Museveni Encourages ‘Everyone’ To Engage In Income Generating Activities

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has encouraged all the country’s citizens to wngage in activities that bring an extra income.

Museveni made the call on Sunday while addressing residents of Usuk county in Katakwi district.

Below is his statement

Was in Usuk County of Katakwi District where I presided over two functions. I thank the people of Katakwi for the warm reception.

First, I joined families of the 38 people who were killed by Karimojong cattle rustlers in Ngariam at the height of that vice in the early 2000s.

These were innocent people that died while their elected leaders at the time were busy opposing the NRM’s efforts to disarm the aggressors.

At a separate function, I attended mass in remembrance of George William Apel, a hero of our time who went over and beyond in his call of duty, paying with his life in the end.

This is an example that should be emulated. I am glad that his daughter, Hon Jessica Alupo, has kept her father’s legacy alive.

The bottom line though is that we have triumphed in the ultimate cause. We have kicked out insecurity in Uganda, and those that opposed us are alive to bear witness.

Our concern now is how to improve household income, and not waste time on diversionary issues. I encourage everyone to be involved in an activity that brings an extra income to the household.

Museveni Commissions East Africa’s Largest Solar Park

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has commissioned the mega Solar Power Park in Kabulasoke, Gomba district.

It is the largest solar power plant in East and Central Africa.

The Kabulasoke PilotSolarPower Park at 20MW is the first of five solar power projects of Xsabo Group in various parts of Uganda for a total capacity of 150MW and a total investment volume of USD 200million abt Shs747billion.

It is owned by a Ugandan based in German, Dr. David Alobo who responded to Museveni’s call for patriotism and invested home through his company Xsabo Group. This project alone cost US$24.5million ant Shs 91.4nn.

He intends to invest in four more at a cost of US$200million.

FULL SPEECH: Finance Minister Kasaija Reveals Gov’t Plans To Reduce Shs41.Tn Debt

Uganda’s Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, has refuted media reports that the country could lose property if it fails to service the public debt that now stands at a whopping Shs41.Tn.

Kasaija made the statements on Tuesday following local media reports that the government is poised to lose property over the huge debt. This came after the Auditor General presented a report to the Speaker of Parliament last week.

” I would like to correct this information to indicate that government borrowing is controlled and guided by the Public Debt Management Framework (PDMF-2013),” Kasaija said.

Below is the full speech

PRESS RELEASE – PUBLIC DEBT OF UGANDA

  1. The Saturday Monitor Newspaper of 5th January 2019 included an article on Uganda’s public debt, captioned “Uganda’s Public Debt Worrying Auditor General”. The Sunday Red Pepper dated 6th January 2019 presented an article with a similar message, captioned “Uganda to Lose Property over UGX 41.51 Trillion Debt”. The two newspapers based their messages on the Auditor General’s report that was presented to the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament on Friday 4th January 2019.
  • While the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will formally respond to the report once it has been presented to Parliament, I want to take this opportunity to reply to some of the issues as follows:
  • Uncontrolled borrowing: The two newspapers stated that the uncontrolled borrowing of the Government of Uganda will increase Uganda’s debt burden. I would like to correct this information to indicate that government borrowing is controlled and guided by the Public Debt Management Framework (PDMF-2013) whose objectives are:
  • Meet Government financing requirements at the minimum cost, subject to a prudent degree of risk;
  • Ensure that the level of public debt remains sustainable, over the medium-term and long-term horizon while being mindful of the future generations, and;
  • Promote the development of the domestic financial markets.
  • Cost effectiveness: The Government of Uganda aims to finance its activities and projects in the most cost effective manner. Multilateral creditors, like the World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) have provided the largest part of Government’s financing with the most favorable financing terms. In FY 2017/18, multilateral creditors accounted for 68% of total outstanding debt while Bilateral creditors accounted for 31% and commercial banks only accounted for 1% of the external debt stock.  
  • Public debt position:
  • As at end June 2018, Uganda’s total public debt stock (domestic and external) amounted to USD 10.7 billion, equivalent to UGX 41,326.1 billion.
  1. Out of this, external debt disbursed and outstanding accounted for 67.2% (USD 7.2 billion or UGX 27,939.9 billion) while domestic debt contributed 32.4% to total financing (USD 3.5 billion or UGX 13,386.2 billion).
  1. The Net Present Value (PV) of Public Debt to GDP increased to 30.8% in June 2018 from 27.4% as at the end of June 2017.  However, in Nominal Value Debt to GDP as at the end of June 2018 was 41.5% compared to 37.3% at the end of June 2017.

*The Net Present Value (NPV) of a loan is the sum of all future debt service obligations (principal plus interest) on existing debt, discounted at the market interest rate while, the Nominal Value of a loan equals the loan amount borrowed.  

  • I want to inform the country through you the media that Uganda’s Public debt has been provided largely by multilateral creditors who offer concessional terms that include a grant element of more than 50% with an average maturity of over 35 years and a grace period not less than 6 years coupled with relatively low interest rates below 1.5% annually.
  • Bilateral creditors on the other hand are dominated by China Exim Bank and Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) who are the biggest lenders. The bilateral creditors offer preferential terms with grant element that range between 20% and above 35%.
  • Debt Sustainability: Uganda’s debt remains sustainable with nominal debt to GDP of 41.5% which is consistent with the findings in the Auditor General’s report. This performance includes the financing of the flagship projects like the power generation plants at Isimba & Karuma, the development of Kabaale International Airport and the construction of Entebbe Express High Way, among others.
  • The Government will continue to be cautious on taking on new projects after the implementation of the above mentioned flagship projects. To ensure debt sustainability, the Government is implementing the following strategies:-
  1. Prioritizing borrowing for mainly infrastructure projects to address current infrastructure gap (Transport, Energy, Industrial Infrastructure and Water for Production).
  2. Continue to invest in export-oriented areas to boost exports in order to increase foreign exchange inflows and also enable servicing of external debt. It is therefore pleasing to announce that we are already reaping the dividends of this interventions, as a result, Uganda recorded a positive trade surplus in the region of USD 471 Million for the fiscal year 2017/18.
  3. Ensure improved loan absorption by strictly adhering to the loan approval processes i.e. project preparation, negotiation and approval.
  4.  Taking selective and strategic financing options to minimize financing risks with preference given to concessional financing, and commercial borrowing with low interest rates.
  5. Enhancing domestic revenue efforts. Government starting next financial year will start implementing the new comprehensive Domestic Revenue Mobilization Strategy (DRMS), which aims to raise the revenue to GDP ratio to at least 16% in the next 5 years. This increase in domestic revenue will provide Government with the additional resources for financing development projects and service its debt obligations annually.

Furthermore, the development agenda will be guided by high National priorities with expected high economic return as identified in National Development Plan.

  1. Domestic Debt: Government borrows from the domestic market to partially finance the fiscal deficit.  The current share of domestic debt to total public debt is 32.4% equivalent to 13.3% of GDP.
  1. Selected sector economic achievements from External debt
  1. Energy: Investments in Karuma and Isimba Hydro power projects will enhance the current power generation capacity by an additional 783MW to the national grid in the next two years on completion of the 600MW Karuma and 183 MW Isimba power projects;

In addition, investments in Rural Electrification have increased the access by households to 22% in 2017 compared to 11% in 2011. This power investment will support our industrialization and Small and Medium Enterprises growth country wide.

  1. Roads: The investments in highways and general road network is meant to contribute towards accessing production areas and boost economic activities countrywide. The benefits are   in the areas of Trade, Agriculture, Tourism and Time saved especially after completion of the express highways and bridges across the Country. Currently 5,350Km have been paved by end FY 2017/18 and Government is continuing to expand on the paved roads network and a number of roads are under construction. 
  1. Health: Government has continued to invest in the development of health infrastructure. Examples include; the Mulago National Referral Hospital extensive re-construction and equipping. This Project also included construction of a new 320 bed Specialized Maternal and Neo-natal Health Care which is complete. The construction and equipping of Kawempe and Kiruddu Hospitals was completed. The Cancer Institute has been reconstructed and re-equipped and is also fully functional. Through some of these loans, the following has been achieved in the health sector; Decline in infant mortality rate to 43 per 1000 from 56 per 1000 live births in 2011 among other achievements.
  1. Education: Infrastructure in Education has been and continues to be a priority for Government. There have been a number of secondary schools and National Teachers colleges that have been rehabilitated. Over 650 schools across the country have been constructed in a bid to expand infrastructure in Government USE schools to accommodate the rapidly growing numbers of students and house teachers in especially hard-to-reach areas. Skilling Uganda program that has also boosted the Business Technical Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) part of the sector for example five technical colleges (UTC Elgon, in Mbale; UTC Kyema; UTC Bushenyi; and UTC Kichwamba to nationally harmonized & internationally comparable level. Government also embarked on rehabilitation of the universities under the Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) project.
  • Municipal Infrastructure Development: The Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) program aimed at enhancing institutional performance and improvement of urban service delivery in the 14 Municipal Local Governments of Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Entebbe, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal and Hoima.

In a nutshell therefore, Government borrowing is sustainable and directed at infrastructure investments which have contributed to sustained growth rates of the economy having achieved 6.1% in FY2017/18 up from about 4% in the previous year and is set to continue in this trajectory over the medium term. The expansion of the economy leads to increased capacity to collect more revenue which improves the country’s ability to service its debt.

  1. Measures to address absorption challenges

In order to address the absorption challenges, the following measures have been put in place:

  1. Government is ensuring strict adherence to the project investment management system (PIMS) process by financing projects that have fulfilled the PIMS requirements. 
  1. Ensuring adequate provision of counterpart funding for respective votes specifically to address compensation requirements and Project Affected Persons (PAP) to acquire the right of way.
  1. Providing capacity development for Ministries, Departments and government Agencies s’ in project development and contract management which is ongoing.
  1. Regular review of the Public Investment Plans to identify projects that have ended and create fiscal space from within the budget for financing new projects.

The above measures have been effective and as a result there has been improvement in the absorption rate from 40% in FY 2014/15 to 76% in FY 2017/18 respectively. These improvements will continue even as we build our capacity in all aspects of project management cycle.

  1. Conclusion

I would like to assure the Country at large, that our debt is sustainable, and is projected to remain sustainable in the medium to long term. The debt levels are comfortably below the international sustainability thresholds (e.g below 50% debt to GDP ratio) beyond which debt starts getting unsustainable, and are significantly below the sub-Saharan average (45.4% debt to GDP).

We therefore compare very favorably with peer countries, because most of our debt has been contracted on concessional terms, unlike other countries in the continent who have contracted a lot of commercial debt like Eurobonds. Moreover, with the investments that our debt is financing, the capacity of our economy to service its debt obligations will significantly increase. In addition, the increase in revenue arising from implementation of the new Domestic Revenue Mobilization Strategy will reduce the country’s borrowing requirements in the future.

In addition, all debt payments are programmed and prioritized to ensure that debt is paid as and when it falls due. The risk for government defaulting on debt repayment is nonexistent in our budgeting cycle and should not be of concern to anyone.

Government will however continue borrowing cautiously and selectively for infrastructure development with intention to grow the economy which in turn boosts domestic revenues, promote exports to earn foreign exchange which we use to service our external debt thus enhancing our capacity for debt sustainability.

MINISTER OF FINANCE PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

January 2019

Gender Ministry Refutes Shs5m Benefits For Ex-workers

Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has refuted social media reports that former civil servants are set to receive cash benefits from the ministry.

This rebuttal was made on Tuesday after news spread on social media that former workers from 1962 to 2018 stood to benefit from the program.

Below is the full statement from the ministry

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has learnt of a false social media message circulating purportedly calling on employees who worked between 1962 and 2018 to check if they are on a list of former employees who are supposed to receive benefits worth UGX 5,000,000 (Five million shillings).

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development disassociates itself from this scam.

The perpetrators of the message are advising unsuspecting former employees to log onto a website, https://mobiltechnics.com/ug-go, to check if their names appear on a sham list of employees who allegedly qualify to claim the money from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development would like to categorically state that no such scheme exists in its social protection agenda arrangement, and wholesomely disassociate ourselves from the message circulating.
We are treating the message as a scheme of internet fraud.

Members of the public are therefore advised to disregard the schemers and caution against logging into this portal as the creator’s motives are unknown.

Any former employees with queries regarding their benefits are advised to follow the standard stipulated procedures related to pension schemes.

Avoid falling prey to phony schemes such as this ongoing internet scam.

For further enquiries:
Tel: 0414 343572
Email: ps@mglsd.go.ug

UBA Launches ‘Each One Teach One’ Initiative

UBA Uganda last week through the UBA Foundation, the arm of the bank charged with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) launched the ‘Each One Teach One’ Initiative designed to benefit  youths in Africa.

The purpose of the Each One Teach One Initiative is to create opportunities where UBA staff across the continent voluntarily commit their time to their communities, teaching youths various skills such as cooking, agriculture, foreign languages, photography, fashion design, music, reading, writing and much more, to empower youths with knowledge, which in future will facilitate their financial independence and support entrepreneurial development.

To unveil the initiative, Friday 23rd November was declared UBA Community Service Day

United Bank for Africa (UBA) is one of Africa’s leading financial institutions, with operations in 20 countries and 3 global financial centers: London, Paris and New York. UBA has evolved into a Pan-African, provider of banking and related financial services through diverse channels globally.

To unveil the initiative, Friday 23rd November was declared UBA Community Service Day, group wide. In Uganda, the team launched the project at Bugema Adventist Secondary School.

UBA officials hand over items to students during the launch

UBA staff donated literature books, agricultural material, planted trees and trained students on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.  The ‘Each One Teach One’ initiative will be rolled out out across the country in areas of operation.

“We believe the youth are the future of this country and the education they receive does not single-handedly prepare them to succeed in the future. Through the UBA foundation and the ‘Each One Teach One Initiative,’ we hope to give the youth a head start by equipping them with the necessary skills to succeed,” commented Johnson Agoreyo, the UBA Uganda Managing Director and CEO.

UBA staff donated literature books, agricultural material, planted trees and trained students on financial literacy and entrepreneurship

UBA Foundation through its four major areas of focus – education, environment, economic empowerment and special projects will continue to positively impact the lives of Uganda youths and communities.

United Bank for Africa Uganda represents UBA’s pioneer country activities in the East and Southern African sub-region. With a growing network of branches and ATMs across the country, the bank continues to expand the retail and commercial playing field in Uganda by delivering unique financial products and solutions.

Minister Tumwebaze Launches Online Journalists’ Umbrella Body INDOJA-U

Uganda’s Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze on Thursday morning launched the Independent Online Journalists’ Association Uganda (INDOJA-U) at Hotel Africana in the capital, Kampala.

While addressing the audience of mainly online journalists, traditional media, Chief Executive Officers and Public Relations Managers, Tumwebaze asked members of the fourth estate not to fall for schemes by politicians who use the media to revive their political relevance.

“Members of the press should not be used by politicians in their intrigue wars and infighting. You should rise above that level,” Tumwebaze urged.

He also encouraged the association to ensure they feed their readers with quality and verified information.

“Today, there’s nobody with a monopoly of gate keeping. There’s nothing like an Exclusive story anymore. For you to be relevant, you must show the difference between general publishing and quality assured content on your platforms,” Tumwebaze said.

The Minister promised to ensure that the PPDA Act is amended to include online media as a an advertising channel for government.

UCC ED, Godfrey Mutabazi addressing the audience

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi warned that the authority shall be keen to make sure compliance with laws is followed strictly.

“Digital transformation has come with emphasis on individual freedoms, however what’s of concern to us is – this freedom should be exercised with regard of other people’s freedoms. The media should be responsible without being forced by law,” Mutabazi said.

He pledged to work with the formed association to professionalize online media in Uganda.

Andrew Irumba, INDOJA’s first President explained why the association was formed.

He noted that  INDOJA-U is an all-inclusive body that brings together all online publishers in Uganda who aspire to run their websites professionally.

“Considering the fact that digital media has lately been largely unregulated resulting into what is largely known as fake news, half-baked stories or inaccurate reporting, we thought it important to form this association so that we can not only self-regulate ourselves, but also lead the way in professionalizing online media in Uganda,” Irumba said

He added that INDOJA-U will ensure that media rights and freedoms of online and traditional media are   respected and upheld as enshrined in the laws of Uganda including the supreme one-the Constitution.

He urged government to seriously consider online media far as sharing the national advertising cake is concerned.

“Almost all government advertising budget is allocated to the traditional media yet the impact of digital media in the socio-economic development of Uganda can’t be underestimated,” he said.

Irumba also asked all other online publishers who are yet to join the association, to come on board “because we are stronger when we are united.”

Business FocusThe Spy, SoftPower NewsSpy Reports, Grapevine, The Investigator are some of the pioneer members of the association that was created in July this year.

Andrew Irumba

Joe Kigozi, the Deputy CEO of Next Media represented Kin Karisa, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) chairman.

He said that online media is a necessary evil, noting that publishers should know that there are rules to the game.  He said NAB will ensure that online publishers up their game.

Minister Tumwebaze (C) is joined by UCC boss Mutabazi and INDOJA-U Executive to officially launch the online umbrella body

 

 

 

Uganda Makes Case To Host Chemical Management Academy

Uganda’s government has asked States party to the Chemical Weapons Convention to consider establishing an academy in Uganda to build local and regional capacity in handling chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related affairs.

This appeal is contained in a statement delivered Friday by Mr. Pius Bigirimana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development at the ongoing fourth special session of the conference of states parties to review the operation of the chemical weapons convention.

The high level conference kicked off on Wednesday and will run until 30th November, 2018, at The Hague, Netherlands.

Bigirimana noted that the academy would be an elevation of the Africa technical support programme through which African countries, including Uganda, are benefiting from the exchange of knowledge, provision of equipment and related technologies.

Uganda has been hosting the regional operational trainings under the Convention, with the latest training having taken place from 24th October – 1st November, 2018 in Jinja.

A total of 36 participants from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda were trained as a pool of experts to conduct downward trainings and first responders to toxic chemical emergencies in the region.

Bigirimana said the programme had continued to infuse the necessary skills and capacity building within the implementation of the Convention.

“My delegation (therefore) requests for support from State Parties in order to realise the idea of the academy and centre of excellence being established in Uganda.” Bigirimana said.

He commended the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, especially the Assistance and Protection Branch, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom for dedicating expert trainers for the East Africa programme.

Uganda ratified the chemical weapons convention in 2001, after which, the Gender Ministry was appointed National Authority for domestication of the convention.

Although Uganda does not possess, produce or have stockpiles of chemical weapons, several of the chemicals used in local industries are a great threat to the population and require skilled handling.

Further in his statement, Bigirimana noted that Uganda attaches great importance to the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention and called upon States that are not yet Party to the Convention to ratify or accede and fully implement its provisions.

“This will guarantee more safety and security on our continent and the world at large.” He said.

He said Uganda is fully committed to its obligations under the Convention and encouraged State Parties to work towards achieving consensus and a successful conclusion of this Fourth Review Conference.

FULL SPEECH: Belgium Envoy Promises More Collaboration With Uganda At Kings Day Do

Belgium’s Ambassador to Uganda and South Sudan, Hugo Verbist has revealed that Uganda stands to benefit from more cooperation with the capital of Europe in the near future.

Ambassador Verbist made the revelation while speaking to guests at the Belgium Kings Day celebrations held at Kampala Serena Hotel last Friday, saying new cooperation areas will be announced soon.

Below is the full speech

Honourable Guest of Honour, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Honourable Attorney-General, Dear religious and cultural leaders, Dear Permanent Secretaries of the various Ministries, Dear UPDF-officials, Dear Colleague-Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic community, including the Ambassador of Uganda to Belgium, Amb. Mirjam Blaak, Dear representatives of the Civil Society and the media, Dear Human Rights Defenders, My dear Belgian community in Uganda, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, And as they say in Uganda: “all protocol observed”, even if the protocol is not observed, but by saying it, you are forgiven. Brace yourself for a speech in 7 famous or less famous quotes.

“Horum omnium fortissimo sunt Belgae”. This is a Latin quote, which is best translated as: “Of all the people, the Belgian are the bravest”. It is a quote from the famous Roman general, politician, writer and finally ‘self-declared emperor for life’, be it short lived, Julius Caesar, more than 2000 years ago.

Indeed, Caesar suffered his greatest military defeat at the hands of the Belgians. True, what he called Belgae and Belgica then is only remotely connected to what we call Belgium and Belgians now. And also true, to the sentence that Belgians are the bravest, Julius Caesar added: “…. because they are the farthest away from civilization”. So it was actually an insult packed into a compliment.

Nevertheless, Belgians have really proven to be the bravest… during the last World Cup. True, we only became third and lost against the French… but we were still the bravest. It is a bit like with fries: everybody calls them French fries, but the very best are Belgian fries, which are fried not once but twice. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Belgian King’s Day reception.

Which brings me to the second quote of the day: “Waar is da feestje? Hier is da feestje!”, a chant from Belgian football supporters: “Where is that party? Here is that party!”. Today, it is the Belgian King’s Day. Reason enough to celebrate of course, but the reception this year is also the official launch of the Belgian Week in Kampala, an annual event, now in its third edition. And it is truly a special edition this year – should we dare to call it a ‘golden’ edition? – because we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Belgian Embassy in Kampala, and these 20 years are embodied by two Ugandans who worked at the Embassy from its very beginning till now, Rosemary Sevume and Henry Wasswa. They will come on stage after the speeches.

Let me give you a quick overview of the various events we have in store this week: Dries Cloet and Bart Denys are two chefs from the Hotel School TerDuinen in Koksijde in Belgium, and they have prepared some of the food tonight hand in hand with the Chefs of Serena.

They were also the driving force behind the Belgian culinary week in the Serena restaurant all week long. Tomorrow is your last chance for a unique Belgian culinary experience at the restaurant. But tonight already, you will be able to enjoy traditional Belgian delicacies such as Belgian fries, Belgian waffles, or chocolate mousse. It will all slide much better into your mouth with a refreshing Leffe Blond or Leffe Brown, just two of the at least 1500 different kind of beers that Belgium has to offer.

In one week, we will end the Belgian week with a big bang, with the concert of the Belgian Indie-rock band the Intergalactic Lovers, featuring Ugandan musician Kas Kasozi. In between today and the concert, we will have a wide variety of events such a Kids Event Tales and Puppet Show, a competition to reward innovative projects of young Ugandans, and our Development Day which will be all about increasing the job opportunities for the Ugandan youth but also about studying in Belgium, with some prominent alumni sharing their experiences. You can find more info about our events on our facebook page, which I strongly recommend you to FOLLOW from now on. I promise you that it will make you a happier person.

With the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Embassy, we are indeed reaching a new milestone in our relationship. We opened our Embassy in November 1998 and if we look back now, the results are quite impressive: Uganda became one of the 14 development partner countries of Belgium worldwide, and actually the 5th most important one, with the emphasis on health and education and an ongoing programme of on average 16 million EUR (or 64 billion UGX a year). We have also further increased our investments in the country as well as the trade between our two countries, both ways.

True, Belgium might not be the biggest actor in Uganda in terms of sheer volume and financing, but our strength is our expertise. Or as an old Malinese saying goes (quote nr. 3), ‘La petitesse du piment n’empêche pas qu’il soit piquant’. Or freely translated, ‘Being small never stopped a pepper from seasoning a whole dish.’ This is why other countries or partners, such as Ireland in Karamoja and the European Union in the refugee settlements in West Nile, are working closely together with ENABEL to implement their skill development programmes there. Also in the health sector, similar forms of collaboration may be announced soon.

You may ask yourself: why on earth do we put so much emphasis on education? It is Nelson Mandela who once said (quote nr. 4): “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” I can only agree.

Education, including vocational education, empowers people. It helps young people to find their place in society, to provide an income for themselves. It gives them the opportunity to give their children a better future, with more opportunities than they had themselves. It gives them a sense of belonging, and most importantly, it gives them hope. Hope for a better tomorrow.

Human capital is indeed the most valuable capital that a country can have, much more than oil, much more than gold. A growing population could therefore be very beneficial for a country, but it is the current speed of the population growth in Uganda that could be a challenge. According to estimates, by 2040, the population of Uganda will have doubled to over 80 million people. Based on current population projections, the total population in schools could double from 10 million back in 2010 to 20 million by 2025.

Between the start and the end of this King’s Day reception today, the Ugandan population will have grown with another 500 babies, which means 500 more than the number of people who have passed away within the same lapse of time. Any progress made economically or in service delivery risks to be made undone with such a fast-paced growth. And as long as 30% of the children in Uganda are stunted, as a recent study of the World Bank showed, one cannot say all is under control.

 

Also from the perspective of women’s rights, women should not have children by chance but by choice. Which brings me to my 5th quote, short but powerful quote: “She decides”. The percentage of teenage pregnancies in Uganda, forcing the girls to stop their education, is still staggering. This is linked to the problem of “gender based violence” which needs to be urgently addressed, not only for the benefit of the women but to the benefit of the society as a whole. Indeed, another World Bank study has estimated that ending child marriage today in Uganda could generate up to 2,7 billion USD in annual benefits by 2030.

Women’s rights, freedom of expression, freedom of press are just some of the fundamental human rights which need to be respected for the betterment of society.

To use a quote which has sometimes been attributed to Voltaire (quote nr. 6): “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Respect for human rights and for the rule of law, and openness and willingness for dialogue are principles which will bring Uganda, and the world as a whole, a long way.

Fostering consensus and acting for peace. That is what Belgium is known for. And that is what Belgium will also stand for as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 2019-2020. We surely hope, during our tenure in the Security Council, to continue to benefit from the strong partnership with Uganda and from its expertise in mediating in volatile situations in the region, be it in Burundi, DRC, Somalia or South Sudan. But not only the region is on fire.

The entire world is going through a difficult time, a time when extremism, populism, nationalism, lack of solidarity and fear for the unknown is rampant. Today, it is Belgium’s King’s day, and Belgians are known for their lack of patriotism. This is wrong, we should be proud of our country, as far as we don’t confuse patriotism with nationalism.

As President Macron of France said last week during the commemorations of the end of World War I (last quite of the evening): “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of it. In saying “our interests first and who cares about the rest”, you wipe out what is most valuable about a nation (…): its moral values.”

Uganda’s response towards refugees is in stark contrast with this wave of selfishness engulfing many countries. Let’s not forget how heartwarmingly unique Uganda’s welcoming approach towards refugees is, and to foreigners in general.

My speech wouldn’t be complete without some words of thank for all those who made this evening, and the entire Belgian week, possible. Thank you for our 4 golden sponsors: thank you Brussels Airlines, Brasserie Le Chateau and Quality Hill Boutique Mall, MTN and the Bank of Africa. Thank you furthermore to our silver sponsors DAS, Nile Safari Lodge, Roofings, SafeBoda, Zetes, Stanbic Bank, Bolloré Transport and Logistics, Nature Lodges, the hotel school Ter Duinen in Koksijde and Serena Hotel as our host. Thank you to our bronze sponsors Chemiphar, KK Security, Pearl Assist and Radiocity 97FM.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my wife and partner for her support and apologize to her for all the sacrifices asked, I hope to make up for it one day, as well as my entire Embassy team for their tireless efforts during the last few weeks. It is truly the most committed, inspired, optimistic, dedicated and frankly workaholic Embassy team I have ever worked with. Thank you.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me finish with a riddle. What is Belgian, blue and very very small? Indeed, a smurf. The Smurfs are not here with us tonight but, just like last year, I would like to warn you that you might see one, two or more of them tonight dancing in front of your eyes after 3 or 4 Leffes. For some it is Blue Smurfs, for others it is pink elephants they will see, it is up to you to find out.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I know raise a toast to the health of the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Belgium’s Tiger Power, UREA Ink Deal To Light Up Kyenjojo Villages

Belgian renewable energy company, Tiger Power has signed an agreement with the Ugandan government to power 3000 rural households and businesses in Kyenjojo, western Uganda.

The deal was inked yesterday at Hotel Africana between Uganda Rural Electrification Agency (UREA) and Tiger Power top bosses, and witnessed by Belgium’s ambassador to Uganda, H.E Hugo Verbist.

Last week, we reported that Tiger Power had received a grant from the Belgium government for this project that is supposed to cost EURO 600, 000.

Currently, three communities lack access to electricity. By mid-2019 this will change. Kyenjojo, Kyaburyezibwa, Mukiti, and Nyamicu are the communities going to benefit from the project.

According to the deal, Tiger Power will bring a number of Sunfolds and Storagers to the trading centers of Kyenjojo. The Sunfold is a fordable PV-array including a lead-crystal battery bank. Tiger Power will assist the REA for a year in training local technicians and maintaining the power plant. Afterwards, the REA will be responsible for operations.

“We are very proud to bring this solar-hydrogen technology to Uganda. When the Sunfold generates insufficient power during cloudy days, the hydrogen generator takes over. Thanks to our technology, the Kyenjojo communities will never experience any black-out”, Jonathan Lambregs, Tiger Power’s Business Development Manager East Africa told PV Magazine.

A Tiger Power official makes a statement at Hotel Africana yesterday.

Hydrogen is the most known element in the world. “We use the surplus of solar electricity during the day to produce hydrogen. The electricity causes an electro-chemical reaction separating H20 (water) into H (hydrogen) and O (oxygen). The hydrogen gas is stored and turned into electricity when needed. In this way we can power the community without the use of a diesel generator. This means completely pollution free electricity.” explains Chris Prengels, CEO of Tiger Power.

“90% of rural Uganda still lacks access to electricity. This is one of the biggest obstacles to alleviating poverty and creating economic development. The mini-grids in Kyenjojo will provide reliable power for all aspects of the communities’ needs, health, education, businesses including the old and the new (miller and the welder). Our experience with other projects in Uganda and Kenya is that this type of solar mini grids will invigorate the communities in many positive ways”, says Professor Bahaj, Head of the Energy and Climate Change Division at the University of Southampton. Prof. Bahaj’s team is embedded in the project from the beginning. The experts will carry out energy needs assessments as well as research on the socio-economic impacts of Tiger Power’s mini-grid projects.

Tiger Power will bring a number of Sunfolds and Storagers to the trading centers of Kyenjojo.

UREA is supporting these projects by building the distribution network to transmit the electricity to households and businesses. “The Ugandan government plans to supply 26% of its rural residents with electrical power by 2022. Currently only 10% have access to electricity in rural communities”, Godfrey Turyahikayo, CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency of Uganda said. “Partners like Tiger Power and the University of Southampton are of great help to realise our objectives”.

The development of these 3 mini-grids accelerates Tiger Power’s mission to build 200 mini-grids across the East African region. The company is well on its way to reach this goal. “We have recently been shortlisted in a tender to build 25 mini-grids in Lamwo, Uganda. In Rwanda, Tiger Power plans to develop 30 mini-grids of which the first two will be commissioned in 2019. These projects will allow us to open up a workshop to provide jobs to Ugandans. Being able to contribute to the Ugandan economy makes us proud”, says Jonathan Lambregs, Tiger Power’s Business Development Manager East Africa.

This world first project is supported by the Belgian government agency Finexpo. “We are glad to supports Tiger Power in exporting their solar and hydrogen solution to Uganda. This will help them to extent their business and provide needed jobs and development in Uganda”, says Joeri Colson, Attaché at Finexpo.

Ambassador Verbist making remarks during the opening of the Belgian Development Day. He emphasized absolute priority of investing in human capital for the development of a country.

Tiger Power is currently shortlisted for a tender to develop and to operate 25 mini-grids in Northern Uganda. With the Kyenjojo projects implemented and operational, Tiger Power will have proof of concept which helps winning this tender. Such a proof of concept will also allow for further large upscaling and demonstrates to the Ugandan government that Tiger Power is engaged to invest in Uganda.

This news comes as the Belgium Embassy in Uganda celebrates twenty years of existence in the country. Events to celebrate the two decade milestone begun last Thursday and will climax today with a concert featuring Belgian Indie Rock Band Intergalactic Lovers at the Design Hub in the capital Kampala. Uganda’s Kaz Kasozi will also be performing at the concert.

PHOTOS: Pomp, Glamour As Belgium Embassy Celebrates Kings Day

It was a night defined by pomp, glamour and a diplomatic aura as guests gathered at Kampala Serena Hotel last Thursday to celebrate Belgium’s Kings Day.

H.E Hugo Verbist, Belgian Ambassador to Uganda and South-Sudan addressing the guests who attended the event last Thursday 

 

 

Kings Day has been celebrated in Belgium on November 15 since 1866. King Philip is the 7th King of the Belgians, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, following his father’s abdication.

King Philip is the 7th King of the Belgians

 

He is the eldest child of King Albert II, whom he succeeded upon Albert’s abdication for health reasons, and Queen Paola.

Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Uganda’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, was the Ugandan guest of honor

The Embassy of Belgium in Uganda organised the fete as part of the exciting #BelgianWeekUG2018 programme that has been running since the 15th of this month and is slated to end on Wednesday.

DIPLOMATIC PHOTO: L-R; Ambassadors, Stephanie Rivoal (France), Deborah Malac (US), and Henk Jan Bakker of the Netherlands (2nd R) gave the function a fully fledged diplomatic touch with their presence

The Belgian week which celebrates twenty years of the mission in Uganda is held under the theme; Sharing More Than Colors.

Buganda Premier, Charles Peter Mayiga (L) and Dr Elly Karuhanga (C) also graced the Kings Day celebrations

 

Ugandan guest of honour at the reception was Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Uganda’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo (L) put defending government aside in order to mingle with members of the diplomatic corps

Ambassadors, Deborah Malac (US), Stephanie Rivoal (France) and Henk Jan Bakker of the Netherlands were among the envoys who graced the colorful occasion.

There was a lie band that kept the guest entertained during the event

Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro, Charles Peter Mayiga, Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo and Dr Elly Karuhanga, The chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum were also present to celebrate the King’s Day.

Excited guests at the Kings Day fete last Thursday

During the event, the embassy recognised two of the longest serving Ugandan staff members, Rose and Henry, for their years of dedicated work.

Ugandan friends of Belgium indulge in a selfie moment to make sure the night’s memories are well preserved

According to the embassy, it was a truly magical evening, including inspired speeches, a great variety of food and drinks on the menu, as well as a live band keeping invited dignitaries, compatriots and friends of Belgium in Uganda entertained all night long.

Ladies enjoying the night away

Wednesday’s night with will be crowned by a live band featuring Belgian artists and Uganda’s Kaz Kasozi.

 

 

No party is complete without cake. Twenty years of sharing more than colors

All Photos from the Embassy of Belgium Page