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    AUDIO: Workers Run To Court As ZTE Fires All Ugandan Staff After Ban, Huawei Also In Trouble



    Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) has fired all it’s staff in Uganda. In a meeting held at their company offices on 3rd May 2018, the ZTE Human Resource manager Daniel Balaba called a crisis meeting where he broke the bad news to all staff that the company was terminating all their contracts with immediate effect because of the ban imposed on them by the USA.

    In the same meeting, Balaba called for calm and assured all staff that the company was going to pay all their Salary arrears and allowances.

    However, a source inside ZTE has told the Grapevine that the chinese smart phone maker want to run away with their money. The source further told this website that some agrieved staff have run to court and are accussing ZTE of terminating their contracts unfairly without giving them a clear reason.

    The US Department of Commerce announced a seven year ban on the Chinese smartphone maker ZTE after it was discovered that they have been illegally exporting products containing U.S.-sourced components to Iran and North Korea.

    ZTE, one of China’s most successful technology company, with about $17 billion in annual revenue, is now facing a death sentence. The Commerce Department also blocked its access to American-made components until 2025, saying the company failed to punish employees who violated trade controls against Iran and North Korea.

    A Reuters report states that ZTE’s US ban may also cost the Chinese company its Android license as well. This means ZTE may not be able to use Google’s mobile OS in its devices.

    ZTE, which uses Qualcomm processors in many of its phones and exclusively employs Google’s Android operating system and apps, indeed relies on U.S. companies to a significant degree.

    The telecom giant was forced to pay more than $800 million in penalties for that transgression, and was directed to rebuke all personnel responsible as part of its plea deal. However, last month, U.S. Department of Commerce investigation found that ZTE retained all of those employees and paid them bonuses. In response, the U.S. government served the company with a ban, forbidding it to use any U.S.-sourced technology in its products for seven years.

    ZTE responded by calling the ban unfair, saying it was delivered “before the completion of the investigation of facts.” The company added that the “Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damages to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies.”

    The Grapevine tried to Talk to Balaba for a comment but we couldn’t get him…

    Audio of ZTE HRM breaking the bad news to staff:



    According to numerous online media outlets which include, Reuters, WSJ, Forbes, zdnet among others, Huawei is also reportedly under criminal investigation for possible export control violations to North Korea and Iran.

    The Justice Department probe is being run out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, reuters sources said. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation. The probe was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

    Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications network equipment and the No. 3 smartphone supplier, said it complies with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”

    Like ZTE, Huawei also runs google’s android software on their smartphones and a ban could spell even a much bigger disaster than Huawei. When the Grapevine talked to an official from Huawei, he told us that, “those are just mere allegations, no document has come out to claim that Huawei is under investigation.”


    In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China opposed countries imposing their own laws on others, when asked whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions related to Iran.

    “China’s position opposing nations using their own domestic laws to impose unilateral sanctions is consistent and clear,” she told a daily news briefing.

    “We hope that the United States will not take actions that further harm investors’ mood towards the business situation there.”

    In February, Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, cited concerns about the spread of Chinese technologies in the United States, which he called “counterintelligence and information security risks that come prepackaged with the goods and services of certain overseas vendors.”




    Confidence In Our National Airline Is Increasing – MPs Impressed With Uganda Airlines Performance, Ready To Approve Shs25bn For Carrier’s Spare Engine…



    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure inspecting Uganda Airlines equipment

    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure are impressed with the performance of Uganda Airlines and have promised to lobby for more Government funding to the national carrier.

    This comes after the lawmakers went on a guided tour of Uganda Airlines operations on Thursday.

    The MPs started by visiting the airline’s Kampala based office before heading to the main office in Entebbe where they interacted with staff from the carrier’s various departments.

    They also toured the self-handling yard that contains equipment for the self-handling project that is expected to start two months from now.

    The aim of the visit was for MPs to know more about the operations, performance and plans of Uganda Airlines. They also wanted to know the challenges the national carrier is facing and how better they can be addressed.

    Speaking to journalists after interfacing with Uganda Airlines Management, David Karubanga, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure, said they had a candid discussion on the operations of the national carrier for the last three years. Uganda Airlines started commercial operations in August 2019.

    “As a Committee, we have observed that the airline is growing; Ugandans and other passengers have embraced the airline. Confidence in our national airline is increasing and as a Committee, we would like to see the airline move to a point where it can fully support itself in terms of revenue,” Karubanga said.

    He added that although COVID-19 has affected the airline’s revenues, the performance recorded so far is impressive.

    “As a Committee, we are going to call the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works and Transport to come and talk to them on the commitment in terms of funding the airline because the aviation industry is global and it has regulatory compliance issues [an airline must fulfill],” he said.

    Karubanga added that the Committee is happy with the airline’s strategic plan that will see the national carrier roll out more aircraft; mid-range aircraft for cargo and domestic flights.

    He added that the Committee supports the self-handling project as it will greatly cut the operational costs of the airline.

    “We have inspected the equipment purchased by Uganda Airlines for self-handling project This means that Uganda Airlines will save on the money it is currently spending on another service provider (DAS). It will also earn more revenue (by offering ground handling services to third party companies). They are just waiting for certification from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

    We are going to follow up that issue as a Committee. They should get that license as soon as possible because it will enhance their revenue as an agency of Government,” Karubanga said.

    The Committee is also happy that Uganda Airlines management has made strategic partnerships with other airlines and countries.

    “We are happy that they have resolved the challenges in leadership. We are hopeful that this airline is going to develop since the number of passengers using Uganda Airlines has increased. It started with 65,000 and in the third year, it has over 270,000 passengers.

    That’s a very big growth in terms of passengers and trust in the national carrier,” Karubanga said.

    He also revealed that Committee members got a technical explanation on why a spare engine is important. The MPs are now convinced that Uganda Airlines needs the spare engine urgently.

    “The rationale of having a spare engine is agreeable by the Committee. We support it fully because the cost of hiring one is quite high,” he said.

    Ephraim Bagenda, the Director of  Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines, told MPs that a standby spare engine is necessary because engines are changed after a period of time.

    “When you operate up to 8,000 flight hours, then the engine has to be removed and sent for performance restoration; you can call it overhaul. When you remove one engine, you need to install another to continue with the operations or else get grounded. If we don’t have a spare, we have to lease an engine from abroad while we send ours to the workshop. The one which goes to the workshop will take a minimum of 90 days to be overhauled. If you hire one, you must spend daily until the overhauled one returns.

    Leasing an engine for 90 days will cost a minimum of US$650,000 (Shs2.52bn). If you have a spare, once you remove the engine which needs to be overhauled, you put your spare; you avoid leasing. A new spare engine costs US$6.5m (Shs25.2bn). That is with a discount of 15%,” Bagenda explained.

    He added that Uganda Airlines has a total inventory of spares worth US$12m (Shs46.5bn).

    The Committee also realized that the airline has a challenge of skilled manpower especially pilots.

    “We are calling on Ugandans to undertake on those courses. If they can gain enough flight experience, the jobs are there,” Karubanga said.

    Jenifer Bamuturaki, the Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that there are mandatory numbers of pilots the airline must have for both the Airbus and for the CRJ.

    It’s important to note that Uganda Airlines currently operates a fleet of four (4) CRJ900 and two (2) Airbus A330-800neo.

    Bamuturaki says they don’t have adequate numbers for pilots. This is after the national carrier upgraded First Officers to Captains.

    “So the manpower we need will be in the First Officers. We need about 10 of them,” she said, adding that without adequate numbers, there’s a likelihood of an aircraft being parked as the few pilots  may travel for training or may go on leave.

    “We have a few that have relocated; we didn’t only hire Ugandans but also international pilots. So, some of them have relocated back to their countries.  We are now recruiting more pilots; the board has been supportive; they have approved for us to recruit pilots,” Bamuturaki said, adding that they have also recruited more people in reservations and ticketing office.

    She added that the airline is working hard to minimize flight delays and cancellations.


    By Hope Kalamira


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    Former Vision Group Boss Reveals How He Was Dismissed As Myopic And Parasitic In Controversial Coffee Deal…



    Former Vision Group boss, Robert Kabushenga has revealed how he was kicked out of the controversial coffee deal.

    Kabushenga revealed that the current coffee debate started in December 2019 with the controversial Bill that later became law.

    “Since then, some of us who are active in different parts of the value chain have been exchanging ideas on what can be done. I am going to share them here,” he noted.

    Kabushenga added that they had hoped that there would be a forum where they can share their thinking.

    He disclosed, “Apart from the parliamentary committee on the Vinci Deal, we have simply been dismissed as foreign agents, parasitic & myopic. They see no use in engaging those who actually generate the coffee wealth.

    “Those of us invested in the coffee sector take a 20 or more years perspective. You can’t do that with myopia. We are involved in production of wealth so you can’t say that is parasitic. Ours is for export so we are working for ourselves not foreigners.”

    He divulged that it is only those whose income and livelihood is derived from taxes and levies that can be correctly described as parasites because they need to work for foreigners from whom they can extract ‘rents’.

    “Which is why they focus on the deals and are shortsighted in their outlook.”

    Kabushenga furthermore broke down what they, as coffee sector players would want to see.

    He contended, “We are in full agreement with the need to set up a soluble coffee plant. In fact, I have been lobbying for this in some corridors. It will increase the value of low-grade coffees that are fetching low prices in the market.

    “The best option is a freeze-dried coffee plant which gives the best instant coffee product. The model should be a PPP (Public Private Partnership) that invests in the plant but allows coffee final product entrepreneurs to rent time on the plant and produce their own coffee brands and market to the final consumer.

    “This will spur local innovation in the local coffee values chain and generate diverse and more meaningful employment opportunities. It will also grow local consumption since soluble coffee is more convenient to make. This is especially true for those who make coffee in their homes.”

    The coffee farmer also asserted that for the start, they can position markets across Africa but below the multinational processors as they build capacity.

    “It means that we can position in urban markets across Africa but below the multinational processors. This would allow development of new markets as we build capacity to compete.”

    He maintained, “We must look at our current market. Uganda is a net coffee exporter. We sell our coffee mainly to processors. This requires us to know how they want their product. Imposing a product on a consumer could backfire. To go directly to end-user market means to know how coffee is consumed.

    “It may be that by processing for export in the manner we claim will earn us more money, we may have the opposite effect. Processing may come at a high cost and will make our coffee expensive. Market entry barriers are higher in this segment which denies us access to this lucrative market.”

    Kabushenga also revealed that there has been no marketing of their coffee to give it a unique standing.

    “The processed coffee market is very unforgiving for those seeking to play here. Where is our coherent strategy in this regard? Over what sustained period will we invest in this to effect uptake of our coffee?”

    He added that the policy of confusion is derailing the sector and will undermine the processing agenda.

    He divulged that Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) argued that the Vinci processing approach was very good but now they want to do a consultancy on the viability of such a plant which is already portraying them as confused.


    By Kalamira Hope


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    Prime Minister Nabbanja Summons UBOS Bosses Over Misleading Advice On Parish Development Model…



    Dr. Chris Mukiza and PM Robinah Nabbanja

    Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has summoned the leadership of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) over their ill advice on government’s Parish Development Model (PDM).

    In an exclusive interview with theGrapevine, Nabbanja revealed that it was improper for UBOS leadership led by Dr. Chris Mukiza, the Executive Director of UBOS and Dr. Albert Byamugisha, the UBOS chairperson to rubbish a government project before the media, instead of addressing it with government stakeholders.

    “I am going to summon them to my office, they should explain to me why they went to the media before briefing me or the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development,” she said.

    She added that the government officials especially the ministers and Members of Parliament have been mobilizing people to prepare to receive the money, and the people have in turn organised themselves through SACCOS to be given money to develop themselves, but telling them that the money is not coming make them lose all the hope they had and puts government in bad light.

    Nabbanja admitted that there are still a few hicups with data collection especially in towns and municipalities but in villages, authentic data of the beneficiaries is already available.

    “It is true in towns it is very difficult to follow those people who will borrow the Parish Development Model funds because many of them don’t have permanent homes, they are just renting. Foe example, today, a person who stays in Nateete may receive PDM funds and then shift the next day to Kasangati and also receives money from there. That is why we need to get a better solution on how to handle such incidences,” Nabanja explained.

    On Tuesday, Dr. Mukiza told journalists at his office in Kampala that the data that has been collected by the local leaders which the government is set to follow when delivering PDM cash is not authentic.

    “We shall not advise the government to release the money now because we have not completed the collection of data across the country. Until we get the right data, government cannot release this money,” Mukiza said.

    He further warned that if government releases the money, wrong beneficiaries will benefit and poor people will not because the data collected is not authentic.

    Government is set to release over Shs100m to each SACCO at the parish level for beneficiaries to borrow, invest and return later.

    By Sengooba Alirabaki


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