Blog: Chairman’s remarks – Willy Mutenza

Chairman’s remarks – Willy Mutenza

I take great pleasure in thanking all those that spared their valuable time to attend this important event and I also thank those that couldn’t make it, for the tremendous support everyone gave, even in their absence, to the 9th UK-Uganda convention.


This year’s theme was “Unlocking Uganda’s Investment Potential” and it fitted well with some of the core objectives which were:


Promoting and facilitating bilateral trade between the United Kingdom, Europe, the Diaspora and Uganda

  • Facilitating foreign direct investment in Uganda
  • Providing a platform for businesses to expand into new markets
  • Promoting British businesses exporting to Uganda
  • Encouraging and exposing business and investment opportunities to Ugandans living in the UK


This year, we added an extra day and also a dedicated session on Fintech, with the aim of increasing inward investment to Uganda within this booming sector. With the support of a Fintech expert in London, the Managing Director of the agency Full Reach, Mr Martin Best, it was our mission to use this annual forum to open up opportunities for British and Ugandan firms to establish deeper relationships and unlock new economic Fintech partnerships. London raised £1.8bn in venture capital and public listings in 2018, almost twice that of Berlin, its nearest European rival.


We were happy to welcome our partners in this sector, VISA Inc, WorldRemit, International Trade Centre, Lord Popat’s office, London Chambers of Commerce and Industry, The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Department for International Trade (British High Commission, Kampala), Copenhagen FinTech and Pangea Accelerator, FITSPA, Africa FinTech Network, among others.


We continue to recognize and thank some special people who particularly gave dedicated support to the Convention, ensuring that it did not only succeed but also attracted the right people. These included: Mr. Subhash Thakrar, Major General Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, Mr. Ibrahim K Bogere – Group Chairman, KPG, Martin Best, Ade Daramy, who flew all the away from Sierra Leone, Eric Olanya, a team of dedicated volunteers and the organising committee team.


This year, the Convention became a member of The British Exporters Association (BExA), to be able to encourage and expose the vast opportunities offered to British businesses and investors in Uganda.


One of the main focused sectors at this year’s convention was infrastructure. We were happy to have Lars Peter Jensen, from COLAS sharing his knowledge on challenges and opportunities for delivering major projects. Colas UK, through a local company, SBC (Uganda) Ltd are constructing a new airport in Hoima, thanks to the largest ever UKEF loan made to an African government.  Ladies and Gentlemen, by award them a loan of such magnitude, this shows the confidence that the UK government has in Uganda.


We had over five established real estate companies showcasing and looking for Ugandans and investors to invest in this fast-booming industry in Uganda.


We had the General Manager of Pearl Marina and the Executive Director of Housing Finance Bank, also sharing on the construction of affordable housing market; what the current sources of funding are; what the plans/initiatives to make housing credit more affordable are; and which alternative financing solutions are available.


I am happy to note that H.E. the President, established the State House Anti-Corruption Unit as a channel for his direct involvement in the fight against corruption. We were happy that Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, The Head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit presented on how the government, and specifically the unit she is heading, was doing to combat corruption.


Corruption continues to harm not only Uganda but Africa at large, hampering democracy, development and the ability to bring people out of poverty.


We also sought to reach out to Ugandans in the Diaspora, and reiterated that we have the ability and responsibility to both create and introduce systems in Uganda that do not currently exist or are simply broken down. Through this, our people will greatly benefit. It does not matter what industry you are in, as most, if not all sectors, are in need of improvement. However, this is a group effort. We must be devoted as a community to investing back home, with the goal of strengthening our economy for the future. We must grow this community by encouraging our diaspora peers to consider investing in our country Uganda.


We shared that investing in Uganda after being away for a long time is not easy, nor quick. One needs to invest with a great amount of patience in the process, do due-diligence, yet have the determination to reach their goals. With those three elements, you are destined for success in helping create the change we would all like to see in Uganda.


Lord Popat reported that not long-ago UK’s trade with Africa was 30% (30% of what?? Overall UK Export?). It is now less than 4% and this is an opportunity for Uganda to tap into UK exports and funding as UK is keen to increase trade with Africa.


UK will be holding the UK-Africa Investment Summit here in London on 20th January2020, where all African Heads of States are invited. This summit will bring together UK and African Governments, alongside major international investors, to grow awareness of investment opportunities on the continent. This is a great opportunity for all of us to attend the summit and explore the various partnership opportunities from UK.


One of our speakers Catherine Wines, Director & Co-Founder of WorldRemit Ltd called upon the government of Uganda to have enabling regulations to support nascent Fintech industry to grow as it creates a lot of jobs and also solves problems using technology.


We were happy to host one of the top high-profile Ugandans in the Diaspora, Suzan Kerere, Head of Global Merchant Sales and Acquisitions Visa Inc and I am happy to quote her closing comment “if you’re working anywhere in the world, in any business entity, private or public and you’re doing it inclusively, then you’re driving change. Because inclusive means, it’s more transparent, more accessible and more equal’’.


lars Peter Jensen, branch manager, Colas Uganda, the developers of Kabaale international airport in Hoima shared challenges and opportunities for delivering major projects in Uganda and invited UK investors to look at Uganda as the only country where you’re greeted with a smile when you arrive at customs and immigration at the airport’. He said that Uganda is a really unique country which he encouraged people to visit and invest in. 


Lt Col Edith Nakalema, Head, Statehouse Anti-Corruption Unit was the star at the two days event where most delegates were happy with her campaigns against corruption.


We extend a special thanks to our partner Full Reach, a London based FinTech and marketing agency which helped to put Uganda on the map of Fintech. It’s not often that you find the words ‘Uganda’ and ‘Fintech’ trending, even less so when you throw ‘London’ into the mix.


For the first time, a dedicated FinTech section was held in collaboration with the Africa Fintech Association and local leaders in the sector. $bn Unicorn WorldRemit, VISA Inc and many others were on the panel as well as speakers from across both continents. But it wasn’t just talk-talk – there was a range of real Ugandan Fintech scale-ups with their founders facilitated by International Trade Centre to attend the convention including: “Xente, Akello Banker and YakakoPay who flew in from Uganda for the event, looking for investment, partnerships and growth opportunities.


Martin Labbé, Tech Sector Development coordinator and NTF IV Programme manager, International Trade Centre encouraged the government of Uganda to emulate London which has a good example of Regulatory sandbox that allows businesses to test innovative propositions in the market, with real consumers and then scale them up once a concept has been proven, a concept which  has now been replicated in Rwanda.


The Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority, Hon. Betty Kamya enlightened us on government initiatives and strategies to attract investors.


Subhash Thakkar, the Vice President, London Chamber of Commerce argued the government should create the right environment for private equity companies to invest, such as dispute resolution mechanisms, effective legal system where the rule of law exists and less burdensome tax system.


I am happy to report that for the last 8 years, over 5,470 delegates have attended the Convention; and more than 167 Ugandans relocated to Uganda; 77 companies from Uganda have showcased their services at the Convention, and 95 UK companies including SMEs in the Diaspora have also exhibited at the Convention.


I am happy to report that, this year, Barclays Bank Business Club (Uganda) led a delegation of over 30 business people to the 9th UK Convention. This is a great opportunity for those who are looking for partners in Uganda to reach out. The group consisted of CEOs and business owners representing various sectors including: Infrastructure, Agro-processing, Real Estate and construction, Packaging and Printing, FMG and commodities wholesalers, Electronic wholesales, Health and medical equipment, Tour and Hospitality, Exporters, Fashion and Financial institutions and banking.


Finally, this event could not be what it is without our sponsors, such as; VISA Inc, WorldRemit, Eric & Winstons Short Stay Apartments, SBC Uganda Colas, Housing Finance Bank, Comfort Homes, Fakhruddin Properties, Universal   Enterprises, Southgate Properties, KPG, Jakarna Heights, Alvan Blanch, Pearl Marina, Property Show. And our partners, The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’, India’s premier business association with 9,000 members and other premier partners such as The International Trade Centre, Economic Policy Group (EPG); The Department for International Trade; London Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Copenhagen FinTech, The Department for International Trade, FITSPA and many others


I want to acknowledge the exhibitors, and thank each and every one of them for coming, and making this Convention the great experience that it has become. Special mention goes to Mr. Bernard Magulu, ED Bank of Africa Uganda who has been one of the most dedicated volunteers of the Convention.


It is all about you, for you and by you, and it would not be what it is without you. I hope you enjoyed the day and had a productive experience.


Once again, I thank everyone for their continued support for the UK-UG Convention and looking forward to being with you in the coming Conventions.


Thank you so much.


Willy Mutenza

Chairman – Founder, Uganda Convention-UK


Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

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