Immaterial to spend Ugx500m

The event

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has cancelled the 2018 city festival that had been scheduled for October 5 to 7, 2018.


While addressing journalists at City Hall on 12th September, 2018, Jennifer Musis, the KCCA Executive Director said in a statement that the 2018 city festival is cancelled. “We find it immaterial to spend over Ugx500m on entertainment,” noted Jennifer.

There are priorities that need to be fixed in the city. Drainage, street lighting, health and education are still huge challenges. Thanks to KCCA’s decision to divert the Ugx1.9b collected from partners to use it for the greater good of the greater majority. The money will instead be used for renovating schools under KCCA program.

The money will be used to remove asbestos roofs from six City primary schools; Bat Valley P/S, Katwe Martyrs P/S, Nakivubo Blue P/S, Nakivubo Settlement P/S, Mengo P/S and Kibuli Demonstration P/S.

However, according to insider sources, the festival has been cancelled due to the current security threats in the city. Sources say that KCCA found it easier to have the festival not happen than risk the lives of masses.


With the increasing pressures on government funds and shifting priorities of government, we see the festival being completely scrapped off.

UDB shakes up the Board

Uganda Development Bank has announced a number of changes on its board – notably the appointment Mr Felix Okoboi as the new Board chair and Mr Francis Tumuheirwe as a director.

Mr Felix Okoboi is currently the managing director at CLB Capital. He takes over leadership from Dr Samuel Sejjaaka. Felix Okoboi is also the chairman of the investment committee of Yield Uganda Private Equity Fund, advisor to Board of Directors of NSSF as well as an apex member of Financial Markets Development Committee of Bank of Uganda.

Felix Okoboi brings in vast experience in equity investment and real estate management.

Separately, the bank  named a new director to its Board, Francis Tumuheirwe. Mr Francis Tumuheirwe operates consultancy services in economic management services

At least 19 killed in plane crash in South Sudan

Nineteen people were killed when a small passenger plane crashed into Lake Yirol as it tried to land in thick fog in central South Sudan, reports say. Only four people, including two children, survived the crash, said government official Taban Abel Aguek.

The victims include the pilot and co-pilot, a staff member of the Red Cross and an Anglican bishop, he told AFP.

The aircraft was carrying 23 people from the capital, Juba, to the city of Yirol on Sunday.

“When it arrived the weather was so foggy and when it tried to land it crashed into Lake Yirol adjacent to Yirol town,” Mr Abel Aguek, the regional government minister

Source: BBC news

Is your NGO cyber secure from data theft?

The issue

NGOs are vulnerable to loss of critical information because of hacking. Security looks at confidentiality, integrity and availability of data. Many NGOs think their information is confidential, yet outsiders can easily access it. They think their emails are safe, yet they send plan text emails which are easy to intercept, read, modify and send with potential to cause havoc and loss of key partners. And many NGOs systems like emails, core financial systems are vulnerable to downtime and they never get to know the causes for it.

System downtime, delayed emails and disclosures of secrets are tell-tale signs of security breaches.

Click here to read more

Is your strategic plan organic or artificial

The issue

Many NGOs have research papers which they call strategic plans. If you disagree, get a copy of your ‘strategic plan document’ and open a page which defines clearly your strategy. if you find it, you are one of the very few NGOs and CBOs that are well governed.

Transform your Board today

Strategy is a choice an organization makes on how to win with customers and stakeholders against the competition. Unfortunately, many organizations do not make deliberate choices on how to win. Once they identify community needs, write a proposal that get funding, all they do is to get a document which they label a word “strategic” plan. Such a document is needed so that they can be seen as being well governed. The result is a strategic document that is artificial. All you need to do is to remove the company name and replace with another organization’s and wala, it becomes a strategic plan for the new company.

Invite us to facilitate your strategy sessions

If you research a lot, you have probably come across documents which have vision, mission, goals, objectives, SWOT analysis and the like. However, when you examine how the SWOT links to strategic choices, you cannot see it. The organization has a strategy, but all staff are worried about over reliance on donor funding! What kind of strategy is that?

Read more:

How Insurance Companies can monetize their vast amounts of data

A survey of 15 Ugandan Insurance companies shows that only 26.7% of them have undertaken data analytics trainings and within this percentage, a meagre 3% of staff know how to use their data analytics solutions to make data driven decisions.

Click here to enroll for the next data analytics training

Insurers have lagged behind other industries in their investment in and adoption of analytics. As first movers among insurers create new business models and seek to harness the potential of their data, those that wait will be at a significant competitive disadvantage. The exploding volume of data available to insurance carriers is giving rise to new business models, revenue streams, and enormous opportunities to increase value.

But, most insurance companies do not want to invest in expensive big data solutions, that require a minimum of US$30,000 considering most of them have cost efficient driven business models. However, this cost efficiency comes at a cost. While rival firms are developing solutions using big data architecture, these others lag behind in competition even with the abundance of customer data in their core systems. Because it is useless to have a resource that you do not use…

Read more

Why are Ugandans not making it to CEO?

The domination of Kenya in East Africa’s economy is obvious. A survey carried out by Summit Business reveals that foreign CEOs, especially Kenyans, have completely taken over as CEOs in Uganda’s top sectors especially insurance, banking, and hospitality.

One of the top entrepreneurs reckons Kenya will be the manufacturing hub of East Africa by 2030 due to the said high work ethics and productivity in Kenya compared to other East African countries.  Decisions by BATA and BAT to transfer their manufacturing operations to Kenya validate the prediction.

Other top supermarkets in the country import all and sundry (including mangoes and tomatoes) from Kenya for sale in Uganda, as the country, slowly but surely turns into a supermarket of sorts.

A close look at the stock market reveals a quarter of the players in the country’s growing stockbrokerage industry of funds management, in­vestment advisory and other industry licensees are Kenyans who seem to have a better formula at succeeding in cor­porate Uganda. PineBridge Investments country manager Nicholas Malaki, UAP Financial Services general manager Pat­rick Ndonye, and CfC Stanbic Financial Service’s Consolata Mburu are some of the Kenyans in top positions at Ugandan financial service firms.

And that is not all. Leading insurance companies in Uganda are all headed by Kenyans.

Is it corporate mafia, voodoo or Ugandans are just too lazy to make exceptional chief executives and lead the companies to success?

Lion Assurance, Jubilee Insurance, AIG, ICEA, and several of them all – are headed by our brothers and sisters from across the border. It became so overwhelming that the sector’s regula­tor (Insurance Regulatory Authority) had to make a special policy requiring entrusting locals with top positions as a way of capacity building and knowledge transfer. How can industries, or the economy for that matter, develop if the nationals are not in the game? The new insurance policy restricts foreign experts to two leadership positions only. Other positions must be occupied by locals as a way of ensuring sector growth and ad­dressing the growing concern.

Much as the economy is ‘liberalized’, IRA’s intervention is timely. You cannot do the same things over and over again and expect different results. Insurance in Uganda had almost stagnated. Thanks to the IRA CEO, great strides are being made. New insurance products and policies specific to the local market are coming out, claims turnaround time is reducing and the newly empowered insurance institute is churning out great local talent and the industry is taking new shape.

It had to wait for a law to compel insurance players to contribute to the training fund. Thanks to the lobbying of many local executives specifically Hajji Kaddunabbi Lubega, Geoffrey Kihuguru and Ronald Zake, some of the top local insurance CEOs this country has pro­duced. This is not to say Kenyans have not done a lot to shape the market.

Enter banking and the picture is almost the same. Stanbic bank, the country’s market leader (with more than 20 per cent of the market), is headed by Phillip Odera. Under his able leader­ship, Stanbic has not only maintained the number one place, its assets and profits have consistency outperformed the market. Stanbic bank’s total assets hit Ugx 3.10 trillion last year reflecting 20.46 per cent market share. The bank has kept top on six of the seven key vari­ables used to evaluate the strengths of commercial banks.

Fast growing Equity bank, NIC bank, KCB and several others are all headed by Kenyans. Banks from West Africa have for long been dominated by Nige­rians but this trend is likely to change. Nigerians have failed flat to lead any bank in Uganda to noticeable success. They are said to be turning to Kenyans, as these are said to have a formula for succeeding in the local market. Across the borders, there is no Ugandan CEO in any bank operating in Kenya. In fact, there is no Ugandan CEO in any bank outside of Uganda.

The story does not end here. A visit to any hotel will confirm to you that Ugandans are slowly being pushed out of this fast-growing industry. Kenyans are said to be detail-oriented, experienced, aggressive, and generally bet­ter employees. This means any employer will prefer a Kenyan to their Ugandan counterpart. Whether it is prejudice or not, Ugandans are said to be lazy, reckless and laid back. There is even a rumour that an average Kenyan is so productive that he can do work which would require six Ugandans. Surely! What about the theory of synergy or Kiprotich?

Supermarkets, schools, consulting firms and public relations business have seen proliferation of Kenyan talent as top honchos or key employees. The trend will only continue. Without being anti-Kenyans, we explore the secrets for their success in corporate East Africa.

Business ownership

Kenya has been politically stable for a long time, save for the 2007/08 election violence that derailed the economy slightly. This made it attractive to foreign investment. As Uganda was busy fighting internal wars, Kenya was gaining on the economic front. This positioned it as a top destination for Asia and Africa at large. Many Kenyans of Indian origin run the manufacturing and retail sectors in Kenya.

Political stability meant low ‘political risk’ compared to Uganda. International businesses preferred making long-term investment in Kenya and an occasional short-term stint in

Uganda – ensuring to retire their investment just before the ‘next’ election. And that has been the story since independence.

Now you have all international businesses operat­ing in Uganda with headquarters in Kenya. From Citi bank to AIG, PwC, to marketing firms, Unile­ver to Microsoft or Google, Kenya is the headquar­ters of them all.

The key secret for the success of Kenyans is that they are shareholders in most international compa­nies that register to operate business in Kenya. As shareholders, they have significant influence over how the affairs of the business are run like senior leadership appointments, strategy, capacity build­ing and sustainability. For example, if Google is in Kenya, the CEO or the position below will be held by a Kenyan. That is not the case in Uganda.

Majority, if not all, of international companies in Uganda are owned by Kenyans and Indians. If Microsoft or any of the big four audit firms like KPMG or Deloitte is in Uganda, chances are that Kenyans, not Ugandans, are registered shareholders in the local operations.

Uganda has over liberalized everything so much that there are no limitations on foreign ownership of critical businesses and industries. Many coun­tries make it difficult, if not impossible, for foreign investors to own 100% the business. To operate, a foreign investor must find a local business partner. This empowers locals to participate in decision-making.

And now you will hear someone say Kenyans are exposed and well-trained. It has been deliberate. As owners, they have participated in the budgeting process and influenced companies to provide for capacity building of Kenyan employees. In one of the contract this magazine saw, it was explicit in the MoU: “Xx to train 20 employees in California at Xx headquarters in technical and leadership skills.” That is the level of detail and focus that has empow­ered corporate Kenyans.

As peace returned to Uganda, it was too late to obtain direct connections to international com­panies. Today, 90% of all international businesses in Uganda report to Kenya headquarters. As such, Kenya dictates on the people to recruit as CEOs. Every businessperson will work with people they already know and trust, whether these people are great or not. So, a new international company opening an office in Kampala will have a CEO posted from Kenya who will come along with their colleagues in the top ranks. That is how Kenyans have managed to lead the pack. They take decisions that matter. It is not that Ugandans are lazy, they just don’t own many things, if at all anything!


As we wrote in the May 2013 issue of SBR, “unlike Uganda, Kenya does not have so many people in villages. Uganda often talks about 80% of her population living in the village which is not the case in Kenya. People who stay on ancestral lands like the Red Indians and Aboriginals never develop as they don’t get exposed and pressured to think aloud.”

People living in their ancestral homes have a laid-back attitude. They can easily grab a pawpaw or mangoes from a neighbour in case of no income. That is not the case for people who have been displaced. You must work hard for a living. No free lunch. No neighbours for a free fruit. Ugandans in the diaspora are said to be some of the best executives and employees. They are hardworking, focused and very thorough. They know that only through sweat can food come onto the table and there is no shortcut.

If you have been a former Nkuba Kyeyo, you know what we are talking about. You must keep both a day and night job to eke a living whether in London or New York. That is what unsettling peo­ple does to productivity. Most Kenyans, whether in Kenya or Uganda, are unsettled.

Most Kenyans see a job as the only thing for their survival. They will do anything to hold on a job be­cause it means everything. They will not take it for granted, which is not the case with most Ugandans who will say things like “Akugoba y’akuwa ekkubo’’, meaning whoever terminates you gives you the way [to success].

A story is told of a Kenyan hotel manager, who was dismissed on the account of poor performance and repeated complaints from customers. As he ex­ited the disciplinary hearing, he committed suicide by jumping off the 10th floor of the hotel complex. He saw no future and livelihood without a job. That is how valuable Kenyans respect their jobs and will do anything to retain them.

Ugandans will find so many reasons to apply for leave – to bury a relative or attend to a sick relative and a plethora of so many reasons for not com­ing to work that productivity is hit. The excuses increase as someone is given more senior responsi­bilities. And they will avoid being held accountable. Unlike Uganda, in Kenya burials are done only on weekends. A Kenyan will not miss going to work because a neighbour died. In Uganda, when an em­ployee loses a relative, an old friend, or neighbour, he will not work for days. And when he returns next day, s/he falls sick. Then another day for at­tending last funeral rites. These acts have a direct impact on productivity.


Most Ugandans are said to be backward and jealous of the success of their colleagues. A Ugandan will not attempt to help a fellow Ugandan close a deal that will make them richer. They will try to fail the deal in the background at any cost. And if someone happens to know your background or family, they will even try to fail you the more. Don’t confuse this with the nepotism of ‘know-who’ as many Ugandans will give opportunities to their blood relatives and close friends.

Kenyans in Uganda, on the other hand, are not jealous of their friends’ success. They are said to keep a database of all Kenyans in Uganda. That team work ensures that they share and give business leads to one another within their network before it gets to anyone else. They know all accountants, entrepreneurs and what they do and dealers. They have a forum once in a while where they meet and share experiences and any upcoming opportunities in their own companies. Before a Ugandan gets to know of the deal, they have already ‘won’ it. That is what business success is all about.

This article first appeared in the Summit Business September, 2013.


Uganda’s tourism sector

The Catholic Church and its management team deserve credit for their latest development initiatives. In what can be called a case of entrepreneur acumen and extending horizons of innovations, the Catholic Church is said to be in talks with Uganda Tourism Board to develop Namugongo shrine into a modern historical centre to tap into the numerous potentials it presents.

Namugongo shrine is of special historical significance to many Christians around the world. Christians love the place and gather to honour the more than 22 brave youthful Ugandans that gave up their lives for their Christian faith. The place is internationally recognized and the “world” converges at Namugongo to honour the Uganda martyrs.

Thousands of devout religious people from as far as America, Australia, Greenland, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda, and Kenya flock to Namugongo every year. For 126 years, the place had almost nothing for tourists to see and nowhere to sleep for the visitors.

Other than roadside food stalls and kiosks, Namugongo shrine has no good places for a decent meal for the visitors. The lack of modern facilities means so many foreign visitors shun travelling there. Those who come spend a small fraction of what they would due to absence of quality facilities. Many others would be willing to spend longer time at the shrines but cut their trip short.

All this is likely to change soon. According to sources, a partnership is being explored which will see the shrine developed with modern facilities including hotels and hostels to accommodate people who come to visit. The roads leading to the shrine are also set to be upgraded and tarmacked.

The development comes at a time when church leaders led by Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga are working to turn Namugongo shrine into a basilica. This, according to plans, will attract more visitors and generate more revenue.

The partnerships also bring on board other stakeholders like Kira town council and Uganda National Roads Authority, which has already taken over the road from Bukerere to Kasangati and soon the road will be given a new face. This will allow easy traffic and connection to Gayaza and Jinja road.

Untapped potential

As they say, it does not matter how many resources you have, if you don’t know how to use them, they still will not be enough. That is the situation Uganda finds herself in. The country has rich natural resources with favourable climate and rich soils for agriculture all year through, but the practices, laws and cultures have discouraged meaningful exploitation of the same. Sites of historical significance have not been identified, gazetted and developed to world-class standards. When tourists travel to Uganda, instead of enjoying the country, they feel pity for the folks who live in it. “I wish they had good roads without potholes… I wish this fresh water lake was in Europe…” In the end, some tourists stay around to exploit the untapped opportunities, than spend to empower the local businessmen. That is why you see unplanned developments. People are trying to make quick kills and go back to enjoy their retirement.

President Museveni was recently quoted as saying: “When you hear these Europeans saying they are gonging to cut aid, we don’t need aid in the first place. Uganda is one of the richest countries on earth.” The president was spot on. Uganda is such a rich country with lots of resources still lying idle and not yet tapped.

There are several religious and historical sites that still lie idle and remain unknown to majority of Ugandans. Uganda is endowed with several very rich tourism sites. From eastern to west, north to south, Uganda’s rich culture is yet to be exploited. This means that the tourists’ travel experience is not excellent. Tourists will prefer a place with several attractions in one place.

The same is echoed by Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board. He says global tourism trends show that travellers are more interested in a more holistic travel experience. When developed, such experience has potential to bring in money and provide employment to tens of thousands of Ugandan graduates who are currently unemployed. Otherwise, Uganda risks being left out of the recently-launched single East African tourist visa.

Low technology adoption

It is 2014, but Uganda is yet to embrace technology in her marketing strategies. For example, the country is yet to develop digital maps and indicate all places of attractions on the maps. The world is now a global village and the fact that the tourists being targeted already use advanced technology, developing these places and having them on digital maps will go a long way in increasing tourism revenue and create much-needed employment. Google and Apple maps have gone a long way in easing directions. However, it is important for government to work with such companies to ensure all places of significant and tourism potential are visibly indicated on such maps. And where possible, they should be given objective reviews.

According to Kelly MacTavish, managing director Pearl of Africa, “Uganda is not selling tourism in the right way. I can promise you if you gave US$5m to the right people, we could triple it just by marketing in North America and a few states in Europe.”

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, has developed historical sites into modern tourism attractions. Ottoman Empire and other sites were gazetted and are now minting money as both local and foreigners want to visit to see for themselves the once largest empire. When a plane is landing in Istanbul, next to the Black sea, what do you see? There are well-developed beaches with modern facilities and it is a case of exploiting what you have.

In Uganda, we have not exploited our resources. It’s a question of developing these resources and money will start flowing.

A fool and his money!

On the contrary, Uganda is the opposite.

What do you see when you visit Kampala? Why have we failed to turn high altitude places like Mutundwe into tourism sites? On top of these places, one can gain a bird’s view of the wonderful Lake Victoria and whole city. The location of Kampala city on several hills is itself a wonder.

Most historical sites including the Queen Mother home are lying idle. Muganzi-waza has been encroached by squatters. What about King’s prison in Kyebando where the Buganda king used to imprison people? The place has been abandoned. Kololo, where British colonists imprisoned Acholi chiefs who had rebelled, too is not developed and promoted as such. The hill overlooking Masaka town was the command post for then Buganda kings who were advancing to take over nearby areas of Koki. When you go there today, no one remembers and there is nothing historical. Yet this is a powerful place to attract both international and local tourism.

In West Nile, there are hot springs that are spectacular. Unfortunately, this place has not been properly and strategically marketed and is not known to Ugandans nor is it on the tourism cachet. In UK, there is a place called Batch with hot springs. It is so popular and attracts both local and foreign tourists.

In western Uganda, we have the same springs in Kitagata, nothing of tourism is there. All you find are naked people bathing from there. This is a true case of a fool and his money. It leads to poverty amidst plenty.

In eastern Uganda, we have place where Bishop Hannington was murdered on orders of the king of Buganda. This place can be turned into a tourists’ site to attract local and international tourists. Unfortunately, when you visit the place today, you will not like what you find there. It is badly run down.

In Kenya, there is a place they call Sweet waters. Of course there are no sweet waters in the actual place. The Kenyans just say there used to be sweet waters there. So many tourists flock the place just to see it. Kenyans know that few, if any, tourists will dare taste the water to find out the taste and by that time, they will have visited and also paid. And that is what touring is all about – fulfilling your curiosity.

Compare this to Uganda’s sites like the one in Sebei, where there are female and male falls! These falls are a potential tourism attraction magnet. All you need to say is “where humanity begins…”

Uganda Tourism Board has the mandate to identify, gazette and develop Uganda’s potential tourism sites into income-generating ones. We hope the new CEO will bring in much-needed change. It is all about good leadership and knowing what to do. Let’s not keep blaming the budget. Let’s focus on using what is available to move ahead in small steps.

Kenya, endowed with beaches, has developed them by establishing modern facilities and today, these beaches generate more than 60 per cent of tourism revenue. They have also developed historical towns.

Kampala is one of the few cities in the world which you visit and find nothing of historical significance. There is a lot of firefighting and poor execution of mandate.

At Entebbe airport, visitors are given nothing to guide them about the country. In Kenya, Rwanda, and other countries, visitors are given booklets showing potential tourist destinations, places of interest and lots of surprises beyond what they had read in foreign media. This is your opportunity to represent what your country has to offer well, but Uganda Tourism Board, or whoever is responsible, are too busy doing other things at the expense of finding innovative ways to grow the sector.

In the arrivals lounge at Entebbe, people, mostly taxi drivers, will ask in Luganda: “Ssebo ogenda Kampala?” And then a couple of corporate adverts. Why can’t we have adverts for our numerous tourism sites, interesting places and clear listing of where to find what?

In South Africa, for example, at Kwazulu Natal airport, visitors are given tourism maps. Why can’t the concerned authorities prioritize the little money they get from the consolidated fund and print enough maps, travel guides and give them out at the airport to all non-EAC visitors?

What do tourists see when they come to Uganda?

The handcrafts people are selling in Uganda are from Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. The face masks are from DR Congo. And worst is that over 90 per cent of handcrafts at the airport shops are duty-free imported from Kenya and South Africa.

Want to turn Uganda into a world-class tourism destination? Stop giving critical positions to people because of patronage. Tourism requires flexibility, class, cross cultural, effective marketing and innovativeness. It is difficult to find these traits with folks hovering over retirement. The first step is to identify and clearly gazette the tourism sites. We could use the bad roads as ‘a travel experience’ and market it as such. “Our sites have a bumpy ride to test your physical fitness. It is a natural way to exercise and lose weight and have a wonderful rest at your destination.”

Travel to Uganda: tour as you exercise. Such kind of a promise will surely bring more tourists from North Africa Europe and some parts of Asia.

CiplaQCIL to go public

Cipla Quality Chemicals Industries Ltd, the largest drug maker in Uganda will go to the public as it plans to offer its Initial Public Offering (IPO). The drug maker intends to list 657 ordinary shares.

Cipla, which produces three major drugs comprising anti-malarials, anti-retrovial therapy (ARTs) and Hepatitis B and C entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Governmament of Zambia on the 17 May 2017. Under the memorandum, Cipla supplies ARVs, Artemininin-based combination therapy, hepatitis and other medications with a minimum value earning estimated at around Ugx 3.7b annually. This gave a boast to Cipla’s financial stability.

In February 2011, CiplaQCIL announced a US$40 million expansion to the production line to include increased production of antiretroviral and antimalarial medication.

CiplaQCIL reported a 8% reduction in gross margins from Ugx57.9b in the FY2016/17 to Ugx53.2b in 2017/18.

CiplaQCIL’s intention to list on the USE puts to  end the six year drought at USE without an IPO. The last IPO was Umeme in 2012.

“We see tremendous potential for growth,” noted Emmanuel Katongole, the Executive Chairman at CiplaQCIL. Over-optimism in projected future earnings should also be adequately weighted considering the aggregate global economy outlook. Creative utilization of offering proceeds is another key factor, investor’s should vigilantly monitor this before committing to the IPO.

Like every investment projection, CiplaQCIL’s future performance will no doubt be subjected to vagaries of other macro-economic factors considering the emerging global crisis.

If well managed, CiplaQCIL may turn out to be a good buy but investors must thread with great caution to avoid the Safaricom bubble that left the corporate class counting losses.

Will I recommend this IPO to a friend? Wait for our opinion after the offering.

How Uganda’s refugee generosity could turn into a disaster

The time bomb is ticking; this is not your usual Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda time bomb style. It is due to poor planning, an increasing population that is growing rapidly at 3.5% annually, coupled with a reducing life span, poor farming decisions and a changing climate that has brought about a change in farming seasons not forgetting the influx of refugees in the country.

The funding for the agricultural sector was among the major highlights of this financial year. Uganda’s agricultural sector was allocated just Ugx. 828.5 billion In the FY2017/18, equivalent to 3.8 per cent of the budget envelope. This highlighted a serious policy irony among government officials that repeatedly emphasize its huge contribution to labour force absorption but are reluctant to increase agricultural budget vote. The agricultural sector generally employs 80 per cent of the population in its value chain, but has consistently received less than Ugx. 1 trillion for several years in contrast to the works and transport and education sectors. The works and transport sector was allocated Ugx. 4.5 trillion In the FY 2017/18, representing 21 per cent of the total resource envelope while the education sector received Ugx. 2.5 trillion, equivalent to 11.4 per cent of the budget envelope, government documents indicated.

A modest funding allocation to the agricultural sector raises huge doubts about government’s commitments to revamp the sector after the long dry spell that destroyed many crops and animals, caused starvation and death in some areas and piled pressure on local food prices. This dry spell started around October 2015 and dragged on up to April 2016 with slight rain downpours in between. After a few months of rain, the farmers who had sown their crops were shocked when the dry spell returned in June 2016 and dragged on up to December.

The intense dry spell also forced wildlife authorities to relocate about 150 kobs from Murchison Falls National Park to Kidepo National Park in 2016 due to substantial depletion of green pasture in the Murchison wildlife corridor, according to rangers at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). These kobs are a source of meat that offers proteins for the locals in this area whose crops were destroyed in the long drought. The hunters had to resort to smaller game like squirrels and wild rabbits which can cope with the drought as they don’t need a lot of water to survive.

Refugee crisis

On March 13th, 2017, Uganda was ranked amongst the top three refugee hosting nations in the world at the Global Workshop on forced Migration and Refugees management, an event that was held in Copenhagen Denmark. I listened as Hilary Onek the minister for disaster preparedness praised this recognition and stated what the country was planning to do, that is, increasing its refugee base to promote globalization and save livelihoods. Of course globally, this is seen as headway to protecting the lives of immigrants and providing them with shelter. However, in the host country, this strategy has already caused adverse effects and could further damage the livelihoods of the poor, especially those in rural areas.

Over the years, refugee numbers have augmented. At the end of last year, over 1,162,715 immigrants were reportedly registered by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda. This was a 67.5% increase in numbers of refugees in the country from the 694,158 recorded in 2015. By August this year, more than a million Sudanese refugees had entered the country due to the South Sudanese political mayhem. The numbers continue rising with accruing instability in the neighbouring countries. The explosion of refugees to the country from crisis stricken South Sudan does not help the state of affairs leaving over 11 million natives at risk of experiencing food insecurity.

Tens of thousands of people continue to flee South Sudan to Uganda every day, 64% of whom are children under 18, leaving behind them tales of horrific violence. New arrivals are provided with shelter, food, water and an environment where they can live in safety. However, the humanitarian response to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda continues to face significant challenges due to chronic and severe under funding. Currently, just 36% of the US$251 million needed for 2016 has been received. This is creating significant gaps in the response which threatens to compromise the abilities of humanitarian organizations to provide life-saving assistance and basic services.

In August 2016, a new settlement was opened in Bidi Bidi, Yumbe district to accommodate the thousands of new arrivals. In a space of few months, humanitarian organizations had transformed Bidi Bidi from empty bush land in to the largest refugee camp in the world right now. Uganda has maintained open borders to allow refugees to reach safety and, as part of its settlement approach, provides them with land to build new homes and grow crops. They enjoy a range of rights and freedoms that allow them to gain employment, start businesses and make positive economic contributions to their host communities.

Additionally, with the impending Kenyan re-election scheduled for October 2017, we could see the numbers rising especially from populations that are pessimistic about the outcome after the announcement of results. Many speculators believe the violence that occurred in the 2007 election when former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki could image itself into this re-election. We have already seen signs from this cancelled election in August when violence had started breeding. The Kenyans in fear could displace themselves seeking asylum in neighbouring countries, Uganda inclusive. Thus bolstering the number of refugees in the country.

Ominously, the rising numbers are greatly affecting the rural population – that depends greatly on land as a resource for their livelihoods. A negligible 12% of these refugees are in urban areas while the rest are in rural areas. When these refugees come to the country, the government takes significant chunks of land from the natives to resettle them. This has already happened in Northern Uganda in districts of Adjumani and Moyo. Our generosity to accommodate refugees has greatly reduced the available arable land for subsistence agriculture for the citizens from which most of the rural population depends.

As I walked through Kyangwali in 2005, a small town that inhabits refugees in Hoima District, I noticed the mushrooming land pressure in the area. There were too many people on small pieces of land. One of the original inhabitants reported that they (refugees) kept increasing by the day. In the present day, the numbers in the Northern part of Uganda have more than doubled courtesy of these immigrant movements.

This comes at a time when Uganda has been tackling the effects of prolonged drought. Soroti, Karamoja, Masindi, and other parts of Western Uganda have been hit by persistent drought which will consequently result into famine. With almost more than 10 million Ugandans facing hunger of which 1.6 million are in serious need for food to survive death, Uganda’s food security situation is worrying.