By Staff Writer
The online gambling industry is growing quickly and becoming more popular every day. Online casinos make it easier than ever for people all over the world to play their favorite games or join in on wagers for sporting events.
While previously, most people did not have access to physical casinos to play the games they love, the convenience of playing on a computer or smartphone makes this pastime accessible to everyone. With the increased popularity, many countries have lifted bans and/or restrictions on gambling to allow their citizens to play online.
One place in particular that has fully embraced online casinos and sports betting is Uganda. Gambling was already a popular form of entertainment in this country before online casinos were an option. Land-based casinos in Kampala have been thriving for years. Now, even more people in Uganda are gambling and it has even become a cause for some concern.
To adapt to the increasing popularity of online gambling, Uganda’s government has passed several laws to ensure that citizens are playing in a safe way. The major concern in this particular situation is a rise in underaged gambling and gambling addictions.
Gambling Habits in Uganda
Gambling has been popular in Uganda for a long time. There are multiple cities within the country that are home to land-based casinos with over a dozen options combined. Gambling is legal in Uganda and has been regulated with laws like The National Lotteries Act and the Gaming and Pool Betting Act. Some of the most popular activities include sports betting, slot machines, and the lottery.
In fact, in Africa overall, the gambling industry is thriving. Casinos continue to see record-high revenues. Each year gambling also brings in increasingly large sums in federal taxes. In Uganda specifically, the National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board enforce a 35% revenue tax on all gambling activities.
Despite the financial success for the industry and the government, excessive gambling habits have been the cause of some serious concerns. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, is currently working to decrease gambling in the country.
One major way that he is attempting to slow things down is by banning sports betting. In 2018, Museveni declared that no new licenses would be issued for domestic sports betting companies. Those that were already issued would also not be renewed once they expired.
The major areas of concern that lead to this decision were an increase in underaged gambling, increased poverty, and gambling addictions. The impact that gambling has on the citizens of this country is not always positive. Many hear success stories and spend what little money they have trying to win a large jackpot. Because of the unhealthy mindset around gambling, the government has begun to take these measures in an effort to decrease the amount of time that its citizens spend gambling.
The Rise of Online Casinos
In the past few years, the number of people in Uganda who had access to the internet has dramatically increased. There is also a significant rise in smartphone usage. This increased connectivity, combined with the rise of online casinos, makes it easy for citizens of Uganda to continue with their gambling habits despite the discouragement from their government.
The ability to connect with online casinos from all over the world is, of course, one of the major draws of the industry. According to Lucian Marinescu of Online Casino Gems, “The industry shift from land-based casinos to online casinos is bringing in wider audiences than ever because it’s just so convenient.”
While there is growing concern from the government in Uganda, citizens won’t have to change their online gambling habits yet. The regulations that the government is sending down so far only interfere with domestic companies. Companies in other areas of the world will continue to offer services to the population of Uganda.
With such a simple alternative, it’s likely that the restrictions the government places on domestic gambling will only cause citizens to seek out other online casinos. So, these regulations will not necessarily discourage citizens from gambling, but it could decrease the amount of tax revenue that the government receives from casino games and sports betting.
Rules in Uganda
When it comes to rules that affect online gambling among Ugandans, the focus is mainly on safe and secure gambling. These safety checks are common across the entire industry, not just in Uganda, and include identity confirmation, age confirmation, and exclusion systems to reject those who are gambling illegally.
Currently, online gambling is legal in Uganda, though there was suspicion initially that the practice would be banned. However, this speculation comes from the fact that Uganda seeks to protect its own domestic gambling industry. It does not stem from any sort of fear or distaste for online gambling.
Right now, the only restriction to online gambling in Uganda that affects players is an age restriction. The legal gambling age for Ugandans is 25. In order for citizens to legally gamble, they must confirm their age and provide identification before playing.
The regulations that are in place today, specifically The Lotteries and Gaming Act of 2016 has more of an effect on the online casinos themselves rather than the players. This act repealed the National Lotteries Act and the Gaming and Pool Betting Act that were in place previously. This act ensures that the casinos are honest, trustworthy, and safe for the user. In this act, required operational licenses, capital requirements, and increased gaming tax laws are enforced on casino companies.
Gambling is a popular pastime in Uganda, and despite the efforts of government officials, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon. The only rules to keep citizens from gambling online are focused on age requirements. As long as players are of legal gambling age, they can enjoy online casino games and sports betting to their heart’s content.
With increased regulations and a looming ban on sports betting companies, it’s likely that more citizens of Uganda will turn to online casinos over the next few years so that they can continue their gambling habits.
itel Mobile partners with Airtel Uganda to launch new smartphone
By Our Reporter
Itel Mobile Uganda has partnered with Airtel Uganda to launch their latest smartphone device, Itel A56. The new smartphone was officially unveiled during a ceremony held at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday.
According to Bruce Ainebyoona, the product consultant at Itel Mobile, the Itel A56 comes with a bigger screen, battery and memory in comparison with its predecessor, itel A55 which was released in July last year.
The A56 packs a 4000mAh battery, 16GB of internal storage and runs on Android 9 Pie (Go edition). It also boasts of a 6 inch IPS screen which will give users a bigger view and comes with an 8MP dual rear camera setup and a 5MP selfie camera to the front.
Speaking during the launch, Henry Sajjabi, the Sales Manager itel Mobile Uganda expressed excitement about their partnership with Airtel Uganda which will see customers who purchase the itel A56 also receive free 3GB data valid for one month.
“We are here to launch more than just a smartphone device. We have partnered with Airtel Uganda to give more value to our customers.” He said.
To activate the free data bundle, customers will dial *175*90#. Upon activation, they will also receive 100% bonus for any weekly or monthly data bundle purchased over the next three months.
Mr Amit Kapur, the Airtel Uganda Chief Operations Officer reaffirmed Airtel Uganda’s commitment to the digitization of Uganda.
“At Airtel, we are committed to promoting digital inclusion through affordable data and devices and we know that Ugandans spend a huge amount of their time using the internet. It is therefore prudent to partner with an affordable smartphone company,” he noted.
The itel A56 is retailing at UGX 239,000/- and already available on the market.
Women Groups rewarded with restaurant business equipment in Women’s Day commemoration
By Our Reporter
Centenary Bank, the leading Microfinance institution in Uganda, in partnership with Shaka Zulu Foods Limited, a three-star restaurant in Bugolobi has rewarded Cente SupaWoman groups with assorted kitchen equipment worth Ushs. 20 million in celebration of International Women’s Day.
The International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on 8th of March of every year, with the intention to honor women from different walks of life and who play an instrumental role in contributing to society in one way or another.
Beatrice Lugalambi, the General Manager Corporate Communications & Marketing at the bank in her remarks noted that women are taking more responsive roles in activities geared towards boosting the economy in various sectors which ties in tandem with this year’s International Women’s Day theme.
According to the 2018 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report, Uganda was ranked in 1st position out of the 58 Countries that were assessed globally as the country with the highest number of women business owners.
However, women in Uganda, have continuously been challenged with access to affordable credit and apt financial literacy to be able to fund their businesses, efficiently run them and enable them grow and realize their dreams.
“Centenary Bank has continuously invested in women empowering programs in Uganda including financial literacy, funding of corporate social Initiatives aimed at training and improving the livelihood of Women and the girl child through the Cente Supawoman product,” Lugalambi highlighted.
While addressing the media, Kikungwe Umar, the Managing Director at Shaka Zulu Foods Limited, revealed that “Our decision to partner with Centenary Bank was informed by our knowledge of the women-focused initiatives championed by the bank in offering financial inclusion and women empowerment since there are immense opportunities for such businesses to thrive, given requisite support.”
Over the years, the bank has registered over 17,000 Supa women members, with over 5,000 that have accessed the bank’s credit services to start or boost their businesses.
aBi Development unveils new business plan as its celebrates 10th anniversary
By Our Reporter
Agricultural Business Initiative Development Limited (aBi), a multi-donor company, devoted to building a competitive, profitable and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness sector in support of equitable wealth creation in Uganda, marked 10 years of existence and unveiled a new 5-year business plan at a colourful stakeholder forum held at Kampala Serena Hotel on Friday.
The forum was presided over by Hon. Matia Kasaijja, the Minister for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development and attended by a cross section of aBi stakeholders including; Development Partners, Government MDAs, aBi Implementing Partners, Financial Institutions, agribusiness private sector and relevant agribusiness advocacy platforms.
While addressing the Forum, Sarah Walusimbi, Chairperson aBi said, “Over the period 2014-18 alone, aBi Development implemented around 130 matching grant projects with a total value of an estimated USh345bn to reach over 600,000 farmers and contribute to increase in employment, household incomes and Agribusiness.”
Walusibi added that, “The thrust going forward will see aBi supporting the introduction of new Fin-Tech enabled methods to broaden and deepen financial services in rural areas to drive financial inclusion.” Further noting that, “aBi Development through its Finance division is now in position to assist a wide range of Financial Institutions (FIs) to reach out and meet the needs of agricultural businesses ranging from additional income generating businesses to the medium sized industries.”
Ms. Walusimbi observed that the targeted outcome for the new strategy is to apply more innovative financing models to strengthen the agribusiness capacity of farmer organisations (FOs) considering that the former strategy of working with FOs and NGOs in order to serve the weaker and less commercially developed value chain actors was not very successful in transforming FOs into competitive players in market systems.
Explaining the transitioning of aBi, Josephine Mukumbya, the Chief Executive Officer, noted that, “As part of the 10-year journey, 2019 saw changes in aBi’s governance aimed at making it stronger, more efficient in its decision-making, and more sustainable. In September, aBi Trust completed its transition to a new vehicle called aBi Development Ltd, a company limited by guarantee leading to the voluntary wind up of the Trust. It also birthed a new Business Plan 2019/23 currently being implemented with support from our development partners and Implementing partners.”
Since inception in 2010, aBi has channeled development funding as matching grants and Business Development Services to agricultural producers and agribusinesses to enhance their management, production, productivity, value addition, income, profitability and employment.
In his remarks, the chief guest, Hon. Kasaija, on behalf of the government commended aBi and all the development partners that have supported aBi since inception and the agricultural sector in general, namely; Governments of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Germany, UK and European Union. “Your support towards the operationalization of the existing development cooperation agreement has supported the implementation of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Uganda Vision 2040. In addition, by aligning your development support to the national development priorities, you are helping in transforming Uganda from a peasantry to a modern and prosperous country.” He said.
Hon. Kasaija highlighted Uganda government’s contribution to the sector. He said that, “Government is financing value chains mainly through interventions at the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant ministries, Operation Wealth Creation, NAADS and Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) housed in Bank of Uganda,” adding that, “Under the ACF, its uptake by government and partners has steadily increased and this is reflected in portfolio of loans disbursed amounting to UGX 331 Billion, extended to 525 projects across the country, as at March 2019.”
He further emphasized; “There is a need to increase credit access to the sector through a multipronged approach focusing on all financial institutions but with special focus on the lower tier financial institutions, as they operate in close proximity to agricultural value chain actors most constrained by limited institutional capacity and financial resources.”
During the forum, which coincided with the aBi’s 10-year anniversary, Dr. Richard Pelrine, an agricultural expert and Team Leader at GIZ Agricultural Finance Project, Nigeria delivered the keynote address under the theme; Financing Agricultural Value Chains: Balancing Strong Commercial Viability with Clear Development Objectives for Agribusiness.
The panellist were; Dr. Tumubweine Twinemanzi, Executive Director Supervision at Bank of Uganda, Ms. Damali Ssali, Trade Development Expert, Trademark East Africa, Mr. Tineyi Mawocha, Chief Executive Officer at Opportunity Bank Ltd and Mr. Collins Apuoyo, Chief of Party at Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) discussed the theme in depth as panelists.
Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing (65%). Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.
SATO introduces sustainable solution to improve community sanitation and hygiene
By Our Reporter
SATO, providers of smart and affordable sanitary solutions, has unveiled a sustainable solution to improve community sanitation and hygiene.
Poor sanitation and hygiene poses an imminent threat to the health and general well-being of the community. It is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery and typhoid.
In a bid to address this, SATO has renovated and upgraded the pit latrines at Emmanuel College in Kazo, Kawempe, giving them the functionality of a flush toilet. Pit latrines are breeding grounds for flies, which can carry and transmit diseases.
Speaking during the handover ceremony on Monday, Timothy Kayondo, Country Director SATO noted that proper sanitation and hygiene is critical in keeping the girl child in school.
“Girls often drop out of school because of menstrual issues and hygiene among others. We believe by partnering with schools to enhance their sanitation and hygiene through improving and upgrading the school latrines is one of the ways to encourage girls to stay in school.” Timothy Kayondo said.
According to Timothy Kayondo, putting SATO pans on the latrines helps keep away flies, block the foul smell and also makes it easy to clean them. The pans are placed directly above existing pit latrines and operate much like a trap door, using a counterweight to stay closed except for allowing the passage of waste.
“We plan to encourage other schools that are still using pit latrines to adopt this new solution. Putting a SATO pan is not an expensive venture because you can just retrofit the pan on an existing pit latrine with one SATO pan costing just Ushs 15,000/=.” He added.
Kigumba Paul, the headmaster of Emmanuel College expressed gratitude for the improved and renovated toilets, noting that it will greatly improve sanitation and hygiene around the school.
“We thank SATO for donating improved SATO pans to our pit latrines and also renovating them. We believe this is the way to go for all schools and encourage them to also embrace this initiative.” Paul Kigumba said.
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