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Uganda is a must to consider place for business and leisure. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find that Ericsson, Toyota, Vodafone, Barclays bank, Citibank and India’s Tata, among others, that have made Uganda home for their regional business; for they know it makes good business sense to locate one’s business to Uganda. This is due to its strategic land linked location which provides a gateway into Central Africa and the Great lakes region, the very welcoming people, the climate, natural endowments and the lifestyle that provides international amenities, making it a great place to live and do business.
The Ugandan Government is committed to private sector investment and continuous improvement of the investment climate, say; in the mining sector by scrapping off of import duties on mining equipment, an up-to-date geological data on where to find the minerals and the already established commercial viability of some minerals. However, Uganda lacks a gold refinery and an iron smelting plant which are worthwhile investment opportunities although requiring capital investment. These bring in high returns and have a ready regional and international market. The National and regional transport infrastructure (roads and standard gauge railway) is being developed and upgraded which is an added advantage.
The Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure undergoing development and at the same time presents a viable investment opportunity. This sector, largely driven by the telecommunications sub sector attracting investment in mobile broadband networks and internet related infrastructure, is one of Uganda’s fastest-growing sectors, recording double-digit growth over the last few years.
The IT hardware, software and services sub-sectors are also growing with several opportunities in ICT infrastructure setup, software development and hardware assembly.
The IT Industry has a market size of US$918 million (2013), and is expected to grow to US$1.8 billion by 2020; driven by 72% local demand, 20% international and 8% from the region. Uganda’s 38 million population and the East African common market of 150 million people consumes imported ICT hardware, because there is no local manufacture or assembly. Eighty-one (81%) percent of Uganda’s electricity needs are met by hydroelectric power. The Government is promoting small electricity projects as part of the general renewable Energy Framework. To this end more than 50 mini hydro power sites with a combined potential of 210 MW have so far been identified.
There is still potential for development of large hydro power projects along River Nile. With only 380 MW developed at Kiira and Nalubaale, and 250 MW at Bujagali, the unexploited potential is well over 1300 MW. Although 800 MW of the potential in under development at Karuma and Isimba on the Nile, the remaining 700 MW is waiting for investors. Biomass based power generation is increasingly becoming competitive. Electricity demand is increasing at a rate of 8% per annum and at times the water levels are low due to climate issues and hydro power becomes less. Therefore, co-generation using biomass is convenient in situations where there are excess agricultural residues such as bagasse, coffee and rice husks, and in the case of sugar industries.
There are more than 40 geothermal sites confirmed in three major potential areas for detailed exploration. According to the Renewable Energy Policy of Uganda, 2007, the combined geothermal potential from these three major areas is 450MW. The country is thus promoting to investors this investment opportunity. Existing solar data clearly shows that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year.
Although Government did divest itself from business, trends indicate that a demand for specialist healthcare and high quality treatment is growing, and still require investors in the sector to add to the current providers from Ugandans in the Diaspora as well as those established by the Ugandans living in the country.
More investment is needed in the sector to especially exploit Uganda’s huge endowment in herbal medicaments and natural hot springs said to have healing properties. It is worthwhile to note that the Swedish State Secretary for Healthcare, Public health and Sport, Ms Agneta Karlsson, leading a Swedish business delegation to Uganda, said that her government was looking at Uganda as a good ground for investment in the health sector.
More of these visits from Nordic investors are very welcome. Uganda Investment Authority is available to arrange business itineraries for business groups or individuals who would like to establish what is on the ground. It does indeed make good business sense to invest in Uganda.