2016 FlashBack: PANEL DISCUSSION: OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND OUTLOOK

  1. Moderated by Geoffrey Ssemaganda: CEO Action Wealth, the panel includes:
  2. Hon. Michael Werikhe Kafabusa, Minister of State for Trade and industry
  3. Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, Minister of State Minister for Tourism
  4. Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim, Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs
  5. Hon. Alex Byarugaba, Chairperson, Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee
  6. Hon. Joseph Ssewungu, Parliamentary Committee on Education & Sports
  7. 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.

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