Subhash Thakrar, Vice President, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chartered accountant a truly a guardian of British-Asian entrepreneurship started by congratulating Willy Mutenza for 10 years of tireless work for Uganda and in-time has raised the bar by now hosting the events at the Hilton Park Lane not only that but the quality and prominent speakers.
He asked why Uganda hasn’t got award system like is in UK because Willy Mutenza deserves an award. Uganda should also be proud of what Ugandans are here in the UK, Lord Popat is the first Ugandan Asian to be made a peer in the UK political scene and in the 140 years of the London Chambers of Commerce, Subhash was the first ethnic chairman and also born in Uganda. Also, Ugandan Asians are the best politician’s group there is in the house of parliament in all the history of UK.
Subhash said that Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects he said that the private sector is needed for partnership. For the private sector, entrepreneurship and leadership will be brought in which always is missing in the public sector. The Public sector might have the vision but the private sector will be committed to make money and it is the private sector that will bring in funding.
Recently, he said, in India, on the London stock exchange they have managed to list Masala bond, and now we should be thinking of Matoke bond and these can be denominated in local currency and a lot of money can raised. $ 7.5 billion us dollars has been raised for India in the last two years.
On the private equity , according to a deal making company called Pitch book, there has been 2,524 recorded private equity deals in Africa and in the last 10 years that number is 1600 and only 104 deals took place in the last twelve months in the whole of Africa and the biggest of all was the Airtel transaction of $16 billion dollars. Looking at Uganda specifically, there has been only 3 deals in the last 10 years, 37 recorded altogether in private equity and overall deal size are around $12 million dollars. Within East African Kenya takes the biggest share but very closely followed by Ethiopia and Uganda in private equity deals.
For private equity deals to work, similarly to what is done in the west, there has to be improved environment. There has to be easy regulatory environment for investors, the most difficult thing when it comes to private equity in Africa is difficult to visualise an exit, when people invest in private equity, they need to see their exist within 5-10 years’ time. Also, it is a challenge because there is no established stock exchange systems although some are merging in Kenya and Nigeria. Also, solid companies with solid management needs to be established Subhash said he was impressed by Mr Nyeko for having private equity money invested in his projects.
The government must create the right environment for private equity companies to invest. This means dispute resolution mechanisms, effective legal system where the rule of the law exists and less burdensome tax system.
Subhash decried that he has heard companies wanting to set up in Uganda but importing equipment they face taxes to pay, this is a discouragement as that tax may take long time to recover because when business start, they need to be able to minimise all out goings.
Subhash disclosed that they have just started a confectionary factory and have paid tax on equipment imported and that tax should be differed to be paid later.
Then there should be strong vigilance to sort out corruption and corruption is not only demanding money but also for people not cooperating, not doing thing that you ought them to do. As British investor we can’t give bribe as it will be a jail able offence in the UK.
Uganda scores in the transparency index at 149 over 180 and 149 is not a good score but a poor score. And compared with south Africa at 73 out of 180 and UK stand at 11.
In the public sector corruption, Uganda scores only 26% and this is an area that needs dealt with and hopefully the new a corruption unit under presidential office created will tackle this vice
On the positive on the private equity Africa is the next India and we are going to see tremendous growth at over 6%.
New emerging middle class, this is seen in Uganda, Kenya and other parts of Africa who are spending money keen to buy goods and services, increasing, urbanisation is happening.
Harmonisation of communities like African community like COMESA, east African community, these are all opening up boarders and the market size increases and changing.
As the president of Uganda said Uganda may be landlocked but is much trade-linked.
Africa is benefiting from all these external investors including china, Europe, India and US.
Growth is going to emerge and that is what the private equity companies are going to chase.