The 16th Annual Trade and Investment Conference was held between the 7th and 9th of October, 2021 at the Marriott Hotel-Las Colinas in Irving, Texas (USA) with the aim of facilitating business-to-business linkages and market opportunities by informing the diaspora about the prospects for investment in countries of East Africa.
Expos like this one bring good news regarding progress with Uganda, the East African region and the entire African continent with an experience that expedites trade and investment between the outside world and this region.
At the expo, Uganda was represented by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs in Uganda, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.
Rt. Hon. Kadaga presented Uganda’s updates and industry-specific information, highlighting opportunities for investment, and fostering networking between businesses and investors particularly from North America. This is part of the vision of the East Africa Chamber of Commerce as regards advancing the social and economic development relationship between businesses and governmental agencies of East Africa and the US.
It should be noted that two back to back expos of a kind have been organised with the interruptions of COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy. It is therefore incumbent on every Ugandan to make full use of established industries and such opportunities to increase household income and promote efficiency in production while regional bodies and their entities like the EACC strengthen the harmonization of trade policies, investment incentives and product standards, with a view to achieve social and economic developmental goals.
In the FY 2020/21, Uganda collected net revenue of UGX 19,263.00 billion and posted a growth in revenue of 14.99 percent in comparison to the FY 2019/20 and an estimated tax to GDP ratio of 12.99 percent.
This reflects a growth in revenue of UGX 2,511.36 billion, the second highest growth registered in the last five years. It should be noted however that, the out turn of the FY 2020/21 is short of the target of UGX 21,638.65 billion by UGX 2,375.65 billion, though in regard to the EAC region, Uganda had the highest year on year revenue growth (14.99 percent), and in case her targets were set considering the impact of COVID-19, the country would be far in revenue growth. Tanzania collection in FY 2020/21 was less that that collected in FY 2019/20 by 0.1%. Kenya and Rwanda Revenue Authorities performed above target in the FY 2020/21 by 101.02% and 103.20% respectively. However, URA notes that the two economies set their targets considering the impact of COVID-19.
Despite challenges, such resilience shall make Uganda grow if we are committed to the need for development in areas such as production, trade and investment.
East Africa being the fastest growing region in Africa provides diverse opportunities. With a population of 177 million, East Africa offers a wide market for investment.
Various provisions of the East African Community Customs Management Act (2004) offer incentive regimes aimed at spurring investment within the economy and in so doing contribute to the achievement of Uganda’s vision 2040 whose aspirations are to transform the country from a predominantly low-income country to an upper middle income country within 30 years. Ugandans should embrace all these realizing that knowledge of such opportunities increase engagement with local and foreign investors while taking advantage of these opportunities abroad, trade fares and tax incentives.
Agenda 2063 interprets the Africa we want to see by 2063 being a blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse of the future at all fronts; politically, socially, economically and culturally. Nevertheless, this broad agenda needs to be streamlined by regional bodies and respective countries, say for instance the Vision 2050 for the East African Community, and Vision 2040 by Uganda which is broken down into year development plans; National Development Plan I (2010/11 – 2014/2015), National Development Plan II (2015/16 – 2019/2020) and Development Plan III covering the period 2020/21 – 2024/25.
Making good use of opportunities like the EACC Trade and Investment expos is one of the platforms through which our national and regional challenges can be addressed.
The rate of unemployment in Uganda, which is estimated at 2.44% at the end of 2020, can be overturned with bigger formal markets, sufficient experience and skills, decent work, and skilling as an education face-lift among others.
We therefore need interventions to confront unemployment, improve the quality of exports particularly agricultural products and minerals as well as identifying Uganda’s export potential.
Uganda is the world’s biggest exporter of the Nile perch, with stocks in Lake Victoria having increased by more than 40% and exportation of more than 600,000 tonnes of fish on the world market.
With the new Chinese market, Uganda is also estimated to export 520 tonnes of fish maw and about 36,000 tonnes of Nile perch headless gutted annually, according to a recent statement by Uganda’s State Minister for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa.
Coupled with the Milk production of 2.6 billion litres and our vast variety of mineral rocks Uganda is endowed with, there is no doubt for growth if we utilize trade opportunities with the outside world.
Uganda, ranked among the top 20 world’s holiday destinations with 50% of the world’s known population of endangered mountain gorillas (according to CNN), 1,060 bird species with a beautiful landscape, wildlife and climate, it undoubtedly affirms her competitive position given the exceptional features, flora and fauna.
Stakeholders should therefore strengthen all sectors and market them abroad to meet the interests of the high-value market using an advanced digital strategy for content marketing, improve product knowledge and promotion of existing products as well as lesser-known regions. The professionalism we exhibit, security and peace are also key in attracting businesses given the immense opportunities that we cannot exhaust.
After finding solutions to inefficiencies, and utilizing creative and efficient opportunities that we can tap into, no doubt in the next East Africa Chamber of Commerce Trade and Investment Conference we’ll be hearing about the milestones achieved as far as investing in Uganda is concerned, and not only in Uganda but also touch lives and change them for the better in the region of East Africa, African continent and the globe.