What is the background to the Trade and Investment Forum UK-Uganda Convention.
We started three years ago. The main focus was to engaging the diaspora in promoting investments in Uganda. This is the only viable option that has worked in other diaspora success stories like the Israel and India, harnessing its diasporas. We decided to shift the paradigm from aid to trade.
- The purpose of the Forum is to inform the investors and business community in this region of the vast potential for investment that Uganda is offering to both the domestic and international community. Specifically, the forum will:
- Network; Share information and knowledge; explore opportunities in Uganda.
- Update investors on priority sectors for investment such as agro-processing infrastructure development, energy, tourism and agro-industries
- Provide an opportunity for those who have invested in Uganda to explain the realities of doing business in Uganda
- Dispel some of the concerns that investors may have about investing in new frontiers such as Uganda
- Promote Trade, Development and Global Partnerships for Ugandan Diaspora Businesses in the UK.
- Ensure that the UK Diaspora businesses work together to achieve joint business objectives, taking advantage of the opportunities available to cement joint ventures and partnerships in Uganda.
- Outreach; Ugandan Asians are one of the richest people in the UK and we are using the same platform to rejuvenate their spirit of their country and also to use the platform to update them with available opportunities. We have speakers like Lord Sheikh and Lord Popat from house of lords, all very highly successful entrepreneurs and they are also keen to interest Asians to look at Uganda. Besides this since the Convention I have met Nigerians and Ghanaians in Uganda who have gone to explore opportunities.
- Intra-African investment is a critical source of growth for the continent, but is often overlooked. Recently, reports have indicated that intra-africa direct investment is growing and we are utilising this platform to invite other Africans to look at Uganda’s vast investment opportunities to take advantage of, not to mention the Diaspora.
- Spur growth, development and awareness, create better business opportunities and to engage the wider UK Diaspora to expand in the Ugandan Markets.
Who is attending the Convention and what are the key benefits?
We are hosting our third forum and we expect over 1000 people to register for the event. The event will be on an invitation-only but free-to-attend basis. Delegates will be drawn from the following groups:
- The institutional investment community;
- The international banking community;
- Diaspora community
- Organisations involved in infrastructure development, including housing and commercial building, construction, urban regeneration, roads and bridges, information and communication technology, water supplies, power generation, transmission and distribution;
- Manufacturing and agribusiness industries, and companies involved in adding value to primary processes;
- Organisations looking to invest into developing hotels and service industries;
- Representatives from key bilateral and multilateral donor agencies.
Confirmed high profile and prominent speakers, who are active in the public or private sector, either in the UK and/or Uganda include:
- Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Vice President, Republic of Uganda
- Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister for Trade, Industry & Cooperatives
- Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament
- Lord Sheikh, House of Lords
- Hon Sam Engola, Minister of State for Housing
- Lord Popat, House of Lords
- HE Professor Joyce Kikafunda, High Commissioner to the UK
- Mohan Kaul, Chairman Commonwealth Business Council
- Patrick Bitature – Chairman of Uganda Investment Board
- Mr. Elly Karuhanga, President of Tullow Uganda and Director of Tullow Uganda
- Ashish Thakkar, CEO and Founder Mara Group
- Eng. Dr. Frank B. Sebbowa, Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority
Obviously the Ugandan Government’s continued participation in the Convention suggests credible benefits to the Ugandan economy via the Convention. What are those benefits to the Ugandan Government that you can point to?
- Tapping into the Diaspora educated skilled human resource
- Skills transfer
- Mobilising investors which has always been a challenge
- The government uses the platform to update investors and Diasporas on new government regulations.
- Since the Convention I have led 3 various excursions of investors to Uganda
- Mobilising Diasporas to contribute to the economical growth of Uganda
Investment in Uganda are without its challenges. What are the main frequently asked questions that you encounter with participants?
A number of challenges exist for companies intending to do business with/in Uganda. These include:
- High cost of doing business;
- Infrastructure – lack of functioning railway from the sea port. However, efforts are underway to solve this. Uganda’s infrastructure, particularly its systems of roads, rail, electricity and water is relatively poor. However, in recent years the government has committed relatively large funds to their development in preparation both for the East African Common market and the production of oil.
- Electricity supply is still insufficient and costly
- A few Administrative barriers. Efforts to reduce bureaucracy are underway through Team Uganda (about 50 investment related agencies), as well as the Presidential Investor Roundtable
- Cost of Energy: Both the cost and availability of electricity remains a challenge. Over 80% of the country does not have access to grid electricity. Measures to reduce this are underway with the construction of new hydro-electric dams and power stations.
- Affordable financing: Lack of affordable financing is another impediment to business. Loans are generally short-term with interest rates ranging from 15-24%. In addition to high rates, little liquidity exists for loans over three years. With the increase of financial services in the relaxed financial sector, rates are hoped to come down
How much in your view as the Ugandan economy grown over the years and what type of climate do you see?
- The recent natural resource discoveries have led to an increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows to East Africa with Uganda in the lead.New data shows Uganda topped the region in attracting FDI last year . Uganda’s FDI jumped by 92.51 percent to $ 1.721 billion from $ 894 million in 2011, while Tanzania attracted $ 1.706 billion in 2012, a 38.81 percent increase from the previous year’s $ 1.229 billion. On the other hand, Kenya’s FDIs dropped by 27.04 percent to $ 259 million from $ 355 million.Rwanda’s rose by 50.94 percent to $ 160 million last year from $ 106 million, while Burundi, which lagged the five East African countries, attracted $ 1 million, a 66.67 percent decrease from $ 3 million in 2011. The EAC countries received a combined $ 3.9 billion in FDIs last year, a 48.71 percent rise from the $ 2.6 billion registered in 2011
- Why Invest in East Africa
- Market access to about 125 million people.
- Combined GDP size of about US$ 44 billion.
- The world’s fastest reforming region in terms of business regulation.
- Simplified investment procedures and one stop centre facility provided by national investment promotion
- Generous incentives offered.
- Vibrant and upcoming capital and securities market.
- High level of intra regional trade and cross-border investments.
- Numerous investment opportunities traversing all sectors.
- Abundant labour force – educated, trained, mobile, skilled and enterprising.
- English is widely spoken. Rwanda and Burundi are bilingual (French & English).
- Insurance against non commercial risk by Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and Africa
- Trade Insurance Agency (ATIA).
- Sanctity of private property guaranteed on national constitutions.
- Stable political environment and high level of governance and democracy.
- Consumer loyalty
- Cordial hospitality and warmth of the people.