News and Views
On 14 September 2013, Ugandans in the diaspora successfully concluded their annual gathering in London. The gatheringbrought together Ugandan politicians, Uganda’s business community, potential investors and technocrats.
The success of the convention can’t be measured in numbers alone but in the meeting of some of our objectives. . During his keynote speech the Vice President of Uganda Hon. Edward Ssekandi reported that the Uganda government “plans to establish a separate department to handle Diaspora mattersin the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that a legal frame work shall be put in place to support the national strategy on Diaspora and that its key objectives will be:
to extend visiting rights and participation in the electoral process
to Create platforms for the Ugandan Diaspora to participate in national development planning and policy formulation.
to Createeconomic opportunities including operating Diaspora Forex accounts, access Diaspora bank and the purchase of Diaspora bonds.
to Promote Diaspora rights and observation of the week
He further said that “This is an effort by the government to be accountable to her people both at home and in the Diaspora”.
The Vice President HE Edward K Ssekandi, recognized and appreciated the very important role that Ugandans in the Diaspora play. He reaffirmed that, that is the reason that all were gathered in London for the third Ugandan UK Trade and investment forum 2013. The Vice President expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the government and people of Uganda, for having been able to participate in this forum and noted that a cross-section of experts, business leaders, professionals, representatives from prominent bodies based in Uganda, UK and everywhere had graced this forum. “I am convinced that the third Ugandan forum shall enable us to develop new business ideas, form business partnerships, create networks and suggest best solutions for Uganda’s development” he said.
Hon. Mariam Nalubega who was representing Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga delivered another positive message from the speakers to re assure Ugandans in the Diaspora that she is pursuing the issue of appointing the Minister for Diaspora affairs, scraping of the dual citizenship fees and that she has already established a desk in the parliament of Uganda in-charge of Diaspora affairs. All these were resolutions from the previous conventions and an indication that the Ugandan government is listening to views and issues affecting Ugandans in the Diaspora.
The convention was also attended the Buganda Land Board and its investment company (BICUL), this was an indication that Buganda Kingdom has embraced the Convention and the gesture of contributing finance towards their exhibition was a great achievement.
Mr. Patrick Bitature Chairman Uganda Investment Board and CEO Simba Group said that Africa is not about turmoil, even here in the UK we see turmoil, demonstrations every day and Africa has its own challenges and problems although it possesses a lot of opportunities.
He outlined the opportunities in Africa as a new trajectory focusing on infrastructure, working with the private sector through-out Africa on connectivity focusing on developing roads, railways, ICT and electricity which he emphasised are key to development in Africa.
“Uganda is strategically located in the heart of Africa largely because it is land linked to very many people” Mr Bitature pointed out, that though Uganda has a population of 33 million, it is hardly a market to talk about when someone wants to make a huge investment. The solution of getting adequate market lies in the East African Community and other economic blocs that Uganda has joined such as COMESA, the Great Lake region and that the opportunity presented to potential investors becomes much bigger as this presents a market of 130million people.
He pointed out the following investment opportunities; manufacturing, agriculture, transport, infrastructure, logistics, ICT, energy, mining, petroleum, services ranging from health, finance, education and tourism. He said all those areas are easy to attract money and that the cost of doing business in Uganda is coming down every single day.
On tourism sector, Mr Bitature said that Uganda is endowed with very rich diversity in climate and tourism products and he encouraged Ugandans in the Diaspora to become Ambassadors to encourage people to invest in tourism, a sector which has been taken for granted.
Mr Bitature pointed out that Africa today is faced with a number of challenges as follows; corruption, fragile and weak institutions and leaders. “We must accept our positions as leaders and we must strengthen our institutions and all institutions must have a role to play and work together harmoniously then we shall eliminate corruption and make huge strides going forward.” He advised.
As one of the most successful Ugandan Asian businessmen in the UK Lord Sheikh, appealed to Ugandan Asians to invest in Uganda and repatriate resources and expertise which Uganda needs to develop and encouraged them never to have any grudge against the government or the people of Uganda, “the past is past and we should forget about Amin and move on, this is the time to think about the present and the future of the coming generations” he said.
He finally referred UK investors to utilise the expertise of advisory staff at the British Embassy in Kampala to guide them on the various business opportunities and how to succeed in Uganda.
Hon Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development said that Uganda is endowed by natural resources in plenty and it is your opportunity to harness those natural resources. Transforming them. Right now we have confirmed 3.5 billion barrels of crude oil. It is intended to refine and add a value to it to meet our country need in terms of petroleum products and serve the needs of East African market and then look beyond the outside world.
Hon Sam Engola, Minister of State for Housing highlighted the shortfall of 1.2 million houses. he invited investors to come to Uganda and introduce new and affordable housing technology.
Sebaggala M. Kigozi, Executive Director, Uganda Manufacturing Association (UMA) stressed Uganda industry sector is still virgin. Statistics shows that 75% of what we use domestically is imported. This shows the vast opportunities for the manufacturing sector. Further he said that existing factories in other industries besides water, sugar are producing under capacity to about 30% and the 70% and over are opportunities. Opportunities to partner with existing established companies can be the best market entry into Uganda as it poses little risk to your investment Kigozi added. Finally advised Ugandans Diasporans to start small and grow bigger once gains market confidence.
Janet Mukiibi, is one of the Diasporas that recently returned to Uganda and was one of the first team that organised the first convention whose main objective was to harness the potential of Ugandans in the Diaspora. It was on this basis that Janet decided to go back home and now practices at KATS Advocates. Janet advised investors to do their due-diligence and seek legal advice before making final investment decision.
Janet advised Diasporas that the way to go is to return to Uganda. There is so much you can do in Uganda and as a country is wide open with full of opportunities. With the exposure, knowledge, skills of people in the Diaspora you can achieve much.
Sebuwufu Roland, CEO of Buganda Investments and Commercial Undertakings Limited said that Uganda has a huge deficit in housing units. Also the kingdom is seeking investors in commercialized agriculture, natural resources value addition and mining. The Kingdom embraces partnership arrangements like the private public partnerships and equity sharing models and all welcome to partner with the Kingdom. To emphasize on Roland’s remarks Kyewalabye – Male David, CEO of Buganda Land Board invited investors to take advantage of the Real Estate market.
Ambassador Isaac Sebulime, Deputy High Commissioner said that Ugandans in the Diaspora are encouraged to start small partnerships among themselves and create cooperatives which can undertake some small projects like dams construction which do not need more than one million dollars and 100 people can contribute £10,000 and raise that money easily. Projects like this are guarantee as the main buyer is the government.
Mr. Richard Kamajugo, Commissioner Customs and Bonds, Uganda Revenue Authority, stated that the cost of doing business has steadily been reduced in terms of the time it takes to move goods through the process and also focus on compliance is very critical. He reiterated that sharing compliance information between federated states is being undertaken to accord compliance companies with similar treatment. “Six months ago a process that would take 15days to clear goods from Mombasa has been reduced to five days, with huge investment in automation.” He reported. He informed delegates that URA has improved service delivery and accountability and encouraged people in the Diaspora to visit URA website www.ura.co.ug for information.
Hon. Nekesa Barbara Oundo, Minister of State For Karamoja said that Mineral development and Mining industry in Karamoja region is rife and she invited investors to invest in agriculture, renewable Energy Resources (Solar and Wind energy), Aloe Vera and Gum Arabic.
Hon. Maria Nalubega expressed the importance of ICT utilisation in relations to agriculture development and nature preservation. Forestation investment as a measure to preserve the environment is an area she advised investors in her area of Butambala.
Dr Allam Ahmed, the Founding President of World Association for Sustainable Development referred to a quote by a Nobel prize winner in 1964 who said that a man who farms like his forefathers did he will never improve productivity, no matter how hard he works and no matter how futile is the soil.
He emphasized the need for the government to promote technical change and mechanize agriculture.
Marketing is another aspect that need to be looked at critically, without marketing and market accessibility then there is no point of improving productivity. To get Africa products to the European market, international standard and quality control has to be met to satisfy the required standards for international compliance.
Hon Nakabirwa in her remarks said that the government is putting in places as incentives to local farmers like cold rooms, hatcheries, infrastructure. The government is also identifying progressive farmers and partner with them to help them to get access to markets.
We wish to express our deepest thanks to the Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Vice President, Patrick Bitature, Chairman – Uganda Investment Board, Mr. Richard Kamajugo – commissioner for customs, Sebaggala M. Kigozi, CEO – Manufacturing Authority, Hon. Amongin Aporu (MP) Minister of State for Teso, Hon. Sam Engola, Minister of State for Housing, Hon. Nekesa Barbara Oundo, Minister of State For Karamoja, Honourable Members of Parliament, Commissioners and Ambassadors from Europe, moderators, community leaders, representatives of the voluntary sector and all our exhibitors who have showcased Uganda on the day. You have all paved the way forward for enhanced and enriched communication between members of the Ugandan Diaspora, investors and Uganda itself, and have also, undoubtedly brought Ugandans in the UK closer together.
A special thanks go to all volunteers who helped to make it possible and whose support and contribution are highly appreciated.
And thanks to all those, too many to mention, who, in one way or another, have given their encouragement and shared ideas to make this second Uganda UK Convention a truly outstanding success.
Mr. Willy Mutenza, Chairman
Ugandan UK Convention
A Trade and Investment Forum
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