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Equity Bank, Mastercard, and Innovation Village Join Forces to Support Farmers

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Equity Bank Uganda, Mastercard, and The Innovation Village have united in a promising partnership aimed at enhancing financial accessibility for everyday farmers and digitally underserved individuals, communities, and businesses throughout the nation.

This collaboration underscores the aspirations of ordinary Ugandans for greater financial inclusivity.

The partnership is committed to realizing financial services for every Ugandan, regardless of their background or location. The memorandum outlines initiatives such as the issuance of Financial Inclusion Cards by Equity Bank, leveraging Mastercard’s Community Pass solution. These cards will operate seamlessly both online and offline, enabling individuals to securely manage and transact their finances digitally.

Mastercard’s Community Pass is a suite of platform services designed to promote digital inclusion and provide a commercially viable approach to delivering essential services like agriculture, micro-commerce, aid, and healthcare in remote and underserved communities.

Significantly, this collaboration also extends improved access to credit to individuals and businesses through this card, fostering economic growth and development within this segment of society.

The other facet of this partnership involves Community Pass credentials issued as a functional form of identity for members of specific groups collaborating together. This simplifies and enhances access to multiple services in a secure, private, and cost-effective manner.

Equity Bank Uganda, in collaboration with technology companies in the country, will work on establishing a robust Community Pass digital acceptance footprint, further expanding the accessibility of digital services.

Daniel Huba, Vice President of SSA Market Development, Community Pass at Mastercard, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, highlighting its potential to enhance digital visibility, financial inclusion, and credit-building opportunities for marginalized and underserved populations. He emphasized Mastercard’s belief in technology’s capacity to promote financial inclusion.

Huba remarked, “Through this collaboration, marginalized and underserved populations are poised to gain access to digital solutions for their everyday transactions.”

Kenneth Onyango, Executive Director of Commercial Banking at Equity Bank, shared his excitement about the partnership and its alignment with Equity Bank’s customer-centric commitment. He stressed the significance of collaborating on forward-thinking payment solutions for excluded communities.

Furthermore, Equity Bank Uganda will partner with The Innovation Village to facilitate the implementation of the financial inclusion agenda through the Digital Economy Program. This partnership underscores their dedication to promoting growth and financial inclusion by harnessing digital infrastructure and shared platforms.

Onyango explained, “This means that even in remote areas, individuals and communities will have access to essential digital services, bridging the gap between urban and rural financial accessibility.”

Japheth Kawanguzi, the CEO of The Innovation Village, emphasized that this collaboration is not merely a corporate goal; it’s a shared responsibility. It calls upon all stakeholders, including Ugandans themselves, to collaborate in creating a world where financial services are genuinely accessible to everyone, leaving no one behind in the pursuit of a brighter financial future for themselves and their families.

“In a nation where the desire for financial inclusion is deeply rooted, this partnership between Equity Bank Uganda and Mastercard represents a beacon of hope, a promise of better days ahead for ordinary Ugandans striving for a more financially inclusive future,” he added.


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KACITA Advocates for Reduced Installation Fees of Digital Number Plates as Government Launches Project

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KACITA Advocates for Reduced Installation Fees of Digital Number Plates as Government Launches Project lowethirdThe Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) has recently renewed its plea to the government, urging a reduction in the installation costs of digital number plates for newly registered vehicles. Thaddeus Musoke Nagenda, Chairperson of KACITA, emphasized the necessity for revising the fees associated with the installation of these number plates. He expressed gratitude for the Parliamentary acknowledgment of two of their previous petitions.

However, amidst these discussions, concerns have arisen among some legislators regarding the effectiveness of the digital number plate system in addressing prevailing security apprehensions. It is argued that the system might be lacking crucial elements, particularly adequate surveillance features like integrated cameras. This shortfall in the system’s security components raises doubts about its capacity to comprehensively address security concerns related to vehicle identification.

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Despite the discussions and concerns raised, the government proceeded with the official launch of the digital number plate project. The launch event, under the auspices of the Ministry of Works and Security, took place on Wednesday, signifying the formal commencement of the initiative.

KACITA remains resolute in its quest for more accessible installation costs for these digital number plates, aiming to ensure that new vehicle owners aren’t burdened with exorbitant expenses. The association emphasizes the importance of affordability and accessibility in the implementation of such systems, particularly for the broader populace.

Nagenda, on behalf of KACITA, has urged for further deliberations to address the concerns raised by lawmakers regarding the efficiency and security elements of the digital number plate system. It is essential to ensure that the initiative is not only cost-effective but also incorporates robust security features to bolster its effectiveness in vehicular identification and monitoring.

The debates and initiatives surrounding the digital number plate installation fees highlight the intersecting interests of cost-effectiveness, security, and practicality. KACITA’s persistent advocacy for a reduction in costs aligns with the need to balance accessible services and robust security measures in government initiatives.

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As the discussions continue and the project moves forward, a careful reevaluation and adjustment of the digital number plate system’s features and costs are crucial to address the concerns raised by stakeholders. The government’s commitment to finding an equilibrium between accessibility and security in this initiative remains pivotal for its success and public acceptance.

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LGBTQ : New US Government Advisory Cautions American Businesses About Investing in Uganda

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LGBTQ : New US Government Advisory Cautions American Businesses About Investing in Uganda lowethirdIn a recent move, the United States government, led by President Biden, has issued an extensive advisory through various departments, including State, Labor, Health and Human Services, Commerce, and the US Agency for International Development. This advisory, titled “Business Risks and Considerations in Uganda,” urges American companies to exercise caution when considering investments in Uganda.

The advisory makes allegations, albeit without concrete evidence, regarding child labor being widely used in the production of commercial products and goods in Uganda. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), Uganda currently has 13 goods on its list that are believed to be produced using child labor. These goods include bricks, cattle, charcoal, coffee, fish, gold, rice, sand, stones, sugarcane, tea, tobacco, and vanilla. Consequently, the advisory implies that all Ugandan products might be tainted by these concerns, potentially discouraging their entry into the US market.

Additionally, the advisory highlights various risks that businesses, organizations, and individuals should be aware of when operating in Uganda. These include potential financial and reputational risks arising from endemic corruption, violence against human rights activists, media personnel, health workers, minority group members, LGBTQI+ individuals, and political opponents. The enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) on May 29, 2023, is also noted as a development that restricts human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Furthermore, the advisory raises concerns about interference in and intimidation of the judiciary, the use of influence in resolving political disputes, and co-opted security forces. It suggests that inconsistently implemented legislation, rent-seeking practices by officials, and intrusive government security and surveillance could negatively affect the operations of US businesses and individuals, particularly in the lead-up to the 2026 elections.

The AHA is seen as a factor that increases risks for business operations in Uganda, as it mandates reporting of individuals suspected of homosexual behavior, imposes severe penalties for consensual same-sex relations, and allows for lengthy prison sentences for the broad promotion of homosexuality. Reports of landlords evicting tenants based on unverified claims of AHA violations are also cited in the advisory.

Furthermore, the advisory points out that several goods imported from Uganda into the United States have been linked to labor abuses, including those involving child labor. The recurrent reference to Uganda’s stance on homosexuality throughout the document highlights the controversial nature of the AHA.

This latest advisory from the US government follows the suspension of World Bank loans to Uganda, a move protesting the enactment of the Homosexual Law, which restricts the promotion of homosexuality in Ugandan schools and communities, with the enticement of foreign donors’ funds. President Yoweri Museveni’s government has clarified that the law does not target the private lives of individuals but aims to prevent the promotion and recruitment of children into homosexual activities in schools.

In response to these developments, President Museveni has encouraged Ugandans to explore the African market with its vast population of over 1.3 billion people as a potential avenue to sell their goods and products. Uganda Airlines has also introduced a direct route to Lagos, Nigeria, effectively expanding its access to the West African markets.

It’s important to note that Uganda is a predominantly conservative African country with traditional values, firmly rejecting the promotion of homosexuality. The Church of Uganda has even severed ties with the Anglican Church of England over its acceptance of homosexual marriages.

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National Forest Authority Donates 3000 Trees to Uganda Revenue Authority for Green-Guard Campaign

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National Forest Authority Donates 3000 Trees to Uganda Revenue Authority for Green-Guard Campaign lowethirdThe Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has received a donation of 3,000 trees from the National Forest Authority (NFA) as part of their joint effort to promote environmental conservation through the Green-Guard Campaign.

According to Robert Wamala Lumanyika, the URA Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, the trees were formally handed over by Mercy Nampulira, the forest supervisor at NFA.

In her speech during the handover, Nampulira emphasized NFA’s responsibility in protecting, maintaining, and restoring Uganda’s forest cover. She stated, “I am handing over these trees to ensure the protection of the environment. Furthermore, some of the tree species included have medicinal properties that can contribute to safeguarding Uganda’s population against serious illnesses such as cancer.”

Nampulira urged URA to ensure that all the trees received are planted and properly cared for to fulfill the environmental goals outlined in the National Development Plan (NDPIII).

Lumanyika expressed that the donated trees will significantly bolster the ongoing Green-Guard Campaign initiated by URA two months ago, which is centered around environmental protection and conservation.

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Pearl of Africa Hotel Faces Closure and Auction as Aya Investment’s Court Bid Fails

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Pearl of Africa Hotel Faces Closure and Auction as Aya Investment's Court Bid Fails lowethirdAya Investment Limited, the proprietor of Pearl of Africa Hotel Kampala, has once again failed to secure a court order to halt the auction of the hotel, which is being pursued due to unpaid loans totaling over US$300 million.

Three judges from the Court of Appeal, namely Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Monica Mugenyi, and Oscar Kihika, rendered a decision declaring that Aya’s reference filed against its financiers, Industrial Development Corporation Of South Africa Limited, to stay the execution orders, became untenable when Aya withdrew the substantive appeal upon which the stay of execution application was based.

The judges stated, “We therefore find that following the withdrawal of Miscellaneous Application No. 271 of 2023, the application upon which the single judge decision referred to this Court was premised, this Reference is misconceived and improperly before this Court. We would therefore dismiss this Reference with costs to the Respondent.”

According to court records, Aya Investments Limited, owned by businessman Muhammad Hamid, entered into Financial Credit Agreements and Security Agreements with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa between 2007 and 2017 to finance the construction of the Pearl of Africa Hotel. However, a dispute arose between the parties, leading to foreclosure proceedings initiated by Aya’s financiers in accordance with Ugandan legal regulations stipulated in the Security Agreements.

Aya contested these proceedings and favored arbitration, as per the loan agreements. He also obtained restraining orders against the foreclosure process until arbitration took place in South Africa. Additionally, he filed a civil suit grounded in contempt of court and breach of contract (Civil suit No. 937 of 2017), while his financiers applied to have all matters in the said suit referred to arbitration.

The arbitration process concluded in favor of the financiers, who subsequently sought court orders to enforce their claims. This prompted Aya to challenge the High Court’s decision to allow the execution of the arbitral orders, including the closure of the hotel. Unfortunately, he lost this application during a hearing before a single judge of the Court of Appeal, Christopher Gasharibake, prompting him to file a reference requesting a three-judge panel to hear the case.

During the recent court hearing, lawyers representing the Industrial Development Corporation raised a legal objection, arguing that the application for leave to appeal, on which the stay of execution was based, had been withdrawn. Consequently, they asserted there was no legal basis for the reference. The court upheld this objection.

The court’s ruling implies that unless appealed in the Supreme Court, Pearl of Africa Hotel, situated on Nakasero Hill, on land formerly owned by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (the national broadcaster), will indeed be auctioned to settle the accumulated debts of its owner over the years. Muhammad Hamid has sought help from President Yoweri Museveni, alleging machinations to dispossess him, although Museveni has not made any public statements on the matter.

In the past, President Museveni has intervened to support distressed businessmen facing loan challenges, including Patrick Bitature, owner of Protea Hotel, who faced financial difficulties after another South African financier demanded over US$30 million, including principal and interest, from an unpaid loan.

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Uganda Law Society Empowers Female Lawyers at the 5th Annual Conference & Awards

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Uganda Law Society Empowers Female Lawyers at the 5th Annual Conference & Awards lowethirdThe fifth edition of the Uganda Law Society Female Lawyers Conference & Awards recently unfolded at the Rwenzori Ballroom in the Sheraton Kampala Hotel. The event, held under the theme “Shattering Glass Ceilings,” was dedicated to reshaping the dynamics of power and fostering the future of women in the legal profession.

Former Malawian President Joyce Hilda Banda’s famous quote, “empower a woman, empower a nation,” resonated profoundly during this gathering. The conference illuminated the wisdom of these words by highlighting the profound impact of women in the legal field and society at large.

Despite the notion that women have made significant strides in the legal profession, there is still much ground to cover. Maximilia Bukenya, the Chairperson of the Uganda Law Society Female Lawyers’ Committee, issued a passionate call to action, urging the audience to unite and continue making a difference in the advancement of female lawyers in Uganda.

Bernard Oundo, President of the Uganda Law Society, lauded the various sponsors and emphasized their pivotal role in the swift ascent of women’s influence in law. I&M Bank Uganda emerged as one of the primary sponsors, making the 2023 women in law celebration possible. Through this partnership, the bank aimed to fortify collaborations for sustainable community development with the Uganda Law Society.

Natalie Kironde, the Head of Legal at I&M Bank, represented the bank at the event. She was also among the prominent female lawyers in top positions in the country who received recognition. Ms. Kironde remarked, “We are here to honor and acknowledge all those who have supported the progress of women in the legal profession. We celebrate not only the support but also the exceptional women who have left an indelible mark on the field of law and society at large. At I&M Bank, we take great pride in being a part of this initiative designed to empower and inspire women.”

The conference featured a distinguished panel of speakers, including Hon. Dr. Miria Matembe, Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators David Kaggwa, President Emeritus of the Uganda Law Society Pheona Wall, Senior lawyer Allan Shonubi, and Susan Batuuka, Head of Legal and Company Secretary at Uganda National Airlines. These experts shared insights and experiences, shedding light on the ever-evolving legal landscape.

Statistical data revealed a significant presence of women in the legal field, with 25 female judges and over 100 law firms founded by women in the country. This data underscores the substantial contributions of women in enhancing the legal sector

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Discover Amazon Prime Video: Your Netflix Alternative for Streaming in Kenya

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Discover Amazon Prime Video: Your Netflix Alternative for Streaming in Kenya lowethirdWhen it comes to video content streaming platforms, Netflix is the name that immediately springs to mind, and rightfully so. It’s the global giant in the streaming industry, but it’s not the only player in town.

For those seeking a streaming service offering a diverse array of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and original content, Amazon Prime Video is a compelling option to explore.

An Alternative to Netflix

Think of Amazon Prime Video as the Netflix alternative available in Kenya and numerous other countries. It’s a subscription-based service that grants you access to a vast library of content, and you can stream on up to three devices simultaneously. Additionally, you have the option to download titles for offline viewing on compatible devices. Furthermore, Prime Video sweetens the deal by providing access to Prime Music, which allows you to enjoy over two million songs without ads.

Pricing in Kenya

Curious about the cost of Prime Video in Kenya? As of 2023, a subscription to Prime Video will set you back KES 560.00 per month. If you’re a new subscriber, you’ll be pleased to know that you get a 7-day free trial when you sign up for the first time. To subscribe, all you need is a credit card or a debit card that supports international transactions. Virtual cards, including M-PESA Globalpay, are also acceptable.

Popular Shows on Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video boasts a compelling lineup of popular shows. Here are some noteworthy selections:

  1. The Grand Tour: A show reminiscent of the beloved Top Gear, it features the same charismatic hosts embarking on thrilling automotive adventures across the globe.
  2. The Boys: This superhero series revolves around a group of vigilantes determined to combat corrupt superheroes. It’s based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.
  3. Jack Ryan: A political thriller series adapted from Tom Clancy’s novels. Follow the journey of Jack Ryan, a former CIA analyst turned field agent, as he navigates a world riddled with challenges.
  4. Good Omens: This fantasy miniseries, based on the novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, tells the tale of an angel and a demon joining forces to thwart the impending apocalypse.
  5. Gen V: A spin-off series of “The Boys,” it delves into the next generation of supes as they hone their abilities at the Godolkin University School of Crimefighting.

These are just a taste of the popular shows awaiting you on Amazon Prime Video. You’ll find a plethora of engaging content that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. So, if you’re in search of an excellent streaming alternative to Netflix in Kenya, Prime Video is undoubtedly worth considering.

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