In reference to the New Vision story titled, “Uganda could lose out on hosting UN center for Peace” dated 12th March 2018, the Ministry wishes to make the following clarification;
1) There has been no decision to move the UN Regional Service Center, Entebbe by the UN General Assembly
2) Uganda is not in “competition with Kenya”
3) Uganda is not ‘laid back’ in its bid to permanently host the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, as was reported
4) Uganda is favorably placed to be chosen to retain the Regional Service Center, Entebbe.
Given the lack of factual material in the New Vision article, below is some background information on the creation of Regional Service Center Entebbe (RSCE).
In June 2010, Uganda actively engaged with the United Nations Secretariat and UN member states on a proposal by the UN Secretary General for a Global Field Support Strategy (GFSS). The GFSS outlined a new global approach to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations, in service delivery to field missions and the better use of resources, as well as the timely start-up and deployment of operations.
In July 2010, following a spirited campaign by Uganda, the UN General Assembly authorized the UN to start working on a global and regional approach to delivering services, establishing an initial Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE). The RSCE was established by a resolution of the UN General Assembly as one of the main pillars of the Global Field Support Strategy. The Government proceeded and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN establishing the Center in Uganda on 20 July 2010.
The goal of the RSCE has been and remains to provide efficient, scalable and client-oriented services for United Nations field Missions in Africa. It currently provides a full range of administrative, logistics and information and communications technology services to thirteen client missions in Africa, representing over 73% of all United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide. From its inception, the RSCE has provided services that are not only efficient and effective, but respond to the needs of its client missions.
The missions it serves include; the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in Burundi.
In addition, from November 2016, the RSCE provides payroll services to seven additional field missions throughout Africa.
Since its establishment the RSCE has grown and expanded with the active support of the Government. The RSCE started with 39 staff in the 2011/12 period, consisting of 62% international staff. The number of approved posts has steadily increased, and in the current period the RSCE is supported by 427 approved staff, including 134 international staff, 285 national staff and 8 United Nations Volunteers.
Over the past four financial periods, the RSCE has undergone a nationalization programme which has resulted in the current balance of 32% international staff to 68% national staff.
The RSCE, originally located in pre-fabricated offices within the Entebbe Support Base, moved into purpose built permanent buildings in 2015 and 2016 valued at over US$6 million which include four office buildings, one Technology Centre and the Regional Training and Conference Centre.
The UN General Assembly during its 69th session under the Ugandan presidency, for the first time gave the RSCE operational and managerial independence and requested the Secretary General to submit a budget proposal for the 2016/2017 period to be charged against missions that the Centre supports. Subsequently, in the 70th session, in another first, the General Assembly approved a budget of US$39,203,600 for the maintenance of the RSCE for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.
In terms of achievements, during the previous fiscal year (1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017) the RSCE supported over 20,500 clients including international staff, national staff and uniformed personnel in its thirteen client missions.
During the period, the Centre processed over 670,000 measureable transactions which included over 175,500 payroll transactions, 8,700 education grants, 20,400 travel requests, 36,600 travel claims and 58,000 vendor invoices on a budget of $33 million. In addition, the Centre hosted over 5,100 trainees in its Regional Training and Conference Centre (RTCC) during the period.
Since its beginning, the Government of Uganda has provided adequate and deliberate support to the RSCE. For example, in 2017 the Government provided 20 acres of land in close proximity to the Center, more than the UN had requested for, to support the RSCE. The land provides opportunity for the UN to expand its operations. Government is prepared to have such discussions. Other support has included;
• Security for UN personnel and premises,
• Infrastructure and other facilities
• Exemptions on use of facilities at Entebbe International Airport
• Ready access to Government officials
• Mobilizing the private sector to supply goods and services
In October 2016, the UN Secretary General Presented a detailed proposal on a Global Service Delivery Model for the United Nations Secretariat in which he explained that the GSDM was a corporate, enterprise-wide reform initiative for the delivery of standardized administrative support services across the Secretariat, including Peacekeeping and other field- based entities.
This General Assembly (of which Uganda is a member) gave the Secretary General the mandate to develop this proposal further and present the findings to the General Assembly for further consideration.
The Secretary-General established a working group to assess the following 11 existing secretariat administrative service providers; United Nations Headquarters (New York ), Offices away from Headquarters, (Nairobi, Geneva and Vienna), regional commissions (Bangkok, Beirut, Addis Ababa and Santiago) and the three locations from which shared services are provided for Peacekeeping and Special Political Missions (Entebbe, Kuwait and Brindisi, Italy).
The Report of the Secretary General, on the findings of the working group in its assessment, is expected to be discussed by the Committee on Budgetary and Administrative matters (of which Uganda is member) in May 2018. Thereafter, the UN General Assembly shall decide upon the location of the Regional Service Centre. Though Uganda, specifically Entebbe, stands favorably as the RSC location in Africa, the selection process is still ongoing.
Given the aforementioned, the impression created by the New Vision article that Uganda is in “competition with Kenya” and “seems to be laid back and letting the opportunity slip away” is false.
Uganda is not competing and has no intention of competing with our neighbor with whom we enjoy fraternal relations. Kenya hosts the UN office in Nairobi (UNON), while Uganda hosts the Regional Service Center Entebbe (RSCE) which supports Peace Keeping Missions. It is important to note that, the two locations provide support to different categories of personnel.
Over the years, Uganda has built a strong relationship with the UN, working closely both with the UN and actively in the UN. Uganda supports the UN Secretary General’s proposal to make the United Nations Secretariat more efficient and responsive to better serve the Member States. In this regard, we are convinced that the RSCE will continue to provide the efficiency gains and cost-saving that the UN family so badly needs.
Finally, I wish to state that there is continued interest in Uganda based on the stability and security of the country, its role in regional peace and security, its relationship with international partners and its traditional hospitality. The impact of the RSCE on the local economy and the people of Uganda in general is significant and the Government remains fully engaged and committed to see more being done and developed in Entebbe.
By Patrick Mugoya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs