Blog: Message from the Executive Director Uganda Investment Authority

Message from the Executive Director Uganda Investment Authority

Tom Buringuriza
Ag. Executive Director

It gives me great pleasure to be part of the first ever, UK-Uganda Diaspora Convention taking place in London this year. On behalf of the Government of Uganda, I would like to congratulate the Ugandan Diaspora in the United Kingdom on this accomplishment, and we look forward to the positive outcomes of this Convention. Our hope is that this event will be a first of many aimed at bringing together Ugandans in the UK, to promote and develop an entrepreneurial culture among the Diaspora through the exchange of information.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the government of Uganda adopted business-friendly policies and a national constitution that guarantees security of private investments by, among others things, establishing an Investment Code that provides a legal framework for investments. Uganda is also signatory to major international investment-related institutions such as the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Overseas Private Investment Corporations (OPIC) of the USA, Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Award (CREFAA), and Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) among others.

Through the investment code, Uganda offers attractive investment incentives such as investment capital allowances on plant and machinery which make investment in Uganda very competitive within the region. It is not a surprise, therefore, that, over the years, Uganda has registered an astounding real average growth rate of 6.5% p.a. even in the face of the global economic crisis.

A consistent application of these incentives has seen the Gross Investment Contribution to GDP rise from 17.4 % in 2005 to 20.4% in 2009, attesting to the investor confidence in the Country. According to the Bank of Uganda, remittances from Ugandans abroad mainly originated from Europe & America and brought in US$980.9million in 2010, compared to 778million in 2009.

Since its inception in 1991, the Uganda Investment Authority has been executing several investment programs that are focused on pro-active investment promotion and facilitation and policy advocacy. As part of our five-year Strategic plan, we have been focusing on the Ugandans in the Diaspora, and for many years now, UIA has been collaborating with various Diaspora Associations informing them about the investment climate and opportunities available in the country, as well as providing linkages for the Ugandan Diaspora wishing to invest back home.

In December 2004, Uganda Investment Authority and the Private Sector organised the first ever Diaspora Investment and Business Summit under the theme “Home is the Best”. The main objective was to create a platform where Ugandans in the Diaspora could meet and discuss their individual development, business and trade issues with the Government of Uganda. The “Home is Best” Summit is now an annual event, held every December in Kampala and in two upcountry towns.

The Summit has come to be recognised by both the Government of Uganda and the Ugandans in the Diaspora as an important gateway into the economic development of this nation, and we are happy to note that the first ever UK-Uganda Convention is a direct outcome of the “Home is Best” Summit, bringing together Ugandans in the UK to discuss key developmental issues.

Uganda – Gifted by Nature
The location of Uganda along the equator and the Lake Victoria Basin, give Uganda exceptional climatic conditions suitable for the cultivation of a variety of crops. The weather is tourist-friendly all year round, enabling proliferation of such rare animal species like the Tree Climbing Lions, Mountain Gorilla and over 1,100 bird species that flock the islands of the prestigious Lake Victoria. This makes Uganda a prime eco-tourist attraction and presents enormous investment opportunities in the sector in the services industry.
Uganda is also endowed with enormous natural resources such as minerals, petroleum, fresh water fish, renewable energy sources – all of which are available for exploitation by investors. Uganda has in recent times discovered commercial volumes of oil with investments in the sector expected to exceed US$ 700 million by the end of 2009, and an Early Production Scheme oil refinery expected by 2010. The untapped hydropower generation potential along Uganda’s rivers exceeds 2,000 MW which when exploited, shall bring down the cost of production and increase the country’s competitiveness.

I would like to emphasize that the prime area of investment is in the value addition of our agricultural produce so that Uganda can fetch higher premiums in the export market. In a bid to industrialise and engage in value addition for our produce, the Government of Uganda is carrying out strategies aimed at making the country a viable investment location. The UIA has been mandated to oversee the development of twenty-two (22) Industrial Parks in various regions in the Country. Thus far, land has been identified and allocated to investors in the Kampala Industrial Business Park in Namanve (896ha), Bweyogerere Industrial Park (20ha) and Luzira Business Park (25.9ha), on the outskirts of Kampala City. In addition to these, the Government of Uganda has acquired some 250 hectares of land in Mbale, some 88 hectares in Soroti, and a smaller SME park of about 5 hectares (12.26acres) in Mbarara. Work is underway to acquire more land in Gulu, Kasese and all the other identified regions. On behalf of the government of Uganda, I invite you to come and set up investments in these serviced parks.
Uganda still faces some challenges, the main ones being transport infrastructure, expensive power, lack of affordable finance for business start ups, and now the global downturn, which has to an extent affected our foreign direct investment inflow values. Despite these challenges, I am glad to say that the economy of Uganda continues to lead the other East African partner states in having an enabling trade and investment climate.  

In a bid to continuously improve the business operating conditions in the country, the President of the Republic of Uganda established the Presidential Investors’ Roundtable (PIRT) to which he appoints 22 Business Leaders representing international and locally based businesses. These Business Leaders meet with the President and the Cabinet biannually to provide advice on what must be done to improve the business climate in Uganda. This initiative has been a critical factor in removing barriers to doing businesses in Uganda. Policy issues have been addressed and enabling sectors like infrastructure, energy and law reform are given priority attention by Government bureaucrats. This has resulted in faster establishment of businesses, reduced corruption in the public sector and enhanced legislative reforms in Uganda.

Furthermore, UIA is now a One-stop Shop where company registration, immigration, as well as land and tax issues are all handled. I encourage you to use UIA as your first point of contact for any investment related activities or queries.

We are, therefore, confident that the relationship between the Uganda Investment Authority and the Ugandan Diaspora Community in the UK will continue to grow and create larger investments in Uganda, and it is with pleasure that I inform you that UIA now has the capacity to do much more work as mandated by the investment code and the necessary infrastructure to do that work, with more staff involved in promoting and facilitating inward investments, new divisions, with specific responsibilities for media and public relations, marketing and research, procurement, entrepreneurship training, and small and medium enterprise development.

Finally, Uganda Investment Authority believes in increased interaction and cooperation between the Government of Uganda, the private sector in Uganda, Ugandans in the Diaspora and the Local Business Communities through fora of this nature, where investment opportunities are discussed and key business decisions are made, and we look forward to working with you to develop our motherland, Uganda.

I accordingly encourage you to come and invest in Uganda and I wish you all successful deliberations.

For God and My Country

Tom Buringuriza
Ag. Executive Director
Uganda Investment Authority (UIA)
P O Box 7418, Kampala
Tel: +256 414 301000 | Fax: +256 414 342903

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