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Makerere Innovations Hub celebrates Persons living with Disabilities

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Makerere University Innovations Hub has commemorated the international day for persons living with disabilities by celebrating these young innovators.

The celebrations were held at Makerere University in the Yusuf Lule Teaching Facility-Auditorium on December 01.

The persons living with disabilities showcased different skills in shoe making, soap making, bracelets making, weaving among others, parading their items they make to earn a living.

Makerere University Innovations Hub started up a project last year dubbed, “Innovativeness of Young Persons with Disabilities in Uganda” to support them in discovering their skills and help them to start a journey to economic empowerment. The programme is sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering, a UK based agency.

 Dr Cathy Mbidde, the Principal Investigator (PI) of this programme, said she conceived the idea in December 2022 from a class assignment that she gave to students to go into the community and identify problems.

 “I wanted them to go and find problems in the community to start a business. So they identified a few problems but one of the groups of students had a disabled person and she was struggling as they were arguing how to develop the product. That is how I realized that I can do something to impact people with disabilities,” she said

Dr Mbidde said she took a step to initiate a programme that can keep these persons busy and at the same time start up some businesses convenient for them to do.

“In December last year, there was a call from the Royal Academy of Engineering providing grants and I wrote and won the Frontiers Champions grant of around Shs42 million to organize an event,” she said.

She says one of the objectives of this programme was to identify persons living with disabilities who are innovative.

“How are they able to maneuver and start an enterprise or do some kind of business in an innovative way. I also wanted to look for stakeholders who can support them to execute their innovativeness,” she said.

The PI wanted to get for them a platform where they can come together and share experiences.

Dr. Cathy Mbidde (Right) with officials and some of the persons living with disabilities pose for a group photo. Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Cathy Mbidde (Right) with officials and some of the persons living with disabilities pose for a group photo.

During the initial stages of the programme, Dr Mbidde went out to the field and made research about persons living with disabilities. She identified a few things that they needed including decent housing after noting that some of them were living in houses which could not accommodate them.

She also found out that these people lacked school fees to take their children to school and something needed to be done to see a way to bail them out of this situation.

“They had the skills but did not have the resources, we therefore came up and picked 15 persons during our pilot study of one year,” she said.

Dr Mbidde partners with different agencies and organizations to pave a way of helping skilled persons living with disabilities.

Ms Penninah Nakandi, one of the persons living with disabilities who doubles as the Executive Director of Persons with disabilities in Business Uganda (PIB-UG) said she empowers youth and mothers of children living with disabilities through an economic skilling programme.

“We believed that after dropping papers of applications seeking for jobs and people at times don’t even respond to us, we decided to startup that initiative and we have moved a long way because we have a total of 55 members,” she said adding that PIB-UG offers mentorship and empowers people to work as a team.

Mr Gerald Sunday, the Centenary Bank branch manager at Makerere said they have special packages for PWDs who are doing private businesses, small scale cottage businesses like those doing tailoring, liquid soap making, shoe making among others.

“We invite them to come for startup capital. We have youth negotiable loans at 16 percent per annum right from shs50,000 up to shs5 million as long as they qualify and are in the age bracket of the youth,” he said.

Mr Edwin Leroy, the Operations manager at Isitoshe Tours and Travel company, which mostly deals with people living disabilities in touring services said most of these people have been left behind but they have now embarked on helping them to engage in different job opportunities.

“We want to take the initiative to be part of this programme to see that the persons living with disabilities can exercise their skills and at the end of the day, they can improve their well-being,” he said.

He added: “We want to help them to engage in different activities that can generate income for them and equally participate and compete with all other people that do not have disabilities.”

Business & Management

CoBAMS partners with UMA to increase industrial research

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Prof. Eria Hisali, Mr. Deo JB Kayemba and other officials pose for a group photo on 27th February 2024. Makerere University College of Business and Mangement Sciences (CoBAMS)-Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) Industrial Research MoU Signing Ceremony, 27th February 2024, Nakawa, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University‘s College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) and the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the objective of bolstering industrial research efforts.

The collaboration aims to harness research capabilities to address challenges within Uganda’s manufacturing sector, thereby boosting its growth and competitiveness. Makerere University, in line with its strategic objectives, prioritizes forging strong partnerships and upholding a research-centric approach.

Prof. Eria Hisali and Mr. Deo JB Kayemba sign the MoU as other officials witness.  Makerere University College of Business and Mangement Sciences (CoBAMS)-Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) Industrial Research MoU Signing Ceremony, 27th February 2024, Nakawa, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

At the MoU signing ceremony held at UMA on February 27, 2024, Mr. Deo JB Kayemba, the Chairman of UMA’s Board, referenced the significant progress witnessed in countries like India, Japan, and South Korea, attributing it to the integration of research in supporting industrial advancement. He emphasized the pivotal role of innovation in driving the manufacturing sector forward and underscored the necessity of collaboration in realizing research-led manufacturing.

Prof. Eria Hisali, the Principal of CoBAMS at Makerere University, expressed appreciation for the collaborative efforts and committed to operationalizing the MoU. He stressed the importance of enhancing graduates’ practical skills by involving industry experts in curriculum development and delivery, thus enriching students’ knowledge base and fostering skills development.

Prof. Eria Hisali and Mr. Deo JB Kayemba show off the signed MoU as another witnesses. Makerere University College of Business and Mangement Sciences (CoBAMS)-Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) Industrial Research MoU Signing Ceremony, 27th February 2024, Nakawa, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Additionally, Prof. Hisali highlighted the imperative to innovate in support of industry, manufacturing, and technology, aligning with the overarching objective of promoting locally manufactured goods and self-sufficiency. The partnership will encompass various activities, including joint research endeavors, publication of findings, policy paper writing, and engagement with relevant stakeholders.

Specific initiatives under the MoU include providing internship opportunities for UMA-selected students through Makerere University‘s internship programs, facilitating knowledge transfer and staff exchange programs, organizing joint seminars, workshops, and conferences aimed at skill development, and collaborating on curriculum review and development to align with industry needs.

Prof. Eria Hisali, Mr. Deo JB Kayemba and an UMA official chat after the ceremony. Makerere University College of Business and Mangement Sciences (CoBAMS)-Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) Industrial Research MoU Signing Ceremony, 27th February 2024, Nakawa, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

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Makerere Presents Nepal’s Community Forest Management Model to Government Agencies

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A section of participants who attended the dissemination in a group photo. Seated Second from Right is Director EfD-Mak Centre who is also Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. Edward Bbaale. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

In 2023, the Ugandan team comprising Dr. Peter Babyenda of Makerere University EfD-Mak Centre, Christine Mugyenyi and Rukundo Tom from the National Forest Authority went to Nepal to study the Community Forest Management Model. The study tour was funded by EfD Global Hub and the National forestry Authority Uganda.

The study tour  was one of the activities of EfD Forest Collaborative Peer Learning Project on Community Forestry aimed at deepening the understanding on community-based forestry management and  sharing ideas and experiences regarding forestry among the participant countries.

This study was timely given the current efforts by Ugandan government to increase the forest cover to 24% by 2040. Through community forest management, the people of Nepal have been able to increase their forest cover to 45% from 29% in 1992.

A section of participants in the ministry boardroom. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A section of participants in the ministry boardroom.

As such, Nepal provides a practical example of how the community can be empowered to manage forests and significantly contribute to the general growth of forest cover in the county. The leadership of the forest user groups also act as training ground for the national leadership and as a result, the national leadership also participates in the sustainable utilization of forests.

Nepal presents an interesting scenario demystifying practices in many other countries where local people are seen as enemies of forests. Through Community Forest User Groups (CFUG), Nepal’s model demonstrates how local people, are at the forefront of protecting forests in Nepal.

The experiences from Nepal should act as the guide to successful forest management in other countries including Uganda. In addition, the study tour was informative with vast knowledge attained from different stakeholders on implementation of community forestry.

A participant discussing during the question and answer session. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A participant discussing during the question and answer session.

The study tour involved meetings with the different stakeholders, field visits in some of the community forests and experiencing the Nepalese culture through visiting religious and cultural sites. The 5 days program was under the guidance  of the Forest Action – Nepal and coordinated by Professor Randy.

The tour started with the visit to Kalopani Community Forestry User Group (CFUG), which is in a mountainous site in Kavre District. The team visited a second CFUG on the way to our meeting with the Kavre Divisional Forestry Office, which has jurisdiction over Kalopani CFUG. The team also visited Kavre Divisional Forestry Office and held discussions with the Dean of the Tribhuvan University Institute of Forestry.

EfD-Mak centers disseminates study findings to government agencies

Research fellows from EfD-Mak centre from Makerere University on 27th February 2024, went to the Ministry of Water and Environment to disseminate information on lessons learnt from Nepal’s community forest management.

Mr. Stephen Mugabi (Right) chaired the meeting and officially opened the workshop. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mr. Stephen Mugabi (Right) chaired the meeting and officially opened the workshop.

The workshop hosted by the ministry’s headquarters in Luzira, was attended by over 30 forestry officials from government ministries, departments and agencies including the National forest Authority, Uganda world life Authority and National Environmental Management Authority.

While officially opening the workshop on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Water and Environment, The Commissioner, Environment Sector Support Services Stephen Mugabi hailed the EfD Mak center for the continued partnership that was initiated with the ministry.

Noting that the mandate of managing the environment lies within the ministry, Mugabi said it was the right decision that the centre decided to link up with the ministry.

Mr. Stephen Mugabi, also Member of EfD-Mak  Advisory board chaired the meeting.
Mr. Stephen Mugabi, also Member of EfD-Mak Advisory board chaired the meeting.

“When you generate information and you don’t share it, and archive it, it will not be useful. Once information is disseminated and gets to the stakeholders, they get knowledge that is then transformed into action. And the moment knowledge is transformed into action, then we see the knowledge changing livelihoods of communities”, He explained adding that:

“Today you have been recruited as ambassadors of the EfD-Mak Centre. You are receiving information how people in Nepal manage their forests and we expect you to disseminate it further to the people whom you live with.” Mugabi emphasised

Mugabi expressed the need for participants to understand the definitions of a community forest away from the standard definition of a forest on grounds that the way the community understands the forest is far different and has many values attached.

Prof. Edward Bbaale (Left) delivering his speech as the PS representative Mr. Stephen Mugabi (Right) listens. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Edward Bbaale (Left) delivering his speech as the PS representative Mr. Stephen Mugabi (Right) listens.

The Director EfD-Mak centre who is also Director, Directorate of Makerere University Graduate Research and Training Prof. Edward Bbaale appreciated the EfD Global hub funded by Sida, for sponsoring the Peer Learning Project for Community Forestry for policy makers and researchers, with a visit to Nepal.

“Today marks a significant moment as our colleagues share insights from their visit to Nepal’s community forest model, a success story empowering communities to manage nearby forests sustainably.

Nepal’s model granting legal rights to use and manage forest resources, stand as an exemplary solution against deforestation – a lesson we find particularly relevant given Uganda’s challenges”, Bbaale said.

Prof. Edward Bbaale addressing participants in the Ministry boardroom. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Edward Bbaale addressing participants in the Ministry boardroom.

Prof. Bbaale also noted that with 70% of the total forest cover under private land and the prevalent use of firewood and charcoal, Uganda faces alarming rates of forest losses.

“The presentation today is timely source of inspiration for policy makers and researchers, demonstrating the positive impact of involving local communities in decision making and forest management, addressing both environmental concerns and social inequalities,” Bbaale stressed.

He extended gratitude to the Ministry of Water and Environment for hosting the engagement at their headquarters and commended the enduring collaboration between EfD-Mak Centre and the Ministry.

Bbale also extended appreciation to the ministry and government for supporting the Inclusive Green Economy program for senior public servants. The Director, Stephen Mugabi represents the Ministry on the EfD-Mak Advisory Committee. The ministry appointed   Commissioner Moreen Anino on the first cohort of the IGE fellows.

Dr.  Peter Babyenda speaking during the dissemination meeting. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Peter Babyenda speaking during the dissemination meeting.

Uganda’s Inclusive Green Economy Engagement Specialist and research fellow Dr. Peter Babyenda said, in 2023, the team went for a study tour in Nepal to learn on the successful community forest management practices that Nepal had employed to increase their forest cover 29% in 1990 to 45% in 2013.

Contrary, Uganda’s forestry cover has decreased from 24% in 1990 to now 13% and, in 2010, the forest cover had further decreased to 9%.

He said, it was deemed appropriate to share the study findings with the ministry’s agencies who hold the country’s natural resources in trust of the people of Uganda.

“We learnt that that once you organise the people, tell them what to do and the importance and gains from the forest, they will take care of the forest, and if you do something detrimental to the forest, you are punished as a community member.

Dr. Peter Babyenda makes a presentation during the dissemination meeting. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Peter Babyenda makes a presentation during the dissemination meeting.

Communities that stay near forests have records of everyone including their photos and they will get to know who does what. They have a well organised inclusive leadership comprising 50% men and female, very transparent with books of accounts that are audited.

We even visited the university that trains leaders so they do capacity building of their leaders together with the department of forestry and wild life and ministry of forestry”, Babyenda explained.

Nepal has about 22,000 community forest user groups benefiting about 2.9million households. The community manages about 2.2million hectares of forest.

Babyenda reported that the community forest management model in Nepal has contributed to forest restoration and made it easy to mobilize the community to ensure that degraded forests are restored. This , he added was evidenced by the increase in the forest cover from 29% in 1992 to the current 45%.

An Environmental Police Officer participates during the meeting. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
An Environmental Police Officer participates during the meeting.

The model according to Babyenda, has contributed to community infrastructure and livelihood benefits because CFUGs are used as a vehicle to community development evidenced by several community development projects seen.

Further, Babyenda explained that not only does Nepal’s model contribute to ecosystem functioning and protection, it has contributed to mitigation and adaptation to climate change largely, due to the maintenance of forests that absorb carbon but also regulates temperature.

“The model contributes to household income generation through the sale of forest products in a sustainable way. The households are aware of the consequences of mismanaging forests and thus utilize them in a sustainable way.

A participant making an input during the discussions. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A participant making an input during the discussions.

This is commendable and other countries like ours need to take lessons”. Babyenda noted and commended Nepal for the inclusive leadership with at least half of the leadership of the user groups being female.

Key Lessons from Nepal’s Community Forest Management Model for Uganda

The existence of a legal body, (FECOFUN- Federation for Community Forestry Users, Nepal) has enabled voicing the rights of community adjacent groups. The CSO has played a very important advocacy role on the rights of women, elders, and marginalized groups. It has also played an important role of influencing forest related polices in Nepal.

UNETCOFA a CSO was established in Uganda in 2006, to unite CFMs but lacked legal barking and has not done much work in relation to CFM networks. The lesson learnt is to involve the Ministry of Water and Environment to revive UNETCOFA.

FECOFUN has created a strong network with the CFUGs, and this enables the groups implement their roles and responsibilities which has minimized non-compliance to the operational plans of the community forests. Commitment by the CFUGs households to protect, restore and conserve forests has largely been informed by previous calamities like earthquakes and floods which is not the case for Uganda.

Value addition on forest products like timber, fodder and herbs has increased the income and created some jobs for the CFUGs.

Community Forestry in Nepal has thrived on many different models for instance knowledge production and knowledge use in forestry and the presence of homogenous society. Improving livelihoods where forest conservation meets the demands of local communities provides an overall incentive for sustainable conservation including safeguarding essential ecosystem services.

Christine Mugyenyi one of the study beneficiaries (Right) sharing experiences from Nepal. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Christine Mugyenyi one of the study beneficiaries (Right) sharing experiences from Nepal.

Having a dynamic, diverse, and respected leadership within community groups increases chances of success as is the case for some CFUGs in Nepal. Involvement of women in use of forest resources recognizes the importance of having women represented in decision- making and giving women a voice has allowed them to actively participate in conservation activities.

Benefit sharing through wealth ranking to target the poor for support is very key and can minimize elite capture. In addition, sharing of benefits/ income accrued from sale of forest products in percentages for instance 25% is invested in forest management was a key lesson to learn.

CFUGs coordination with local government to put up infrastructural development like schools or road construction from the income attained from the sale of forest resources was a key lesson learnt.

Community Forestry has contributed to ecosystem functioning through provision of fresh water supply to the households and for agricultural purposes. Most forest adjacent communities in Nepal access piped water from the forest for both domestic uses including watering animals and irrigation of crops. This has enabled conservation of water sources and regulation of waste discharge.

One of the participants makes his contribution during the discussion. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
One of the participants makes his contribution during the discussion.

Alternative energy/ biomass source in Nepal is at 60%. People are increasingly using LPGs, electricity, petroleum gas etc. This has decreased fuelwood usage in Nepal. The lesson is  that GoU need to reduce costs of gas and electricity to enable less dependency on fuelwood from forests.

Activities implemented during the study tour

Babyenda reported that, activities implemented during the Nepal study tour involved meeting the Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN) executive members during which it was noted that FECOFUN was founded and legally recognized in July 1995 as a social movement organized which later became a civil society organization. It was formed after the legal recognition of Community Forestry in Nepal in 1992 and realization for the urgency to advocate for the rights of the people. It is established in all the 77 districts in the country with over 22,000 Community Forest User Groups are affiliated to FECOFUN and managing 2.2m ha that is; 25% of the forest cover which is contributed under community forestry of the overall forest cover of 45% with 2.9million H/Hs benefiting from community forestry.

The team also held a meeting with the departments of Forests and Soil Conservation-Nepal and Department of National Parks and Wildlife conservation. The forest management model indicated that Community Forests are part of the National Forests handed over to the traditional users for its conservation, utilization, and management guided by the Forest Act, 2076(2019AD), Forest Regulation 2079 (2023AD) and community guideline 2071.

Moreen Anino one of the pioneer IGE Fellows (Right) closing the meeting. Makerere University EfD Centre Nepal Community Forest Management Visit Lessons Dissemination, Ministry of Water and Environment, Luzira, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Moreen Anino one of the pioneer IGE Fellows (Right) closing the meeting.

The department   guides the CFUG in facilitation done through formation of forest user groups and implementing biological diversity, conservation and climate change adaptation related activities and Legal support through identifying, developing, and managing potential forest areas in accordance with the prevailing laws, rules and policies, Community Forest user group registration and Community Forest handover.

Babyenda said the team made field visits to Kalapani community forest and in Shiba Community Forest and the CFUG members. The Community members mainly utilize forest resources like firewood, fodder, grass, timber, and medicinal plants and performs various roles.

In a meeting at the Institute of Forestry- Nepal with the Dean of forestry and the college staff. Babyenda explained that they shared information on Community forestry on how Community forestry has contributed to forest restoration, community infrastructure and livelihood benefits and ecosystem functioning among others.

Detailed report on study findings is attached.

Jane Anyango is the Communication Officer EfD Uganda

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PIM centre trains 40 in financial analysis

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Some of the participants that took part in the financial analysis training organised by the Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence, Makerere University. Financial Analysis of Public Investment Training by the PIM Centre of Excellence, CoBAMS, Makerere University, 29th Jan-9th February 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

The Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence has completed training for over 40 officers in financial analysis of public investment. The training has equipped them with the necessary skills to make informed decisions and effectively evaluate investment opportunities. The 2-week training (Jan 29–Feb 9) took place in Jinja, and covered topics such as financial modeling, risk assessment, and investment strategies. Speaking at the close of the training, Prof. Edward Bbaale, the principal investigator, said the students have gained valuable skills and knowledge that will enable them to confidently analyze and make informed decisions regarding investment opportunities. “The training has been a great success, and we believe it will have a lasting impact on their future careers,” Prof. Bbaale said. He appreciated the faculty members who were drawn from Makerere University, the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, the National Planning Authority, and Cambridge Resources International for their valuable contributions and commitment to the program. Prof. Bbaale called on the trainees to be ambassadors of the PIM cenrtre of Excellence. He emphasized the importance of spreading knowledge and promoting the program’s mission. He also encouraged them to actively engage with stakeholders and help build partnerships for the further success of the program.

Some of the over 40 participants pose for a group photo with the centre manager, Dr. Kagarura Willy (Squatting Front Row Centre). Financial Analysis of Public Investment Training by the PIM Centre of Excellence, CoBAMS, Makerere University, 29th Jan-9th February 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

Prof. Bbaale thanked the government of Uganda through MoFPED for the financial support towards the centre’s activities, which include training and capacity building, research, and advisory services to the government. Additionally, he expressed gratitude to the dedicated staff members and participants for their commitment and contributions to the program’s achievements. He thanked the centre manager, Dr. Kagarura Willy for his exceptional leadership and guidance throughout the program. On this part, the Dean, School of Economics, Prof. Ibrahim Mike Okumu expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders involved. He called on the participants to be good ambassadors of the centre. He also encouraged them to utilize the knowledge gained from the program to make a positive impact in their respective fields. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing for the advancement of their professions.

Participants in session. Financial Analysis of Public Investment Training by the PIM Centre of Excellence, CoBAMS, Makerere University, 29th Jan-9th February 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

One of the officials that undertook the training, Mr Nicholas T, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity and stated that he is committed to applying the skills and insights acquired to drive innovation and excellence at his job. He believes that through collaboration and knowledge sharing, professionals can collectively work towards the advancement of their professions.

Participants tour the Source of the Nile Project Construction site. Financial Analysis of Public Investment Training by the PIM Centre of Excellence, CoBAMS, Makerere University, 29th Jan-9th February 2024, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.

The centre trained over 40 participants from government Ministries, departments, and private organizations. The team undertook field studies at the Source of the Nile construction project and the Nalubale Electricity Generation Plant.

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