Kagame urges govt, private sector to think outside the box
President Paul Kagame arrived in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday for a three-day visit during which he will attend the 7th Northern Corridor Summit as well as the Independence Day celebrations.
Yesterday, President Kagame begun his visit with the third Uganda-Rwanda Business Forum alongside his host President Yoweri Museveni.
The summit was organised by Uganda Revenue Authority, in conjuction with Rwanda Development Board, to discuss mechanisms to accelerate trade and investment in the region.
Participants from about 300 top companies in manufacturing, education and finance sectors attended the event, and participated in a lively debate on the need to increase integration and expanding enterprises within the region.
Kagame called on the private sector and government to begin by utilising the resources that exist within the region.
“We may have limited resources but we are not utilising them to the level that we should,” he said.
“Before looking for capital outside, there is need to begin with the resources within.”
President Kagame emphasised the need to recognise the importance of business and government working together adding that “one wouldn’t make it without the other.”
“Business and government need to think outside the box. If we are united and integrated and if business and government work together, there is no reason we can’t turn challenges into opportunities and be where we want to be.”
President Museveni spoke on the potential for growth that exists in the region.
He noted that if growth has managed to take place witbout basic infrastructure, the region’s investment in infrastructure would ensure unprecedented economic growth.
Pooling resources for plants
The panel also included four businessmen from Rwanda and Uganda; Denis Karera of Kigali Heights Investment, Konde Bugingo of Atlas Mara, Emmanuel Katongore of Quality Chemicals Ltd and Patrick Mweheire of Stanbic Bank.
Emmanuel Katongole, the executive director of Quality Chemicals, a drug manufacturing plant in Uganda, called on East African governments to pool funds so that his firm can open another plant to process raw materials other than importing them.
“This money should not be borrowed because we would want African problems to be solved by African solutions,” he said.
Dennis Karera, the proprietor of Kigali Heights, a real estate firm, challenged the business community to build confidence and trust amongst themselves and not wait for foreign partners.
“We should think of building an East African trade centre so that whoever wants to trade with us find us here,” Karera said.
President Kagame and his host later joined the business community for a dinner at the Kampala Serena hotel.
The summit discussed trade barriers hindering cross-border trade between the two countries, including roaming charges, the new East African Community duty remission scheme and non-tariff barriers along the Northern Corridor.
During the second day of his visit, President Kagame is scheduled to attend the 7th Northern Corridor Meeting.
The meeting will take stock of what the three countries Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have jointly achieved since the last summit held in Kigali in July.