While opening the 1st Uganda - Gulf Cooperation Council Investment Conference, the President is quoted to have taken Ugandans as unserious investors who are in salons, boda boda, etc. I am of the opinion that the President would have informed the investors that in Uganda, potential partners were ready to work with those from the Arab world without regard to religious differences. 2ndly that there are Uganda investors who need finance but have good ideas which can work, he would also tell them that in the process of working out the partnerships, if they came across factors that may hinder such, his Government is committed to sort those constraints. He would also have told them that he will be happy to see a permanent set up to see things moving regarding the investments by the Arab partners.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
THE 1st UGANDA - GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL INVESTMENT CONFERENCE
By Josepha Jabo
On Monday, May 28, 2012, H.E. The President of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni addressed an audience comprising of the Islamic Development Bank, representatives from Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ministers, MPs and delegates as he officially opened the 1st Uganda-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Investment Conference May 28th-29th 2012 at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. The theme of the two-day bilingual conference (conducted in Arabic and English) is, ‘Uganda a Country of Opportunity and Prosperity.’
“When you attend an economic forum, you are answering one question. How do you make money? When we talk of business we are talking about money and profit. What do you need to name a profit? There are 7 elements: 1) Market. Do you have people to buy what you produce? 2) Products. Do you have quality products? 3) Raw Materials. Are there raw materials in Uganda for producing the product/ 4) Infrastructure. These include road, railways, piped water, electricity and ICT. 5) Do we have an educated, skilled work-force? 6) What is the macroeconomic framework? 7) Peace and Security.
Uganda has been weak in only one element—electricity. We delayed in electricity because we were depending on external people abroad like the World Bank. We (Uganda) will never again have a shortage of electricity.
Market; what market opportunities do you invest in Uganda? In Uganda we have a population of 34 million people. However, we have 5 countries in the East African Community: Kenya, Uganda. Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi—a market of 135 million people. South Sudan and Somalia have applied to join the EAC. We have COMESA, Egypt, North Sudan and Ethiopia are COMESA members and this has a population of 500 million people. We are an African common market. Africans are now 1 billion and in a few years we will be 1.3 billion and we will overtake the Chinese.
We have negotiated market axis with USA. We have 650 products which are quota-free and tax-free under African Growth Opportunity Acts (AGOA). We have negotiated a similar agreement with China with 430 PRODUCTS. These lists will be provided by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).
We have negotiated a market axis agreement with India, tax-free and quota-free—a big supply of milk products, which we want to export. We have an agreement with the European Union where we can export everything—except arms—to Europe.
GCC countries come here and produce products which can be sold in Arica. There is nothing on earth which is produced on the globe which cannot be produced in Uganda especially wheat, rice and barley. Uganda is the 2nd biggest producer of bananas in the world. Uganda is the 4th biggest producer of coffee in the world.”
Highlighting other investment opportunity areas in Uganda the President spoke of agro-processing, minerals (phosphates), gold, copper, cobalt, etc. therefore raw materials are plenty. “We are about to close the deficit on electricity and we shall branch into biogas and geothermal. There are other areas of infrastructure. We are inviting co-investors to invest in infrastructure like ICT and the railway. In energy we shall have private partners. We have a very well educated population. We have 8.8 million primary children, 1.5 million secondary school children and 200,000 university students. We are now emphasizing skills development.
We have a fully convertible currency .we have no foreign exchange controls and it has been the cornerstone of our recovery.
Agro-business and agro-processing need value-addition. When we (Uganda) sell 1 kilogram of coffee we get 1 dollar. We send it to London and the same kilo is sold for $15. That is just one example. By adding value to all these products the economy will change overnight. We are adding value to bananas by making starch, banana flour and baby-food.” The President pointed out that this value-addition was being carried out using the government’s money but urged the private sector to also come in and invest in these areas.
The President also called tourism a, ‘gold-mine.’ Regarding wood products, the President said, “One time I spoke to the King of Sweden. He told me a pine tree, in Sweden takes 120 years to mature but here in Uganda it takes 15 years!”
Other Ugandan products he highlighted (besides Uganda having Lake Victoria the 2nd largest lake in the World and being the source of the River Nile) were fresh water fish, fresh water sports fish farming in rivers and lakes.
The President also spoke of products of knowledge. As a result of innovations Makerere University has designed an electric car which, the government is funding although it would have been better if Uganda’s private sector had invested in it rather than concentrating on hair-salons, bars and taxis.
“Here, in Black Africa, there is a lot of ancient knowledge the outside world did not know, for example, banana-juice-making technology is in the Great Lakes Region.”
The President concluded with an appeal to the GCC countries. “I appeal to the GCC countries to share all this wealth with us, the markets and the infrastructure. You are welcome to share all this with us.”
The Writer works for Uganda Media Centre
Museveni opens Gulf investment forum in Kampala
Publish Date: May 29, 2012
President Museveni shaking hands with the Chairman of the FGCC at the forum. Middle is finance minis
By Vision Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni has opened the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Investment Forum, in Kampala.
The two-day forum, will see Ugandan business community get an opportunity to meet international businessmen.
The Kampala forum is organised by the Government through the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), taking place at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
According to finace state minister in charge of investment, Aston Kajara, the GCC forum will enable local businessmen to meet and discuss with representatives of key private sector bodies and investment banks from GCC countries.
The GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
The GCC businessmen have expertise in construction, oil, banking and other fi nancial services that Ugandans can take advantage of. Tom Buringuriza, the acting executive director of UIA, said the tax body had developed about 200 business ideas Ugandans can present to potential investors for partnership and business collaboration during the forum.
“The local businessmen should this week come to UIA offi ce and access the business ideas for free,” Buringuriza said. He added that over 200 delegates are expected at the forum, of which 75 come from the GCC countries.
“We see this as a great breakthrough to host the GCC here,” he said. Buringuriza said GCC will not immediately establish a bureau in Uganda but will work with UIA to follow up on issues and partnerships built during the forum.
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