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Huawei global ICT competition kicks off in Uganda

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Huawei's New Managing Director Mr. Liujiawei giving his speech at the Seeds for the Future launch ceremony.

Mr. Liujiawei, the Managing Director Huawei Uganda.

By Our Reporter

Huawei global ICT competition has kicked off in Uganda with a road show in Makerere University. With the theme “Connection, Glory, Future”, the Huawei 2019-2020 Global ICT competition aims to provide a platform for global ICT talents to showcase their ability, compete and communicate, encouraging ICT-related study and drive the growth of a robust ICT talent ecosystem.

Over 6000 students from the various Universities all over Uganda are expected to participate in the contest with various subjects including network, Cloud Computing, artificial intelligence and big data.

Mr. Liujiawei, the Managing Director of Huawei Uganda noted that ICT skills gap has increasingly become a bottleneck for embracing opportunities in the digital era, as across all industries are poised to grow with rapid advances in emerging technologies, changing the very nature of the jobs.

He emphasized that it is important to foster an open and sustainable ICT talents ecosystem that involves different stakeholders to equip youths with employable skills and increase competencies relevant in the labor market.

“We need a comprehensive approach of skills development for employment, enhanced productivity and growth. Training contents must be aligned with skills requirements in the job market. That is why we re-dedicate ourselves to working even more closely with universities across the country to better equip students with the next generation of technologies and create the platform for the Ugandan students to demonstrate they are capable of maturing into world-class experts.” Liu said.

Skills gaps across all industries are poised to grow in the Fourth Industrial Revolution globally. There will also be strong demand for ICT-related skills. According to the World Economic Forum, at least 133 million new roles generated as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms may emerge globally by 2022. In Uganda, the ICT skills gap is also a challenge. Report by National Information Technology Authority shows that within MDAs, ICT personnel account for only 1.9% of the total work force.

To bridge the ICT skills gap and fostering ICT talent pool needed for national social economic development, Huawei Uganda has been working with government, industrial and academic partners in upskilling engineers, providing certification courses, sponsoring aboard studies and supporting government’s initiatives in promoting innovation and ICT learning. Huawei Uganda has so far signed up six universities across Uganda in launch establishment of academies, where students can access to industrially-recognized certification courses.

This is the second executive year for the global leading ICT solutions provider to bring the global event to Uganda. First round of registration will take place from 26 th August to 30 th October at Makerere, Kyambogo, Muni, MUST, Lira, Gulu, Busitema and many other private Universities respectively.

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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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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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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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