A statutory internal audit report for the second quarter of Financial Year 2018/2019 has unearthed rot in the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)’s procurement process.
The report, published on January 31, was compiled by KCCA director of internal audit Moses Canon Bwire basing on the period between October and December last year. Mr Bwire’s report was backed by reviewing the contracts signed between July 10, 2016, and June 30, 2018.
The objective of the audit was to establish whether the procurement, management and payment for the city works were in line with government procedures and guidelines.
The audit findings indicate failure to submit performance securities by some contractors, inadequate usage of the existing contracts management system, calling off orders issued to contractors with higher unit prices under frame contracts and failure to prepare management plans for some contracts.
Others are failure to provide for retention during the defects liability period, delays in payment for certified works, payment of value added tax components to unregistered contractors and unclear land boundaries affecting project implementation.
The internal audit director is mandated by Section 60 of the KCCA Act to prepare quarterly audit reports and submit them to the authority and give a copy to the authority’s public accounts committee.
Section12(1,3,4) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) regulations, 2014 states that a performance security shall be required to protect the procuring and disposing entity against non-performance of a contract. According to the PPDA regulations, the performance security shall be equivalent to 10 per cent of the value of a call-off order.
However, the audit shows that although KCCA signed contracts for road repairs with five contractors with a provision for a 10 per cent performance security of the contract price, two providers did not submit performance securities.
“…KCCA is not protected if the contractor fails to execute some of the contract obligations,” Mr Bwire warned.
According to the audit, KCCA’s department of Information Technology developed a contract management system to aid in monitoring contract implementation phases from inception up to completion.
But findings show that there were no updates by contract managers and other key stakeholders during the contract implementation and payment process.
Mr Bwire noted that such glaring irregularities undermine the purpose for creation of the contracts management system since it is difficult to monitor the performance of contractors.
KCCA as a contract manager is mandated by Section 51(3) of the PPDA (contracts) regulations, 2014 to prepare a contract management plan and forward a copy to the procurement and disposal unit for purposes of monitoring.
However, the audit reveals that there are instances where there was neither evidence on the contract management file nor the procurement file that KCCA prepared contracts management plans for the contracts reviewed.
Contracts where management plans were not prepared include emergency roof repairs, ceiling boards, electrical fittings and rainwater harvesting at Kololo Primary School, and construction of a classroom block at Kansanga Seed Secondary School.
Others are construction of a piggery unit and a chicken house at Kyanja Agriculture Resource Centre, and construction of a wall fence at Kisaasi Primary School.
“…failure to prepare contract management inhibits project monitoring by other stakeholders due to absence of the planned workflow information,” the audit states. Mr Bwire recommends that in future, the KCCA head of procurement should ensure that all contract managers prepare and submit contract management plans to ease monitoring of contract deliverables by various stakeholders.
According to the audit, KCCA entered into a framework contract for the routine road repairs with five service providers who were required to provide the said works and related services for a period of 18 months at different unit prices. The procurement guidelines require KCCA to issue a call-off order to the provider for only items with the lowest price where the framework agreement has been entered into with several providers for several items at different prices.
However, the audit shows that in several cases, the call-off orders were issued to providers with higher prices without evidence that they would offer the same services at a cheaper cost under the same contract framework.
Mr Bwire recommended that where framework contracts are entered into with more than one service provider, the issuance of call-off orders must always be done after analysing the prices to ensure that priority is given to the eligible providers who offer the services at the least cost to reduce unnecessary expenditures.
KCCA speaks out
In an email to this newspaper last week, KCCA spokesperson Peter Kaujju acknowledged the audit queries but noted that the report is intended to ensure system improvements at the authority.
“… as an institution, we pay high attention to the government procurement procedures and this explains our top ranking among government entities over the years. Last year, KCCA was ranked at 83 per cent in terms of performance,” the email reads in part.
“We have done well and will continue to observe the recommended procurement procedure in all our areas of business including contracting, management and across the entire procurement cycle,” Mr Kaujju added.
However, he did not explain how KCCA intends to recover the money which was lost as a result of irregularities in the procurement process.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago noted that while the current 2010 KCCA Act requires the contracts committee to submit quarterly reports of procurement to the authority, the committee has never submitted any report since KCCA came into being in 2011.
Mr Lukwago further noted that the composition of the contracts committee members is not clear.
“Whenever we ask for the reports, they accuse us of interfering with the work of the executive director yet we are doing our supervisory role as an authority. However, we have made it clear that the law cannot be compromised hence we need compliance,” he said.
Section 66 of the 2010 KCCA Act states that the capital city contracts committee shall give to the authority a copy of the published quarterly summary reports of the procurements and disposals made by it during the quarter concerned containing such particulars.
Different view. In February, a KCCA public accounts committee report highlighted irregularities in the management of city properties. Failure to appoint contract managers, the report said, brought up lapses in the contracts management resulting in loss of revenue. The report states that absence of a contract manager to follow up on the execution of the lease that was granted to Formar Ltd for Plot 9B Kira Road, led to encroachment on the children’s park (Plot 9A) without KCCA’s notice.
Credit: Daily Monitor
Stay hungry, Christian Bale, stay foolish. The American Hustle actor just booked a new big gig.
Bale, 40, will play the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin confirmed to Bloomberg on Thursday, Oct. 23.
"What we needed was the best actor," Sorkin explained. "It's like the NFL draft. There are some people who make a science out of exactly the guys [they need] to draft a middle, inside linebacker who can do this… and other teams say, 'Who's the best athlete on the board.' We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range, and that's Chris Bale."
Bale, whose credits include his turn as Batman in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises, as well as his Oscar-winning role in 2010's The Fighter, has been rumored for the role in Sorkin's movie for months. The Social Network director David Fincher was originally attached to the upcoming film, but he was later replaced by Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire.
Jobs, who passed away in October 2011 at the age of 56, was previously brought to life on the big screen by Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher played the acclaimed innovator in 2013's Jobs, which opened to mixed reviews from critics and less-than-stellar box office numbers.
"I couldn't be more excited about him," Sorkin continued of Bale. "He really is a phenomenal actor… he didn't have to audition… It's an extremely difficult part and he's gonna crush it."
Ukraine's efforts to unblock deliveries of Russian gas as winter sets in were deadlocked on Thursday as Moscow's negotiators were quoted demanding firmer commitments from the European Union to cover Kiev's pre-payments for energy.
EU-hosted talks were adjourned after running late into the night, Energy Minister Alexander Novak and the head of Russian gas firm Gazprom (GAZP.MM) told Russian news agencies. They would resume later in the day if Ukraine and the EU had a firm financing deal in place, Gazprom head Alexei Miller said.
Ukrainian and EU officials were not available. A spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger issued a statement cancelling a news briefing that had been tentatively set for 8:30 a.m. (4.30 a.m. EDT) in the event of an agreement.
There has already been agreement on the price Kiev will pay for gas over the winter, the amount to be supplied and the repayment of some $3.1 billion in unpaid Ukrainian bills but Moscow, which cut off vital pipelines in June as the conflict withUkraine and the West deepened, wants more legal assurances that Kiev can pay some $1.6 billion for new gas up front.
Some critics of Russia question whether its motivation is financial or whether prolonging the wrangling with ex-Soviet Ukraine and its Western allies suits Moscow's diplomatic agenda.
Ukraine is in discussions with existing creditors the EU and the IMF and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, concerned about vital Russian gas supplies to the rest of Europe has spoken of bridging finance for Kiev. But the Russian negotiators said they wanted to see a signed agreement on EU financing for Ukraine.
Novak was quoted by RIA news agency as saying he had been told in the talks that Ukraine was discussing funding for 4 billion cubic meters of gas with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund but he had seen no guarantee of it.
"This isn't about guarantees, but only statements from the Ukrainians," he said. "We were shown no written guarantees."
He noted that Russia was only offering to open the taps once prepayments were made by Ukraine, whose economy is in crisis and which has a record of payment difficulties. "If there's money, there will be gas," Novak said.
"Everything to do with financial issues, everything to do with guarantees which the European Commission will give Ukraine, these arrangements will be set out in a bilateral protocol," Miller was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass news agency.
"If such agreements are not reached, then accordingly, there will be no negotiations and no documents will be signed. If there is an accord between the European Commission and Ukraine, then we can expect to sign all the trilateral documents."
The gas cut-off has had little impact for months. But pressure is mounting for a deal as temperatures start to drop below freezing and European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who has been mediating, prepares to leave office on Friday, making way for a new European Commission.
The two sides came close in September, but last week differences were wide over Kiev's ability to pay.
Some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's many critics in eastern Europe question his interest in concluding an agreement on commercial grounds and see the temperature of Ukrainian homes in the coming months being determined more by Kremlin calculations of its geostrategic interests.
Oettinger, a German, said before talks began on Wednesday that there was a 50-50 chance of a breakthrough. If he cannot broker a solution, it will be down to his Slovak successor, Maros Sefcovic, who takes office on Saturday.
Weekend elections returned a pro-Western parliament in Kiev, potentially stoking tensions with Moscow, although Russia's EU envoy, Vladimir Chizhov, said on Thursday the mood could be more relaxed now the vote had taken place.
"During the last rounds of talks, let's not conceal it, the pre-election situation had its influence on Ukrainian side," Chizhov told RIA. The only unresolved problem, he said, was from where to get the money for winter supplies.
NOT JUST MONEY
Ukraine's Naftogaz company has set aside $3.1 billion in a special escrow account to pay off a chunk of its debt to Gazprom, but Russia is also demanding prepayment for winter supplies before it is willing to turn the taps back on.
Kiev says it is working to raise more money from all possible sources of financing, including the European Union. The European Commission is considering Ukraine's request, made last week, for a further loan of 2 billion euros.
But Kiev also says money alone may not be enough.
"I have an impression that the Russian side doesn't want to agree," Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksander Shlapak said on Tuesday.
Analysts said it could be very hard to come up with enough assurances to satisfy Russia, even if Gazprom, and more widely the Russian treasury, would welcome new revenues as the economy suffers from the effects of Western trade sanctions.
Ukraine at the same time is pushing for written guarantees that any agreement on price will be lasting.
For all sides, there is much at stake.
Russia provides around a third of the European Union's gas, roughly half of which is pumped via Ukraine.
Ukraine in turn relies on Russia for around 50 percent of its own gas and despite storage has a winter shortfall of around 3 billion to 4 billion cubic meters (bcm), depending on the weather.
For Russia, the gas sector contributes approximately a fifth of the national budget.
Sanctions on Russia, which EU officials decided to leave unchanged on Tuesday while conflict in Ukraine continues, are sapping an already weak economy. But Moscow could well be willing to endure much more hardship for political ends.
"Economic factors are generally not given precedence when national security concerns are at stake," Pasquale De Micco, a national expert from the European Parliament's policy department, said in a research paper on Europe's gas supply options.
"What is certain is that a gas war risks harming both parties in the short term and that it would hamper future efforts to re-establish mutually trusting relations."
ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas company, on Thursday reported higher third-quarter profit from the sale of its Nigerian unit but lowered its fourth-quarter production outlook, sending shares down 1.4 percent.
Over the last several years, Conoco has shed lower-margin assets, directing more capital to projects like shale drilling in the United States that offer higher returns and higher production growth.
Analysts at energy-focused investment bank Simmons & Co said it was important for Conoco, which shed its refining operations in 2012, to meet its targets.
"Conoco has executed very well since spinning off into a pure-play exploration and production (company) and the cut to fourth-quarter production doesn’t change this narrative," the analysts wrote in a note to clients.
"However, this is an execution story, and for the stock to work, there must be confidence in Conoco's ability to achieve and potentially outperform its growth targets."
Profit rose to $2.7 billion, or $2.17 per share, from $2.5 billion, or $2.00 per share, in the 2013 third quarter.
Excluding items such as the proceeds from the sale of its Nigerian business in July and a tax benefit, Conoco had a profit of $1.29 per share. Analysts, on average, expected $1.20, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The proceeds from the Nigerian sale were $1.4 billion.
Even as crude prices have fallen more than 20 percent in recent weeks on increased supply and waning demand, Conoco's chief executive officer expressed optimism about next year.
"We expect strong growth in 2015 driven by ongoing success in the North American unconventionals and startup of several major projects, including Surmont 2 and APLNG." CEO Ryan Lance said in statement.
Surmont is an oil sands project in Canada and APLNG is a liquefied natural gas project in Australia. Unconventional drilling refers to shale drilling.
ConocoPhillips had third-quarter oil and gas production from continuing operations, excluding Libya, of 1.473 million barrels oil equivalent per day (boed), up 25,000 boed from a year ago.
For the fourth quarter, Conoco forecast production from continuing operations rising to 1.545 million boed to 1.575 million boed, excluding Libya. Previously, it said it would produce as much as 1.590 million boed to 1.640 million boed.
The production cut is due in part to third-party infrastructure constraints in Malaysia and a depressed market for the natural gas liquid (NGL) ethane in the United States, according to analysts at Wells Fargo.
Shares of Conoco fell 96 cents to $69.70 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.
Charles Batte does not put his entrepreneurial eggs in one basket. The 27-year-old’s name is likely to spark memories of the awards he has won for his works in the world of social entrepreneurship, particularly the Empower Community Farm in Katiiti village Mpigi District, which employs more than 50 workers and a health centre in Nansana.
However, these are only some of the proverbial baskets holding his eggs. One other such basket is Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU), a social enterprise he set up in 2013, with a mission to address youth unemployment and deforestation.
Inception of the idea
When Batte agrees to my request for this interview, he proposes we hold it at Rubaga hospital where he works as a medical doctor. “The idea was one of the initiatives under my now renowned “Self-Sustaining Community” model of enterprise tailored to transform my community through; job creation, improving access and affordability for health, education and youth empowerment,” he says of the start of the venture.
“After getting the farm and health centre on their feet, I used funds from the two to breathe life in this fresh enterprise where Shs30m has been spent, so far, in actualising the idea.
The model of TAU works in such a way that Batte meets the needs of two groups of people at ago. On one hand are corporate companies or manufacturers whom he persuades to spend their Community Social Responsibility money on tree planting in order to reduce their carbon footprint.
“For example, we approach Centenary Bank (we are currently in talks with them) and calculate for them the carbon their operations contribute to the atmosphere,” he explains. “We also calculate for them the number of trees they have to plant to reduce this carbon.”
On the other hand, we have youth who are pregnant with business ideas and are seeking for a helping hand to deliver these ideas. He offers these youths basic start-up business training and a three – year mentorship. TAU also gives these youth trees to plant in nurseries.
When the corporate company or manufacturer pays for, say 10,000 trees, TAU buys these trees from the youth under its training programme. An agreement is signed that this earned income is spent on actualising the business ideas the youth have been working on.
“This way, TAU is able to hit two birds with one stone. Address the challenge of youth unemployment and sustain the environment,” he says.
The medical doctor says TAU is currently through with its pilot project under which the venture partnered with Aga Khan High School to equip 150 students with hands-on experience of setting up tree nurseries of up to 600 fruit trees.
TAU which currently employs five people will kick off with 50 youth in Katiiti village. Batte says he prioritised youth in rural areas in order to reduce the growing number of youth flocking the city to do nothing, leaving behind money-minting opportunities in the villages.
Advice to entrepreneurs
Motivation and self – drive are key. There are very many stumbling blocks in the pathway of a social entrepreneur, he says, but one can only go around them if they constantly remind themselves that quitting is not an option.
He narrates that during his early days as an entrepreneur (in 2009); he invested his hard-earned cash in growing maize on three acres of land. “However, all the maize dried up. In such a situation, only the conviction and hope that there will be a good day can induce you to get back on your feet,” he says.
The medical doctor also stresses the importance of patience and looking beyond fear. He explains that young people tend to yearn for quick results yet they are rare to come by. He says the frustration one encounters before a business finds its feet is a priceless experience for an entrepreneur to master how to transform an idea into a profitable venture.
“The youth should also learn to start with what they have. They should look beyond fears such as; how things will turn out or the imagination of a slow progress,” he states.
Source: Daily Monitor
The year-long wait has ended. Apple has unveiled not just one but two iPhones with bigger displays and faster processors. Here is what makes the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus special. A 4.7-inch screen with 1334 X 750 pixel resolution display, encased in an all-aluminium 6.8 mm slim chassis with a powerful A8, 64-bit chipset of brain. With ion-strengthened glass front, the curvature design aesthetic follows to the aluminium back that sports a stainless steel Apple. This is the iPhone 6 for you. The bigger sibling encases a 5.5-inch display that marks Apple 's entry into the phablet space. The display has 1980 x 1080 pixel resolution in a 7.1mm thick chassis. The back is made of anodized aluminium and also has a stainless steel frame. The awesomeness of dimensions is extended to the innards too. The all new A8, 64-bit second-generation chipset is accompanied with the M8 co-processor. Apple claims that the A8, 64-bit chip is 25 per cent more powerful than its predecessor and offers 50 per cent faster graphics. The company promises that the A8 chipset would allow the device to run at full power without causing heat. The battery life is estimated at 15 hours of 3G talk time on the iPhone 6 and 24 hours on the iPhone 6 Plus. While the megapixel count remains the same, both the iPhones have a new iSight sensor and both also support a faster auto focus. The iPhone 6 features a digital image stabilisation while the iPhone 6 Plus has an optical image stabilisation. Apple also says it's now capable of capturing 1080p video at 30 or 60 frames per second, and Slo-Mo video at 240 frames per second. Panoramas have been increased to up to 43 megapixels. In addition, the iPhones have got the NFC chips too for Apple Pay. This is the new payment service where payments can be made with the phone instead of the credit card at checkout counters. This makes the two iPhones unique. Of course, this service will first be available only in the US with no security threats as the credit card numbers are stored in the Passbook app. Neither Apple nor the retailer will have access to that information. Irrespective of the bigger display, Apple has still made both the phones user friendly by introducing a new gesture called "Reachability," to account for the increased screen size of the devices. Double touching the home button will slide down the entire display, making the top software buttons accessible in whatever app you're in. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus also allows apps to show more information. For instance, in landscape mode, the Mail app will show both a list view of messages on the left side and the content of the selected message to the right, similar to how it is displayed on Apple's iPad Air and iPad Mini. PLENTY TO LOOK FORWARD While Samsung and Sony unveiled new products at the IFA Berlin trade show, Apple came out with its new iPhones. And Blackberry is catching up with its Passport. Many smartphones announced globally will be launched in India in October. We take a look.
Kampala. Intra-regional trade between the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has grown threefold in a period of 10 years.
Latest statistics show the combined intra-trade of the three regional economic communities (RECs) for the period 2004 to 2014 grew from $30 billion (about Shs87 trillion) to $102.6 billion (about Shs289.7 trillion).
In this period, Comesa alone recorded growth from $8 billion (about Shs23.2 trillion) to $22 billion (about Shs63.8 trillion). Comesa is made up of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
SADC, on the other hand, registered growth from $20 billion (about Shs58 trillion) to $72 billion (about Shs208.8 trillion). SADC is made of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia
EAC saw its growth in trade grow from $2.6 billion (about Shs7.5 trillion) in 2004 up to $8.6 billion (about Shs24.9 trillion) realised in 2014. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi make up the EAC.
Giving an update on the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations, the Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, said: “This growth has taken place on the basis of the individual free trade areas (FTAs) of the three RECs”.
Mr Ngwenya said the establishment of the Comesa-EAC-SADC free trade area will follow the same growth path, however at an accelerated growth pace and, supported by infrastructure and industrialisation programmes.
He proposed for the initiation of negotiations for the establishment of a free trade area between the Tripartite (Comesa-EAC-SADC) on one hand, and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
“Once this is achieved we shall then focus on the establishment of the African Union continental free trade area,” Mr Ngwenya added.
Source: Daily Monitor
Kampala- The Anti-Counterfeit Bill will be re-tabled after the government failed to reach a consensus on which institution will take charge of enforcement, the trade minister, Ms Amelia Kyambadde has disclosed.
The regulation, also known as Anti-Counterfeiting Bill, has been in Parliament for years as the business community continues face the consequences of the vice.
According to the bill, “Counterfeiting” means without the authority of the owner of a copyright or trademark.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting with the British Business community here earlier in the week, trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said the Anti-Counterfeit Bill will be re-tabled in Parliament before the end of July.
She said: “We had issues with the anti-counterfeit Bill. We failed to reach a consensus on enforcement and so we were forced to withdraw it.”
She continued: “But we have agreed that police will now do the enforcement and not us. By July, we hope that we would have re-tabled and implementation will start a month after that.”
A statement from the ministry indicated that the bill was withdrawn from parliament in 2013. However it has since been redrafted with amendments as recommended by some Members of Parliament and other stakeholders.
Before the bill was withdrawn there was a disagreement on who should take charge of enforcement, According to the trade ministry statement some legislators argued that the ministry did not have enough manpower and capacity to effectively enforce the Act.
“The draft bill is ready and preparations are underway to table it before Cabinet for approval, and later re-table it before parliament,” reads the statement.
Ms Kyambadde’s response was prompted by the calls from the British Business Community in Uganda to expedite the Anti-Counterfeit Bill.
Uganda Breweries Limited corporate relations and legal director Charity Kiyemba observed that the absence of a law on counterfeits has exposed British companies in Uganda to unfair competition, hence a big threat to their investments.
Other issues raised by the British companies operating in Uganda, which they expect government to address, include; delays at Entebbe airport caused by limited manpower, bureaucracies at several levels of clearing goods at the ports, licensing of foreign companies and the high income tax levied on them.
About the law
The proposed law seeks to prohibit trade in counterfeit goods that infringe upon protected intellectual property rights; to require intellectual property rights to cover only copyright and trademarks and to prohibit release of counterfeit goods into the channels of commerce.
It also seeks to create offences relating to trade in counterfeit goods, empower the Commissioner General to seize and detain suspected counterfeit goods, allow inspectors appointed by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to seize and detain suspected counterfeit goods and to provide for incidental (related) matters.
Source: Daily Monitor
Defying scepticism and geek-stigma, mobile phone firms are determined this year to sell you a wristwatch wirelessly connected to your mobile phone.
Numerous models have hit the market over the past year but 2015 will see an explosion, analysts say, with manufacturers making their watches and other wearable connected devices more elegant and useful.
US giant Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) 's release of its first "smartwatch" -- expected by April -- is set to make 2015 a "tipping point for wearables", research group CCS Insight said in a report.
In anticipation of that launch, Apple's Asian rivals scrambled to unveil their own connected wrist gadgets in Barcelona on Sunday on the eve of the World Mobile Congress trade show in Barcelona.
South Korean manufacturer LG (KSE: 003550.KS - news) released the Urbane LTE, its first fully connected luxury wristwatch that can make and receive calls -- either with a wireless headset, or by speaking into your wrist like the comic book detective Dick Tracy.
Unlike most smartwatch models, the chunky Urbane LTE version has its own network SIM card with a mobile connection and so can be used for calls, without needing to be linked to a smartphone.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei also unveiled a deluxe smartwatch: a round stainless steel creation that it says can receive text messages, email and call notifications as well as monitoring your heart rate and calories burned.
The industry is watching keenly to see whether smartwatches will be the first mobile phone-linked "wearables" to really take off in the mass market -- a tough call, according to analysts.
"In the end-user research that we've done, we asked people what a smartwatch is for and they had no idea," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.
Technology and fashion
With the big phone companies piling in alongside smaller smartwatch specialists such as Pebble, fashion brands are doing their bit to try to design a more desirable product.
Several Swiss watchmakers and fashion brands such as Guess have unveiled designs, while jeweller Swarovski has encrusted smartwatches with its crystals for a deluxe look.
"The vast majority of smartwatches on the market are bulky and look more like a piece of technology than a fashion item," however, said Kevin Curran, a telecom specialist at the University of Ulster.
"That's going to change as companies focus more on design and making devices that are more discreet."
With their new circular watches, LG and Huawei positioned themselves at the luxury end of the market, differentiating themselves from the square-faced design revealed in previews by Apple.
"We set out to create smartwatches that could contend for a spot on your wrist with a luxury mechanical watch," said LG's head for Britain and Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD - news) , Andrew Coughlin.
Source: Daily Monitor
Kampala. East African governments have renewed efforts to bring the betting industry under strict control amid claims of tax evasion and fears of a growing gambling culture and addition among the youth, who are mostly unemployed.
Kenya and Uganda have moved to vet industry players with threats of revocation of licences to tame the proliferation of betting, gaming and gambling outlets.
Despite imposing a punitive tax regimes, restricting the importation of gaming devices and impounding and burning gambling machines, the sector has continued to record growth.
Uganda levies a 35 per cent tax on betting, while in Kenya, the same was reduced to 15 per cent after lobbying by sector players.
While both countries have resorted to drastic measures to contain a sector that has largely become a social and economic menace, Tanzania enacted a strong regulatory framework through the Gaming Act, 2003.
In the 2017/18 financial year, Tanzania collected $36 million from gaming and betting.
But religious leaders recently lobbied President John Magufuli to ban betting altogether to control addiction among the youth.
Just this week, Kenya announced that licences for all betting agencies stand suspended as from July 1, and that their renewal will be subject to proof that the companies are tax compliant.
President Museveni recently directed the Ministry of Finance to stop licencing sports betting, gaming and gambling companies due to the negative effects the industry is having on the youth.
A recent GeoPoll rapid survey carried out among youth between the ages of 17 and35 in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa show that millennials in sub-Saharan Africa spend $50 monthly on betting through their mobile phones.
Source: Daily Monitor