLM to reduce transport charges for agro-exports.

EGF is designed as a single facility with three separate interventions.

The first is an investment catalyst fund which provides a 6.5 per cent subsidy on the interest rate of loans targeted toward private sector investments in export oriented production.

The loan currently does not exceed Rw900 million, according to Byamungu, who revealed that the government wants to go beyond such limits to further support exporters.

The second support is a matching grant for market entry or penetration related costs. This grant covers 50 per cent of the cost of the exporter’s needed promotional activities for their product and does not go beyond $100,000. The beneficiary should prove that they covered the required 50 per cent before being given such a facility.

The third assistance is an Export Guarantee Facility, which provides transaction-related guarantees to commercial banks to secure export finance transactions up to 80 per cent of the value.

This facility is intended to help an exporter carry on their business when they have not yet been paid for their products. The beneficiary has to settle the dues after being paid for their exported commodities. The facility is valid for nine months.

Byamungu said that about three weeks ago, BRD signed a memorandum of understanding with Bank of Kigali and BPR to offer financial services under EGF, adding that it seeks to work with more banks.

Rwanda’s agricultural exports generated $272.46 million in the Financial Year 2014/15 up from $217.62 million in 2013/14, according to NAEB’s 2015 report.

Featured Links

    Search Archive

    Search by Date
    Search by Category
    Search with Google
    Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes