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First-ever Chamberthon in Kigali sees strong participation from UAE and African startups

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Participants presenting their ideas during the Chamberthon

Participants presenting their ideas during the Chamberthon.

By Our Reporter

A total of 20 startups from the UAE and Africa participated in the first-ever Chamberthon in Kigali, Rwanda, where participants collaborated and developed a framework for Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Global Business Forum Mentorship programme, new cross-border mentorship programme.

Organised by Dubai Chamber, the Chamberthon was held during the Africa Tech Summit 2019. A total of 10 startups from the UAE were selected by the Chamber to participate in the Chamberthon, attend the Africa Tech Summit in Kigali, and join their African counterparts for a full day of interactive sessions. Participants were divided into mixed teams of African and UAE entrepreneurs, representing many sectors and fields, including agriculture, healthcare, environment, fintech, climate change, social responsibility, construction, and customer experience among others.

The startup teams developed and presented a wide variety of innovative and practical ideas that will be used to structure Dubai Chamber’s Global Business Forum Mentorship Programme. The three-month mentorship programme aims to foster cross-border cooperation between startup communities by pairing startups with mentors who can provide them with valuable expertise, support and guidance.

Natalia Sycheva, Manager of Entrepreneurship for Dubai Chamber said: “We are very encouraged by the strong interest and participation in the Chamberthon which is a new concept and extension of the Global Business Forum, an important platform that Dubai Chamber leverages to foster economic cooperation and explore opportunities in promising markets around the world.”

She added: “Today, startups and entrepreneurs are the drivers of innovation. With this in mind, Dubai Chamber is constantly scaling up its support to startups through new initiatives like the Chamberthon and GBF Mentorship Programme that engage entrepreneurs and provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to expand globally.”

“The Chamberthon has given me an opportunity to exchange and brainstorm on innovative ideas with people from around Africa and UAE. This is a stepping stone for me to be able to broaden my reach with my startup and I believe that the GBF Mentorship Programme is a valuable initiative by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” said Irasubiza Sadrah, whose startup, iTec, is looking to tackle climate change by developing an easy to use Agro-Condition System which will
be implemented to create a controllable low-cost artificial climate Greenhouse.

After the winning Chamberthon ideas are chosen, a total of 10 startups from the UAE and Africa that make the final cut will be selected to participate in the GBF Mentorship Programme. The holistic programme will provide many benefits beyond mentorship, including access to networking and Dubai Startup Hub services and support, as well as speaking and exhibiting opportunities at the 5th Global Business Forum on Africa in Dubai, taking place in November 2019.

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Local Business

Sanlam makes Ugx 475 million payout to its clients

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Nicholas Lutakome, (Ag.) CEO Sanlam Life addresses media

Nicholas Lutakome, (Ag.) CEO Sanlam Life addresses media.

By Our Reporter 

Sanlam Uganda is set to pay out over UGX 475 million to its Individual Life clients in the form of cash back against premiums paid on their policies. This is to help kick-start its clients’ lives following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the global pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, it has not only claimed over 300,000 lives, but also many businesses. SMEs in particular have suffered in the process, affecting the livelihoods of many families during the lockdown. The country’s lockdown is being relaxed as of today.

“We cannot have a successful Sanlam in a struggling Ugandan economy, which is why we are making half a billion shillings available to some of our customers to provide hope as life returns to normal,” said Mr Nicholas Lutakome, Ag. CEO of Sanlam Life Insurance (U) Ltd.

On 14 April, Sanlam Uganda donated 285 million through the national task force to flatten the curve and assist the Ministry of Health in the fight against COVID-19 through the purchase of protective wear for the country’s frontline health workers, which may include face masks, face shields and PVC aprons.

“We are celebrating 10 years of operations in Uganda this year and are planning to be around for much longer,” Mr Lutakome said. “It’s in times like these that an insurance company needs to move closer to its clients to offer a helping hand towards the recovery of the economy. We want to urge the public to exercise the necessary caution and stay safe.”

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CoronaVirus Uganda

Stanbic Bank donates Ugx 140 million in relief food to vulnerable communities

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Stanbic Bank contributed Ugx 140 million used for purchasing food items for the communities in which they are operating in.

By Our Reporter

In a bid to support vulnerable communities across the country that have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, Stanbic Bank contributed a further Ugx 140 million used for purchasing food items for the communities in which they are operating in.

Through the different branches across the country Stanbic Bank employees distributed food items to over 4,000 individuals among vulnerable communities across the country.

Speaking during the handover of food items to Loving Hearts Babies Home, Munyonyo children’s home, Stanbic Bank Uganda Corporate Social Investments Manager, Ms Barbara Kasekende said, “At Stanbic Bank, we understand the drastic effects the lockdown has hard on some of the communities in which we operate it. As a business, we are reaching out to show our support and further encourage the vulnerable in our communities.”

“Stanbic’s sustainability vision focuses on Social, Economic and Environmental (SEE) goals, where we aim to ensure we create shared value in the societies and environment in which we operate.” She added.

One of the communities supported, Loving Hearts Babies Home, Munyonyo has over 30 babies and 13 members of staff at the moment. The Loving hearts team also reaches 200 plus homes in the community.

Stanbic had earlier contributed UGX 100 million towards the National COVID19 task force, and another UGX 20 million through the Uganda Bankers Association.

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Local Business

MTN ordered to pay Ugx 24.2 billion to URA

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By Our Reporter

In August 2016, URA issued MTN with an assessment of UGX 326,996,917,906 for unpaid taxes arising between the period 2011-2014. By Civil Suit 986 of 2016, MTN challenged the assessment in the High Court and a prolonged reexamination of the available evidence ensued, resulting in a partial consent judgement in June 2018 in favor of MTN, wherein it was agreed that the amount of the assessment was reduced to UGX 24,273,771,472.

This residual amount was subject to the interpretation of a technical issue i.e. whether the taxable value of excise duty on airtime was to be charged on usage or at the point of sale, which was referred to the Tax Appeals Tribunal vide TAT Application 8 of 2019. During the proceedings, both parties conducted further reconciliation and as at 3rd March 2020, the agreed reconciled possible tax, outstanding pending further considerations, was further significantly reduced.

On 28 May 2020, the Tax Appeals Tribunal ruled that excise duty should be charged at the point of sale and accordingly upheld the assessment against MTN. To prevent an overpayment of the reconciled amount, which is significantly lower than UGX 24,273,771,472, MTN on 29 May 2020 obtained an interim order against the enforcement of the several agency notices issued by URA.

MTN is studying the TAT ruling, taking advice on the implications thereof and will make every effort to conclude this matter in a fair, legal, and ethical manner.

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Local Business

MTN Uganda appoints Andrew Bugembe as Chief Finance Officer

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Mr. Andrew Bugembe, The New MTN Uganda Chief Finance OfficerBy Our Reporter

MTN Uganda appointed Andrew Bugembe as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Bugembe started work on April 1, replacing Mike Blackburn who retired early this year having served as the Telecom’s CFO since 2011. In his position, Mr Bugembe is part of the dynamic leadership team of MTN Uganda that boasts of 16 members, four of whom are women.

After being away from Uganda for almost 10 years, Mr Bugembe is happy to join a great, experienced and strong management team back home at MTN Uganda. He looks forward to leading the Finance division and contributing to MTN Uganda’s future success as the country embarks on this thrilling Digital journey that the telecom is committed to deliver.

Mr. Bugembe brings to his position, more than 21 Years of Telecom experience from various countries, working at MTN in different capacities, holding executive and senior management roles in finance departments, including holding the CFO position at MTN Liberia and MTN Congo Brazzaville.

Mr. Bugembe’s robust career at MTN has seen him serve in five different countries. Some of the key highlights of his career at MTN include concluding a $300m syndicated medium term facility, in a Project Finance deal that won an award for the best telecoms deal in Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2012.

Although he takes over office at a difficult time when many company revenues are getting slashed by the global Covid19 pandemic, the seasoned accountant is no stranger to operating amidst disasters like this one.

He spent a lot of time resizing the cost structures for a couple of MTN OPCOs to align with changing macro-economic trends especially during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the drop in oil prices while in Central Africa.

As CFO of the country’s highest tax payer, Mr Bugembe’s key roles will be to
drive the company profitability mandate, to ensure effective and efficient Capital allocation, and to support Service revenue growth through data analytics with focus on non-voice revenues. He will also support key transformation initiatives, build internal capacity, support digitization with focus on FinTech in addition to continuous cost optimization and improving working capital management among others.

According to Mr Bugembe, there’s still opportunity for telecoms in Uganda, given that the mobile penetration is barely over 51%. The data penetration is still low driven mainly by lower smart phone penetration, customer education and relevant digital content. This will be key for future growth of telecom in Uganda. He also notes that Uganda’s youthful market coupled with the many SMEs, steady GDP growth and low inflation is a great opportunity for any business.

With the telecom trends indicating the customers’ needs are changing towards data, Fintech (Mobile Money) and digital, Mr Bugembe believe these will drive the future of telecoms especially in Uganda with emphasis on financial inclusion as the country moves towards a cashless economy.

In addition to the 21 years of telecom experience, Mr Bugembe is a chartered accountant (FCCA-UK) with a Masters degree from University of Wollongong in Australia and he hold a Bachelors of Commerce Degree from India.

Mr Bugembe describes himself as a passionate, curious and adaptive person, having lived, studied and worked in seven countries. He enjoys travelling to different countries to explore various cultures and have time to himself and his family away from work. He is married with two amazing sons aged 11 and 8 years.

Outside work, he will be found reading books or a couple of journals. He is a huge fan of the Mercedes-Benz team in Formula 1 and a loyal Arsenal supporter.

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