The United Nations (UN) plans to shift its base from Entebbe, Uganda to Nairobi), Kenya may have temporally been put on hold after Ugandans protested the move, but sooner than later the Regional Services Centre will permanently relocate to East Africa’s largest economy.
Business Focus has exclusively established that UN will terminate contracts of about 250 staff at its base in Entebbe in a move aimed at quitting Uganda in a phased manner.
“Out of the 420 staff [currently at the UN base Entebbe], we are terminating contracts of 250 staff by June30, 2018,” a source privy to the ongoing discussions told this site.
This means only 170 will retain jobs at the Entebbe base, a move that will significantly affect the economy of the Entebbe municipality in particular and the country at large.
The source added that ‘lies’ being ‘sold’ by politicians protesting against the move will not work because the Kenyan government has already received approval from UN to advertise the jobs come June1, 2018.
“Ugandans are however encouraged to apply for these jobs,” the source added.
UN is quitting Uganda after 18 years because of Kenya’s competitive advantage.
“The UN decided to move to Nairobi because we (Uganda) have no hospitals and schools to sustain 600 international staff and families,” the source said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a May 1 report to UN’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) proposed the relocation of Entebbe base to Nairobi, Hungarian capital, Budapest, and Mexico City.
He noted: “The location assessment proposal is contingent on host country consultations…this combination of locations (Budapest, Mexico City, and Nairobi) would provide time zone and regional coverage, ensuring a strong business continuity…”
ACABQ is a 16-member committee of experts elected by UN General Assembly whose members, in theory, serve as individuals rather than respective country representatives and its decisions are not final. Of the three cities, Nairobi was the favourite to host the UN base.
This saw Uganda run into panic mode.
President Yoweri Museveni wrote to the UN boss Guterres, formally tabling Uganda’s displeasure and protest over his recommendation to drop Entebbe as a UN regional service centre.
In the letter, the President noted as “unfair” a decision to pick Nairobi over Entebbe to host the world body’s regional service centre in Africa even when Uganda and Kenya are “friendly neighbours”.
The Ugandan Parliament in a sign of solidarity joined the executive in opposing the relocation of the UN base from Entebbe to Nairobi, urging the Kenyan government not to betray the good neighbour.
MPs argued that Uganda is the largest contributor of troops to the UN-supported African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa.
The pressure and unprecedented ‘noise’ from Uganda saw UN reconsider its earlier plans.
However, as it stands, this might be temporally as signs show that UN is determined to relocate to Kenya permanently.
Responding to President Museveni’s April28 letter, Guterres in a letter dated May8 says the UN’s Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE) will stay in Entebbe but it will be affected in future.
“Although some of the administrative transactional functions of the RSCE would be affected over time by the proposal, its other regional services- regional information and communication technology services, training and conference management and transport and movement control in the region, as well as the Regional Signals Academy, a prominent imitative of the United Nations-will carry on and could, in fact expand,” the letter obtained by Business Focus reads in part.
It adds: “There has also been a significant transfer to Entebbe of training from the Global Service Centre in Burindisi, Italy, as well as peacekeeping workshops and seminars held previously at United Nations Headquarters, which also ensures that short-term visitors (both civilian and uniformed personnel) would regularly stay there.
In the coming years, I foresee that Entebbe will specialize and grow in these important areas of work for the United Nations.”
He says the affected Ugandan employees will be employed in ‘future shared services.”
In another document titled ‘Review of the efficiency of the administrative and
financial functioning of the United Nations’, UN says “the global service delivery model will begin implementation in early 2019 with implementation in a phased and sequential manner throughout 2019 ramping up operations to absorb clients incrementally. Due to the size and complexity of peacekeeping operations, any transition required that would affect peacekeeping service delivery will occur in the second half of 2019. Due to the size of the Nairobi centre, this centre will be established in two phases.”
The move to Kenya from Uganda will save UN $10.3 million in five years.