Tumwebaze: How Uganda’s Masambu Won Top Telecom Seat

ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze last week flew from Istanbul, here Turkey to Washington DC for the 37th Assembly of Parties of the International Satellite Organization (ITSO).

Tumwebaze was accompanied by senior officials from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and ICT Ministry.

At stake was the coveted job of Director General, this web ITSO.

It will be recalled that in May 2016, Uganda government nominated Mr Patrick Masambu, a telecommunications professional with immense expertise in regulatory frameworks as Uganda’s candidate for the prestigious position.

The Government of Uganda is a signatory to the ITSO Agreement that was initially opened for signature by governments at Washington, D.C. on August 20, 1971 and entered into force on February 12, 1973.

The signing of this agreement resulted from consideration by the State Parties of the principles set forth in Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations that communication by means of satellite should be available to the nations of the world as soon as practicable on a global and non-discriminatory basis.

Tumwebaze had the task of ensuring Masambu wins the race in a tight competition that featured Spain and France.

Comprising 149 member countries, ITSO is the highest decision making organ of the organization. The executive organ is headed by the Director General, who is directly responsible to the Assembly of Parties.


The Director General is elected and appointed by the Assembly of Parties for a term of four years and is eligible for reelection for another four year period.

“Firstly, Russia was elected by acclamation/ unopposed as the chair of the Assembly of Parties and the other only electable position was of Director General,” said Tumwebaze who spoke at a media conference in Kampala on Monday morning.

As such Mr. Patrick Masambu vied for the position of Director General, of International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) and competed against two other equally competent professionals from France and Spain.

Tumwebaze said the electoral rules of the ITSO assembly require that for any candidate to be duly elected he/she Must get two thirds of the total votes cast in the first round of voting.

“This is always difficult and makes the second round of voting inevitable. At the second round, only the first and second candidate are allowed to be voted on. The rest get eliminated,” he added.

For this particular election of ITSO that took place on 13th October 2016 at the American University, College of law in Washington DC, Uganda’s candidate (Masambu) scored 59 votes, France’s scored 33 and Spain’s candidate scored 23 at the first round of voting.

Despite this clear lead by the Ugandan candidate, said Tumwebaze, a re-run became inevitable because of the two thirds requirement.

Mr Masambu then faced the French candidate as per the assembly electoral rules.

“Finally on tallying, our candidate won with a landslide victory. Masambu polled 72 votes against 43 votes of Mr. Yvon Henri of France and was thus declared the next Director General of ITSO effective July 2017 when the term of the current leadership expires,” added Tumwebaze.

Uganda had earlier in Istanbul retained her seat on the 40 Member Council of Administration of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

Masambu (C) in a group photo with Tumwebaze (R) in United States last week
Masambu (C) in a group photo with Tumwebaze (R) in United States last week


Tumwebaze said elections to these international bodies take into consideration a number of factors such as diplomatic ties, a country’s foreign policy, its leadership and how strategically important it is in the region, continental and international system among others.

“These elections also are by and large a measure of how the international system perceives a country. Normally, the lobbying is intense and involving. I however had at these meetings competent teams of campaigners that smartly helped me to execute a subtle and well-conceived campaign strategy,” said the Minister.

He said one major factor that helped our campaign both in Istanbul and Washington was the influence of President Museveni on the continent which helped to unite Africa and also on the international scene.

“It gave us enormous good will…The influence of our President was the most enabling good will to ride on among other factors. Our President’s correct foreign policy of the Pan Africanist formation, his clarity and articulation of Africa’s bottlenecks, his consistent advocacy for trade not aid as well his role in stabilizing troubled Somalia that many saw as a failed State and had surrendered in the hands of terror networks, all continue to stand out prominently at the international scene and thus helped a great deal to brand Uganda correctly, the works and efforts of spoilers from within and without Uganda notwithstanding,” said Tumwebaze.

“Every minister or Head of delegation we spoke to while soliciting support for our country and candidate pledged support for Uganda. Each of those that pledged support had a thing or two to speak about in praise of the leadership of our President. By and large, Uganda enjoys good relations with most countries of the world and hence some were giving reciprocal support.”

Of particular importance also was the technical competence of Candidate Masambu. A telecommunications engineer, by profession, Masambu has more than 30 years of experience at senior and international levels that have included positions in both the public and private sector.

Tumwebaze said Masambu has actively led and participated in the design, development and implementation of various works and initiatives at regional and international level in institutions such as ITU, ATU, World Bank and other institutions.

Participation in these global initiatives provide Uganda an opportunity to bench mark and quality assure our ICT policy instruments and be able to review them periodically to match the changing demands of Technological advancements.

He also cited transfer of knowledge, mobilisation of resources and visibility as other benefits that come with leadership of such high profile institutions.

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