Business

Samsung unveils hitech curved TVs

Samsung has unveiled a new hitech curved TV set that is expected to hit the market next month. COMPARISON: A journalist (right) reacts after noticing the big picture quality difference between a flat TV set (left) and curved TVs. The New Times / Stephen Nuwagira The UHT TV set is the first of its kind globally, according to George Ferreira, the Samsung Africa chief operating officer. “It (curved screen) gives a great picture and enhanced viewing experience, its strong curve draws the human eye naturally, makes pictures more realistic and provides greater sense of depth,” Ferreira explained  during the Samsung Africa Forum 2014 in Malaga, Spain recently. He added that one can also be able to search the Internet, watch TV and video clips at the same time, among other functions. The Samsung Africa Forum 2014 also marked the global launch of the curved TV sets and other new state-of-the-art electronics made by Samsung. Ferreira said the electronics firm is looking to consolidate its position as a market leader in Africa through constant innovation to create a smart Africa and ease work processes. Other products launched at the event include sleeker tablets, a hitech triangle air conditioner, a battery and solar-powered TV set targeted for people with no access to power grid, or those with unstable electricity supply, next generation still cameras, a four-door refrigerator, washing machines, video games and printers, among other products. Meanwhile, Samsung is to focus on making tablets to tap into the growing market for content. The firm had previously favoured laptop production but now seems to be driven by shifting market trends that point to rising quest for content, an observer noted. The electronics company is also planning to start making new age professional cameras for still and video photography. The two-day annual Samsung Africa Forum 2014 was attended by dealers, information technology developers, business and government leaders, and journalists from across the globe. Source The New Times

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Uganda: Arabica coffee prices increase

Prices of Arabica coffee parchment have rebounded to sh4,200 per kilogramme, up from sh3,000 after nearly six months of price stagnation. A farmer picks Arabica coffee beans. A kilogramme of Arabica now goes for sh4,200 from sh3,000 The increment came at the right time, the back-to-school period, when most coffee farmers need to pay school fees for their children. Students and pupils reported back to school for the first term on February 3. Joseph Sodo, a coffee farmer from Katongo parish, Kapchorwa district, explained that the rise had offered a lease of hope to the coffee business. Sodo, who has a child in secondary school and two at primary level, last week sold off 32 bags to get fees for them. “With the price increment, it means each 65-kg bag of premium Arabica coffee parchment rose to sh273,000 up from sh195,000. I got sh8.7m which enabled me to pay my children’s fees,” Sodo said. “The huge gain I made from this increment, however, is the fact that I had 2,400kg of stocked parchment that I had purchased when prices were still low.” Prices of Arabica coffee parchment in Bugisu region are mainly dependent on the price at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where its green beans trade under the name Bugisu Arabica. For over six months, Bugisu Arabica had been trading at $2.4 per kilogramme of green beans. The price, however, rose to $2.7 per kilogramme towards the close of January, prompting a rise in local prices. Since prices of premium parchment peaked at sh11,000 per kilogramme in 2011, prices had kept a steady drop settling at sh3,000. Godfrey Woniala, a coffee farmer from Sisiyi subcounty, Bulambuli district, explained that the increase would motivate farmers to put in more effort in tending their plantations during the coming season. “We had lost hope. Coffee is so costly to maintain because it requires fertilisers, pruning, weeding and spraying before even the actual processing of red cherries into parchment. When prices are low, it doesn’t make business sense to invest more and reap less”. By Daniel Edyegu, The New Vision

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Uganda: Oil firms urged to reveal genuine partners

Oil companies have been urged to sensitise the public about the genuine partners who sell their products to boost the fight against substandard engine oils in Uganda. The call was made on Friday after an operation by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) in the heart of Kampala that led to the closure of Standard Wave Auto Parts shop. The Nabugabo road shop was selling counterfeit engine oils to the unsuspecting members of the public. “We urge all oil companies that manufacture and supply motor oils to inform members of the public who their authorized retailer are so that the public is not easily duped,” advised Margaret Lukoye, UNBS’ Public Relations Officer. The sale of fake engine oil is rampant throughout the country. Some of the brands affected by this evil are those of major global players like Total, Shell and Kobil among others. Usually, the production of this substandard oil is orchestrated from waste lubricants, which are purchased from gas stations, only to be recycled and  put in new packages—and thrown onto the market for the consumption of the unsuspecting public. After a public uproar about substandard engine oils recently, UNBS and the Police combed shops in the city, which led to Shafik Lukyamuzi’s house in Bulange, where a lot of these substandard oils were being packaged. By Billy Rwothungeyo, The New Vision

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Former Balton boss snubs police summons

The former General Manager of Balton Uganda Ltd., Zeev Shiff has nubbed police summons to appear at the criminal intelligence and investigations directorate (CIID) on allegations of embezzlement and causing financial loss of over sh76m to the company. Zeev Shiff Shiff who is the current chairman of Bolton, arrival company according to summons dated February 3 was expected to appear at CIID on February 13 to answer queries regarding the loss amounting to sh76,300,500. “As you are aware this directorate is investigating the above case in connection to the unlawful sale on credit of sanitary Bins and chemicals to Stream Energy Holdings Ltd.,” “This is to request you to report to the directorate of Criminal Intelligence and Investigations at Kibuli on February 13 at 11:00am so as to provide valuable information surrounding the matter under investigations,” the summons signed by Suzan Kalukusu on behalf of the director CIID reads. The summons according to sources at Bolton were delivered on Tuesday however, Zeev Shiff did not appear. According to sources on Wednesday claimed to be indisposed and thus did not appear on Thursday. Also summoned alongside Zeev Shiff is Michael Musyoka, one of the public health managers.  However, Zeev Shiff did not appear. The director CIID Grace Akullo could not be reached for comment as she was reported in Kyankwanzi. It is alleged that around June last year moments before joining Bolton, Zeev Shiff while still General manager at Balton sold the bins which were not meant for sale and chemicals to Stream Energy Holding, allegedly a non-existent organization. The two agricultural inputs firms are locked in a bitter legal battle over getup with Balton claiming Bolton has hoodwinked the public into believing that they are part of Balton, consequently injuring their business. By Steven Candia, The New Vision

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Uganda: MDGs ‘fail on climate change’

Uganda and other countries counting the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are facing the bitter reality that it has failed to address climate change, experts say. Uganda Martyrs University lecturer Charles Sekyebwa emphasizes a point on a climate change at Makerere University. PHOTO/Maria Wamala Speaking at Makerere University during a two-day conference organised by USAID on “Education and Research for Improved Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector”, development experts and the academia noted that countries have failed to address the issue of climate change. The meeting attracted academicians, NGOs, media, local and central government and donors. “MDGs did not deliver sustainable development and that is why we are talking about climate change,” said Charles Sekyebwa, a lecturer at Uganda Martyrs University. As the World approaches 2015, the goals set by world leaders at the turn of the century to address problems afflicting the world are being assessed locally and globally. At the same time experts are engaged in developing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a successor to the MDGs. There are eight MDGs – of these, goal number seven has a target on climate change. Lecturer Sekyebwa warned against replacing natural systems with man-made systems, pointing out that this is likely to crash like the economic meltdown that hit the world five years ago. He pointed out that indigenous species of trees and crops are being replaced by exotic trees. “We have been able to thrive on an enabling environment but the change from natural systems to manmade systems is not sustainable,” he said. At the same meeting, Paul Hatanga said climate change is a complex matter that touches many aspects of governance, poverty and development. In order to address it, many aspects of development have to change, he mentioned. Solomon Musoke who is the district environment officer for Buikwe said addressing climate change has to be made relevant to local farmers. “What is it that farmers are going to lose?” Professor Goretti Nasanga of Makerere University said research indicates the climate change debate is based on western knowledge, which has failed to integrate indigenous knowledge. “They are driving the agenda and we are not questioning all this,” she said. By Gerald Tenywa, The New Vision

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BDF under reform to help SMEs grow feasible projects

Several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had their loan applications turned down by banks last year because they presented projects with low startup capital and weak cash flows, a new report has revealed. The National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) said that lack of collateral and bad credit history also worked against SMEs seeking for credit. According to the biannual Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Statement released on Wednesday by BNR governor, John Rwangombwa, some 5,940 loan applications were rejected—a 7.5 per cent increase from 4,865 turned down in 2012. Commercial banks approved loans worth Rwf 472.5bn against Rwf 544.3bn applied for by entrepreneurs. Rwangombwa said that some entrepreneurs often don’t prioritise the purpose of the business loans they get and end spending on un-necessary things such as luxuries. As a result, most experience cash flow problems, fail to run the businesses and pay back loans. He called on the ministry of trade and industry to work with the SMEs, through its Hanga Umurimo programme, to sharpen the projects and make them bankable. The minister of trade and industry, François Kanimba admitted that most of the loan applications that were turned down were from enterprises nurtured under Hanga Umurimo (create your own employment), a government programme aimed at encouraging younger people to be job creators rather than jobseekers. “There is still room for increment of credit to the private sector, especially through the small and medium enterprises which are the backbone of the economy,” said Kanimba. He said that the ministry is in the process of reforming the Business Development Fund (BDF) so that it fulfills its mandate of providing loan guarantees to the agricultural sector as well as SME. The Fund has not been directly involved in risk assessment and management of the loan applications Kanimba said. “That is why, under the new reforms, we shall instruct BDF to build its capacity to deeply analyse the feasibility of the projects before issuing them loans,” he said. James Gatera, chief executive officer of Bank of Kigali commended the new move by the government and noted that some of the banks that went on to lend the first group of SMEs under the Hanga Umurimo programme had taken a “beating” as the borrowers failed to service their loans. “This new mechanism will change the whole approach on access to finance and see more of the BDF funds more efficiently utilised,” said Alex Kanyankole, chief executive officer Development Bank of Rwanda. By Ben Gasore, The New Times

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Sonarwa settles Rwf 3.79bn claims

Sonarwa Life and Sonarwa general insurance paid a total of Rwf 3.79bn in net claims last year, up from Rwf 2.22bn in 2012. The companies had a net production of Rwf 8.2bn up from Rwf 7.6bn in the same period. Speaking in an interview, Allen Karungi Gatete, the corporate communications manager, said that in spite of the increase in under-written policies, there was still need for people to buy insurance products because they are affordable. “People have misconceptions that insurance isn’t affordable or that only certain things are supposed to be insured,” she said. Emphasising the importance of insuring property, Karungi said that if one bought cover at Rwf 60,000 for an asset worth Rwf 10m, they can be assured of replacing it in case something went wrong with it. Insurance penetration levels remain low in Rwanda with many only going for the mandatory medical and motor vehicle insurance covers. According to Jean Pierre Majoro, the Rwanda Association of Insurers executive secretary, it’s up to the 10 players in the market to tussle it out and see that they diversify and offer more products and services in order to attract more clients.

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