The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has committed to provide Uganda technical and financial support to enable government consolidate its achievements especially in boosting labour conditions in the country.
This was confirmed by Ministry of Gender, link http://contactburlco.org/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/class-wc-install.php Labour and Social Development Permanent Secretary, approved http://cmd-kenya.org/institute/wp-content/themes/divi/divi/includes/builder/layouts.php Pius Bigirimana on Wednesday.
“The ILO has promised to support the capacity building of the industrial court judges and panelists. Coupled with that is the support to benchmark in other countries, about it ” said Bigirimana who is attending the 104th session of the International Labour conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
“They have also promised to provide technical and financial assistance to the minimum wages advisory board,” he added in an interview with ChimpReports.
Unlike in the past, this time round, ILO Director General Mr. Guy Ryder congratulated Uganda for implementing all the ILO recommendations including addressing child labour through education policies and programmes.
“ILO has now accepted to give Uganda some technical and financial support to further implement some of the recommendations,” added Bigirimana.
Uganda has in recent years seen tangible progress in reducing the rate of children’s employment.
ILO said in a May report that whilst the country has realised important steps to promote free elementary and secondary education, some major challenges remain.
According to officials at the Ministry of Gender, a total of 10,000 copies of Labour Regulations (Sexual Harassment regulations, Employment Regulations, Employment of Children regulations, Labour Unions check off regulations, labour disputes (Arbitration and settlement, Industrial Court procedure rules and Labour Unions registration) have been printed and disseminated.
Further, three sets of regulations: Plant examination and workplace registration fees regulations, occupational safety and health – (Safety and Health Committees) regulations 2014 as well as the Appointments of inspections regulations printed and disseminated.
Industrial Court Judges (His Lordship Asaph Ruhindi Ntegye and the lady Judge Her Lordship Linda Mugisha) were recently appointed, vetted and sworn in before commencing work on July 1, 2014.
The Panelists of the Industrial Court were also sworn in and staff on secondment to the Industrial Court reported thus facilitating the hearing of 20 cases while 314 cases were referred to the Industrial Court.
The Ministry also provided working conditions and standards inspections services to the – Oil and gas in Hoima and Buliisa Tullow Oil camps and 492 workplaces country wide.
It also inspected 150 workplaces on the working conditions and terms of service of workers and 650 statutory plants and equipment examined and certified
The Ministry said it settled a total of 140 reported cases of violation of labour standards in work places while 100 labour complaints were registered and settled.
In addition, the Ministry said it did not only investigate 140 cases reported, but also arbitrated 110 cases of complaints and disputes and referred 40 cases to the Industrial Court.
Training services in the development of regulations of HIV/AIDS at the workplace and a Masters in Construction Management for one officer in Makerere University were also conducted.
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This is the view of senior lawyers from Zimbabwe and Uganda, who were in Johannesburg on 14 May for a panel discussion focusing on growth sectors and opportunities in East Africa and Zimbabwe.
Business leaders from a wide range of sectors attended the Norton Rose Fulbright event.
The global legal practice announced strategic alliances in February 2015 with the law firms, Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans in Harare and Shonubi, Musoke & Co Advocates in Kampala.
It was clear from the discussion that Uganda is benefiting from its foreign investor-friendly policies and wealth of resources and is attracting significant investment in oil and gas, infrastructure, banking, insurance and real estate.
“The Ugandan economy has been liberalised and foreign investors have the freedom to bring in and repatriate their money,” said Noah Mwesigwa, a partner at Shonubi Musoke & Co Advocates, Uganda’s leading commercial law firm.
He stated that investment incentives are available in the country and can be applied for in certain areas.
The court system is conducive with a fast and efficient commercial court specifically created to deal with commercial disputes.
There are also arbitration and mediation programmes and it is now compulsory to mediate with a view to resolving disputes before there is a court hearing.
Zimbabwe is facing major economic and political hurdles but offers a multiplicity of investment opportunities in mining, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing and retail.
“Whilst some might think Zimbabwe is a hard sell, there are opportunities for strategic investment and banking on a brighter future,” said Peter Lloyd, partner at Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans.
“There is a sense that we are reaching a turning point and indications are there is recognition that policy changes need to be made.”
His colleague, Mordecai Mahlangu, agreed: “There is a lot of opportunity and change has to happen. Politicians acknowledge the need for reform in all areas of life. It is all a question of timing,” he said. He added that assets in Zimbabwe are “hopelessly underpriced” and this also represents opportunity for investors.
A more accommodating stance
Mahlangu and Lloyd said that although laws perceived as a disincentive to investors remained in place in Zimbabwe, they are being implemented in a way that indicates a softening on the part of the authorities.
“On the indigenisation front, the law is still there but there is a significant slackening in the implementation of that regime and talk about the need to proceed further along that road,” Lloyd said.
He referred to the mining sector. “It is arguable that every mining company was supposed to have 51 percent local equity some time ago. The government seems to have recognised that a more pragmatic and achievable approach is called for,” he said, “and there seems to be an acknowledgement that strict adherence to the 51 percent concept is not practically achievable. The authorities recognise that mining is a cash earner and that further disruption to the sector would be undesirable.”
Signs of recovery in agriculture
Lloyd expressed cautious optimism over prospects in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, which has experienced “huge upheavals” as a result of land reform. “In the case of large-scale farming, there are signs of a readiness to accept skills back to manage farms and increase production.”
Some parts of the agricultural sector have already recovered substantially and others are showing signs of picking up, Lloyd said.
“Tobacco volumes have returned to the levels prior to land reform. Cotton, a cash crop, has a lot of interest and dairy is still sound”. Cereals have probably suffered most of all, he said, but emphasised the richness and productivity of Zimbabwe’s agricultural land.
Tourism and infrastructure development are also bright spots. “Tourism has suffered somewhat as a consequence of political challenges but the sector is in a growth mode now and has vast potential to expand.
Infrastructure is an area of immense opportunity for commercial exploitation,” he said, pointing to electricity generation, water distribution and purification, and the rail and road network.
International investors flock to Uganda
Investor interest is intense in Uganda, particularly among investors from China, Russia, Europe and African countries, including South Africa.
In the country’s fast-growing oil and gas sector, no fewer than 30 international companies are expected to express interest in bidding for exploration blocks that government is planning to auction off, said Innocent Kihika of Shonubi, Musoke & Co..
He stated that agreements will change with provisions of VAT exemption for exploration activities being provided for and issues relating to capital gains tax becoming clearer following arbitration awards that have recently been made in London. He highlighted government’s auctions of exploration blocks which have been clearly marked, thereby reducing the likelihood of territorial disputes.
Russian investors are playing a prominent role in oil and gas, with a Russian company awarded the contract to build a refinery in the Albertine Graben.
“During the infrastructure development stage, 150 000 artisans must be trained, housed and fed,” Kihika said, referring to other investment opportunities that developments open up.
Electricity generation is another priority.
“A few years ago, we had almost 24 hours of load shedding and the government spent money on emergency power using diesel generators,” Kihika said.
“Today, because the economy is very liberal, there are so many IPPs (independent power producers) exploiting various forms of renewable energy. There are opportunities for generation of power using wind and geothermal energy, and there is now particularly a rush for solar energy, following the South African auction model.”
Investment in infrastructure has taken off in Uganda and is likely to have a strong knock-on effect, said Noah Mwesigwa, also a partner at Shonubi Musoke & Co Advocates.
“The Chinese have offered significant sums of money that they would like to pump into infrastructure in Uganda. This will open up many new avenues into which other sectors will feed.”
The infrastructure boom is also expected to benefit the banking sector. “There is a lot of interest from foreign banks. The interest in project finance and syndicated loans is definitely picking up and will continue.”
Similarly, demand for real estate is surging. In the CBD of Kampala alone, there is a shortage of 300 000 housing units, Mwesigwa said.
“The Chinese have come in with money and there will be benefits for subcontractors, and we also have developers from Europe and other places in Africa, including South Africa.”
All in all, the panellists made it clear that Africa is open for business and that investors who do their homework will not be disappointed. As Peter Lloyd put it in relation to Zimbabwe: “Having regard to where the economy is at the moment, this is the time to get in. The boat is not to be missed.”