The Africa Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO) on November 17th, 2020 announced the appointment of a new Director General, Bemanya Twebaze. The announcement was made during the 44th and last Administrative Council session, which was held in Zimbabwe between 16th and 20th November, 2020.
Bemanya Twebaze was previously the Registrar General of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau. He is due to take office on 1 January 2021 for a four-year term and replaces Dr. Fernando dos Santos.
Bemanya has been recognized for his outstanding service to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, in particular, his inspirational leadership, devotion to duty, initiation of reforms for world-class service delivery, doubling the organization’s collections, contribution in advancing Intellectual Property (IP) in Uganda, and playing a key role in elevating the image of URSB in the Government service delivery sphere.
During his tenure as the Registrar General, Mr. Twebaze instituted numerous changes at the URSB that have seen the agency transform into a credible and superbly performing institution. Overall, the impact of Mr. Bemanya’s leadership has been extremely positive. Some of these many achievements include;
Under his leadership, URSB has grown into a stable Government institution whose footmark at delivery of registration services is undoubtable. As part of the strategy to increase the reach of these services across the country, Bemanya led the establishment of regional Offices across all the regions of the country in Mbarara, Western Uganda, Arua in West Nile, Mbale in the East and Gulu in the North.
These offices have helped strengthen URSB service networks, expanded the outreach and penetrated new places, even the hard to reach areas, while enhancing business formalization at the grassroots. This countrywide-reach strategy increased on the number of registrations which ultimately resulted in an increase in revenue collected across the years. He was also instrumental in the set-up of the Tax Payer Register Expansion Program (TREP) together with the Uganda Revenue Authority that has seen registration staff placed in 48 centres across Uganda, enabling access to services in nearly every corner of the country.
Mr. Bemanya is credited with the implementation of the All-digital, All online strategy to upgrade and modernize the URSB ICT Infrastructure to ensure that all services are online and all records digitalized. He also oversaw the launch of other service platforms like the Electronic Business Registration System (BRS) and the National Marriage Registration System (EMRS) which have ultimately increased the uptake of marriage and business applications, conclusion of the digitalization of URSB records and backend files, the inclusion of the URSB’s published trademark and design data on the EUIPO TMview and DesignView classification respectively, plus the elevation of URSB as Africa’s first National Intellectual Property office in the EUIPO TMClass category, enabling Uganda businesses get trademark protection across Europe.
The RG also took the lead on the integration of information systems among all players in the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) as a mechanism for improving effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery.
Above target NTR Collections;
URSB’s growth path has been incredible under the stewardship of Mr. Bemanya. The reforms that he front lined have seen Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) grow from a paltry 3bn in 2011/2012 Financial Year, to a whopping 56.2bn collected over the 2018/2019 period surpassing set targets by an extra 16.1 bn. With strategic hindsight, the Registrar General continued to be intent on exceeding the set NTR targets across most of the financial years.
Besides collection of revenue, he has instituted reforms that have led to growth in the number of registered businesses, continued to stabilize family units through increased registration of marriages especially the customary ones while giving the knowledge economy a facelift.
Strategic direction for the Bureau;
Uganda Registration Services Bureau’s operational model has always been guided by the Strategic Development Plan that marks out periodic targets and deliverables. Mr. Bemanya is credited with spearheading the adoption of the URSB Strategic Development Plans.
For the FY 2019/2020, he led a strategic leadership retreat with staff and the board that curved out new ways of doing business that meet the needs of clients through optimal utilization of ICT services, increased outreach through establishment of additional regional offices, improved collaboration with our key partners, increased support in the area of intellectual property especially to the creative industry and the business sector plus other crucial service delivery areas that have set URSB on a sailing path to better performance.
All strategic plans are crafted to plug into the National Development Plans aspirations and the delivery of national goals for economic growth of Uganda as a developing nation.
Signing of working partnerships & High-level stakeholder engagements;
Bemanya facilitated the execution of 15 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with partners including the signing of the European Union Intellectual Property Organisation (EUIPO) working MoU through the European Union in Uganda, that heralded the immersion of URSB in the European Union Intellectual Property Rights Action for Africa project (AfrIPI).Other strategic partnerships that Mr. Bemanya initiated include the one with Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU), Stanbic Bank, Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA), Posta Uganda among others. Mr. Bemanya has instilled into the URSB management the challenge of exploring other partnerships as a viable model for implementation of its mandate and improved service delivery using platforms enabled by the signing of working partnerships.
Uganda Business Facilitation Centre;
Mr. Bemanya is also credited with the initiation of the government of Uganda and World Bank funded Uganda Business Facilitation Centre that will be the permanent head offices of URSB, together with the Capital Markets Authority and the Uganda Investment Authority. The 12 story facility that will be occupied from the year 2021 will give URSB the image of a growing organization that has set standards of growth and improvement with noticeable infrastructure growth. The UBFC is also an investment of the Government of Uganda and saves on rent through ownership and utilization of Government premises freeing money for investment in other crucial public services.
Other notable achievements attributed to Mr. Bemanya include the establishment of the ease of doing business committees that instituted reforms that have seen Uganda’s ranking on the global scale rise, rolling out of the Technology & Innovation Support Centres (TISCs) for Universities and the Research Institutions ; launch of the National Intellectual Property Policy and the Security Interest in Movable Property Registry System (SIMPO) by His Excellency the President.
Staff capacity enhancements
The outgoing Registrar General during his tenure tripled the number of staff from when he took over as Registrar General. The need to decentralize services and increase efficiency in service delivery required an enhanced staff structure capable of ably delivering the URSB mandate. The staff numbers that increased to meet the increasing demand for fast paced services with countrywide presence in sight. This increased demand for services led to the adoption of working partnerships with other Government agencies in order to fully realise Government of Uganda’s mandate to ensure all public services are accessible for the populace within easy reach. These and many other initiatives increased inter-agency cooperation across Government service delivery.
Awards and Achievements;
These and more of such interventions initiated by Mr. Bemanya are possibly the very reason URSB has been given various awards by both Government and the private sector. Outstanding of these recognitions is the was award at the inaugural e-Governance excellence awards organized by NITA-U that hailed URSB’s digital transformation among Government agencies. The Bureau was awarded in the category of outstanding sector e-service award for creating systems that reduced the turnaround time of registration of companies from 30 days to just under 4 hours. ICT remains the backbone of development of registries and has enabled improvement in service.
Other awards picked during Mr. Bemanya’s tenure include the Strategic Partner of the Year Award from URA in 2014, the Private Sector Development Award in 2014, the Outstanding Customer Service Award from Uganda Investment Authority in 2019, Government Agency of the year Award from Private Sector Foundation Uganda in 2016, Justice, Law & Order Sector Customer Services Award – 2018, Promoting Rule of Law Award in 2018, JLOS Milestone Achievement Award- 2018, Best Law Practice Corporation (Uganda Female Lawyers Award), the Valued Multi-Sectoral Participation Award (For successful implementation of the NSIS project) – NIRA 2015, support for ARIPO Award to Uganda Government represented by URSB and the JLOS Excellency & Quality Award 2016.
Mr. Twebaze’s election by the ARIPO Administrative Council is proof of his abilities as a credible leader and will continue the pace for ARIPO as set by the outgoing Director General.