- Uganda is scouting for investors at the Annual Investment Meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
- The East African country wants investors to explore its agro-processing, tourism and extractive industries.
- Latest data shows that Uganda exported $2 billion worth of goods to the UAE in 2021.
Uganda is setting up industrial hubs across the country to attract investors in key sectors vital for powering growth. The country is fast-tracking infrastructure in the target areas which are under the country’s Free Zones Authority.
At the moment, Uganda has identified agro-processing, tourism, extractive as well as apparel industries as key cogs in unlocking her export potential.
These sectors will be critical in creating new job opportunities for roughly over 100,000 youth who are joining the labour market from school every year.
Uganda’s Vision 2040 seeks to tap into trade, tourism, investments and exports to drive development and social economic transformation.
“We are a young population just like Kenya and rest of Africa where about 70 percent of the population are young people which is a must for us as government to create opportunities for the young people,” Uganda’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Zaake Kibedi told The Exchange Africa.
Highest exporter of Nile Perch
With 36 free zones already established, the country, which is the second highest exporter of Nile Perch to the UAE projects to set up over 100 such zones.
Authorities in Uganda are pivoting on the strengthening trade ties with the UAE to build even stronger economic ties. Latest data shows that Uganda exported $2 billion worth of goods to the UAE in 2021. The main exports were gold ($1.99 billion), fish fillets ($4.68 million), and dried legume ($1.58 million.
In the last 26 years, Uganda’s exports to the UAE have gone up by about 37.8 percent annually to $2 billion reported in 2021. In contrast, the UAE exported goods worth $297 million to Uganda in 2021.
Uganda Free Zones Authority Board chairman Peter Balimusi says the industrial hubs plan borrows heavily from Kenya and Ghana. The two countries are pioneers in setting up industrial hubs to tap from the Agoa trade deal signed between Africa and America in 2000.
Beyond offering potential investors easy access to land, the government will be extending tax holidays to firms setting up shop within the industrial hubs. These measures are meant to further boost the East African nation’s ranking in the ease of doing business.
Mr Malimusi was speaking to The Exchange Africa at the ongoing Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Abu Dhabi where over 170 countries are meeting between May 8 and 10.
Identify untapped investment opportunities
AIM is taking place for the first time in UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi under the theme: “The Investment Paradigm: Future Investment Opportunities to Foster Sustainable Economic Growth, Diversity and Prosperity.”
The three-day forum brings together a global audience of top executives, policymakers, top corporate chiefs, and government officials to identify untapped investment opportunities.
AIM seeks to highlight foreign direct investment, startups, SMEs, future cities, and foreign portfolio investments as pillars that can accelerate global growth.
“We have come here to associate with potential buyers and to woo investors from the Emirates into Uganda,” Mr Malimusi said.
The UAE has been one of Uganda’s growing market destinations since 2000. Mr Malimusi said the Middle East country now accounts for over $2 billion worth of trade with Kampala.
DR Congo investment destination forum
“We look forward to sharing our vision for the future and exploring new partnerships that will help drive global economic growth,” Dawood Al Shezawi, Chairman of Annual Investment Meeting said at the opening ceremony.
A number of conferences and talks focusing on Africa will be held during AIM conference. Some of the talks include Namibia Investment Forum, DR Congo investment destination forum, as well as Africa Regional Focus Forum by UNECA.
According to the Uganda Free Zones Authority, the countries has untapped gold deposits of an estimated $2 billion in value. Additionally, Uganda has vast deposits of rare earths about 5 billion metre cubed, Mr Malimusi added.
The Nile River as well as Lake Victoria remain some of the country’s untapped natural resources, too. Already, Mr Malimusi explained, Uganda has entered into an agreement with Kenya company to create value in the sector.
Other than the agriculture, and extractive sector, Uganda is also marketing its tourism potential at the AIM expo.
“More than 50 percent of the mountain gorillas in the world are found in Uganda, especially Bwindi national park,” Mr Ronald Tindyebwa from Uganda Wildlife Authority said.
Currently, Uganda is wooing investors from the UAE to set up hotels in the parks. The move, Mr Tindyebwa explained, would boost the industry’s MICE segment of the business.
The Authority has also identified ICT in the tourism sector as another area where investors can channel their money.