Connect with us


OPINION: Covid-19 has Exposed Private Sector Investment Opportunities in Agribusiness



By Nathan Were

The Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed livelihoods and scattered millions of jobs around the world. The International Labor Organization estimates that nearly 1.6 billion people’s livelihoods are now threatened with the greatest impact being felt by those in the informal sector.

However, the pandemic has also brought to the fore numerous opportunities in agribusiness that the private sector – which has long argued that they’re no profitable opportunities in agriculture – can now harness.

Investment in cold chain solutions

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that about 40pc of the food in the sub-Saharan Africa perishes before it reaches the consumer.

In Uganda, there’s a growing production of fruits and vegetables but most of it is going to waste due to the absence of storage facilities.  Due to a lack of cold chain solutions in Uganda, most crops are only seasonally available with price variations between peak harvest and low season reaching up to 400pc.

Investment in cold storage will require temperature-controlled cold storage warehouses and transportation services for which affordable long-term debt financing and private equity will be critical for those without ready capital.

Investment in marketplace applications

The pandemic has eroded the traditional marketing systems and it may take years before we return to the practices, we have all been accustomed to.

However, farmers and buyers need to quickly connect for trading to happen. This is what is going to drive the popularity of marketplace applications. Market place platforms are going to slowly replace the traditional market systems and we could see many digitally literate young farmers adopting and using them.

A Consultative Group to Assist the Poor Survey in 2016, indicated that about 5pc of smallholder farmers in Uganda have a smart-phone and this number has been growing with young farmers that are tech-savvy joining the sector.

This could be a good place to start as we think about low hanging fruits that will drive adoption and use of these platforms.

Investment in distribution

During the lock-down, boda-boda and small cargo trucks have helped many people access supplies including foodstuffs.

Even though these have played a great role, they remain informal, disorganized, and less professional. There’s a great opportunity in building distribution leveraging the already existing infrastructure of boda bodas.

Although companies like safe boda and uber have invested heavily in this area, there’s still a huge opportunity especially outside of Kampala.

Urban farming

The lockdown disrupted movements and cut off supply chains for fresh vegetables and fruits among other products. Many people turned their backyards into gardens for leafy vegetables and fruits to meet the growing demand in the urban and peri-urban areas.

With cities expanding and population growing, urban gardens are going to become more popular.

Investment in this area will require customized greenhouses to fit in small urban garden spaces, bundled seeds, and crop protection products for small urban gardens and sophisticated technologies to help urban farmers optimize space and grow more foodstuffs including on the ground and in space.

Sorting and cleaning solutions

At the height of the lock-down, the government distributed food to urban families especially in Kampala. However, there was a lot of outcry from the public over ‘dirty’ and poorly sorted beans. This did not only start with the pandemic but for many years most foodstuffs such as beans, maize, rice have been poorly sorted.

In fact, in a Kilogram of beans, you buy in a retail shop, about 3-5% will be stones and sand partly due to poor post-harvest handling.

Investment in this area will require services that enable agri-business traders to clean produce, sort, and package. Even for smallholder farmers, these services can be offered at an aggregate level.

The Agricultural sector is full of opportunities throughout the value chain of various enterprises, private sector players need to be strategic is spotting and harnessing these opportunities.

Nathan Were is access to finance Specialist at the World Bank Group


Source –


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



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

Continue Reading


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




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 –

Continue Reading


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




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 –

Continue Reading