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UN Report Zeroes on Nairobi to Host Global Service Centre; Uganda to Retain 500 Jobs

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has left Uganda in the cold by proposing that Global Shared Service Centres be established in Nairobi, Kenya; Shenzhen, China; Budapest, Hungary and Montréal, Canada.

The recommendation, subject to consensus of 193 UN member states, will take away more than 300 jobs from the Regional Service Centre Entebbe.

The global service delivery model is a component of the Secretary General’s ambitious reform agenda which he says is aimed at improving the responsiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability of service delivery.

The model seeks to consolidate fragmented administrative structures with the view of enabling services to be delivered with greater consistency and scalability, achieving economies of scale and a reduction of the organization’s footprint in higher-cost and higher-risk duty stations.

According to Guterres’ report dated January 18, 2019 and published on the UN website, the move will have “impact on existing support functions.”

The country’s representative to United Nations, Amb Adonia Ayebare said “no final decision has been taken on that matter.”

He referred us to “Kampala for more information.”

Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Amb James Mugoya was not readily available for comment.

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Western diplomats told ChimpReports on Tuesday that the report may not stand a chance in the general assembly “because reaching consensus on this divisive issue is a tall order. There are a lot of differences among nations on this matter.”

Guterres said in his report that the duty stations most affected by the implementation of the Global Shared Service Centres include New York, Entebbe, Kuwait, Offices Away from Headquarters and Regional Commissions.

Notably, the global service delivery model will move only location-independent transactional services to service centres.

Substantive offices will retain their full decision-making authority and be further enabled to focus on mandate implementation, according to the SG.

SG speaks on Entebbe

As an example, said Guterres, the Regional Service Centre at Entebbe will “continue to perform functions not in scope for the global service delivery model, including regional information and communication technology services, regional training and conference services, and transport and movement services.”

In addition, the Entebbe Support Base logistics hub for MONUSCO hosts several other tenants, including the Global Procurement Support Section (previously known as the Regional Procurement Office), the civilian pre-deployment training team, the Regional Ombudsman, OIOS and the United Nations Mine Action Centre.

It also hosts liaison offices and functions of neighbouring peacekeeping operations, including MINUSCA, UNISFA and UNMISS, which, according to Guterres, will continue to be performed in Entebbe.

Amb Adonia Ayebare meeting with UN chief Antonio Guterres at a function in New York

“As a result, 545 staff and contractors would remain in Entebbe to perform such functions. This is comprised of 204 international civil staff and 341 contractors and national staff and contractors,” reads the report in part.

This does not include staff of agencies, funds and programs in Kampala.

Officials said the report is fair considering UN consultants last year proposed to take away all the jobs from the Entebbe office. This is seen as a sweetener to discourage Uganda from fighting back.

Process

Following Guterres’ proposal to restructure service centres, the General Assembly requested that the proposed system fully takes into account comments, observations and recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit, and to consult with Member States and relevant stakeholders and consider the views expressed by them.

In view of this request, a new assessment for the locations of the Global Shared Service Centres was conducted in 2018.

The Secretariat invited all 193 Member States to express their interest in hosting a Global Shared Service Centre.

Consequently, 19 Member States proposed a total of 22 locations as potential hosts of the Global Shared Service Centres.

Of these 22 locations, 15 were already included in the original 45 existing locations and the 11 locations of specialized agencies, related organizations and other entities. The remaining 7 locations were then included in the evaluation, resulting in a total of 63 locations being evaluated.

UN says all the 63 locations were evaluated against the minimum requirements, including security and stability; a family duty station; health, education and access issues, including reliable medical facilities, educational facilities and a nearby international airport with adequate connectivity.

Other considerations included infrastructure, including reliable, modern ICT; availability of a qualified local workforce with the requisite skills profile; and adequate time zone coverage.

Guterres said in his report that of the 63 locations, 39 locations fully met the minimum requirements.

As such, 39 locations that fully met the minimum requirements were evaluated against the scoring criteria approved by the Steering Committee, as follows: cost (40 per cent), qualified local workforce (40 per cent) and location suitability (20 per cent).

The 39 locations were ranked, and a shortlist identified, based on the outcome of the evaluation against the scoring criteria.

“The results of the assessment indicated that Nairobi, Kenya; Shenzhen, China; Budapest, Hungary and Montréal, Canada were the highest-scoring in their respective geographic regions (i.e. Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas),” the report added.

“Consequently, all four locations are proposed to host the Global Shared Service Centres.”

Guterres said this recommendation would fully address the requirements of the General Assembly in resolution including providing a “follow-the-sun” support model in which certain transactions, when required, can be passed between shared service centres in different time zones to increase responsiveness and reduce delays.

The evaluation indicated that Montréal would be capable of providing French language services. In addition, the other service centres will have access to a French speaking workforce, which will enable time-sensitive services to be provided in French to clients in Africa, Asia and Europe.

The UN Secretary General said the governments of the four recommended locations have all confirmed recognition of United Nations privileges and immunities, including work permits for third-country nationals to work for the United Nations Global Shared Service Centre as locally recruited staff, and work permits for spouses of international staff.

It remains to be seen what steps Uganda will take to counter this new recommendation.

Government officials expressed hope that intense diplomatic lobbying at United Nations would see a defeat of the proposal.

Uganda has paid heavily in terms of resources and blood in supporting UN’s counter terrorism missions in the region especially Somalia where it is highest troop-contributing contingent under AMISOM that has rescued the country from destruction.

Furthermore, a great weather and plentiful harvest mean cost of living is comparatively lower in Uganda than in any of the African countries hosting the centres. Many retiring foreign diplomats have opted to live in Uganda. These are some of the arguments fronted by Uganda to dissuade UN from implementing its proposed service delivery system.

Meanwhile, Guterres has asked the General Assembly to approve the establishment and the locations of the Global Shared Service Centres effective 1 January 2020.

The matter is currently before the Committee of experts on budget after which it will be sent to the 5th Committee of the General Assembly with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters for determination.

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