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Digital Age: Promoting Confidence in Electronic Contracts in Uganda

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all our lives. The requirement to practice social distancing and the restriction on public gatherings mean we are no longer able to hold face to face meetings in the usual way.

Many people are working from home and may don’t have access to printed documents. Others may prefer to avoid exchanging hard copy documentation in person as part of a responsible social distancing regime.

Electronic contracts and signatures are the most appropriate way to keep business going without unnecessary delays whilst adhering to Ministry of Health public health guidelines on social distancing.

The good news is, the Electronic Transactions Act, 2011 and the Electronic Signatures Act, 2011 are already in place to facilitate this new normal. Here are some legal requirements under the said laws that everyone transacting electronically must know.

Is the Electronic Transactions Act applicable to all transactions?

Even if parties agree to conduct business transactions electronically, some documents are excluded from application of the Electronic Transactions Act.

The Act states that it does not apply to certain documents, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, documents that create or transfer an interest in property and require registration to be effective against third parties.

The Act was amended in 2018 and some of the restrictions were relaxed, such as, exclusion of negotiable instruments, for example, cheques from their applicability under the Act. This paved way for use of cheque truncation.

Cheque truncation reduces or eliminates the physical movement of paper cheques and reduces the time and cost of cheque clearance.

Do contracts that are signed by the parties in hard copy, scanned and sent electronically to the other party have the force of law?

Yes, unless the parties have expressly excluded this possibility in advance, or the nature of the contract is one which falls within the category of excluded contracts highlighted above.

The Electronic Transactions Act promotes the enforceability of electronic contracts by giving them the same force of law as ordinary contracts concluded by the parties in each other’s presence. In that vein, the Act provides for “legal equivalence” between ordinary (physical) contracts and electronic contracts.

This brings us to the related matter of the signing of contracts. Does a scanned signature affixed to an electronic document or a scanned copy of a contract signed in wet ink and sent over by e-mail to the counter-party suffice?

Yes, the Electronic Signatures Act, 2011 comes into play.

The Electronic Signatures Act gives recognition to all forms of electronic signatures, including scanned signatures. As a core principle, it stipulates that an electronic signature, irrespective of its type, should not be denied legal effect (i.e. as a manifestation of the signatory’s consent) and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in electronic form.

On the strength of that legal basis, such forms of signatures would thus suffice to give the contract being signed the legal validity of consent. The responsibility to determine the type of electronic signature to use given the complexity or value of the matter lies with the parties. The law allows for this flexibility.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is defined under the Electronic Signatures Act, 2011 as “data in electronic form affixed to or logically associated with a data message, which may be used to identify a signatory or indicate his/her approval of the information contained in the data message”.

In simple terms, it is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms.

What are some of the examples of electronic signatures?

A number of electronic signature techniques have been developed over the years. These include those based on the:

  • knowledge of the user [e.g. passwords, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)];
  • physical features of the user (e.g. biometrics) – used to identify an individual through his or her intrinsic physical or behavioural traits, such as, fingerprints, iris, hand or facial geometry, handwriting or typing patterns;
  • possession of an object by the user (e.g. codes or other information stored on a magnetic card); and those not based on any of the above: –
  • scanned signatures or a name typed at the bottom of an electronic communication, such as, an e-mail; and
  • signatures relying on public key cryptography.

But how could you be sure that the person who signed a contract electronically is the person whose name is on the signature block?

The Electronic Signatures Act, 2011 stipulates that electronic signatures can be verified or authenticated through application of a method previously agreed upon by the person signing and the recipient of the signed document.

The verification method is usually provided by the respective electronic signature providers in the market.

It is advisable that a fully signed electronic contract is maintained as a record just as it would for a paper contract with wet signatures. Further, it is advisable that any person seeking to conclude a contract electronically, should have a contract execution policy that expressly provides for electronic contracts and electronic signatures.

 

Baker Birikujja is an advocate at the National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U)



Source – chimpreports.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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