By John Masaba
Uncertainty continues to build around Libyan interests in Uganda resurrecting fears that thousands of jobs could be at stake.
Libya has invested over $375m (about sh900b) in Uganda’s agriculture, hotel, health, infrastructure, construction, food and financial industries. It is providing jobs to over 3,000 Ugandans directly and indirectly.
Some of the Libyan-funded companies include Britania, Tropical Bank, Voice of Africa Radio and Laico.
Others are Lake Victoria Hotel, National Housing Bank and Tamoil, which was contracted to run oil reserves in Jinja with a capacity of over 10 million litres. The company has also been contracted to construct the Eldoret–Kampala pipeline.
While some of these companies appear to be making great strides out of the crisis following Muammar Gadaffi’s death, there is gloom elsewhere.
Voice of Africa, is struggling to stay afloat after they stopped getting funds from Libya.
Haroun Rashid Kasangaki, the head of human resource, said many of their staff left because they had not been paid for a long time.
“The radio station does not make a lot of money. We used to rely on support from Libya, but that ended. We are now depending on advertisements, which is not enough,” he said.
Kasangaki, who studied in Libya under Gadaffi’s sponsorship before he was appointed the administrative secretary of the radio, said they used to receive money every three months to supplement meager earnings from advertising.
Tamoil, a subsidiary of the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, won a contract to construct the Eldoret-Kampala pipeline in 2006, but work is yet to commence. The pipeline extension is jointly sponsored by Kenya and Uganda. The countries are threatening to terminate the contract because of Turmoil’s inability to commence.
However, all is not gloom with all the Libyan-aided projects. New Vision has established that some of the projects seem to be withering the storm and are on the way to recovery.
Following the freezing of Libyan assets in Uganda, panic gripped the public almost leading to closure of Tropical Bank as depositors queued up to withdraw their savings. However, top officials say Bank of Uganda, handled the matter.
“During the Libyan crisis in 2011, Tropical Bank enjoyed immense support from the Central Bank, key customers, management and staff in reassuring customers, the public and other financial sector players that Tropical Bank was strong,” said Juma Walusimbi, the senior manager in charge of business and development.
Another company which seems to have revived its fortunes is Uganda Telecommunication Limited (UTL).
One of the first telecom companies in Uganda is owned by LAP Green Network, a Libyan consortium which owns 69% shares. Like the other Libyan entities, their major challenge was sanctions imposed on LAP Green by the UN. Being a subsidiary of the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio, Green Network came under sanctions in 2011 following the crisis in Libya.
Now under a new chief operations officer, Stanley Henning, UTL has made great strides.
James Kironde, an employee, says the company has improved the working conditions for its employees.