This is the report of the Sixth Uganda UK Convention 2016, which was held in Troxy London, UK on the 10th September 2016.
This year’s programme addressed the essential need-to-know topics most prevalent to Uganda, such as opportunities within the priority sectors; Infrastructure development, Power & Energy, Health-care, Agriculture & Agri-business, Real Estate, tourism, Increasing intra-regional trade and developing risk mitigation strategies through collaborations and Private equity, and VC finance access.
The focus on these issues provided a wider platform for stakeholder participation and emphasized the critical issues in each area.
Women and youth entrepreneurship and empowerment were taken into consideration as cross-cutting issues in the discussion of all the areas mentioned above.
The Annual Uganda Convention, an investment forum was established in 2011 London, with delegates from Uganda, UK and across countries.
One of the Convention’s overarching objectives is to promote stronger community cohesion, and foster a spirit of unity and support between various Ugandan cultural communities in the UK, thereby ensuring long term success of Diaspora members’ activities. This year’s Convention was unique as it ensured representation from members of the various political parties and ethnic groups.
At UCUK we are committed to the following goals that are the cornerstones of our vision:
- To contribute to the development of Uganda’s private sector and feed the vibrant growth of Uganda’s emerging markets
- To encourage the collaboration between the Diaspora, Public and Private sectors
- To create the optimum platform for the matching of sustainable business
- partnerships to ensure that the right investors do business in Uganda
- To stimulate dialogue and promote knowledge-sharing between the public, private, investors and Ugandans in the Diaspora
We believe that personal contact and business gatherings, during which information is shared and ideas are exchanged, are the best way to foster effective business partnerships, promote collaboration between people and build a mutual understanding in the marketplace.
Outcome and output
The following outcomes were realised from the Forum:
- Better informed stakeholders about the role of hidden resources in Uganda’s development
- Deeper understanding among stakeholders on how to mitigate risk and create genuine partnerships, insight into the practicalities of ‘doing business’ in Uganda with an overview into shareholder’s agreements, financial due diligence and tax optimization.
- Strengthened partnerships for advocating the role of intra-Africa trade and for better cooperation among stakeholders for private equity investments and resource mobilization
- Ways to optimise value-chains and discuss the potential of the private sector in contributing to agricultural development
- Explore financing options and investment opportunities
- Discuss strategies and policies to improve smallholders’ access to markets and access to finance
- Forge new partnerships and business ventures and meet key decision makers and discuss priorities, long-term strategies and result-focused solutions and policies
The Organising Committee would like to express its gratitude to Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, His Highness, David Onen Acana II, Acholi Paramount Chief, Lord Sheikh, HE Joyce Kikafunda, Hon. Jaffer Kapasi OBE, Mr Amin Mawji OBE, Hon. Winnie Kiiza, Pastor Jessica Kayanja, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, Retired Col. Kiiza Besigye and Lord Dolar Popat, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda, Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic corps, Esteemed Members of the Business Community, Community leaders and the many speakers, panellists and moderators. The important messages that they shared contributed to the tremendous success of the day, and have been instrumental in meeting the goals and objectives of the Convention.
Special thanks, in addition, to the business community, the Uganda community and community leaders, professionals from Europe and Uganda, representatives of the voluntary sector and all our exhibitors who showcased Uganda on the day. You have all paved the way forward for enhanced and enriched communication between members of the Ugandan Diaspora and Uganda itself, and have also, undoubtedly brought Ugandans in the UK closer together.
We are grateful to all visitors, who through their attendance acknowledged the crucial role that the Diaspora has to play in the development of Uganda, and with whom a definite way forward can now be etched to fully participate in Ugandan affairs in the most fruitful and successful way.
Thanks go to all volunteers who helped to make it possible and whose support and contributions are highly appreciated.
And thanks to all those, too many to mention, who, in one way or another, have given their encouragement and shared ideas to make this sixth Uganda UK Convention a truly outstanding success.
Finally, we would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our sponsors, service providers and exhibitors. Just to mention a few; WorldRemit, Nagrecha Brothers, Uganda Embassy, Jakana Heights, Centenary Bank, Turkish Airlines, POCKIT, Equator City, PostBank, The Promota, Action Wealth, Connect Uganda, Night Speed Media, Airtime, Vouchers (AVMM), Buganda Land Board, Source of River Nile, KACITA, St Alfege, Able Child Africa, Uganda Catholic Martyrs, Miss Uganda UK, Bunyoro Kitara, PierOne, PostBank Uganda, MM2Capital, Equator City, VM Immigration, UDE, Oxford Business Group, North London Adventist Church, Mikolo Store, Red Pepper, Daily Monitor, Okusinza Mu Luganda – Greenwich, our wonderful volunteers and the organising committee.
The same goes to the media that supported and gave us unlimited exposure throughout the year.
Mr. Willy Mutenza, Founder and Chairman
Day I PROGRAMME -I Morning Session
Willy Mutenza, Chairman and Founder
The Chairman, also founder of the Uganda Convention, welcomed delegates to the Sixth Uganda Convention UK. In his welcome remarks, Willy informed members that the aim of the Convention was not only to make a contribution to the development of motherland – Uganda, but also devise and organise programmes to create stronger cohesion, cooperation, and foster a spirit of unity and support between various cultural Ugandan communities in the UK. He stressed that this was a big priority to ensure long term success of Diaspora members and it was the only even where members of the various political parties and ethnical groups were represented.
He listed some of the achievements and impact of the Convention since its inception in 2010, disclosing that 3475 delegates had so far attended the Convention; more than 90 Ugandans relocated to Uganda, 31 companies from Uganda had showcased their services and 67 UK companies including SME by Diaspora had also exhibited at the Conventions. On record over 7 companies were in the process of investing or had already invested in Uganda, for example Signature Group which signed an MOU with the government to build over 10,000 homes for the police.
He proudly informed the delegates that the Convention had had participants and hosted Ugandans from all walks of life, political and cultural affiliations with one common mission to discuss, debate and explore ways how to contribute to the development of Uganda.
Some of the charitable achievements included; two (2) tractors donated by a delegate at the 3rd Convention to the First Lady, and money donated by the Nagrecha’s to refurbish a primary school in Ntugamo, with over 50 disadvantaged disabled students benefiting from the Convention.
Recently at the Health Forum inspired and co-founded by the Convention Lord Popat donated $100,000 towards a hospital in Busore-Busoga.
Alfred Balinda, acting High commissioner
Mr. Alfred Balinda, the Acting High Commissioner in Uganda, in his opening remarks pointed out that the Convention was one of a unique kind to be hosted in the United Kingdom, and indeed had attracted so many participants and distinguished delegates from across the world and was increasingly attracting the largest gathering of Ugandans as well as friends of Uganda, and both existing and potential business investors with the view of sharing knowledge, ideas and to learn more about what prospective business opportunities that are available in Uganda.
He said that, the Government was directing her emphasis on public investment in infrastructure, recovery in private domestic consumption and investment demand as well as promoting investment in the agricultural sector whilst preaching the need for value addition. He subscribed to the theme of the day “Why Invest in Uganda Now”. Drawing the delegates attention to the prevailing political stability in Uganda, the guaranteed peace and security of person and property with one of the most competitive and liberalised economy in the region. Hence, ranking Uganda the number one enterprising country in the world.
He was delighted that this forum was deliberating on pertinent issues that formed part of the mandate as servants of Government at the Uganda High Commission accredited to the Court of St James’s, London.
He disclosed that, the Government had reduced the cost of tourist visas to Uganda from $100 to $50, and introduced E-visa application system. This decision was mainly to attract more tourists to Uganda, as well as enabling increased service delivery, accountability and efficiency in the visa issuing system. All visa prone applicants without exception shall in due course be required to apply online before travelling to Uganda. Pending the full implementation of the E-visa system, travelers were still welcome to obtain visas on arrival at the airport or at the Uganda Missions abroad.
Mr Balinda advised that Ugandans who desires to acquire citizenship of another country while retaining their citizenship of Uganda (Dual Citizenship) were free to do so following the constitutional amendment of Article 15 of the constitution that prohibited dual citizenship. Dual citizenship application forms were available at the Mission, but the process of payment, consideration and granting of a certificate of citizenship is currently a preserve of the National Citizenship and Immigration Board (NCIB) at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kampala. However, subject to minor administrative logistics, Uganda Missions abroad shall soon be able to issue dual citizenship certificates, as well as National Identity Cards.
Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda
Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga welcomed delegates to the 6th UK Trade Convention and thanked the organisers headed by Mr. Willy Mutenza for annually organising this convention with the aim of promoting our Country Uganda not only to the British people but to the entire world. Rt Hon added that, she has come to learn from the last UNAA convention which took place last weekend that Uganda needs to be marketed as much as possible since some people around the world still associate Uganda with the era of Idi Amin and don’t know about its current potential in trade and tourism. It’s for this reason that she appreciated the organisers for coming up with the theme of “Why Invest in Uganda now”
Rt Hon added, unlike in the past, the investment climate in Uganda is thriving with more domestic and foreign investments generated than ever before. The Government has adopted and implemented sound macroeconomic and legal framework to promote investments, such frameworks include; liberation of the economy (exchange rate, prices and interest rates, current and capital accounts); privatization (replacing state monopolies with free markets); incentive regimes for investors in key sectors; abolition of export taxes; investment guarantees; externalization of funds; and establishment of Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) as One Stop Centre for investor services. In addition, the Government embarked on infrastructure developments such as contribution of roads, hydroelectric power stations, and railway lines among others. These are all aimed to promote domestic and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country.
Rt Hon said, in the recent years, Uganda has been voted as the leading investment destination within the East African region by various agencies. For instance, the World Investment Report 2013 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), indicated that Uganda received the most Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in 2012 particularly in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. However, the World Bank Report on Doing Business ranked Uganda 150th out of 189 countries in ease of doing business.
Uganda has continued to be an attractive destination for investments. By 2014/15 projects totalling to 327 had been licensed, planned investment totalled USD 1,407 million and 44,763 jobs were planned. For the Ugandans in the diaspora, Uganda remains an attractive investment location in Africa for the following reasons: –
- First and foremost, there is a stable socio-political environment conducive for investment. Government has tried to extend the stability to our neighbouring brothers and sisters like South Sudan.
- Parliament has passed enabling new laws i.e. oil laws that have introduced local content which benefits community development.
- A fully liberalized economy; this was enhanced with the passing of the Public Private Partnership Act.
- An abundant natural resource base; Uganda has a young, energetic, educated, skilled and trainable population which can offer any form of labour required.
- Constant improvement of social and economic infrastructures; Electricity is not a problem anymore, the new dams have done a tremendous job in eliminating load shedding, roads have been constructed to the various borders; one stop centres like Mutuka to Tanzania and the one for Katuna is under construction. The One Stop Centres (OSC) offer services for business registration, licensing, immigration, facilitation and aftercare in one building or place. Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is at the forefront of this initiative, for details you can go to their website. It works with other Government departments and agencies which include:
Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) for company registration;
- Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) for tax advice and registration;
- The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration; Control for issuance of work permits and other immigration documents;
- The Lands Registry, which assists in the verification of land ownership;
- The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to facilitate the investor to environmental compliance; and
- Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) for standards advice.
- Strategic location at the heart of Africa that guarantees ready access to regional markets;
- Effective macro-economic policies that maintained economic growth at an average of 6.5 percent for the last decade and enabled the country to withstand external economic shocks during the global economic downturn from 2008 to 2011 during which the economy still grew by 3 percent;
- Dedicated Commercial and Industrial courts for quick resolution of business disputes;
- A member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a region with a market of about 400 million people in 19 countries;
- A member of the East African Community (EAC) with a population of over 140 million people;
- Uganda is part of the Free Trade Area of EAC, COMESA and SADC; and
- A population of 35 million people with a growing middle income class with reasonable expendable income;
Some of the direct measures government of Uganda has undertaken to improve the investment climate include;
- Recognition of innovation and technology as an important segment in the development chain, through the establishment of an independent Ministry of Science and Innovation to address innovation issues.
- Tax incentives to categorized investors; more information is available with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the Uganda Investment Authority. Some of Tax incentives include; tax holidays on exportation of finished consumer & capital goods for a period of ten Years; Automobiles, mini-buses, construction & earth moving equipment – 35 percent; Expenditure on training of employees and scientific research – 100 percent; among others.
- As a Parliament, we have also done our best to set up an enabling legal and institutional framework for ease of investment in Uganda. We have the Uganda Investment Authority Act in Uganda whose mandate is to promote and facilitate Investment into the country. As well as advise Government of Uganda on various policies affecting the investment climate in Uganda.
- Uganda has improved its rankings in other areas of governance such as rule of law, regulatory quality and government effectiveness.
Opportunities for employment of citizens in diaspora
Rt Hon disclosed that professionals are needed back home; Doctors, nurses, health professionals, engineers etc. The Parliament, has been pushing for better remuneration of our professionals – especially teachers and health practitioners. She called upon nationals who are professionals to return home and contribute towards quality service delivery because the working conditions are improving. She appealed to doctors to come back home and start saving the lives of your fellow Ugandans. Uganda must stop exporting health workers while thousands of Ugandans are dying daily and work toward retention of these very key professionals, she added.
Existing Investment opportunities in Uganda for Uganda’s Diaspora
Agriculture / Agribusiness
Uganda is among the leading producers of coffee, bananas and oil seed crops (sesame (simsim), soybean, sunflower, etc). It is also a major producer of other crops like tea, cotton organic cotton, tobacco, cereals, fresh fruit & vegetables and nuts, essential oils, flowers, poultry and fresh water fish.
Opportunities for investment exist in;
- Commercial farming in crops and animal industries, as well as aquaculture, Value addition (Agro-industries -Agro-food industries),
- Manufacturing of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides etc), Cold storage facilities and logistics, Farm Machinery manufacturing and assembly, Packaging, and Irrigation Schemes.
The distinctive attraction of Uganda as a tourist destination arises from the variety of its game stock (Including the rare tree climbing lions of Ishasha White Rhinoceros, Gorillas, elephants and its unspoiled scenic beauty including forests hills and Mountain Rivers and lakes. 51% of the world’s population of mountain gorillas lives in Uganda.
Uganda is home to 11% of the world’s bird’s species (a total of 1060 bird species), which offers a wide range of bird species.
The opportunities in tourism range from constructing high quality accommodation facilities, operating tours and travel circuits (bicycle tours, air balloon travel, marine – Lake Victoria and river rafting on the River Nile) to the development of specialized eco and community tourism systems, as well as faith based tourism (pilgrimage to Namugongo – Uganda Martyrs, Mahatma Gandhi Statute and Bishop Hannington landing site on the Nile River); Tour operations; Water sports and related activities; and National park concessions.
Over 80 percent of the country has been surveyed for mineral quantities and locations. New geo-data shows that Uganda has large under-exploited mineral deposits of gold, oil, high grade tin, tungsten/wolfram, salt, beryllium, cobalt, kaolin, iron-ore, glass sand, vermiculite, phosphates agricultural fertilizer), Uranium and rare earth elements.
There are also significant quantities of clay and gypsum. Gold occurs in many areas of the country, including Busia in the east, Buhweju and Kigezi in the west, Mubende – Kiboga in the central region and significant occurrences in Karamoja in the northeast.
Investment opportunities exist in mining and mineral processing. Uganda provides special incentives to the mining sector with some capital expenditures being written off in full.
Oil and Gas
A discovery of extractable quantities of oil and gas in the Lake Albert region has enhanced the sector’s contribution to the country’s economic development. Investment opportunities are available in middle and down streams in the Sector.
Numerous Investment Opportunities exist in the local, Regional and International markets .The largest of the Uganda Business Process Outsourcing, Information Technology and Information Technology Enabling Services Industry opportunities are within Agriculture, Health, Tourism, Banks insurance and public administration. Domestic opportunities have been identified in the areas of;
- Digitalization of services,
- Healthcare services for the ageing,
- Productivity Solutions,
- Web applications,
- Software Development,
- Ware housing, and
- Network Integrations.
Investment opportunities exist in Uganda for setting up Public and independent private universities, branch universities and offshore campuses. Other areas of investment include technical & vocational training, distance learning and student financing. Research centers in tropical medicine and medical tourism.
Investment opportunities exist in Uganda in health management, human resource training e-health solutions and logistics, tertiary care services early detection, treatment, medical tourism and manufacturing of affordable equipment and other centres of excellence provide more investment opportunities centres of excellence provide more investment opportunities.
Uganda’s manufacturing sector presents various opportunities in virtually all areas ranging from beverages, leather, tobacco based processing, paper, textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, fabrication, ceramics, glass, fertilizers, plastic/PVC, assembly of electronic goods, hi-tech and medical products.
Energy sector has the following investment opportunities:
- Clean Development mechanism;
- Development of hydro sites for electricity generation eg. Musizi (10MW), Bogoye (7.5MW), Nengo Bridge (10MW), Songahi A (2.7MW), Songahi B (3.3MW), etc;
- Development of solar energy;
- Development of wind and geothermal energy; and
- Rural electrification.
Investing in education projects (vocal training, secondary and tertiary);
Specialized facilities eg hospitals; and
Establishing financial intermediaries.
- Need to develop Exchange programs where Ugandans in the Country go to different Countries to benchmark good digital innovation and technology practices.
- Develop a technology system or portal which will enable entrepreneurs to connect with service providers like hospitals and schools so that they can develop and put into production relevant and appropriate solutions.
- Ugandans in the diaspora with innovation ideas and capital should partner with fellow Ugandans at home who have the resources like labour and land to exploit.
- To enable more effective and innovative exploitation of Uganda’s Oil resources, Uganda Universities should be supported by their counterparts in the Diaspora in the areas of research and development.
- There is a need to develop financial literacy among Uganda’s rural population to better manage and use banking and financial services.
- There is a great need to brand and promote what Uganda has to offer in terms of Tourism and trade. Ugandans in the Diaspora should work hand in hand with the Uganda Embassy in promoting trade and tourism industries.
- There is need for Ugandans in the diaspora to visit Uganda and carry out impact assessments of the trade and investment climate.
- There is a need to establish a robust communication channel to enable information exchange and collaboration between the Uganda Government, Ugandan Enterprises and Ugandans in the diaspora.
Hon. Henry Musasizi, Chairperson Finance and Economic Planning Committee
Hon. Musasizi started by stating that Uganda was an endowed country with fertile soils, regular rain falls, mineral deposits with a capacity to feed the whole Africa if its agriculture is utilised.
He said that Uganda as a country was committed to enact laws that favour good investment environment says; it has a tax law that provides incentives that enable investment promotion. It has also got an investment code in place that guides all investment drives and this code provides a number of things among them free land for upraised investments that needs land, industrial parks and provide special economic zones.
He further pointed out that Uganda was a peaceful and democratic country.
Uganda, one of the founding members of the East African Community, has a market of over 150 million people which is a great population for a potential market.
The cost of labour is relatively affordable without any laws related to minimum wages.
The Government was committed in improving the existing infrastructure and opening up new ones including tarmacking all tourism roads.
The cost of energy was relatively affordable to investors and the manufacturers are given special energy tariffs.
The Honourable concluded by expressing gratitude to the organizers for having invited him to the Convention which had enabled him meet Ugandans in the Diaspora.
Amin Mawji OBE, Diplomatic Representative, Aga Khan Development Network
Amin started by telling the delegates that he had just moved to Kampala three month ago, but was surprised that many people in the UK had been asking him of the business opportunity and business landscape in Uganda. He gladly revealed that he was a great fan of Uganda and he saw it as a great opportunity and hope.
However, he said that there were downside risks, challenges and headwinds but he was convinced that headwinds could be dealt with.
“Uganda has its share of clouds….and mountains, but it is also a country of significant opportunities”, he said
He pointed out that many businesses, small and medium sizes (SMEs) the issue of access to finance was an issue which made investors who brought in finance have a competitive advantage over the local businesses because finance was expensive. Most banks in Uganda had a problem of bad non-performing loans, which were steadily rising especially in agriculture and construction.
The question of inadequate entrepreneurship, managerial and technical skills needed for businesses, was another area of weakness. This was an area that the Aga Khan was putting in a lot of investment to ensure that many people were educate for the right fit that uganda needs to go forward.
Commending the Government for the investment in infrastructure; say transport, energy and communication, he pointed out that the Infrastructure had not yet kept pace with the growth of the economy and population.
Lack of suitable Industrial parks across the country is another outstanding issue. Although, Government has a programme of setting up industrial parks across the country, there is need to encourage the investors, both local and foreign, to locate in the right areas.
Uganda is being ranked at 139/168 in Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index. Therefore, Government has to work on this issue of corruption. He appealed to the Government to penalize all those who are corrupt and follow all the bylaws set so as to send a good message to the public of combating this vise.
He further informed the delegates that Uganda compared well on the ease of doing business in East Africa, in some areas like tax collection it is ranked at 70% but on average it is ranked at 56% against a country with the best practice. Nevertheless, Uganda compared well with the rest of the countries in east Africa and it exceeded the rest of Sub Saharan Africa which was a good sign. (Kenya 58.24).
Amin urged delegates to invest in Uganda despite the weakness he spelt out it had done a lot of things and was on the right track. although Uganda still had a long way to go, it had would
As for the opportunity, he pointed out the resilient of the economy. Macro-economic stability had been preserved despite internal/external shocks. It was projected that Uganda’s GDP would grow by 4.8% and 5.0% over the next two years.
On the general outlook, Uganda could be expected to benefit from a triple dividend which includes:
On his general outlook, he advised that Uganda could expect to benefit from triple dividends which include:
- The Youth: Median Age: 15.5 years. Around 70% of the population is under 25! The growing population: 5.97 children born/woman. At current fertility levels, population will double to 70m by 2031 – possibly 100 million after 2040.
- The Oil Dividend: licenses granted to Tullow, Total and CNOOC for the integrated Lake Albert project. Hope for ‘first oil’ by 2020/2022. Pipeline: Decision made to export crude oil through a 24 inch, 1443 km pipeline from Kabaale to Tanga port.
The Infrastructure Dividend
- Roads: Drive to upgrade major roads to bitumen standard, develop road network and bridges. (2016/17 budget $1bn).
- Rail: 1,614km standard gauge railway, connecting Rwanda, Kenya, DRC and S. Sudan. Completion 2018. ($3.2b – mostly China)
- Air: Upgrade of EBB airport ($325m China loan).
- Energy: Power sector poised for growth – 8 eight generation projects scheduled by 2018 (inc 2 large Chinese hydropower units)
He also pointed out a few growth sectors which included:
- Agriculture: Significant opportunity throughout the value chain (farming, processing, packaging, logistics, etc). 40% of arable in the whole of east Africa is in Uganda and aligning aligning the mismatch with the yields. Opportunities were immense in the entire value chain logistics, packaging, marketing etc.
- Tourism: Huge potential. 51% of the world’s population of mountain gorillas; 11% of the world’s bird’s species (1060 bird species)
- ICT/Services: We can expect increases in telecoms, trade and related business activities.
- Industry / Energy: Sector plays a pivotal role in Uganda’s Vision 2040 targets. Lake Albert basin is expected to become a hub of activity.
He ended by reassuring that Aga khan takes a long term view of Uganda country development. For example, Nation Media Group was created to provide free and impartial media across Africa although which sometimes is mistaken by the government for being too critical. When Uganda had an issue of energy, the Aga Khan pulled together a group of investors to invest in Bujagali which provides over 46% of the country’s energy. Among other investments include: Aga Khan schools, Serena Hotels, Diamond trust bank, Aga Khan University, Smart Telcom, Daily monitor, The East African News Paper, NTV, Jubilee Insurance and KFM radio. He further said that all investments are done not on profit but on development and all profits are re-invested back for re-development. The Aga khan intention is to encourage competition.
In his finale note, he revealed that the Aga Khan is investing in a major world class teaching hospital in Kampala where those living in and travelling to Uganda will be able to access the same health services as those in India, Kenya and the West.
Lord Dolar Popat, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda
Lord Popat, thanked the delegates for attending, and for helping to further the ever-strengthening relationship between the UK and Uganda. He appreciated the organising team for taking this event from strength to strength and commended them for this year’s focus on increasing trade links between the two great nations.
He pointed out that “This Convention always offers an opportunity to celebrate the close links between the UK and Uganda, but I think more than ever, this year’s convention helps to offer a roadmap for how we build on those links and take our relationship to the next level.”
Lord Popat was born in Uganda in the town of Busolwe, and brought up in the town of Tororo. Despite the many years which passed when he left Uganda, Lord Popat had remained close to Uganda.
When he visited Uganda in 2012 and was privileged to meet His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and many Senior Government Ministers. He was also impressed to see how Uganda had developed; the transformation was extraordinary.
“Since independence in 1962, Uganda has been on a rollercoaster ride; a socialist Government, a brutal dictator in Idi Amin and a civil war; and now, finally, freedom and democracy under the leadership of H.E President Museveni”, he expressed.
He further said that the President and his Government deserved great praise for their vision, and for the way they had encouraged private sector growth to power the Ugandan economy. And the most exciting thing was that there was still so much potential for further growth; Uganda was only just beginning its journey to become an economic powerhouse.
He said that “The time to invest in Africa is now” in his February 2015 article for the Parliamentary Magazine, which is read by almost everybody in British politics, stating clearly and without compromise that British perceptions on Africa were the problem. He finished the article with this comment:
“President Obama said last year that ‘young Africans are less interested in aid and more interested in how they can create opportunity through businesses”.
He encouraged UK businesses to respond by grabbing the economic initiative and playing a leading role in Africa’s future growth. Otherwise they would be left behind by the countries that see “Africa as it is, rather than how they fear it is”.
Lord Popat informed the delegates that in January this year he was appointed as a Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron who established the Trade Envoy programme to build links with specific markets that were identified for their economic potential.
He expressed that that, the new role combines his main political passions: encouraging trade with Africa, supporting Britain’s SMEs to export more, and to reduce one of Britain’s biggest economic problems, its significant current account deficit. The job of a Trade Envoy was to encourage bilateral trade and investment and, through that work, to bring increased prosperity to the people of the United Kingdom and Uganda.
He pointed out that the UK was already the largest cumulative investor in Uganda, apposition it wished to retain. It was therefore, worth reflecting on for a moment on why investing in Uganda made so much sense.
In his maiden visit as Trade Envoy to Uganda, meeting with Ministers, the Business community, Civil Servants and His Excellency President Museveni. He saw another wave of development across the country, yet another leap on from what he saw in 2012. He came away with a number of important conclusions about why British businesses can succeed in Uganda:
- Britain’s reputation – the goods and services offered by British businesses were often, if not always, considered superior than those of our competitors. It was interesting to hear that, in future infrastructure developments, the Uganda Government are very keen for British project management to be involved; whilst other countries can offer cheap labour, the results have sadly too often reflected the price paid.
- Political stability – Uganda is a settled democracy. Since 1986 elections have become an important part of Ugandan culture, and there are many dedicated Parliamentarians and elected officials looking to further the development of their country. Linked to that is my third reason:
- Political Will – Earlier this year the Presidential elections saw President Museveni return to office. His new Government are determined to make great strides in Uganda’s development; tackling corruption, developing infrastructure fit for any country in the 21st Century and advancing Uganda’s economy are all clear priorities. All of these should be welcomed by British businesses; they either offer opportunities to be involved in the necessary work, or help to create a very business-friendly environment. Having spoken to His Excellency personally about his plans, I am convinced of his commitment to this work, and to further improve Uganda’s ‘ease of doing business’ rating.
- Economic Strength – following the pro-market structural reforms undertaken by President Museveni in the late 1980s, Uganda has been through a sustained period of high economic growth. Growth averaged 7% in the 1990s and 2000s, and whilst it has dropped a bit from that level, it remains strong. As I mentioned, the expected investment in infrastructure and desire to support private sector growth is only going to help further economic growth – and spread prosperity – in Uganda. Those British firms thinking about entering the Ugandan market will be entering a thriving economy.
- Shared History – The UK and Uganda have a long and powerful history that makes doing business there easier. There is, of course, our shared language; the legal systems operate on the same principles; we share our commitment to democracy and there is tremendous respect for Great Britain in Uganda. On top of that, there is also a sizeable Diaspora in each other’s countries; all of these links help to make investment and doing business in Uganda easier than many other markets.
Following the referendum in June, Britain will be leaving the European Union. It is now up to all of us in politics and in business to identify opportunities that are open to us, as we forge a new role in the world, in the Commonwealth and in Africa.
Below is the good news he shared with the delegates.
During his visit to Rwanda, they reached an agreement in principle to start direct flights from Kigali to London, via Entebbe. This was his number one aim as Trade Envoy and it would make a huge difference to increasing trade with East Africa; dramatically cutting the time to get to both countries.
UK trade with Rwanda was around £10m a year; but with the agreements-in-principle they reached at the recent Rwanda summit, that number could go up to £200m this year. It included major road projects, selling aeroplanes and a major Government contact. In the post-Brexit world, we all needed to be wise to the opportunities that were out there in the world.
During his conversations with President Museveni, he agreed to host the summit in Kampala in 2017, which would be a perfect opportunity to showcase Uganda and its economic opportunities to British businesses. Lord Popat would be leading a very large delegation to next year’s summit.
Support for British Firms
He pointed out that support was available to British businesses looking to invest in or export to Uganda.
There was, of course, excellent diplomatic support. As the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, he was at the service of any firm looking to establish themselves in Uganda. Similarly, UK High Commission in Kampala, Alison Blackburn was one of the most commercially-minded diplomatic who had worked tirelessly with British businesses establishing themselves in Uganda; and based on the presence of Tullow Oil and, now, the presence of two other leading FTSE 100 companies there, Prudential and Vodafone.
The support of UKTI; or UK Trade and Industry, who now fell under the newly established Department of International Trade. Their role was to drive the Government’s desire to increase trade and exporting, and they had dedicated staff – both across the UK and on the ground in Kampala and were ready to support any business looking to export to Uganda.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there was the support available from UK Export Finance, the UK Government’s export credit agency. They were offering a tremendous range of products to British businesses looking to export to Uganda; from direct lending to bond insurance; from a Working Capital Scheme to a Letter of Credit Guarantee Scheme, available to offer financial support and to make exporting easier.
Reflecting on the shift to a more pro-active approach by the UK Government to Uganda, he informed the delegates that they had now broadened their range of products to ensure that UK companies remained competitive and responded to increasing development and infrastructure needs in Uganda. This was a game changer, meaning that the current annual country covers for Uganda had been increased from £100m to £500m.
This would allow them to support major projects in Uganda as well as smaller ones, and also a number of large projects were also under consideration.
From financial to diplomatic support; from strategic advice to the best contacts book in Kampala; the UK Government would be there to support every business making Uganda their newest market.
In his conclusion Lord Popat said that “this is a hugely exciting time to be involved in UK-Uganda relations, and Now is the time to invest in Uganda; now is the time to export from the UK; and the UK Government are here to support you in your efforts”.
His Royal Highness Onen David Acana II, Acholi Paramount Chief
His Royal Highness made a remark on an overview of investment opportunities in Northern Uganda; Encouraging collaboration and insight into practicalities of doing business in Acholiland
His Royal Highness made a personal remark and appreciation to the Chairman of the uganda Convention, Mr. Willy Mutenza and his committee. He requested that the Convention also takes place in Uganda to enable interaction between businesses from both countries. He expressed concern that over the years he had seen organisations like the Convention start and were discontinued due to sabotage.
He said that over the years Acholi had been in the news all over for the wrong reasons. The conflict that characterised the 1980’s, 90’s and part of 2000 closed out this potentially rich region from engaging meaningfully in trade and investment opportunities using its resources.
What was happening at the time were spontaneous attempts by individuals and organizations trying to make a meaning while doing business in Acholi. The net result of this was that nothing really got off at the time in terms of trade and investment. Human capacity that is essentially critical to trade and investment was significantly compromised by the prevailing conditions, time and space became grossly restricted, basic infrastructure was extremely poor. Hence, making the access to productive areas extremely difficult due to insecurity and displacement.
He further said that the situation had changed most violence ended, and people returned to their homes, productive activities were going on. Most basic infrastructure was being rehabilitated or set up. Most rural centres had electricity extended, major roads were being paved, schools and health centres rehabilitated etc. This therefore meant that Acholiland was slowly opening up and getting positioned as a key player in trade and investment in Uganda. A number of strategic partners were showing up at the gates of Acholiland, some had got in but others hadn’t for various reasons. However, key as a determinant for gaining access in Acholi was the method of approach. The Acholi from time to time advocated for an objective, open and transparent engagement with the people.
He assured delegates that Acholi in general was very enticing; anybody who came would not leave in awe of the vast opportunities. HRH said that, “virtually at every turn of your head, there is an opportunity, agriculture, tourism, mineral, culture, animal husbandry, commerce name it”.
Despite the insecurity, “Acholi is endowed with a long stretch of border with South Sudan which has for the last decade offered the best export destination for Ugandan products” said the Paramount Chief.
He said that in order to facilitate activities around investment, government had established regional offices of most strategic agencies. These included the Uganda Registration Bureau, Department of Immigrations Uganda Revenue Authority, Inspectorate of Vehicles, the Police, Lands registration, Solicitor General etc. This had eased the procedures and processing of various documents and getting necessary approvals while in Northern Uganda.
He outlined some key investment opportunities in Acholi land:
- Agriculture: Acholi was known for its land and the best climate for most agriculture to thrive. This was an opportunity that nobody would want to miss. The good thing was that most food in the world comes from Agriculture and people were not about to stop eating. In fact, those who tried to get substitutes have had health problems and were now running back to natural foods. Acholi was capable of producing most organic foods required by people of this world
- Animal husbandry/Ranching: Obviously not all areas may be agriculturally productive. For those not, the alternative the obvious in animal husbandry. Under different arrangements, Acholi had a number of ranches; Aswa Agago, Acholi ranches and many other largely private ranches. Many of these were unfortunately defunct due to the war attempts. Efforts to revive formerly government owned ones met challenges because of detected sinter intent, lack of transparency and corruption.
- Forestry: Just like animal husbandry, Forestry was a great potential in the region. Acholi still had many natural forests with numerous tree species that derive uses. There were also opportunities for establishment of artificial forests because of the existence of vast tracts of land. The big challenge here was that government and its agencies UNFA, NEMA had renegade on their duties to regulate this activity. Unscrupulous agents of government, its agencies and businessmen were now engaged in unsustainable exploitation of Acholi forests. “I am now leading a strong initiative to ensure that this trend is reversed. So that we can use our forests in a sustainable way as a source of energy e.g. charcoal farming; where we plant trees that mature quickly and use modern kilns to burn charcoal instead of the traditional means being used whereby more than half of the trees burnt are wasted”, said the HRH.
- Tourism: Acholi offers everything in tourism, say; wildlife, Murchison falls, national park and it’s the largest in Uganda with diverse flora and fauna. The Acholi landscape was spectacular consisting of undulating plains and mountains with every part bearing a refreshing uniqueness that could be effectively exploited for tourism and also the numerous historical sites telling a lot about its past. These sites could be developed for tourism. Acholi also being extremely rich in culture with elaborate music, dance and drama, cuisine, dress, norms, values and practices, offered great opportunities for tourism. The famous “mato oput” for instance was a practice with worldwide acclaim that many people from all over the world were drawn to Acholiland to understand it. More so tourists that visited the national parks had nothing more to unwind them other than the cultural tourism which played a big role, especially the people living in proximity to the parks (e.g. Nwoya district) who were having problems with elephants destroying their crops every year. Cultural tourism could supplement their means of livelihood.
- Natural resources: Within the oil industry there were many opportunities in and around the oil industry in Acholi. Very soon there would be great opportunities for the provision of goods and services for this industry while greater opportunities still existed for exploration and exploitation not only of oil but other minerals that have been found to exist in Acholi. Acholi also provided a number of water ways. A portion of the great Nile passes through Acholi and along with it were a number of rivers that offered opportunities for hydro electricity production, Irrigation, fishing etc. say; the great Aswa, Agago pager, Agago Rivers.
- Investment Financing: Investment financing was considered a major problem in doing business in Acholi and Uganda. Interest rates on loans were extremely high most standing at between 25%-30%. In this area alternative and cheaper means of providing investment financing was viable option of investment.
- ICT Transport and Communication: As the world gets globalised and more and more people get connected, the opportunity for ICT Transport and Communication bears greater meaning. All the opportunities, would become meaningless if this sector was not enhanced. This fortunately is a fast growing sector in Acholi. As investment and productivity increases, there would be an apparent necessity for investment as ICT is a fast grow in sector in Acholi. The fibre optic backbone was connected to most turns easing telephone and internet communication. In terms of transport other than the good road network radiating from Acholi and the potential for redevelopment of the railway line, Gulu in Acholi had a well-developed airfield whose status only needed to be upgraded to an international airport. This could easily happen if there was an attendant growth in investment in many of the sectors. Most roads in and out of the Acholi have been paved including those that link with South Sudan at Nimule and Misingo. Electricity had also reached most rural trading centres offering opportunities for small scale industries and value addition.
- Proximity to South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo offered great opportunity for cross border trade
- For those interested a lot can be done around religious tourism. Acholi with the two dominant Christian religious sites could bring in a number of pilgrims every year at specific times. The burial sites for St Janani Luwum, St Jildo Irwa and St Daudi Okello and also other numerous traditional religious sites.
- Social services, health and education were suffering significantly in Acholi. Most social services in Acholi were still dependent on government and public sector. Unfortunately, government seems to be more turned towards directing these services to the private sector. It was therefore imperative that private sector investments in health and education could be enhanced. This does not mean that all government responsibilities would be taken away but through the private sector quality services that were sought elsewhere could now be found sufficiently in Acholi. It was not uncommon to find multitudes of Acholi seeking quality schools in other regions yet if these schools were in Acholi it would ease the burden on parents paying substantial attendant cost.
He further said that, he might be sounding like a government agent on many of the things but these are realities that needed to be said. Engagement with government was important in order to achieve all that was desired. he informed the delegates that his technical team led by the Acholi Prime Minister were in the process of developing a document that outlined the need to restructure the relationship of cultural institutions with government.
He mentioned some of the Acholi problems that constituted important assumptions to be adored. Twenty plus years of long drawn out conflict had left a telling effect on the people. There continued to exist multiple problems at the individual, family, clan and society levels which were affecting people’s appreciation to issues because of multiple cases of post-traumatic stress disorders, psychosocial problems which were getting more visible. This was compounded by widespread poverty and an entrenched dependency syndrome drawn from a legacy of humanitarian assistance. As a consequence, this slowed the thrust for recovery and diverted attention away from making meaningful progress. Some of the major conflicts seen in Acholi now were attributed to this.
Contestations over land, over gender based violence etc. were typically examples of this problem. Unfortunately, strategic government programmes like PRDP, NUSAF etc. we’re not effective in addressing these challenges.
Conversely investing in Acholi would be a clear understanding of the context therein. Effective engagement coupled with transparency and accountability should be able to deliver meaningful investment in Acholi. Governance challenges, corruption abuse of office, incompetence that has been under spread should be decisively dealt with in order to ease doing business and investing in Acholi.
Finally, he reiterated his submission emphasizing that there were many opportunities in Acholi and with the right approach, these could offer opportunities for trade and investment. He acknowledged that doing investments was attracted by a number of factors, amongst which were the ease of doing business, limited red tape and belief by investors about stability of their investment in a country. In this case Acholi and Uganda would be most suitable.
However, there were also some challenges that could be turned into opportunities, for example; local private sector had not built capacity to utilize procurement opportunities offered by large public investments, instead foreign firms had benefited from procurement; public finance management imply that public investment projects had not delivered value for money; misguided investment such that entrepreneurs in Uganda seemed to favour less risky investment like real estate, entertainment, bars etc.
There was no specialization in investments whose products or services could be traded across international boundaries thus tending to encourage import dependency and worsening things like trade balance, high interest rates, inflation, and exchange depreciation. Its these important that Uganda looked at the export products and markets so that the economy rapidly rose to enable investors tap into the global value chains a. The Paramount Chief appealed to the Acholi in the Diaspora to lead the way to invest back home.
Henry Ngabirano, Managing Director, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA)
Mr Henry Ngabirano conveyed his greetings from Uganda, a coffee population of about 1.2 million households which supported nine million people that grew coffee at a high attitude of 23000 mm above sea level. He was happy to note that coffee started in Uganda and went all over the world. He stated that if coffee was considered an African thing, then Robusta was Uganda, Arabica Ethiopian. He mentioned how coffee was underplayed when it transformed economies of the 1st world.
Uganda being the birth place for coffee, it played an important role in Uganda traditional, say in marriages, enthronement of kings and more importantly establishing relationship and keeping people sober and wake. Some of the cultures associated to coffee had died out due to modernisation but the chewing of coffee was a strong surviving culture.
Mr Ngabirano proudly said that Uganda was not only the birth place for coffee but also the number one exporter of coffee in Africa, second biggest producer in Africa after Ethiopia and forth in the world in terms of Robusta.
Uganda had come up with a national strategy to make its position in the coffee global economy after realizing that the best value in value chain was brand. Therefore, we moved from commodity beans to branded products where value was. Uganda has been trying to link up farmers with a concept ‘farm 2 cup’ with a social story to other markets in Asia beyond UK and Europe that were showing economic growth to Occupy the right space in the coffee economy.
He said that “Uganda is planning to increase Production and productivity, Quality and value addition, Market development and intelligence, Consumption and Institutional development”.
The new coffee drive was motivated by the fact that in the next five years the market would require 50-60m bags and Uganda was best placed to be a big player. The Big boys like Brazil and Vietnam had maximum production levels and exhausted growth avenues. This was a great indication for investment opportunities.
One of the challenges was the equal distribution of revenues generated by coffee. He cited that USA imported coffee worth $5billion and by the time it went to somebody’s cup, it had grown to $65 billion. Uganda needed to tap into this value. And by the time it went to tax collectors, it would be grown to over $200 billion. He appealed to Ugandans in the Diaspora and investors to help achieve the mismatch of revenue distribution.
Other challenges include Inadequate finance, low productivity of people and coffee trees, pests and diseases, price volatility, weak institutions and climate change.
Uganda was a unique country in the region with 2 main seasons characterized by rains throughout the year in some parts of the central and 2 fly crops throughout the year. This guaranteed continuous supply of raw materials (raw coffee) to the processing plants without having the operations interrupted.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) which was responsible for development and regulation of the coffee sub-sector played an important role in providing some of the inputs like seedlings and fertilizers to farmers free of charge.
Uganda coffee sector was fully liberalized with a strong government commitment to its growth and thus offered many opportunities in the coffee sector – meaning that anyone could invest at any stage along the value chain.
Uganda coffee producers enjoyed premium prices due to the high quality of Uganda coffee and export prices had continued to increase.
Opportunities in the sector
ROASTING OF COFFEE IN UGANDA
Coffee had a clear value chain and this made it easy for those who invested in the sub sector to engage in it with near certainty right from production up to consumption. They could also choose to invest at any level along the chain. In whatever form, coffee had market and the investor was assured of returns at whatever level of the chain he chooses to stop.
Investors could engage in processing mills where the berries were being processed, sorted and graded after size, weight and form. There were two methods of primary processing i.e. wet processing and dry processing. About 45% of Ugandan Arabicas were wet processed and 55% were dry-processed and called DRUGAR (Dry Uganda Arabica) from Kasese.
However, green coffee was less bulky and lighter than parchment, making it viable to undertake milling in Uganda, the growing country.
There were few indigenous roasting companies many of which roast coffee beans locally and the final products are sold locally. A few local roasters like Good African Coffee, Star Café Limited and Zigoti Coffee do access the international market like the US, UK, Japan and the Scandinavian countries.
The local roasting companies are focused on the local market and rarely export. Therefore, there was great potential to exploit by roasting coffee in Uganda and export it to international as well as local markets.
SETTING UP COFFEE CAFES/SHOPS /FRANCHISE IN UGANDA
There was a huge untapped market of setting up a string of coffee shops in Uganda. The branding attracted inquiries but had not yet taken off. Consumption of coffee would have to be increased from the current 6% to 15%.
Specific sector related incentives
There was a fully liberalized coffee sub-sector which guaranteed any player to engage freely in any coffee related activity.
Investors interested in coffee value addition could easily be availed land in any of Uganda’s fully serviced industrial park. This could be leased from an initial period of three years up to a maximum of 99 years from Government of Uganda through the Uganda Investment Authority.
The UCDA had five regional offices aimed at taking services like information, extension services, technical support and others closer to the players. The agency for example provided free coffee seedlings that were drought and disease resistant to farmers to enhance production.
The National Coffee Policy that was passed in 2013 puts in place clear-cut interventions required for scaling up performance and development of the coffee sub-sector. The Policy addressed critical areas aimed at increased production and productivity, improving coffee research, extension services, supporting and strengthening farmer organizations, promotion of value addition and development of the domestic coffee market. This led to introduction of new coffee farming opportunities and varieties that were more disease resistant hence increasing production.
The other opportunity has been the fact that there was enough political will for coffee development in Uganda. In most of the development frameworks that the country has had like Prosperity For All (PFA), Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA), coffee has been on the forefront of the country’s development strategy. This could be exploited to ensure increased investment in the sector.
Dr. Kizza Besigye, Former President, Forum For Democratic Change (FDC)
Retired Colonel Dr Kiiza Besigye started his presentation by expressing the great honour for the opportunity to address an august gathering that was focusing on investment and investment. He thanked the chairman and the organising committee.
He confirmed what others before him had said, that truly Uganda was the best country an investor could come to and he continued to stress the point the description of the “Pearl of Africa” made by Sir Winston Churchill which was something that was deserved and an honest observation by him. He said that he had been at different countries and five continents but Uganda was a truly unique country that one could find endowed with natural resources and great and wonderful people.
However, he maintained that Uganda required strong institutions in order for investment to make sense.
Quoting from a book on leadership and institutions, Dr Besigye said that Spain was the first state to colonise countries but they had weak institutions, while the British who came later built institutions. “Today Spain is like the third world country of Europe” said Dr Besigye.
“Uganda is a fantastic country, but we do not have strong institutions, why would investors go to state house instead of an investment authority? This fuels corruption which Uganda will need to sort out systems first,” he said.
Everisto Kayondo, Chairman, Kampala Traders Association (KACITA)
Mr Kayondo pointed out that Uganda’s economy was liberalised and people could invest and own 100% of the enterprise. Also security enjoyed in Uganda was a key element for any country. He advised investors to take advantage of the strategic location of Uganda which was land locked. He also pointed out the single customs territory introduced which meant that one single customs bond was needed to transit goods from Mombasa up-to Kampala and could use one clearing agent.
KACITA could help people in the Diaspora to lobby and articulate issues and problems encountered in Uganda. It also had desk which was used to mediate trivial matters between business people in Kampala to solve issues amicably. This also included an advisory body that helped in advising on investment, on tax matters and a free service to members. There was also a representative in Mombasa to help advise on goods transiting to Uganda.
KACITA also sits on a number of committees that could influence policies.
Pr. Jessica Kayanja, Founder ‘Girl Power Ministries’
Pastor Jessica Kayanja started by giving a face to the typical Ugandan woman. Where was she?
Over time there had been a shift in generations from the financially dependent woman to the woman who is the financial backbone of her homestead. Many women had inadvertently been forced into single parenthood because of disease and dysfunctional family settings. A woman who was previously crippled by her cultural norms and traditional beliefs had now been thrust to the forefront of economic responsibility despite the presence/absence of a husband.
She added that there were many who felt that the woman given face to today was disadvantaged. She begged to differ on three fronts:
- Women were family and community oriented. Immediate relatives, neighbours and friends would be the sole beneficiaries of a woman’s investments hence money made by a woman was most likely reinvested into her community which was a good thing. A woman’s prime interests were the health of her household, their education and proper nutrition. The community would therefore stand to benefit from such instinctive needs as, the building of hospitals, schools and physical markets.
- Women were endowed with a unique ability to save. There were more women than men involved in saving schemes, investment clubs, microfinance projects, cottage industries and small scale agro-based businesses demonstrated by a higher success rate than those initiatives financed by bank loans. Many a rags to riches story would date back to a mother who saved her earnings from a small market stand devotedly to put her child through school.
- Naturally women were good managers. It could be said that poor governance equals corruption which has been a cancer to any economy. She sighted Uganda’s economy which has greatly profited from good governance of women at the helm of key organizations in the public and private sectors as well as civil society. This has been a great opportunity to acknowledge the likes of:
- Our very own Right Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, the first ever female speaker of Uganda
- Allen Kagina reputable leader of the Uganda Revenue Authority and the Uganda National Roads Authority
- Jennifer Musisi Executive Director of the Kampala City Council Authority
- Lady Justice Julia Sebutinde first African woman to sit in the world court, the International Court of Justice where she still serves
- Hon Janet Kataaha Museveni, the First Lady of Uganda who doubles as Minister of Education and Sports
- Doris Akol, Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority
- Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director Oxfam International and first female aeronautical engineer in Uganda
- Dr Monica Masanza, Ugandan Consultant Epidemiologist fondly nicknamed the ‘Ebola Warrior’ for a successful mission against the disease in Liberia
- Josephine Waphakabulo, CEO Petroleum Authority of Uganda
- Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, Founder and Proprietor Victorious Education Services
- Maggie Kigozi, the first Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority
- Amina Hersi Moghe, Entrepreneur and multi-million-dollar investor
She boldly said that “with money coming back into communities, with robust banking systems characterized by micro finance schemes transforming into full-fledged banks, and a better infrastructure built around the instinctive needs of a woman and her managerial skills, the economic destiny of Uganda is safe in the hands of a woman”. Pastor Jessica drew an analogy of the proverbs 31 woman from the Christian Faith that she subscribes to.
In urging governments to walk the talk on women empowerment and gender equality she reminded the delegates that a true democracy stipulated that the government was “You” and “I”. So we could not point our finger at a particular office or individual to solve the economic plight of a woman. It is with this mind-set that she was compelled through the Girl Power Ministries to do her best to accomplish the ambitious feat of empowering the woman at her doorstep.
PANEL DISCUSSION: OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL UGANDA: THE NEED TO INVEST IN UGANDA’S RURAL TRANSFORMATION
- Investing in different points of the agriculture value chain: where can investors capture the best returns?
- What can government do to increase private sector participation in agriculture development?
- Moderated by Mrs Perez Ochieng, CEO SACOMA, the panel includes:
- Hon. Agnes Akiror Egunyu, Minister of State for Teso Affairs
- Dr. Samuel Mugasi, ED, NAADS
- Mr. Henry Ngabirano, MD, Uganda Coffee Development Authority
- Hon. Winfred Kiiza
- Hon. Cecilia Ogwal
- Hon. Antony Okello
- The Moderator Mrs Perez Ochieng welcomed the panel and guests to the Convention and explained the rules and process of this discussion.
- She reminded the audience about what was discussed during the Convention at that stage. She also explained her background in value addition, exporting and access to markets which gave her the authority to speak on the topic at discussion as she is what the Government of Uganda is promoting, but in practise.
- The moderator asked the panel to explain in their answers how prepared they were as a country in accessing the market that we are seeking.
- Winfred Kiiza introduced herself and explained her position in the Ugandan Parliament. The Hon expressed what Government could do to ensure the advancement of Agriculture in Uganda. She stated that Uganda had zoned in on the agricultural products that each region could produce, this zoning strategy was available for all to see. Agriculture caters for about 80% of population but there was a problem with access to financing according to Hon. Kiiza. She further stated that if the population was to be advanced, government must pay more attention on agriculture. This could be done by Government supporting the opening of an agricultural bank to support agriculturist in accessing credit at low interest rates. The Hon also called for investors to provide insurance for agricultural activities and investments in water schemes that will ensure a steady supply of water for agriculturist so that the risks in the sector would be reduced. Hon. Kiiza also stated that Government should revive the district farm institutes with private partnership as this would provide more opportunities and resolve issues, for example, the problem with post-harvest maintenance to avoid wastage. Hon stated the above would also lead to jobs for the people.
- Cecilia Ogwal introduced herself and explained her rural background stating that everything about her was rural. Hon. Ogwal stated that the rural man and woman should be taught better on how to use their land economically in order to maintain the family. She stated that land was the most valuable asset in Uganda at 241,550 square km, therefore, investments should be made knowing that the people would not be deprived of their land and that they would be taught on how to better use their land economically. Hon suggested that education for our people would help fight this ignorance. Hon also stated Africa shouldn’t be poor as Africa had the worlds raw materials for development, therefore, Africa was rich and shouldn’t sing the same song as that outside of Africa. Hon. suggested a change in the style of talking about Africa, which was in line with the agenda at the agenda 2026 transforming the mind-set of Africa, Hon. stated that she hated people who portray pictures of naked Ugandans as we are rich people not poor, we should show a good view of Uganda and Africa.
- Okello Anthony introduced himself and explained his position in the Ugandan Parliament. Hon stated that about 80% of population is involved in agriculture, many of which were practising it at a subsistence level, however, the demand for these products was expanding. Hon. stated that Ugandans could not tap into this demand and communities could not be transformed if farming was at a subsistence level. The Hon. suggested that we should transform the way within which we cultivated. He informed members that the income was increasing worldwide therefore, people’s disposable income would increase. The Hon. also reminded the delegates that Uganda’s risk of doing business had reduced, therefore, investments in value chain financing would help in meeting the needs and addressing the raised concerns. He explained the Operation Wealth Creation, which was a Government scheme that had a deliberate effort to promote mega production of certain crops which would lead to industries being created around these crops which would further lead to employment. Hon. Okello hinted on Soroti’s intention to have a fruit factory, however, he conceded that many of these factories around the country were needed for adding value to the mention crops as this would lead to the transformation of the Ugandan, a transformation which would be private sector led.
- Moderator Mrs Perez Ochieng reminded the panel that the points raised from the discussion should be forwarded to the British MP’s at Parliament when the delegation of Mr Mutenza goes there after the Convention.
- Samuel Mugasi, Executive Director, National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) introduced himself. It was his second time to the Convention. Dr gave figures to help investors with their investment decisions, these were as follows. Africa had about 60% of arable land in the world, yet we import around 35 billion of food, this money could be spent on the continent. Uganda had about 40% arable land in East Africa. The world population was increasing, therefore, Africa held a key role in contributing to feeding the world based on our arable land coverage. In agriculture in Uganda, the returns as you go up the value chains increased. For example, the diary value chain included yogurt, pasteurising of milk etc. as Uganda continued to produces 2 billion litres of milk. This opportunity also was applied to, grains, coffee, tea. For tea we were planning to have an auction in Kampala for tea as this was done in Tanzania currently. Dr wanted investors for fertilisers. In Uganda the uptake was about 2kg per hectare, if this was increased to 10, Uganda could feed the whole of Africa.
- Mr. Henry Ngabirano, Managing Director, Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) asked the question, how prepared were we to access the market? He believed that the best investment was in the rural communities and with a view of keeping up with market demands, it would keep people informed with information on market demands in the outside world and the pace at which they changed so that Uganda could meet the demand and gave the investor the value they expected. Once this was done and the rural community based person responded, he believed that they should be remunerated well. He gave the example of the coffee industry where the price paid for the sustainable produced coffee wasn’t enough to keep investing in coffee despite Uganda least using available artificial fertilisers.
- Mr. Henry Ngabirano had a message for Ugandan investors in the Diaspora. He suggested that they should invest in crops that were of season in Uganda, invest in education and information sharing with those in Uganda and invest in creating markets for the crops. He finished by advising those in the Diaspora to invest in idle land back home.
There were three questions from delegates
- On the issue of rural development in Ntungamo and in particular menstrual hygiene for girls in rural schools, research states that girls miss 3 days a month which results in missed education and contributed to poverty which again contributed to urban migration, Ida Horner wanted to know what was being done by government about this.
- On the issue of treatment of local Ugandans at the hands of foreign investors, the delegate stated that his experience on the ground saw Asians mistreat local Ugandan workers. He wanted to know what was being done by government about this.
- The vice chair NRM Diaspora asked if MPs recognised that they were role models as the public were listening and watching their behaviour?
- In response to the 3 questions raised, Hon. Kiiza addressed the menstrual hygiene for girls in rural schools issue and said that studies had been carried out in regard to the issue of school drop out for females and some of the causes. Hon Kiiza stated that Government had put aside money for sanitary towels/pads to be given out to the respective schools. Hon also stated that parents should stop cultural tendencies which discriminated against the girl child which made the problem worse e.g. early marriage.
- In response to the 3 questions raised, Mr. Henry Ngabirano answered the question on mistreatment of workers by foreign investors. He answered in the context of market requirement. He gave an example of how in coffee industry there was a market requirement that related to how all workers were treated, e.g. all workers were required to wear gum boots. Therefore, issue of workers’ rights should be addressed in context of market requirements.
- Moderator Mrs Perez Ochieng suggested that consumers should be able to understand what the investors were doing in their own operations in response to workers’ rights issues.
- In response to the image of MPs in public, Hon. Ogwal stated that the rules of engagement anywhere in the world were that the terms and conditions for employment were clearly stated. A co-sharing formula was what was offered n where the government and the MPs were sharing the cost for the car and driver. She gave examples of RDCs who were given vehicles and drivers and no one complained. Permanent Secretaries got more money than MPs for cars and drivers but there were no complaints. Hon stressed that MPs should be fairy facilitated to enable them represent their constituents diligently.
- Hon Kiiza addressed the issue of workers’ rights and stated that the problem started when our children left Uganda as house helpers, drivers, etc. They were abused and the companies that facilitated their travel abroad were fake companies. In Uganda some of the investors accelerated this problem by sexually and emotionally abusing workers who later on bribed officials and victims to drop some of these cases. Hon. finally stated that a law on minimum wage was being pursued as to in order to protect the workers’ rights and safety. Hon. Kiiza also recommended the Labour unions, representatives of churches etc. to join in this fight.
PANEL DISCUSSION: OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND OUTLOOK. FOCUSING ON SECTORS: INFRASTRUCTURE, MANUFACTURING, NATURAL RESOURCES, TOURISM AND HEALTH
- Moderated by Geoffrey Ssemaganda: CEO Action Wealth, the panel includes:
- Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, Minister of State Minister for Tourism
- Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim, Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs
- Hon. Alex Byarugaba, Chairperson, Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee
- Hon. Joseph Ssewungu, Parliamentary Committee on Education & Sports
Hon. Henry Musasizi, Chairperson, Finance and Economic Planning Committee
Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim, expressed concern on the fact that we had mangoes and fruits rotting in different parts of Uganda like Luwero, whereas we were importing tones of juice products from Dubai. He encouraged investors to look at opportunities like setting up a juice processing plant.
He was also dismayed that Uganda was still exporting its coffee to Egypt for processing. This was an opportunity for an investment in a coffee roaster in Uganda.
Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, Minister of State Minister for Tourism, disclosed that the Ministry was giving out concessions to construct lodges and guest houses within the ten national parks to fill the accommodation deficit. He further said that the government was planning to construct national stop-over for tourist along all motor-ways leading to national parks, these would be done at every 100 miles.
The government was also embarking on domestic tourism, a move to boost domestic tourism, the campaign would be a monthly touring programme, which would also be coupled by another programme called “Home Stay”, this was intended to reduce on wildlife human conflict, and in turn it would help residents within the national park perimeter to house tourists and earn a living. The government would help them to improve on their housing facilities.
Hon. Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, Minister of State for Trade and industry. He said that Uganda was a member of the East African Community, COMESA and SADC and the Tripartite Zone. This was a big market of over 590 million people which an investor can tap into directly or indirectly through Uganda. Uganda development corporation was being re-capitalised with 500 billion Ug Shs. to help people who intended to invest in the country and needed to access finance from Uganda.
Hon. Alex Byarugaba, Chairperson, Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee, said gladly that Uganda was no longer a load shedding country and it produced enough electricity to cover the whole country. This meant that tariffs were going down as the government was looking for an investor to buy out the Bujagali bad loan.
He cited an example in the Nordic where a single Uganda in the Nordic was inspired by their call while on the Nordic convention and now putting up a $20million 8mw power generation plant in the Albertine Graben. He called upon Ugandans in the UK to emulate this young man and invest in the sector.
According to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department, 21 oil and/or gas discoveries which had been made in the country to date. 87 oil wells had been drilled and there were 21 fields in existence. Currently over 3.5 billion barrels of STOIIP had been discovered with over 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent estimated as recoverable. However, appraisal of the discoveries was still ongoing. Less than 40% of the Albertine Graben had been evaluated.
Investment opportunities available in upstream activities included:
- Licensing for petroleum exploration and production
- Joint Ventures and farm-in arrangements in existing licenses
- Heated crude oil pipelines to refinery
- Environmental services, given that most activities are located in ecologically sensitive areas. Waste treatment and disposal for both solids and liquids is critical
- Service provision and contracts in the fields of Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Environmental consultancy, drilling services, down-hole services etc.
Hon. Henry Musasizi, Chairperson, Parliamentary Finance and Economic Planning Committee invited potential investors who wanted to go into PPP arrangements with the government. Also he reassured investors that Uganda allowed a 100% repatriation of funds. He also revealed that Uganda Development Bank had affordable loans for strategic projects with better terms than commercial providers.
- Joseph Ssewungu, Parliamentary Committee on Education & Sports expressed concern over fake investors and proposed that Ugandans in the Diaspora should be given priority when it came to micro manufacturing project which were now taken by fake investors from Indian and China. He also called upon Ugandans in the Diaspora to form up companies to take on projects like road construction.
- He called upon the government to revamp air transport, railway to allow exports to the western markets at affordable fares.
- Ida Horner a Ugandan in the UK appealed to the Uganda government not to sell Ugandans citizenship to a country they were born in.
- Titus Kirabo a Ugandan in the UK asked what concessions was the government giving to local investors in the tourism industry in order to boost domestic tourism as it seemed less than 1% of local Ugandans visited these tourist attractions.
- Rose Twine a Ugandan investor was amazed by the lack of jobs in Uganda. She cited an example where Chinese were working in supermarkets doing the same jobs that would be occupied by Ugandans. She asked, what were the vetting processes for selectin and inviting g investors.
- Carston Ahumunza asked what the government was doing to protect locals from business people who only charge in US dollars.
- Judith Kabajulizi, proposed that the Ugandan government could tap into Diaspora money and establish a bond which could be used to finance a basic health care service for the entire population.
- Rogers Okoth said that as Uganda looked towards Vision2104, Uganda would be making a transition from the rural agrarian complex to an industrial country. One of the resources that had been the absence of the land. Making that transition land becomes primal. What did Uganda government perceive as issues that would need to be resolved in order for u Uganda to make the transition.
Hon. Kiwanda on reaction to the boasting of domestic tourism question. He urged Ugandans to be the one to tell the story of the beauty of their country, that it should never be left to only the tourism board. He informed Ugandans that the government had various programmes to create awareness of the beauty of Ugandans to locals. He also disclosed that Uganda was in the proves of establishing cable cars to tourist centres like Rwenzori to be able to access Margarita peak. He called upon development partners to implement the plan.
He mentioned that the government was discouraging hotel owners operating in parks to charge in dollars which discouraged the locals.
Hon. Werikhe responded to the question of investors who ended up as petty traders. He blamed this weakness on the local authorities. He assured that the government would withdraw powers from local authorities if they did not enforce and issue to qualified investors. The government was considering a review on business regulation on competition and consumer protection bill and the trade licencing which brought order of trade in the country and this would deal with investors qualification issues.
Hon. Byaruhanga reported that the government was working on establishing a desk at the Entebbe airport, fast tracking Ugandans from the Diaspora visiting and leaving the country.
He also added that the government was looking at changing the ways Diasporas registers their vehicles from the blue number plate which compromises Diaspora security to robbers and thieves who follow them home and rob them.
Reacting to Dr Okoth’s question, Hon. Byaruhanga answered that Uganda’s main problem as regards to improving on agriculture was land fragmentation and land grabbing. The government was planning for an amendment to mitigate these issues to contribute to an agriculture led growth.
On responding to Dr Kabajulizi’s question, Hon. Musasizi said that, it was advisable for the Diaspora to take on the task of funding Uganda health services. However, he advised that the rural people could be encouraged to enter into a health insurance arrangement. Alternatively, establish services alongside governments provided services and also that the government could be lobbied to increase its health budget.
On reacting to petty investors, Hon. Sewungu suggested that the government needed to be regulated and it should establish a new strict law that restricted the kind of investment/investors to be allowed in the country and a heavy tax should also be levied on those who establish micro factories that could be established by locals.
PANEL DISCUSSION: DIASPORA QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH UGANDAN PARLIAMENTARIANS
- Moderated by Geoffrey Semaganda, the panel includes:
- Hon. Norah Bigirwa – Buliisa District Women MP
- Hon. Roy Katali – Jinja Municipality Woman MP
- Hon. Sarah Najjuma – Woman MP, Nakaseke District
- Hon. Jennifer Egunyu Nantume – Bavuma District
- Hon. Lawrence Bategeka – Hoima Municipality
- Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju, Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs
- Delegate Patricia Tushabe living in Brussels asked the following question – In Uganda currently there was no competition law and policy resulting in a monopoly in the market by a handful of large farms. In 2004 a bill was established and reviewed in 2007 but it was never adopted, would it be adopted to curb uncompetitive practises and if it had what was the progress?
- Delegate Yusuf Almij from London stated the following: A long list of items was banned for import into Uganda which he understood e.g. fridges but one item confused him. This was used computers which were at one point carrying 0% duty which he believed was good. From 0% duty it went to a total ban and he wanted to know what went wrong? He believed that computers needed to be looked at differently.
- Delegate Shemi had a question for Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju who wasn’t present but the question was still posed to the panel – Shemi stated that Investment was underpinned by a secure and viable legal and judicial system for dispute resolution as well as to curb exploitation of workers. After hearing about fake and abusive investors could the panel assure him and the audience that they should have trust and confidence in a reliable system that could resolve these disputes after investing in Uganda?
- Another delegate stated his confusion on the variation of how things worked in business in Uganda. He had met people inside and outside the parliament but there had been no clarity for an individual looking to invest in Uganda. He stated not everyone was global and a corporate. He is married to a Ugandan lady but went through hell to get to a certain point in business. He had worked in boat building for 35 years allied to agriculture and construction but the awkwardness he experienced to get in the door was insane. He believed Uganda had it all but she allowed outside investors to mess Uganda around but there was no help for individuals as he had been going through difficulties to enter Uganda – he wanted to pays tax in Uganda not UK and make a difference but this could not be done through the grief and stone walls.
- Delegate Juliette Ssentongo stated the following: Some here had British status and were being invited to invest in Uganda but landing in Uganda was terrible as some don’t know their immigration status, some don’t want dual citizenship in a country that they were born in and she didn’t neither understand the increase in visa fees nor know what they were paying for. She wanted to know what government was doing about this?
- Delegate Peter Macco had a question for Patrick Asiimwe the NRM Chair for Ugandans in the Diaspora: What plans they had for Ugandans in the Diaspora to invest in Uganda with the help of the government by removing the hurdles that they were currently going through?
- The Moderator reminded the panel about the rules of the discussion and kindly requested them to introduce themselves before answering the delegates’ questions.
- Lawrence Bategeka stated that he accepted the problems raised were present but in response to the raised concerns he stressed that the time was now to invest in Uganda. The Hon. explained the starting of the signing of the oil production agreements which would lead to Uganda in the next 3 to 4 years witnessing capital inflows of over 20 billion dollars from this production. Hon stated that if it was not you who would take advantage of this capital inflow then who would? He said in the last 8 years during the exploration era, capital inflows to Uganda was 3 billion and the economy was booming. He said that there was a commercial court but again time was needed to develop institutions but the time was now for implementation.
- Jennifer Egunyu Nantume responded to delegate Shemi’s question by advising Ugandans and investors that the first thing to do when dealing in land matters was to avoid fake brokers. The Ministry of Lands had been now computerised. Hon stated that in the Land Commission in Kampala one could purchase land in Ntugamo securely and safely by verification. Hon. also requested Ugandans in the Diaspora to have a positive outlook of Uganda outside of Uganda and the need for the Ugandans outside of Uganda to request assistance from NGOs to help fill the gap in supplies. She identified that education in Uganda needed improving as in developed countries a child studies from young courses that were relevant for their future which wasn’t the case in Uganda.
- Sarah Najjuma stated in response to the monopoly question which discouraged investments that the Ministry of Trade was reviewing the trade and business regulations that included the competition and consumer protection policy and bill to protect trade and consumers allied to the trade licensing bill aimed at bringing trade orders. On that note Hon. requested for the investments in Uganda as Uganda was an open investment place. She advised for people to start small and then grow big. She urged the audience to love Uganda, market Uganda work as a team.
- Andrew Ajja the Dean of Independence in Parliament responded to the issue of banned computers. Initially Hon. saw it as a mishap but then said we needed to focus on the type of computers that came in as some types were obsolete, therefore, the age limit of the computer was important. The Hon. Further continued that the oil was about to come out of ground therefore there was need to look at the trickledown effect of this oil. He urged companies to invest in the by-products of oil as not all would find employment in this sector. He called for the likes of M&S and IKEA to take advantage of this opportunity. He encouraged people to stop blaming government on not being investment friendly, he also called for real investors to do serious investments as opposed to selling sugar on a small scale.
- Mr Patrick Asiimwe a barrister and a lawyer from the UK who specialised in criminal, immigration and family law and was the NRM UK chapter chairman addressed the question on what plans the government had for Ugandans in the Diaspora to invest in Uganda with the help of the government. Mr Asiimwe said that NRM was seeking to streamline all chapters around the world to one system/register so that initiatives like elections and SACCOs could take place. He said a streamlined league could tackle problems better. In response to the issue of the judicial system in Uganda he said that it exists otherwise Rt. Dr. Besigye wouldn’t be in the UK. Mr Asiimwe disliked the comparisons of Uganda to Spain and Britain as in the case of Britain they were 500 years old since independence from the Romans with a parliament that was established in 1688. He finished by saying that the rule of law exists and over time it will smoothen.
- Norah Bigirwa stated that countries that had progressed had put a lot into research and had done a lot of innovation. She said government had set aside money for those with innovative ideas to improve the country. Hon. called on Ugandans in the UK to take advantage of this scheme. Hon. said a lot had been done in the oil sector and there was an open window for Ugandans to take advantage of. Hon. finished by urging friends of Uganda and Ugandans in the Diaspora to invest in research so that we would know what we need for Uganda to be a country that everyone appreciates and a country admired by many.
- Lawrence Bategeka stated that he was also the vice chair of the Parliamentary Committee on the Economy. He finished by advising to come and invest in Uganda because the returns were very high. One little mistake the Diaspora made was to send money home for real estate which was stock instead of investing in inflows which were businesses Hon. added. He said that with regards to business with the public sector we had moved from the central tender board days to the PPDA system which once strengthened would ensure fair competition for businesses. Hon. finished with stating that for the private sector, it was a free market, therefore, overtime with capabilities and exposure, one would be able to beat competition as the institutions were in place.
Day 2 PROGRAMME – Hosted by Lord Mohamed Sheikh
Venue: House Lords at Attlee Room, House of Lords – Date: Monday 12th September, 2016
The Lord Sheikh hosted a delegation of Members of Parliament from Uganda led by Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, the Commissioner Parliament of Uganda who represented the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda: Rt Hon Dr Rebecca A. Kadaga. The delegation had previously attended the 6th UK Trade and Investment Convention and was composed of the following Members and Staff of Parliament;
- Hon. Cecilia Ogwal Commissioner, Parliament of Uganda
- Hon. Byarugaba Alex Chairperson Committee on Natural Resources
- Hon. Najjuma Sarah Committee on Gender, Labour & Social Development.
- Hon. Nantume Egunyu Committee on Local Government Accounts
- Hon. Baryayanga Aja Andrew Committee on Natural Resources
- Hon. Bigira Norah Committee on Natural Resources
- Hon. Okello Anthony, Vice Chairperson Finance Committee
- Ms. Nabasumba Agnes Amooti, Senior Public Affairs Officer & Diaspora Desk Coordinator
- Ms. Jackie B. Guma, Legal Counsel on Diaspora issues
- Mr. Kyaligonza Moses, Data Analyst in Leader of Opposition Office
- Mr. Willy Mutenza the Chairman of the UK Trade and Investment Convention
The Lord Sheikh was joined by other Members from the House of Lords including Lord Popat, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda; Ms. Pauline Latham OBE MP for Mid Derbyshire; Sir William Cash, Chairman African Parliamentary Group among others.
The Lord Sheikh was very delighted to host a team from Uganda where he considered it to be his second home since he was born in Uganda and lived there until when he was chased by the then President Idd Amin. He expressed appreciation to the current government that had worked hard to ensure peace and stability of the Country as well as her neighbours. He appreciated Mr. Willy Mutenza for the great work he is doing in the United Kingdom of connecting the leadership of the two Countries. He expressed the fact that Britain was ready and willing to refurbish the trade relations it had with the African Continent, of which Uganda was part of.
In the meeting the following issues, milestones, action points and recommendations were discussed.
Main Issues / Concerns for Britain
- The difficulty of acquiring United Kingdom Visa The Lord Popat asked the delegation to write to him officially and raise the concern. He promised to follow up the matter with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- The possibility of International firms and companies like Marks and Spencer, H&M, Primark to go to Uganda so that Ugandans benefited from them; In response the MPs from Britain appreciated the concern but categorically stated that Uganda had to create a favourable investment environment for such firms to thrive in the Country.
- Why Brexit, what benefits were available to Uganda as an investment destination; Members from Britain informed their counterparts that the break way was the better solution for Britain since it gave her independence and the ability to make her own decisions unlike when she was still under EU i.e. Britain would be at liberty to do business with whomever she choose unlike before where collective responsibility was required and that one of the prospects for Britain was reviving its relations with Africa at her own terms and conditions.
Main Issues / Concerns for Government of Uganda
- Ease of doing business; the concern was that there were many procedures and processes involved in making investments in Uganda which slowed and discouraged would be investors.
- Bureaucracy; slowness in decision making process by the responsible authorities which frustrated would be investors.
- Corruption; this vice could not be tolerated by the British people who wanted transparency at every stage.
- Child Marriages was mentioned as one of the existing challenges existing in Uganda and it was suggested that since it was an aspect of Culture and traditional society belief, there was need to sensitize the Public of the challenges of allowing their children to marry young and if possible change the situation by legislation.
- Pauline Lanthan raised concerns about the issues in Buyikwe Hospital such as doctors working without being paid. However, Hon. Cecila Ogwal assured her that such challenges were currently being handled pragmatically by the Government as well as other parties because they over spilled further into other sectors like education where teachers were not being paid in time “these are close party services” she affirmed.
- Pauline wondered: “For example how the government could provide universal education without providing basic necessities for a learning environment?”
During the general discussions, Lord Sheikh inquired if Female Genital Mutilation was still a problem in Uganda since it was still a problem in her neighbour South Sudan. Hon. Cecilia informed the meeting that government had worked hard in eliminating the vice and that although it was still traced in Sebei district it wasn’t as much as before since the women were sensitized about emancipation.
Lord Sheikh appreciated the government for its efforts in emancipating the women in Uganda to the extent that each district is represented by a Woman in Parliament.
Hon. Cecilia noted that whereas it was true that Uganda had achieved much in emancipating women, there was need for the political parties in Uganda to avail opportunities for women to head political parties as a way of easing the possibility of them standing a chance of taking the top job for the Country.
Lord Popat noted the fact that one of the achievements he had attained in his capacity as the Prime Minister’s Trade envoy to Uganda and Rwanda was soliciting for support to Rwandair which Britain sponsored greatly and now it had direct flights to Britain.
He emphasized the fact that Uganda should also take up the opportunity of increased funding of the British government to trade in Africa so as to revive Uganda Airlines.
Joint Way forward
- On investment, it was noted that there was need for closer ties and relations between the two Parliaments. To achieve this desire of building close ties Sir William the Chairman of African Parliament Group (APG) informed the Members from Uganda that they could arrange for meetings through the British Embassy in Uganda, they should also use the avenue of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as well as Inter Parliamentary Union
- Uganda to use the opportunity of the available trade opportunities to revive Uganda airline.
- Establish a Joint Parliamentary group composed of both Parliaments through the Lord Sheikh for future discussions.
- Sir William and Hon. Cecilia expressed the need for a delegation of Members of Parliament from both Parliaments to visit each other’s Parliament.
- Uganda to reduce her bureaucracies involved in doing business.
The Members from House of Lords emphasized the presence of enormous investment and business opportunities in Africa that needed to be exploited and noted that Brexit would facilitate them to exploit such opportunities.
Both sides appreciated the Lord Sheikh for organising the meeting which was very timely. It was hence agreed that as a means of achieving what was discussed, a Joint Parliamentary group should be established as a means of facilitating future discussions. It was also agreed that there should be exchange visits as soon as possible through the British High Commission in Uganda.