Richard Henry Kimera speaks up for those who are rarely heard in Uganda: consumers. He works hand in hand with the Ugandan Central Bank to protect and empower borrowers and savers. Thanks to this effort, more than 4.5 million clients are now benefiting from transparency and fairness in the financial sector. GIZ supports the development of financial consumer protection on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Nowadays, all banks have to explain the loan and savings products in a local language – in Luganda, for example. Banks also have to disclose the ‘total cost of credit’, which includes all interest and fees the borrower will have to pay. This particularly benefits less educated Ugandans who don’t speak English and don’t have a lot of experience with banking and its associated risks and costs. Since 2013, all 31 regulated financial institutions have been trained to ensure that they treat consumers in line with the new requirements.
I wanted to become involved in community work. My grandfather was a cooperative farmer and then a politician, and so was my father. I therefore knew from an early age that I also wanted to serve the community in one way or another. Maybe it is in my genes.
I contribute to the development of the community and society. Consumers in Uganda are not aware; hence they do not take action. It would be a better society if consumers used their power, spoke out and realised that they have rights and responsibilities. If we don’t empower our consumers, they will remain deprived and will fail to get value for their money.
Ministries and regulators have started to look at consumers in a different light and consumers have become empowered in different sectors such as finance, communications, trade and health. This was a great achievement for me and for GIZ, which supports consumer protection in the financial sector. When I walk around and see consumers speaking out, I see that my efforts have paid off.
I am striving for a better, safe and sustainable market for consumers, where consumers are responsible, where they use the resources they have at their disposal effectively – to sustain the environment and economy of our country.