EU Technical Assistance to the Uganda Road Fund

Peter Wakabi, a Systems Integration Consultant with IMC Worldwide consults Rhoda Nattabi Ssemugera,the URF Systems Administrator at URF. IMC Worldwide is implementing EU's technical assistance to URF

In December 2017, the European Union started providing technical assistance to the Uganda Road Fund (URF), as a contribution to far reaching institutional reforms

in the transport sector. This technical assistance is a component of the wider Institutional Capacity Building for the Transport Sector in Uganda part of a wider programme - Institutional Capacity Building for the Transport Sector in Uganda, funded by the European Union (EU), under the 11th EDF.

The Technical Assistance will last for two years and is being delivered by IMC Worldwide Ltd, an international consultancy firm, incorporated in the United Kingdom.  A core team of two longer term experts is supported by short term specialists in particular aspects of road maintenance funding and management.

Overall objectives

The Uganda Vision 2040 aims at transforming Uganda from its present Least Developed Country (LDC) status to a competitive, upper middle-income country by 2040. The Vision builds mainly on the development fundamentals of infrastructure and human capital to build and sustain an adequate, reliable and efficient multimodal transport network.

For the foreseeable future, road transport will be the dominant mode in Uganda, and it is recognized that a comprehensive, well-built and well-maintained road

network is necessary  to harness economic opportunities particularly in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas, and tourism.

This was recognized by the European Union and other development partners in the ‘90s, with support to comprehensive reforms in the Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT), resulting in a focus in the Ministry on policy development, whilst delivery and network administration, initially for the National Road network, was delegated to the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).  In parallel, the Uganda Road Fund was formed under the Auspices of the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development to collect, allocate, disburse and monitor expenditure of funds for road maintenance.

Over a decade after the introduction of these landmark reforms, the EU has responded to the desire of the Government of Uganda to inject fresh momentum into them, with technical assistance being provided simultaneously to MoWT, UNRA and URF.  A connected technical assistance is also being provided to the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers (UIPE) with the overarching aim of strengthening professionalism and technical competence in the construction industry in Uganda.

The Government of Uganda has, therefore, embarked on reforms aimed at improved human resource and institutional capacity in the sector. Under the programme, the technical assistance consultant to the Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT) has undertaken a comprehensive mid-term review of performance against the 2008 – 2023 Transport Sector Masterplan, resulting in a decision to reflect performance to-date and to improve future planning, implementation and accountability in a multimodal environment.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the technical assistance to URF is to improve its institutional capacity and corporate governance, resulting in improved operational efficiency of road maintenance. Important outcomes contributing to these improvements will include improvements in:

  • operational efficiency of road maintenance
  • data management
  • cost estimation
  • programme preparation
  • monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and audit of designated agencies
  • allocation of funds between road type and agency based on a robust formula.

Good corporate governance is a key feature of semi-autonomous government agencies and this is enshrined in the founding legislation of URF.  The technical assistance is providing support to the Fund to examine the manner in which the Fund Management Board (Board) operates, its relationship with the Secretariat and with external bodies, how these are enshrined in the Board Manual and the degree of adherence.

Key outputs will result from supporting the Secretariat and the Fund Management Board in renewal of the Fund’s corporate plan and five-year road maintenance plan.

As part of the technical assistance, URF is being supported with the updating and integration of the various data capture, storage, analysis and decision support systems that support the Fund’s business processes, including those employed by the many designated agencies that benefit from funding.

Strengthening the oversight function of URF is another activity of support under the technical assistance. This includes the operationalisation of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and audit/risk systems.

Although not the direct responsibility of URF, the Fund has recognised that weak capacity of designated agencies, especially those charged with responsibility for district, urban and community access roads (DUCAR) is a serious impediment to the effective and efficient use of funds allocated by URF.  Support is therefore being provided to a pilot implementation of regional Technical Support Units (TSUs) initially in one region of Uganda, where focused support to local authorities in key areas of their work is expected to bring about measurable performance improvement and increased value for money.