Month: March 2010

Ugandan Rumbles Onwards

Uganda is on the come up. The progress that has been made has been substantial, especially in the Health and energy sector.  The country is getting tough with Oil companies that might damage long term growth in Oil exploration.

The government of Uganda has threatened to throw out rivaling oil companies in the country if their disagreements threaten the exploration of oil in the country…….

The oil resources in Uganda and indeed all other mineral resources belong to the people of Uganda, and government as the custodian of these resources has a duty to ensure that they are harnessed and developed for the benefit of its people”, the minister said.

“If the two companies disagreed, it will not have an impact on the government. If they squabble among themselves, or quarrel, I will not hesitate to invoke their license in the oil exploration. If they become a nuisance or involved in courts, I will throw them out. We cannot allow the delay in the oil exploration”, he said.

He added that “we cannot allow a monopoly situation by one company in the Albnertine Graben.

A trade show recently opened between it and Sudan.

The first ever trade show exhibition involving traders, businessmen and industrialists from Uganda and southren Sudan is to be held starting on Wednseday in the southern Sudan capital of Juba.

The two day trade show, according to south Sudan trade ministry official, Albert Lukudu, is an outcome of improved trade ties between the two countries and better business infrastructure in southern Sudan.

The pilot exhibition is for businessmen from both countries to link up and resolve business challenges.

Addressing the press in Juba, the Acting Consul General of Uganda, Habib Migadde said, “This is the first time a joint exhibition involving businessmen from Uganda and southern Sudan is taking place. That is good for the two countries. It is an ideal way for business professionals to discuss and find solutions in business registration and taxation issues.”

Migadde added that the exhibition is a way to deal with price fluctuations and to cut out the middle man.

This could ease tensions in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan.  Not only that, the East Africa region is enjoying traded like never before.

Nations of eastern and southern Africa have been working for most of this decade to build an alliance to strengthen their position as an economic and trading force. They recognize that good governance and consistent policies throughout their region will create a better atmosphere for business and trade. An improved business climate will provide their people greater opportunities for jobs and prosperity.

Neighboring nations of the world are teaming up in regional trade groups, improving access to regional markets, and strengthening their economic integration. By committing the partners to clear and enforceable rules, these organizations promote transparency and good governance. The trend is marked by a string of acronyms stretching across the globe—APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement; and, of course, the world’s most advanced regional market, decades in the making, the EU, the European Union.

Now, here comes COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

COMESA has 19 member countries: Burundi, Comoros, Congo Democratic Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Fourteen of these states are already in a free trade area.

Trade development among our member nations is the cornerstone of our agenda, and we have pursued a variety of steps to liberalize and facilitate trade throughout our region in a process that economists call “integration.” We also have a vision for our relationship to lead to a common market and achieve monetary union, following the same course as the Europeans.

The COMESA Free Trade Area [FTA] gives us a type of trade bloc in which our countries have agreed to eliminate tariffs and quotas when we trade among ourselves. The next step for us in this process of economic integration will be to form a “customs union,” whereby we retain our free trade arrangements but also adopt a common policy for an external tariff imposed on goods imported from nonmember nations.

Trade in the region will improve for example

today goods being imported from Japan to Rwanda pass under the eyes of border officials at multiple points—as they are off-loaded from a ship at Mombasa, Kenya; when they pass overland from Kenya into Uganda; then again, as they pass the national border into neighboring Rwanda. They receive a final inspection from officials in Kigali. Under the Customs Union, the goods will simply be inspected and cleared only once in Mombasa. We believe reduced inspections for goods will benefit both business and the consumer, streamlining trade, reducing costs, and eliminating opportunities for corruption that can arise at each inspection point.

With a regional population of 400 million and a gross domestic product of almost US $420 billion, ours is an attractive region for investment and trade in this globalized world.

The 2009 economic crisis did not affect the country.

In his first address to a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly in Kampala Tuesday, President Museveni noted that the Ugandan economy had earned over 1.6 billion dollars from regional trade during the last financial year…………The widening cross border trade between Uganda, Southern Sudan, Eastern Congo, and Central African Republic had great benefits for the Ugandan economy Even during the recent economic crisis did not affect Uganda very much because of the regional trade,” said the Ugandan President.

Mr. Museveni has reaffirmed the need to lower cost of production and doing business in order to lure more investors to the East African Region. He said there is need to pay attention to development of physical infrastructure like roads, railways and improvements in electricity power generation.

More on President Museveni talking about trade and what the region needs.

Bookmark and Share

Morroco weathers 2009 Economic crisis?

Did Morocco weather the 2009 Economic crisis? Recent reporting suggests so.

Figures released recently by DEPF confirm the suspicions of observers of the Moroccan economy. Could it be that the country did not succumb to the crisis because it steered clear of the excessive financialization of its economy: A fundamental misstep that Western economies, particularly the U.S., paid heavily for? It could also be because the 2009 harvest was particularly good.

In fact, Morocco experienced a significant economic growth, driven by domestic demand, in the past year

The country’s construction industry showed a remarkable resistance to the crisis that hit the international real estate and construction sectors. Construction work continued unperturbed, and in comparison with 2008 cement prices rose by 3.4% at the end of 2009.

The reconstruction of one of the major roads in Casablanca, La Corniche, now completed, saw land reclamation from the sea as well as several other major construction works which are expected to significantly reshape the landscape and expand its hosting capacity.

Several causes identified

According to a Moroccan analyst, several factors explain the country’s economic success.

The primary cause is especially credited to a strong domestic demand, stemming from the rise of rural household income (evidence of a good 2009 agricultural season), an increase in consumer credits (the opposite of the trend observed in Europe, at the time, despite its more experienced banking sector) as well as the strengthening of the overall purchasing power by virtue of a general income tax reduction and salary increments.

The Moroccan government also got involved in the development of the business sector with a double digit spending increase in the state investment budget, without attracting any significant deficit in 2009.

A more resistant economy

Thus, the growth of the Moroccan economy appears to be healthy and solid despite a sluggish global economy.

Morocco is well poised to take full advantage of the global recovery, if it occurs, in 2010. More so because the export industry will enjoy an upward trend as it is confronted with a dynamic domestic demand.

Bookmark and Share

Government accountability and Transperacy in Kenya

A Facebook update in Kenya.

A Facebook account has been set up for Kenyans to report pharmacists who give them fake drugs.

The site will provide a forum for those with complaints about sub-standard and counterfeit drugs in the Kenyan market to alert the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

The move is part of an ambitious campaign by the board to regulate the industry and protect the public.

Consumers can report adverse drug reactions, counterfeit products, and unregistered practitioners through the social networking site.

The initiative is part of the board’s service charter launch activities and the 90-day Rapid Results Initiative unveiled on Monday by Medical Services permanent secretary James ole Kiyiapi.

Prof Kiyiapi said the move would help bring about attitude change, especially among consumers.

“An effective awareness campaign among all stakeholders at the initial stage is essential to overcome scepticism,” Prof Kiyiapi said.

A fortnight ago during the Pan Africa Media Conference, President Kibaki welcomed the use of new media in government, a trend the board seems to have taken up.

President Kibaki also proposed the use of new media to fight vices such as corruption and nepotism as well as addressing environmental challenges.

Bookmark and Share

Going green in Ghana


California-based Calfee Design has been manufacturing and selling its own bamboo bikes from its California studios since 2005, but a trip to Africa inspired founder Craig Calfee to promote the concept in Africa.

“I’d been going to Africa for years since the early ’80s, and what people really want and need over there is jobs, it’s not handouts,” – Calfee.

In 2008, through an initiative called Bamboosero, Calfee set up two bike-building groups in Ghana—one in the capital, Accra, and one in Abompe. Both groups now build frames for several bike designs using locally sourced bamboo; they then ship those frames back to Calfee’s shop, where the US team adds wheels and hardware before sending them on to distributors.

One particular bicycle Calfee hopes will catch on in a big way is the cargo bike. Stretched long and with an extended rear integrated rack and a bamboo reinforced rear wheel, it’s capable of hauling up to 420 pounds on its back end.

The Ghanaian entrepreneurs earn about USD 150 for every frame they build, while the finished bikes are sold in United States for about USD 950 each.

As of December, Calfee has sold 28 Bamboosero bikes and sent six back to Ghana, where they’re ridden by locals and tourists. Calfee, in true bicycle salesman form, says that the best way to get more people building and riding bamboo bikes in Africa is to buy a Bamboosero bike in America.


Bookmark and Share

Uganda in the spotlight

The New Times has some interesting and insightful reporting of Uganda’s embrace of the American Culture war.

Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.

More interviews from four different points of views on individuals affected by the growing rapid social changes in Uganda.

Bookmark and Share