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OPINION: Free Trade For African Countries: Continental Block Will Spur Trade And Develop Africa

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In his book, “Sowing The Mustard Seed”, Second Edition, President Museveni articulates the case for Pan-Africanism with a slant, in part, to business dividends. “The milk production of Uganda is now 2 billion litres, up from 200 million litres in 1986. Uganda, however, currently, consumes only 800 million litres per annum”. He adds that; “What will happen to the rest then? This is true of bananas, goats, cattle, fruits and other products? Our second layer of saviours are the East Africans, the South Sudanese, the Congolese and other regional partners”.

The President has been, and remains a strong advocate of regional integration in Africa. Now, further to the likes of EAC and COMESA, the big one is here. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) endorsed by African Union (AU) Member States in Kigali, in March 2018, takes effect next year. This, after the ratification of the operational aspects of AfCFTA, at an AU extra-ordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger on 7th July 2019 – The New Vision, 20th July 2019.

The essence of Niamey pact is that Africa’s Free Trade Area will be operational effective July 2020. In Niamey, the necessary instruments were signed by the required minimum 22 AU Member States, including Uganda. It is a major break-through for business across the continent. With 55 Member countries, Africa’s Free Trade Area will dwarf ALL trading blocks, including the EU, in terms of membership. 

AfCFTA is bringing together a combined market of 1.2 billion people and economies with an aggregate GDP of USD 2.5 trillion. It is a huge market under which countries in Africa, will trade with each other, minus tariff barriers. AfCFTA will spur industrialization, grow economies, create jobs, strengthen indigenous capabilities and ease Africa’s vulnerability to external trading shocks.

For Uganda, niche items include fresh, organic grain foodstuffs, which have ready market in countries like Congo, Angola, Senegal, Namibia and the Saharan, North African Countries. Our other niche items include milk, fruits, fish, beef and household consumer items. Uganda is also progressively building capacity in oil and gas and services like tourism and ICT innovations, from which we stand to reap, among others. 

Intra-Africa business will slash Africa’s trade deficit, considering the continent imports food items alone, worth USD 60 billion annually. Relatedly, under the current skewed trade regime, intra-Africa business is at 16% while that with Europe, for instance, is at 65%.

Therefore, the AfCFTA will unlock Africa’s massive economic potential, right from the short term. Indeed, intra-African trade is now projected to rise to 60% by 2022. Retaining the USD 60 billion Africa is “donating” to Europe in annual food imports, will greatly boost the continent socio-economically.

In a riveting address, at a Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at Makerere University on 31st August 2017, President Museveni submitted that; “Africa is a huge continent with a land area of 11.7 million square miles, which makes it 12 times bigger than India, 4 times bigger than USA and China each and more than 2 times the size of Russia. We are somewhat working on economic integration through the Regional Economic Communities; although we should be more religious and focused on this issue”. 

Credit to him and other regional leaders for bringing AfCTFA to life. We should, therefore, position Uganda tap into this huge continental market. Priority considerations include accelerating industrialisation, improving product/service value chains, fast-tracking oil, gas, energy and minerals’ development. Others are expanding transport and ICT infrastructure, enhancing agricultural production and aligning our fiscal policies, as may be applicable.

Moses Watasa

Commissioner, Communication and Information Dissemination

MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE

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M7 PS Forces MTN To Vomit Her Money: Telecom Giant Had Asked Her To Produce Death Certificate, LC1 Letter And Police Letter If She Wanted To Get Back Her Money She Erroneously Sent To A Dead Brother’s Phone…

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Telecom giants MTN was today forced to vomit cash that was erroneously sent a dead person’s phone by one of M7’s Press Secretary.

Yesterday, Linda Wamboka Nabusaayi, President Museveni’s Press Secretary sent money using MTN’s mobile money platform to a wrong number of her dead brother.

However, when she tried to retrieve her money, MTN shamelessly told her to get letters of administration, death certificate, LC1 letter and police letter if she is to get her money back.

“I erroneously sent money meant for my niece to her late father’s number which she could not access. MTN says I should get letters of administration of my brothers estate, his death certificate, LC1 letter, police letter or I can’t get money back. Where does this money go,” Nabusaayi said.

This aroused the pain that most Uganda’s go through to get their money back that they send to wrong numbers and inactive numbers and they answered with a lot of bitterness with many saying that if the telecom company can attempt to swindle a president’s press secretary, what about a poor person trading down town or deep in the village who has no access to the powers that be.

“As connected as you are to the centre of power it’s amusing to see you helpless. Too many questions from all of us and no answers forthcoming!! UCC is proving kinda useless,” Arinaitwe David, a concerned Ugandans wondered.

Richard Tindamanyire said, “My sister, that’s daylight, glaring thuggery and robbery by MTN. The reason the President should go ahead and force them to close shop. They have robbed Ugandans enough, URA Tax arrears notwithstanding.”

Masha Abrah Abbie said, “MTN ON SPOT FOR STEALING FROM THE DEAD: This is how MTN Uganda has been robbing from the dead since mobile money inception. Imagine they are tossing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ‘s press secretary, what about an ordinary Ugandan.

Actually, many people just give up and all the money is swindled by these foreign thieves.”

Later, because of the weight behind the name, MTN contacted Nabusaayi and she later got a cash back.

“Good morning tweeps. Thank you all for your concern. And thank you @mtnug I got the money back. I appreciate you all,” Nabusaayi said.

MTN replied, “Folks, clarification on the related issue of how to access MM Funds of a deceased person. Similar basic principle like it is in many other financial circles. At any of our service centers, present; i) Death Certificate of the deceased. i)Proof that you’re the right claimant, i.e., letters of administration. We can’t release funds without solid proof of the circumstances surrounding the release. It may sound Callous but its in the best interest of both sides.”

Surprisingly, Nabusaayi did not present the letters of administration of her brothers’ estate, his death certificate, LC1 letter and police letter.

This left many wondering whether poor Ugandans who do not have access to the powers that be ever get their money back.

“You only worked on big people otherwise a small person will have never got back his money,” Louis Tumusiime Kau said.

By Josephine Kauma

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With M7 Still In Power, Nobody Will Ever Win Against Dott And Here Is Why This Is The Case…

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Dott Services continues to benefit from political friendship with NRM to the extent of getting many road sector deals without competing fairly with other bidders.

They got the Namanve deal to do all the roads in the industrial park using orders from above and the deal is worth over USD400M. UNRA bosses like Kagina and other guys have tried to oppose the favors M7 gives this company in vain.

UNRA bosses are now more frustrated after M7 ordered that Dott Services bosses get all the tourism roads worthy millions of dollars of America and this is annoying many other firms in the same business. One thing is known about Dott Services and that is its strong connections to Col John Mugyenyi and Bukedea MP Anita Among who helps them access the President each time they want to.

In the letter we have seen M7 has favored Dott Services Ltd by writing a letter telling Minister Matia Kasaija and Works Minister Monicah Azuba to give all the tourism roads to Dott Services because they are going to get the money for the work and recover from gov’t later. Yet there are many other contractors who can do the same but they never get chance to do this because they have no strong connections and godfathers in politics which angers UNRA bosses very much.

Tourism these days is very important to M7 because last year alone more than 2m tourists came and gave Uganda many dollars. Uganda last year made billions of dollars from tourism. Museveni has given it attention to make Uganda more attractive hence favoring Dott Services to do all the tourism roads which by the way are very many.

Dott Services big bosses have been benching until they met M7 to back their proposal to be given these roads and in the same meeting, the Dott bosses asked to be given everything on condition they help government get the lenders.
Museveni liked the proposal and directed Kasaija and Works Minister Monicah Azuba to give his favored Indian men the tourism roads. The same letter went to PSST Keith Muhakanizi and Allen Kagina who doesn’t like Dott Services at all. Dott Services is backed by John Mugenyi and yet his wife Hope is relative of Kagina but they don’t like each other.

By Grapevine Reporter

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Total Finally Speaks Out On The Decision To Invest In Uganda’s Oil Project

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Total’s Chief Finance Officer, Jean-Pierre Sbraire (inset)

Total’s Chief Finance Officer, Jean-Pierre Sbraire has told analysts during a conference call after the French oil major’s third-quarter that as management, they have not yet decided to invest their money in Uganda’s oil project.

He revealed that the company was supposed to decide on the issue of Uganda’s oil last year but there were some issues holding back the decision even though they are still committed to the project and the project is technically mature.

“We are ready to launch but we recently faced some difficulties with the authorities,” he said.  He said that Total had planned to buy some of Britain’s Tullow Oil’s stake in the 230,000 barrel-per-day project but that deal was called off due to a tax dispute with the Ugandan authorities.

Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne

“We remain fully committed to the development but we’ll see, at present time, it is a bit too early to assess when the Final Investment Decision (FID) could be taken for the project,” Sbraire explained.  It should be remembered that Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne said earlier this year that investing in Uganda’s oil will be a personal priority this year after setbacks led to a delay on the FID in 2018.

By Jamil Lutakome

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