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How Uganda used Ksh300m to train youth on how to drink coffee

Uganda’s Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and her office are on the spot for spending UGX 9.6 billion (Ksh 369.9 million) on training youth to drink coffee.

Improving the quality of education, health, and infrastructure and helping the expansion of the coffee sector in Uganda is part of the duties the Office of the Prime Minister carries out, and Prime Minister Nabbanja championed these projects to achieve.

According to the Monitor, Ugandan Members of Parliament tasked officials from Honorable Nabbanja’s office to explain how the billions were used after the Auditor General revealed that some of the coffee shops established in Gulu, Lira and Mbale Districts during the campaign were nonexistent.

According to Quartz, in 2016, Ugandans only consumed 3% of the coffee it produced- which was roughly 3.6 million 60-kilogram bags worth $450 million- prompting the government to support domestic consumption to increase its local revenue.

The government went ahead to print posters informing Ugandans of the benefits of coffee as they dispelled the negative image attached to the beverage.

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In 2020,the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) participated in the campaign by training baristas to make various coffee beverages and handling related machinery as part of its plans to increase domestic coffee consumption in a country where tea was the majorly preferred drink.

“We want to make sure that everybody appreciates the value of coffee. When you appreciate the value of coffee, as a farmer, as a consumer, you are likely to invest in coffee production,” said UCDA Managing Director Emmanuel Iyamulemye Niyibigira back then.

A dispute arose before clarifications had to be made that no foreigner would be hired to train Ugandans on how to produce, prepare and consume coffee, as mentioned earlier in Mr Niyibigira’s press conference.

In light of Ugandans largely being tea drinkers, the government was tasked to run a campaign to set up coffee shops locally to encourage locals to consume the product.

Uganda is the eighth-largest coffee grower in the world and Africa’s second-largest producer after Ethiopia. Uganda produces Robusta Coffee- a soluble coffee. Via Kenya, Uganda ships its coffee across the world.

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This would be the second high-profile scandal Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja is involved in. Earlier this year, she was linked to the iron sheet scandal after the Criminal Investigations Directorate sought to find out the whereabouts of 2000 iron sheets PM Nabbanja had signed for.

Her assistant, Bright Arinaitwe, signed for them but PM Nabbanja denied ever receiving the iron sheets.

The Nile Post reported that a military vehicle was seen picking up the said 2000 iron sheets but PM Nabbanja ended up confessing to only receiving 1000 iron sheets meant for the vulnerable Karamoja people but she gave them to vulnerable communities in Kakumiro District.

Several high-profile politicians and government employees were linked to the scandal in which 14,500 iron sheets for vulnerable people were stolen.

They included 20 Ministers and 35 other legislators and technocrats. Top government officials also implicated in this scandal are Vice President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among and finance minister, Matia Kasaija.

Nairobi News previously reported that President Museveni ordered everyone involved in the scandal to give back the stolen iron sheets or pay the cash equivalent of the mabatis they took.

He also categorically stated that the mabati scandal by his Ministers amounted to subversion, undermining the country’s security, and that they should be charged with theft.

Calls continue to increase for sanctioning all government employees and technocrats implicated in this mabati scandal.

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