By Julius Barigaba
President Yoweri Museveni got an assurance on Uganda’s beef exports to Britain and a commitment of £15 million ($19.6 million) funding at the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
The funding pledge is part of a £320 million ($419 million) UK Aid package for the 21 countries invited to the Summit.
It was announced by UK Secretary of State Alok Sharma. It is not clear what other deals the Ugandan government signed in London.
The funding is intended to initiate a new phase of financial sector development (FSD) across the continent to boost the existing financial sector programmes, set up and scale up new FSDs in high priority markets, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the West African Monetary Union.
Uganda’s State House said that President Museveni held a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the Summit.
President Museveni asked PM Johnson to encourage more British firms to invest in Uganda, saying that the East African country had immense investment opportunities in the areas of beef, dairy and crop production.
“I told President Museveni that his beef cattle will have an honoured place on the tables of Britain,” PM Johnson is quoted as having said.
But, President Museveni was also seeking trade and investments in other areas, including manufacturing, tourism, services and ICT, arguing that the supporting infrastructure, like electricity, good roads, skilled, affordable labour and friendly tariffs were in place.
On January 12, Uganda launched a $200 million project to develop critical infrastructure in the Kampala Industrial Park.
UK Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson attended the project launch. The Kampala Industrial Park, financed by UK Export Finance, will be jointly undertaken by UK firm Lagan Dott and Uganda’s Dott Services.
At the London Summit, Mr Sharma announced the establishment of a project development facility that aims to get private sector money into infrastructure development.
Uganda is one of five African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Egypt and Ethiopia, where this project has already embarked on partnerships that will generate money for private sector investment in energy, transport and telecommunications, the UK government said.
Investment analyst Dominic Dudley of Quartz Africa said the United Kingdom is looking for new allies for trade and investment, before it exits from the European Union.
President Museveni, who has made infrastructure development his government’s priority, went to London looking for similar financing deals that would help to diversify the country’s source of funding for infrastructure projects from the Chinese.
Uganda is, for instance, eyeing part of the £2 billion that the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) Group announced it will invest in Africa by 2022.