Annual Directors and Company Secretaries Conference Returns With 10th Edition

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) Uganda has organized the 10th annual Directors and Company Secretaries conference scheduled for 23rd June virtually in accordance with the recent restrictions announced by President Yoweri Museveni.

In partnership with KPMG, the conference will host several high profile and reputable business leaders, entrepreneurs and mentors from different sectors who will discuss and share their practical experiences. The conference is to be attended by Directors, Secretaries, Leaders and Senior Managers from the private sector and private sector, Local Government, private sector, Non-Government organization and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Opia Quality Chemical Industries Executive Chairman Emmanuel Katongole will be the Guest of Honour at the event, while, Simba Group of Companies Chairman Patrick Bitature will be the Keynote speaker.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Corporate Governance: The key to business resilience”. According to Ms. Jane Okot P’ Bitek Langoya, Chairperson, ICSA Uganda – East Africa Region, this year’s theme is very relevant to anyone who wants their businesses to remain relevant beyond the short term.  

Statistics from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives indicate that 90% of businesses in Uganda are SMEs. This means that SMEs are the engines of economic development, and so when we get disruptive turbulences that severely affect businesses, like the COVID – 19 pandemic did, it is important that the businesses are resilient to such turbulence because they have a direct impact on the economy,” she pointed out.

A recent rapid survey of businesses by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development Uganda revealed that three-quarters of the surveyed businesses have laid off employees due to the risks presented by COVID-19 and subsequent containment measures. Indeed, the results also suggested that lockdown measures had reduced business activity by more than half and many businesses did not survive the first wave of COVID pandemic.

Commenting on the current business environment in the country, Ms. Jane said: “Now we are barely out of the first wave of the pandemic but are already facing second wave and it’s more virulent than the first wave. The President of the Republic of Uganda, his Excellency Yoweri Museveni had instituted lock down procedures for 42 day and amongst this are; closure of schools, suspension of travel to Category A countries, suspension of nonfood markets, suspension of inter district public transport, encourage 30% employee presences at workplace and this time round any violations of the lockdown rules will lead to the payment of fines.

These measures will inevitably affect a number of businesses that have not built resilience against such turbulence. The major objective of the conference is to demonstrate to businesses how to build resilience hence the theme: Corporate governance: The Key to Business Resilience,” she reiterated.

When KPMG carried out a global survey of over 500 CEOs in 11 major economies, the CEOs responded that they have now found their footing in stabilizing their operations – one year down the line since the pandemic first stirred abrupt uncertainty and change. They are now thinking about new safety measures for their staff and customers. Things like office space and organization footprint are common boardroom discussions now. While the old traditional risk of cyber security still remains the number one risk, regulatory risk and tax risk tied for second place, while supply chain risk ascended to third place due to the Covid disruptions.

Though few business leaders anticipate a speedy return to normal, they have a strong understanding of the requirements to ‘restore normalcy’ in the way they work. They also have a clear vision of actions required to reassert their competitiveness in a forever-changed marketplace, including building on their accelerated digital and ESG activities over the past year.

This response came from almost every sector be it financial services, retail, manufacturing, infrastructure or Technology. Which means these must be common boardroom conversations for those businesses which will prove resilient into the new normal.

Commenting on the partnership, Asad Lukwago, Partner KPMG, said the company values define what the company stands for and underpins all actions. This goes to explain why KPMG joined the event as a sponsor. “It is because we work together for the better of our society. Whatever our role as KPMG, we make a positive impact in society through the work we do. By staying focused on what really matters, and acting as stewards for the next generation, we inspire confidence and empower change. We care about our businesses in Uganda and our economy at large – so we don’t want the world to leave our local entrepreneurs behind thus synergizing our efforts for good.” He said.

Other sponsors of the event include The Vision Group, Centenary Bank, Protea Hotel Kampala, Stanbic Bank, Hill & Knowlton Strategies Uganda, Shany Brand and Shonubi Musoke & Co advocates.

Eric Geno