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CoronaVirus Uganda

NSSF supports paying out partial contributions to members for COVID-19 relief

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NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

By Our Reporter

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted all economies around the world.

This after different measures aimed at curbing its spread were implemented including a lock down which created massive economic and social challenges.

This has led sections of the general public to turn to the National Social Security Fund(NSSF) for relief,  calling for a pay out of a portion of accumulated contributions to its members.

The NSSF managing Director Richard Byarugaba, in a letter to members, has said that the Fund is in support of the public call for mid term Benefits to members.

“We have witnessed a heightened level of stress among our members that have lost means of their livelihood. This has brought to the forefront the role of NSSF to its many members,” Richard Byarugaba says in the letter. “Understandably, some politicians and sections of the general public have been calling for the Fund to pay out a portion of accumulated contributions to its members. We feel your pain and understand your outcry.”

“Following this outcry, we shared with our line Minister our understanding of the worst-case scenario of the economic implications of the proposal to pay out an unplanned 20% of the Fund to its members. We owed it to the Minister, our members and all Ugandans to be honest in the analysis to facilitate the process of making the right decisions that need to be made.Understandably, this analysis may have given a wrong impression that NSSF does not in any way support mid-term benefits. That is far from the truth.” He added

“In the final paragraph of the letter to the Minister, we reiterated our support for planned mid-term benefits, that are embedded within the NSSF Amendment Bill before Parliament. We must clarify that the current legislation, NSSF Act Cap 222, that governs the Fund’s operations does not provide for mid-term benefits and regrettably has limited our ability to offer you new benefits.” He concluded.

Meanwhile, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund together with various stakeholders especially the Trade Unions proposed amendments to the NSSF Act which among other changes provides for additional benefits to the existing age benefits, invalidity benefit and survivors benefit. The proposed amendments are currently before Parliament.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

East African Business Council donates face masks to cross-border communities

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East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX60million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

By Our Reporter

In support of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX 60 million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

The reusable Face Masks are intended to help protect over 30,000 members of communities at Uganda’s border points who at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.

In recent weeks Uganda has recorded COVID-19 positive cases mostly from cargo truck drivers crossing the borders from within the East African Community (EAC).

While making the donation, the EABC appealed to everyone in the EAC region to avoid stigmatization of cargo truck drivers as it could lead to a break in the supply chain in the EAC, affecting trade and investment.

The EABC has approached the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to support the distribution of the masks at the border points of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Katuna, Kikagate, Kagitumba, Cyanika, Elegu, Nimule, Oraba and others where cross-border activities take place.

“We trust the URA as one of the government agencies that has been central to Uganda’s success in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and recognize the effort invested in tracking and monitoring truck drivers. We know this will support the work of the Ministry of Health and we will encourage more businesses to contribute to all government efforts against
COVID-19,” said EABC Director Stuart Mwesigwa (Roofings Group).

The communities to benefit from this consignment include customs officials, clearing agents, cross-border women traders, porters and truck drivers themselves. The masks were procured in Uganda and manufactured by Ugandan SME Chrisams Designs.

“This is an indicator that the EABC values local content in East Africa and we will actively support the development of business at all levels. We have also arranged to order similar consignments from each EAC Partner State and we urge the governments to focus on building business in East Africa,” said EABC Director Simon Kaheru (Coca-Cola Beverages Africa).

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, welcomed the gesture as significant and highly meaningful.

“We are winning this war because of contributions such as these. COVID-19 is the enemy and the enemy is already squatting. Every contribution we get will help us defeat this enemy fully. It is also good to note that these Face Masks were made by a Ugandan and East African business,” said Gen. Ali.

He was flanked by Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister in charge of General Duties, and COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson Emmanuel Katongole and Member Robert Kabushenga.

The EABC has also donated masks to Rwanda Revenue Authority to aid in the fight against the Covid-19 at Rusumo One Stop Border Post, and will continue to mobilise business across the region.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

UNICEF partners with Airtel Africa to support children and families affected by COVID-19

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Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

By Our Reporter

UNICEF has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.

Under this partnership, UNICEF and Airtel Africa will use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented. Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost, or even reversed completely. And for poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.

Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF’s response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home. Airtel Africa will zero-rate select websites hosting educational content, which will provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.

“COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale,” said Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation. “Worldwide, most children are not in school, which we know can lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks. UNICEF is partnering with Airtel Africa to deliver better outcomes for children and families affected by widespread closures.”

The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region, including many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from suspension of income earning activities. This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some effective ways to cushion families from the effects of this crisis is through providing free Internet access to selected educational websites to help children keep up with their learning during the school closures and direct cash transfer programmes to reduce physical presence requirements for cash in hand exchanges,” said Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer. “Alongside various other COVID-19 related initiatives and support that we are providing to Governments and the community, we are glad to also collaborate with UNICEF to support children.”

The partnership with Airtel Africa supports UNICEF’s Global Agenda for Action for Children. The plan outlines global actions which private and public sector partners can take to keep millions of girls and boys – including those who have been uprooted by conflict, children living with disabilities, and girls at risk of violence – healthy, safe and learning.

UNICEF and Airtel Africa’s partnership aims to benefit children and families in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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Chairman of the United Bank for Africa Tony Elumelu says Covid-19 Presents Opportunity to Reset Africa

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By Reporter

The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu, has stated that the Coronavirus Pandemic currently ravaging the world presents an opportunity to reset the African continent so that Africans can be empowered to become more productive and self reliant. He said this today at the high-level Roundtable discussions made up of African leaders including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala, the Special Envoy of the African Union on Covid-19 and Tidjane Thiam who is also a Covid-19 Special Envoy responsible for mobilising international economic support for Africa.

During the session titled ‘Resilient World: An African call for a new world order’, Elumelu stated “I see this pandemic as an opportunity to reset Africa.’ Whilst pointing out that Africa as a continent has all it takes to emerge into a strong digital economy, the UBA Group Chairman advocated a martial plan that will galvanise the entire continent and make Africa less dependent on the ‘circularity of debt’ from developed nations, which according to him, has been a major setback for decades.

 He said, “I feel that as we engage the rest of the world in providing relief, we need to look for a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges. I have often argued for a martial plan overtime. We need to mobilise everyone. If we have a martial plan that mobilises resources to address particular issues, then we can mitigate against this constant begging for assistance.”

Explaining further, Elumelu pointedly said, “The truth is that we have resources to help mobilise people. As the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we committed to endow $100m to support young African entrepreneurs and we have been seeing the positive results this has yielded so far. It is evident that if we can fix access to electricity, ensure stability of the macro-economic environment, ensure prioritisation of the youth, empower our small and medium scale enterprises and fix youth migration, then we are in for a better and more resilient economy’. “There is the urgent need to prioritise our youths and empower our SMEs. The people who work hard need to be encouraged,” Elumelu noted passionately.

 Tidjane Thiam who supported what Elumelu had proposed, said that rather than depend on international assistance at every point, there is the need for governments and institutions to invest in activities that will prioritise the youths and create a better enabling environment. 

“I totally agree with Tony Elumelu. The major challenge is that we do not see enough entrepreneurs. Similar to what obtains in Asia and Europe, there is the need to promote a class of Entrepreneurs to drive the African economy.  we need to groom more Tony Elumelus’ from Africa’ he said. Tidjane continued, ‘We know what needs to be done. We need government and multinational institutions to bring in capital so that there will be investment in health, infrastructure and the like. We do need to get rid of this debt cycle because constant rescheduling and begging for relief for debts is not good for us as a continent,” Thiam said.

Okonjo-Iweala, on her part, called for a system where youths and women will be empowered to create and produce more to boost the African economy.

Whilst calling on private and government parastatals to engage in meaningful partnerships that will help to galvanise job creation and entrepreneurship among youths in Africa, she said, “As Tony pointed out, we can see this pandemic as an opportunity for the continent. We have the African Free Trade Agreement, and we have to make it real. 

“We have to specialise our countries to manufacture the things we need so we can trade with others. We need to produce good jobs for our young people. We need to empower our women and youths and put them at the centre. It is said that Africa would have the largest number of youths in the world by 2050, so we need to fix this,” she noted.

The round-table which was organised by the New York Forum Institute, also had in attendance African Heads of States including President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire; President Macky Sall of Senegal and President Julius Bio of Sierra Leone;

 

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CoronaVirus Uganda

COVID-19: Curfew In Uganda To Continue For More 21 Days

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By BigEyeUg Team; The Corona Virus response programs continues to take twists globally with different countries laying strategies on how effective they can combat the pandemic.

For Uganda, there have been over 50 new heath measures raised to the public in the last three months after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Among these is the night ‘curfew’ program that was introduced on March, 24, 2020 running between 19hrs – 6hrs and it has proved one of the highly implemented directives by both authorities and public.

A section of security officers carrying out their operation during the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown.

This has prompted the government to have it among the key strategies to consider as it prepares to lift up the lockdown next month.

This was confirmed in the Presidential COVID-19 Pandemic address on Monday where H.E YK Museveni had the curfew program extended for the next 21 days despite easing lockdown.

We will keep you posted

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