Business

Mbabazi woos Europe’s largest coffee roaster

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has urged Europe’s largest coffee roaster, D.E. Master Blenders, to develop strategic relationships with coffee farmers in Uganda. PM Amama Mbabazi Mbabazi told the delegation from the coffee roasting giant that the Government has embarked on a programme to multiply the number of coffee trees in the country to increase productivity. He said this will reduce household poverty, adding that the Government is encouraging agricultural zoning for specialised agricultural production. Mbabazi made the remarks while meeting offi cials from D.E. Master Blenders at his offi ce in Kampala on Tuesday. D.E. Master Blenders, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, is also the third largest coffee roaster globally. The company is already operating in Luwero district, focusing on quality improvement, good agricultural practices and improved market access for participating farmer groups. “I can assure you of total support to facilitate your partnership with farmers because our economy is private sectorled and I do not see this changing soon,” Mbabazi said. He said proceeds from the nascent oil industry will be used to boost agricultural production and value addition to enable Uganda products meet international standards. Coffee is an important export product for Uganda, representing about 11% of the total value of exports. Luc Volatier, D.E. Master Blenders senior vice-president for operations, who led the delegation, said Uganda could exploit the global market through the company, whose coffee and tea products are sold in over 45 countries. The company sales amount to euros 2.7b (about sh11,000 trillion). Volatier emphasised the need for benchmarking high-intensity small-holder coffee farms like it is done in Vietnam and farmer sensitisation and training, as well as offering microfinance support to farmers to eliminate middlemen who erode farmer profitability. Agriculture minister Tress Bucyanayandi said 65 out of the 112 districts are potential coffee growers. He added that the Government plans to double national production from 3.5 million to six million 60-kg bags of coffee per annum. In the early 1990s, Uganda coffee was hit hard by the wilt disease, which killed about 40% of the country’s coffee trees. Due to inadequate research, extension and availability of resistant plant materials, the disease is still prevalent, greatly reducing the productivity of coffee farms. Source The New Vision

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High Level Farmers’ Forum in Iringa towards successful African year of agriculture in Tanzania

2012 African Union Chairperson Thomas Yayi Boni declared that 2014 will be the Year of Agriculture in Africa. The next 12 months present a once in a decade opportunity to shape an African-led moment for agriculture development.  ONE launched a major agriculture campaign for Africa in January 2014 at the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. At the 2003 African Union Summit held in Maputo, African heads of state pledged to transform Africa’s agriculture by committing to increase budgetary allocation to agriculture to 10% of national expenditure and increase national agriculture growth rate to 6% annually.  These commitments came as the result of the recognition that agriculture is a driver of economic growth and key to the revitalization of the agriculture sector.  Agriculture is effective in Africa because growth in agriculture reaps benefit to 65% of smallholder farmers, who are often among the most vulnerable and food insecure people.  These farmers in turn impact the rest of the continent, providing 80 percent of the food consumed. In collaboration with ANSAF the organization which won the ONE Africa award, Clouds media Group and ONE themselves will launch the Campaign “DO AGRIC IT PAYS” in Iringa Region on 20th February 2014 which will be officiated  by the Vice President Dr. Gharib Bilal. The campaign will target to create a consensus on a Tanzania context-specific year of agriculture investment and reform framework that benefits the millions of small holder farmers and small medium sized agri-businesses Identify the priority interventions required to boost small holder farmers and to develop the agriculture value chain in Tanzania’s Year of Agriculture programme of action. In Tanzania the sector as a whole provides an opportunity for us to encourage economic growth by lifting the most people out of poverty and by strengthening agricultural enterprises among smallholder farmers.  Indeed Tanzania’s smallholder farmers are its champions, providing food for over 90 percent of our population.  And added benefit of agriculture is that growth in this sector has a greater positive multiplier effect than in other sectors. The campaign, including a policy product documenting success in agriculture over the last decade; a policy manifesto delineating  policy objectives for the Year of Agriculture and a gender gap in agriculture report that provides recommendations to agriculture ministers on how to empower women farmers, utilizing the best new evidence of what works. The campaign will include both intensive insider advocacy and lobbying (particularly at the level of the African Union Commission and CAADP secretariat, as well as agriculture ministers and heads of states in our target countries, as well as public-facing, member-mobilizing and media-intensive actions, including celebrity involvement. The campaign will also mobilize members and engage directly with policymakers in these target countries through policy dialogues, workshops and targeted policy materials to advance policy reforms, improve public expenditures, and mobilize stronger nation.

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New 8.5MW solar plant to ease pressure on EWSA

Rwanda’s power generation will be increased by at least 8.5 mega watts (MW) by the end of this year, a development that will ease pressure on utility body, Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Technicians installing solar panels. Rwanda to get 8.5MW of power from a new solar plant being set up by private investors. Net photo.Technicians installing solar panels. Rwanda to get 8.5MW of power from a new solar plant being set up by private investors. Net photo. A solar-powered plant with a capacity of generating 8.5MW is currently under construction by a joint investment of Dutch Scatec Solar and Norwegian Gigawatt Global Coöperatief, worth $23.7m (Rwf16b) at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwamagana District. Once the project is completed towards the end of this year, the plant will sell electricity to the government as per the 25-year agreement between the investors and EWSA. “We expect the solar plant to be completed before the end of this year. The investors will sell a kilowatt hour at $16.5 to EWSA, which will then be channelled onto the national power grid,” James Twesigye, the in charge of solar energy at EWSA told The New Times yesterday. “The government is seeking for independent power producers in order to cut down the costs involved in producing electricity. This is the first of many to come. “We are currently doing studies on the construction of another 10MW solar plant in Rwinkwavu, Kayonza District. Once we complete the research, we shall invite potential investors.” The new plant is expected to be the first utility-scale PV plant in East Africa. The government is eager to invest more steadily in renewable energy, and has set itself the objective of a five-fold increase in renewable sources of power by 2017. Environmentalists welcomed the news as a step in the right direction, pointing at the benefits of clean energy to environment protection

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Scribes get tips on e-billing initiative

Business journalists have been challenged to learn how electronic billing machines work to be able to report accurately about them. All business people are required by law to issue customers e-receipts for items bought. “These machines will not only help in making tax collections efficient, but they are also useful to the taxpayer in terms of reducing paperwork in form of receipt books and minimising the risks of theft by employees,” Rwanda Revenue Authority’s Placide Kiboga, said during journalists’ training organised by the tax body. The training at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali aimed at equipping journalists with basic knowledge and skills on reporting about the project. Kiboga said that soon, all business people would start issuing receipts asking customers not to pay operators before they receive e-receipts. The tax body last month warned it will penalise businesses that do not have e-billing machines effective April 1. The tax body introduced the machines in 2012, but business operators have been slow in embracing them. By Ben Gasore,The New Times

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Opticians urged to ensure quality products

Local opticians have been urged to ensure quality of the wares they sell to the public. Opticians are specialists who design, fit and dispense lenses for the correction of people’s vision. Speaking at an exhibition of optical products recently, Dr. Pricille Mukabariza, a medical advisor at the Military Medical Insurance department, also warned people with eye ailments against buying eye glasses without medical prescription. “Always consult professionals who can then examine and guide you accordingly,” she said. The optical products exhibition was organised by OPTICA, the distributor for optical frames, sunglasses, ophthalmic lenses and contact lenses. OPTICA’s Raghav Moudgill cautioned the public against buying glasses from street vendors, arguing that they could be harmful to their eyes. By Hyppolite Ntigurirwa,The New Times

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500 African auditors to attend conference in Uganda

Uganda is to host the first African Federation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (AFIIA), which is to bring together over 500 auditing professionals from across the world. Mervyn King, the chairman of South Africa’s King committee on corporate governance which produced King I, II and III, will address the conference Sponsored by the Vision Group and Pricewater House Coopers, the three-day conference will start on April 6 at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo. The commissioner for inspection and internal audit at the ministry of finance, Dr. Fixon Akonya, told journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala that Mervyn King, the chairman of South Africa’s King committee on corporate governance which produced King I, II and III, will address the conference. Uganda’s auditor general John Muwanga and his counterparts from Kenya and Tanzania will also address the conference under the theme, “unity in diversity, one continent, one internal auditing profession.” According to Akonya, the general conference will be preceded by the workshop of leaders of institutes in africa on April 6-7, 2014, and the board and audit committee workshop on April 8. “These events will bring together leaders of internal audit institutes and internal audit professionals from across the continent. It is the first of its kind in Africa,” he said. The auditors are to discuss ways to improve governance, risk management and controls across the continent. Other keynote speakers will include the auditor general of South African as well as officials from international intitute of internal auditors including its chairman Paul Sobel. “The conference will demonstrate the progress of the auditing profession in Uganda, showcase our beautiful country to the rest of Africa, raise the profile of accountability, governance and risk management on the continent,” Akonya said. By Francis Kagolo, The New Vision

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Ugandan Shilling steady, seen stronger on dollar inflows

KAMPALA – The Ugandan shilling was steady on Wednesday and was expected to appreciate in the days ahead as the central bank mopped up liquidity and dollars flowed in from offshore investors buying debt. Commercial banks quoted the currency of east Africa’s third-largest economy at 2,453/2,458, little changed from 2,452/2,457. “The repo that the central bank did today coupled with suppressed demand for dollars will give the shilling a bullish tone going forward,” said David Bagambe, a trader at Diamond Trust Bank. “However, the shilling will also derive a bit of energy from inflows from foreign investors who are targeting Ugandan debt.” Bank of Uganda, the country’s central bank, issued a seven- day repo that was taken at 11.5 percent. It did not disclose how much it sucked out of the market. The bank also sold Treasury bills worth 165 billion shillings ($67.26 million). The yield on the benchmark 91-day paper rose to 9.557 percent from 9.266 percent at the last sale. The shilling has kept its footing against the greenback this year, underpinned by sluggish importer appetite for hard currency, the liquidity mop-ups by the central bank and inflows from offshore investors. Faisal Bukenya, the head of market making at Barclays Bank, said the shilling was likely to find resistance at 2,450 and support at 2.470 in coming days.

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