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GENEVA - Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Maj. Gen. (RTD). Kahinda Otafiire, has told the 2017 General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization that protection of Traditional Knowledge and the country’s genetic resources, from misappropriation, is a key ingredient of Uganda’s  National Intellectual Property strategy for promoting creativity and innovation amongst its indigenous peoples and local communities to promote access to alternative health care, food security, preservation of biodiversity and sustainable development.” Hon Otafiire who is leading Uganda’s delegation to the Assemblies, emphasized the contribution of Traditional knowledge systems to the social and economic development of Uganda.

Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and its decision-making bodies are meeting this week, in Geneva Switzerland, from 02 – 11 October 2017, with the hope of reaching a decision to convene a high-level meeting (diplomatic conference) to conclude a potential international instrument(s) or Treaty, in 2019 aimed at preventing the misappropriation of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. African countries are primary beneficiaries of this treaty. This is because the modern intellectual property system does not, neither adequately protect traditional knowledge systems nor local inventions based on genetic resources/traditional cultural artifacts/materials.

In his statement, Hon Otafiire told the Assembly that a potential treaty to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, at the international level is a priority issue for Uganda in the WIPO. Traditional knowledge systems in Uganda have long been used to ensure access to alternative medicines (e.g. herbalists), promote sustainable agricultural production and conserve the environment. He concluded by urging Member States to negotiate in a transparent and cooperative manner and with good faith to ensure that a diplomatic conference to negotiate a treaty to prevent misappropriation of Genetic resources in 2019.

The WIPO has been a key development partner for Uganda in the field of intellectual property undertaking technical assistance activities to encourage innovation and protection of intellectual property including; technical support to Uganda in upgrading and maintenance of the Intellectual Property Automated System (IPAS); training and capacity building for human resources; support in the form a regional workshop on intellectual property and Traditional Knowledge for economic development.

WIPO member states have a daunting task to negotiate the renewal of the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), which expired in June 2017. The IGC has always held a renewable two-year mandate since it commenced text based negotiations in 2009.  It will be particularly important for African countries, as key demanders for protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge to ensure that the General Assembly agrees to convene a diplomatic conference to conclude a treaty in 2019. 

The WIPO General Assembly will also decide, among other things: approving the program and budget of the organization for the 2018/2019 biennium; on furthering discussions for potential treaties to protect broadcasting organizations (the Broadcast Treaty), and; simplifying the international applications for industrial designs - the Design Law Treaty (DLT).

In other discussions, the WIPO General Assembly will discuss reports from various committees. At the WIPO General Assembly each committee reports on its activities over the past year. Of particular importance to Uganda and other developing countries is the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) as well as the Committee on the law of Patents. The committee is responsible for implementation of the 2007 WIPO Development Agenda by ensuring that development aspects are streamlined in all WIPO’s work including the Programme and budget. The last session of the Committee tasked the organization to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are fully streamlined in WIPO’s activities. 

In a related development, On Monday 02 October 2017, several officers were elected to various offices. Uganda’s Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, the Registrar General of Uganda Registration Service Bureau, was elected the President of the Paris Union Assembly, and Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr, Permanent Representative  of Uganda to the United Nations Office in Geneva, has been serving as the Second Vice Chairman of the Coordination Committee. 

 

Source: Uganda Mission to the United Nations, Geneva | Published: October 5 2017

 

Published in Latest News
Monday, 14 November 2016 10:24

Stakeholder Awareness on Insolvency

 

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Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) is a body corporate established by the URSB Act Cap 210 and is responsible for Business, Intellectual Property, Civil Registrations and handles all Insolvency Matters with the Registrar General being the Official Receiver. 

The Official Receiver is at the forefront of driving insolvency reform in this country with an aim of boosting the competitiveness of the investment climate through aligning the needs of all key business players to suit a modern insolvency infrastructure. 

In line with the Second National Development Plan NDPII 2015/16-2019/20 of Uganda Vision 2040 whose theme is strengthening Uganda’s competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and Inclusive growth, the Official Receiver has organized a five [5] day activity for Insolvency practitioners, Judicial officers, the Business Community and Official Receivers from the East African Community, under the Theme “Enhancing Stakeholder Awareness on Insolvency”. 

The primary function of engaging the Business Community and insolvency practitioners is to enlighten Businessmen and professionals on developing the culture of Business revival as opposed to Liquidation. Business failure is a commercial reality, however the Law gives a distressed debtor, its creditors and other stakeholders the option to restructure and rescue the business. 

For a rescue plan to succeed, the Official Receiver takes cognizance of the existence of an effective court to manage insolvency, and more so dedicated Judicial Officers. Judicial Officers will be trained for two consecutive days by Judges from United States of America and United Kingdom on strategies in handling rescue plans. 

Given the rapid globalization of trade and its borderless nature which does not only apply to multinational Corporations but also to small and medium enterprises, [SMEs], We will engage the Regional Official Receivers from across the East African Community to discuss ways of eradicating trade barriers across borders while moving towards the enactment of the East African Protocol on Insolvency Practice.

The Bureau will engage its stakeholders from November 14 – 18, 2016 to share experiences, exchange ideas and challenges facing the East African Community Insolvency landscape. 

For more information about URSB contact: Uganda Registration Services Bureau Plot 5, George Street; Tel: 0417 338000 or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: www.ursb.go.ug Facebook and twitter: URSBHQ

 

Published: November 14 2016

 

The Justice, Law and Order Sector on October 27 2016 held the 2016 edition of the JLOS Recognition Awards during the 21st Annual JLOS Review conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The Chief Justice presided over the ceremony.

Below is a list of recipients for the 2016 JLOS Recognition Awards.

 

THE JLOS EXCELLENCE AND QUALITY AWARD 

 

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)

URSB has excelled in streamlining business registration processes through an on-line business name application solution installed to facilitate online name search and business name reservations.  Services such as name search, reservations and assessment of fees payable can now be processed in one day – an unprecedented achievement in Uganda. URSB’s excellence in service delivery is pivotal to Uganda’s improving ratings in global competitiveness and has significantly contributed to the doing business environment and improved the country’s prospects as a viable investment destination. 

 

THE JLOS INNOVATION AWARD 

 

Judiciary 

The Judiciary has been at the forefront of justice innovations over the years. The Judiciary recently launched the Audio-Visual Link project that makes it possible for courts to receive evidence by audio video link from witnesses who cannot appear in court due to infancy, old age, distance and costs. This technology innovation is an effective and cost effective enabler of access to justice for the vulnerable – a signature outcome of the JLOS Third Strategic Investment Plan.

 

THE JLOS CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD 

 

Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) 

URSB’s accomplishments in the area of customer service excellence exemplified by the recent establishment of a fully functioning call center and vibrant social media platforms, distinguish URSB's commitment to excellent customer service pivotal to Access to Justice. URSB continues to creatively engage with its clientele through people-oriented services that have transformed the Bureau into a key player and benchmark in efficient and effective service delivery.

 

Uganda Prisons Service

Uganda Prisons’ customer care approach evident in prison facilities across the country has positively changed the image of the Prisons service. 

 

THE JLOS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AWARD 

 

MR. Anatoli Muleterwa 

Mr. Anatoli Muletwerwa is champion of human rights awareness in the Uganda Police through sensitization of the public using various media platforms. His pro-people approach has earned him the nickname “omulwani w’dembe ryabantu (high rights defender)” from a popular radio talkshow “Police nomuntu wabuligyo”

ASP Muleterwa is a member of the Paralegal Services and head of community policing, Kampala Metropolitan Police (KMP).

 

THE JLOS MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

 

National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA)

For the unprecedented and successful implementation of the National Identification Project.

 

THE JLOS PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND MEDIA RELATIONS AWARD 

 

Judiciary

The Judiciary has over the last financial year carried out extensive public sensitization campaigns across the country through barazas, radio talkshows and open days on issues of plea-bargaining, Small claims procedures and other access to Justice issues. The Judiciary has during these sensitization campaigns partnered with other JLOS institutions as a demonstration of the sector-wide approach to access to justice.   Efforts of the Judiciary to reach out to the public are yielding fruits in positively changing negative perceptions about the Judiciary in the public domain.

 

THE JLOS MEDIA REPORTING AWARD 

 

MR. Anthony Wesaka  

Anthony Wesaka is a journalist with the Daily Monitor who specializes in reporting on justice, law and order issues. Mr. Wesaka has for the last eight years consistently and objectively covered groundbreaking news and feature stories in many JLOS institutions.

 

THE JLOS PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATION AWARD 

 

Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET)

LASPNET has constructively and consistently engaged with the Sector on issues of access to justice especially regarding advocacy on the Legal Aid Policy.  

 

 

THE JLOS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

 

Lady Justice Leticia Kikonyogo

As a former Deputy Chief Justice Justice and Head of the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Leticia Kikonyogo served the country and the Judiciary diligently in a glittering career spanning decades. 

 

Dr. S.P Kagoda 

Having diligently and faithfully served in as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Dr. S.P Kagoda has tremendously contributed to growth of the Justice, Law and Order Sector for more than a decade as a member of the JLOS Steering Committee. He has also been part of the peace process for Northern Uganda and as permanent secretary he led the multi-sectoral team to successfully implement the National ID project – a an unprecedented groundbreaking achievement for Uganda.

 

Mr. Tommy Ochen (RIP)

As a former Director of Correctional Services, Uganda Prisons who was instrumental in the award winning Prisons Rehabilitation Programme that continues to transform the lives of many prisoners across the country. Mr. Ochen’s selfless and dedicated service as a member of the JLOS Technical Committee was instrumental in shaping the policy and strategy of the Sector.

Though he is departed and no longer with us, the Justice, Law and Order celebrates his contribution and is proud to honor his honorable legacy.

 

Hon. Fredrick Ruhindi 

Having served in the Sector in various capacities – State Attorney (1981-1992); Deputy Attorney General and Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs (2006-2015) and Attorney General (2015 – 2016), Hon. Fredrick Ruhindi was instrumental in shaping Uganda’s justice, law and order landscape both from a technical, professional and political perspective. For his contribution, leadership and inspiration during the formative early years of the Sector, Hon. Ruhindi’s legacy lives on – through the big strides made by the Country and the Sector in the rule of law and administration of justice during his 35 years of diligent, people oriented and dedicated service.

 

For more information and inquiries on the JLOS Recognition Awards, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Latest News

 

 PRESS RELEASE | JUNE 6, 2016

Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) is the Government Agency mandated to register all marriages that take place in Uganda. Uganda Registration Services Bureau has noted with concern, the recent media /public debate with respect to the validity of Customary Marriages, and now issues clarification as follows;

A marriage is defined as a formal union between a man and woman recognized by law by which they become husband and wife and creates legal rights and obligations to the spouses. No matter the form of marriage, it is mandatory for all marriage celebrants to register the marriages that they officiate over with URSB. 

Marriage registration has various purposes:

  • Every certificate of marriage that has been filed with URSB is admissible as evidence of the marriage to which it relates; in any court of law or before any person having by law or consent of the parties, authority to receive evidence on it.
  • A registered marriage is a safeguard for spousal benefits like insurance, pension, citizenship, immigration, emigration, family resettlements as well as inheritance of estates upon the demise of a spouse. 
  • Marriage records provided to URSB by marriage celebrants are used to compile a marriage data bank. A credible marriage data base is a safe guard against bigamy, polygamy and polyandry in the case of Church and Civil marriages. Many people spend huge sums of money contracting marriages to parties that have subsisting marriages and have no legal capacity to remarry. For these reasons above, marriage registration is continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal. 

Uganda has got several forms of recognized marriages. These are customary, Muslim, Church, Civil and Hindu marriages. 

Customary marriages are celebrated according to the rites of an African Community and one of the parties to the marriage must be a member of that community. Muslim marriages are celebrated in accordance with the rites and observances of the Moslem faith, between persons professing the Moslem religion. Church marriages are celebrated in any licensed place of worship according to the rites or usages of marriages observed by a particular religious denomination. Hindu marriages are celebrated between Hindus whereas Civil marriages are celebrated in the offices of the Registrars of Marriages. The Registrar General is the Registrar of Marriages for the Kampala Capital City, whereas the Chief Administrative Officer of a District is the Registrar of Marriages in the District.

Registration of customary marriages is effected by the Sub County chief or Town Clerk of the area where it took place, and a Customary Marriage Certificate duly signed and issued by the Sub County chief or Town Clerk. This certificate, however, must then be registered with URSB.

Unlike Church and Civil marriages that are monogamous in nature, customary and Muslim marriages are potentially polygamous.  A customary marriage can however, be converted into a Church marriage if still monogamous in nature.

Upon completion of a marriage in the CAO’s office, duly licensed Church, Mosque, Temple or other authorized establishment, the couples are issued with a marriage certificate by the person who officiated over their ceremony. 

The marriage celebrant should file marriage returns with the Registrar of Marriages within one month of conducting the marriage ceremony. This is done by the marriage celebrant transmitting an official letterhead from the CAO’s office, duly licensed Church, Mosque, Temple or other authorized establishment; and a certified copy of the marriage extract to URSB.  

Marriage registration is aimed at ensuring that the end users of these marriage records are equipped with evidential value for the protection of related rights as well as to assist the Government of Uganda to build a credible marriage data base.

URSB remains committed to supporting the implementation of Government of Uganda’s strategic aspirations and efforts with respect to decentralized public service delivery. 

 

BEMANYA TWEBAZE

REGISTRAR GENERAL

 

#End

Published in Latest News
Monday, 07 March 2016 10:13

URSB Opens Up Call Centre

 

Like any other busy organizations that frequently interact with many clients, Uganda Registration Services Bureau equally needs a call centre.

One thing companies and organizations, public or private, large or small, manufacturing, service or government have in common  is the critical need for exceptional customer service, so the increasing expectations for public-sector service levels necessitates a look at whether our operations have the capability to deliver adequate customer centred experiences, that drive a culture of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

After a critical look at our operations and as a response to our client feedback we have set up a call centre at our head office on George Street Georgian House. We have started with five agents and a traditional telephone line (0417338100); we expect the centre to evolve over time into a high-tech Call Center that will have ability to handle over 1000 calls on the typical business day.

At URSB we believe that every employee - client encounter must be considered an important opportunity to improve customer service and enhance customer satisfaction. In addition, we must actively solicit feedback from our clients; so that we get to know what they think so that we use their feedback to improve service delivery. 

Since its establishment, our call centre agents have compiled a database of client questions and the provided answers.  This growing database is a key to the centre’s high call completion rate and functions as a hub for information, services and programs the public can use.  

With a call centre in place, calls are being answered within the first 15 seconds and 80% of the calls are addressed by the call centre representatives directly in the first call while 20% are transferred to relevant officers for follow up.  As a consolidated centre for information, the public can gain access to relevant information in a short period of time with a single call. 

We believe that responses given quickly and courteously by knowledgeable and helpful agents are certainly valued highly by most clients and this translates into a high level of customer satisfaction.

Our organization has a lot of information on transactions between the customer and our staff, but little on customers’ real experience of us hence the need for us to hear from you through the call centre.

 

For any information about URSB services and complaints, call the call centre line on 0417338100.  

Published in Latest News

 

Sarah was 15 years old when her aunt announced that James was interested in marrying her, and that she was better off getting married sooner rather than later.  But Sarah wanted a different life.  She had just completed her primary leaving examinations, and looked forward to a secondary education.  Her aunt would hear none of it.  She made it clear that Sarah had only two options: either marry James, or find another place to stay.  This was scary, as Sarah had lived with her aunt since her parents died when she was only 4 years old.  A member of the Child Protection Committee (CPC) in the village learnt of the plans to marry Sarah off and reported the matter to the village chairman. Both the CPC member and the village chairman visited Sarah's aunt and told her it was illegal to marry off a child below the age of 18.  Sarah's aunt retorted that she was aware of the law, and that Sarah had turned 18 years 2 months ago.  Sadly, Sarah's actual age could not be established without a birth certificate…

 

Source: UNICEF Uganda

Published in Projects
Saturday, 15 August 2015 11:35

Mobile birth registration in Uganda

 

UNICEF promotes birth registration as a human right and has had a pioneering role in advocating for, and successfully supporting birth registration programs in many parts of the world, leading to a level of commitment among governments and bringing about greater efficiency in systems that register births. 

In the recent past, UNICEF has also taken lead in innovating for children through harnessing available low cost technologies. One such clear opportunity for innovation has been the development and use of mobile and internet technologies to support UNICEF and partners to deliver results for children more efficiently and effectively. In Uganda for example, a solution known as Mobile Vital Records Systems (Mobile VRS) was developed with support from UNICEF, under a public private partnership with Uganda Telecom. Mobile VRS uses low cost technology to capture births and deaths registration data at community and hospital levels, and transmit it into a central government server in real time using mobile phones and a web-based application respectively. 

This system which is currently in use in all 135 government and missionary hospitals, and in half of the 112 district local governments, has in almost three years, increased national birth registration rates by an estimated 30 percent point increase from 30% in 2011 (UDHS 2011) to an estimated 60% at the end of 2014 (Mobile VRS/Administrative data). (See Annex 1)

UNICEF aims to support government of Uganda to scale up this solution to the remaining 54 districts and in over 200 Health Center IVs that were designated as birth and death registration districts in late 2014. Uganda has shared and continues to share this innovative best practice that could greatly improve delivery of, and access to birth registration services to all children including those in remote and hard to reach areas. 

 

Issue

While birth registration is compulsory for all people in Uganda according to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1970, the reality is that recent estimates from Mobile VRS and administrative data indicate that about 2.8 million of the approximately 7 million children under the age of 5 years in Uganda are not registered.  Without a legal identity that comes with birth registration, a child may not be able to prove their age, nationality and parentage, and as a result, they will not have institutional protection and are more vulnerable to exploitation, violence, neglect, early marriages, child labour, sexual trafficking and slavery. They may also not be able to claim basic services, such as access to education and health, as well as social protection. 

Even though URSB is decentralizing the final birth registration services (issuance of long birth certificates) away from Kampala into its regional offices, to make them more accessible, they remain far from the communities, and the barriers of inaccessibility due to long distances, significant waiting times, registration fees and other associated hidden costs are only reduced slightly. In districts with manual and paper-based registration systems, it takes several months from the time a child is registered to the time they receive their birth certificates, particularly for children born out of hospitals.  

With an estimated 1.5 each year million births in Uganda that needs to be registered, the requests pile up due to their quantity and the tardiness of the data processing in all involved units. 

The birth registration process is also poorly understood, and many people do not know where and how to obtain a birth certificate. In a mobile phone survey conducted in 2012 by UNICEF Uganda, 60% of respondents did not know where to go to register a birth. 

Lastly, birth registration data is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of adequate legislation, policies, as well as planning and delivery of basic social services for children. It will also soon be linked to the National ID as per the Registration of Persons Bill which was approved by Cabinet and whose intentions are to harmonize and consolidate the law on registration of persons, to provide for registration of individuals and to establish a national identification register. Birth registration is thus a critical contributor to good governance.

 

Action

As a response, UNICEF partnered with Uganda Telecom under a Public Private Partnership, and supported Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the government institution responsible for Civil Registration, to develop a solution known as Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS). This system uses local mobile and internet technology to capture births and deaths registration data at community and hospital levels respectively. Information on birth records is transmitted in real time using pre-registered mobile phones in the community, and a web-based application in hospitals and district local governments, into a central government civil registry server. This makes the birth registration process faster, more accessible and more reliable, and the system is currently used in all 135 government and missionary hospitals, and in 58 out of 112 district local governments. 

Other planned actions include supporting development of a national policy on birth and death registration, capacity development of registrars and notifiers in the remaining 54 districts and over 200 Health Center IVs that have not yet started using Mobile VRS, system strengthening in the 135 hospitals and 58 districts that are already using Mobile VRS to register birth, advocacy with parliamentarians for increased government funding, builder partnerships with FBOs, CSOs and the private sector for improved service delivery and creating demand for birth registration through awareness creation on the importance of birth registration.

As part of South to South learning, Uganda has also shared with over 20 countries how the mobile and internet technologies can be used to improve delivery of real time birth registration services to all children, including those in hard to reach areas. Uganda will continue to share knowledge and experiences in the region and beyond, providing increased opportunities for effective registration services using innovative methods to millions of children.

 

Impact

Through this initiative, which is currently functional in all 135 government and missionary hospitals and in only 58 of the 112 district local governments, the percentage of birth registration in Uganda, has increased from 30% in 2011 to an estimated 60% by the end of December 2014. This estimated 30% increase in three years is a big improvement considering that national birth registration rates for under 5s increased by only 9 percent points over a 5 year period from 21% in 2006 (UDHS 2006) to 30% in 2011 (UDHS 2011). 

Therefore scaling up the use of Mobile VRS in the remaining 54 local governments and introducing it to the approximately 200 Health center IVs which were gazetted as birth registration districts at the end of 2014, would provide a significant opportunity to increase the birth registration rates for all children including the under 5s, for a target of at least 90% registration has been set in the GOU-UNICEF Country Programme results of 2016 to 2020. 

The design of the Mobile VRS system emphasizes cost effectiveness and long term sustainability. By building a system that leverages very high ownership rates of the most basic mobile phone handsets by designated “Notifiers,” initial investments significantly decreased and concerns about the replacement of old, lost or stolen phones are significantly decreased. UNICEF also supported URSB to acquire a single USSD code number 280 for Mobile VRS, which enables notifiers across different telecommunication networks (MTN, Uganda Telecom and Airtel) to use the same code over their respective sim-cards thereby cutting out the need to purchase and distribute mobile phones to notifiers.

The initial costs of setting up this system (hardware and software development, training, and initial system monitoring) is where the bulk of the investment lies. Recurrent, or ongoing costs, should be quite modest compared to the results achieved. The recurrent per transaction costs of capturing, digitizing and transferring the birth registration records is estimated at about only US$0.5 for every birth or death entered into the system. 

Budget

The budget estimate is based on observed investment costs while supporting strengthening of the capacities of registrars in 58 districts and 135 hospitals that are already using Mobile VRS to register births. This budget will over technical support to government on birth registration, capacity development for staff and procurement and distribution of ICT equipment (Computer, printer, internet modem, data) to the remaining 54 districts and over 200 Health Center IVs to which Mobile VRS will be introduced, overall system strengthening, travel and administrative costs.

Funds from UNICEF core resources will be used to support policy development and legislative reforms, social mobilization for improved public awareness about the importance of birth registration, advocacy work with parliamentarians for increased government funding, as well as contribute to building and strengthening the capacity of URSB to plan, coordinate and give oversight to the entire national birth and death registration exercise.

Published in Projects