HE. Edward Ssekandi thanked the Chairman Uganda Convention UK Mr. Willy Mutenza, the Speaker of the parliament of Uganda; Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Ministers from the parliament, the Uganda High Commission to the UK, and the Trade Envoy to the UK Prime Minister for East Africa; Lord Popat, the Chief Executive Officer of WorldRemit as well as all participating attendants.
The Vice President was pleased to join the Uganda Convention UK; he thanked the organisers for consistently creating the forum aimed at deepening business linkages between Uganda and UK. He said that he believed that the convention would continually act as a catalyst to promote Uganda as an investment destination of choice. He consequently extended deeper appreciation to all the attendees who found time. He was confident that the distinguished speakers would highlight the opportunities in the country according to the theme of the Convention 2017 which was: “Partnering for Wealth creation” which was imbedded within the Uganda government’s agenda for wealth creation; to move people from poverty to middle income country by 2020.
He assured the attendees that Uganda was a wealth country with abundant resources which are yet to be optimally harnessed from;
- Agriculture, value addition and agro processing.
- Water resources
- Industrial and trade in provision of services which were potential areas for investment with high returns.
He reminded people of the good investment climate the country offers which was entrenched in the social political stability since 1986 coupled with effective micro-economic policies that had ensured economic growth of an average of 6.5% in the last decade.
The Vice President, said that one of the key priorities of the NRM government was infrastructural improvement such as roads, electricity, water as well as air transport connectivity which had seen the cost of doing business in Uganda progressively going down. Through regulatory and legislative mechanisms, the government had continued to put up policies to ensure that investment in Uganda was made easier through the establishment of a One Stop Centre for business registration, licensing, tax advice and land acquisition. The government also fully liberalised the foreign exchange regime “investors are free to fully repatriate their profits” he said.
The Vice president bestowed awards to Monica Thandi and Julie Smith who are the UK’s 762th and 763rd of The UK Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light award winners for their work in Uganda, founding the Netball Development Trust.
He further said that whereas Uganda’s population is approximately 40 million people with a growing middle income class, investment in the country presented opportunities for easy access to the East African market of 140 Million people besides east central and southern Africa COMESA market of 400 million people. Uganda which prioritises trade and investment between countries was therefore a strategic regional hub for trade and investment as the government focuses on the overall national goal of achieving middle income status by 2020 through commercialisation of Agriculture, acceleration of industries and increasing production and productivity in all sectors of the economy. The country presented enormous trade and investment opportunities in areas of: Commercial Agriculture, Agro processing, Tourism, Minerals Oil and gas, Value addition, information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals, packaging where 90% of which were currently imported!
Uganda’s population was dynamic of which 75% were youth who were highly trainable and adoptable to work. This guaranteed a pool of skilled and relatively cheap labour.
He therefore encouraged all attendants to invest in Uganda where they were assured of high returns averaging from 50- 70% in secure peaceful and highly liberalised economy. Uganda was on a forward move to transform from peasantry to modernity. Although, looking at the map it showed a small country, the country was shared between the two international hemisphere; the southern and northern hemispheres. To test this, the Vice President encouraged people to come to visit Uganda, in Kampala to drive down the Equator 40 or 30 minutes. That is where Uganda was shared within the two hemispheres. He asked them to drive with a bottle of wine/soda/water or tea, on reaching the equator, let the hand in the southern hemisphere serve the hand in the northern hemisphere. “You will enjoy! “he assured them with applause from delegates. The hospitality of the people! Uganda was also the source of the River Nile which flows through countries to the Mediterranean through Egypt. He welcomed everyone to Uganda and guaranteed them that they would enjoy hence everyone is welcome to participate in trade in Uganda!
Finally, the Vice president bestowed awards to Monica Thandi and Julie Smith who were the UK’s 762th and 763rd Point of Light for their work founding the Netball Development Trust, which was doing excellent work in Uganda.
The award was on behalf of The UK Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers – people who were making positive changes in their communities. The UK award was set up in partnership with the US Points of Light Foundation, which was established by President George H W Bush over 25 years ago and had since recognised over 5,000 inspiring volunteers in the US.
The Netball Development Trust used netball to unite rural communities and empower children. The charity harnessed the power of netball to bring people in rural communities together so that the charity and its partners could deliver important services such as distributing sanitary pads and leading educational classes on sexual and reproductive health.
The pair oversaw the training of local people so the Trust could maximise its impact and ensured that the project was as sustainable as possible. The Netball Development Trust had reached over 10,000 children, and under the leadership of Monica, the Founder, and Julie, the Head of Development, the Trust had raised over £100,000.