Amin started by telling the delegates that he had just moved to Kampala three month ago, but was surprised that many people in the UK had been asking him of the business opportunity and business landscape in Uganda. He gladly revealed that he was a great fan of Uganda and he saw it as a great opportunity and hope.
However, he said that there were downside risks, challenges and headwinds but he was convinced that headwinds could be dealt with.
“Uganda has its share of clouds….and mountains, but it is also a country of significant opportunities”, he said
He pointed out that many businesses, small and medium sizes (SMEs) the issue of access to finance was an issue which made investors who brought in finance have a competitive advantage over the local businesses because finance was expensive. Most banks in Uganda had a problem of bad non-performing loans, which were steadily rising especially in agriculture and construction.
The question of inadequate entrepreneurship, managerial and technical skills needed for businesses, was another area of weakness. This was an area that the Aga Khan was putting in a lot of investment to ensure that many people were educate for the right fit that uganda needs to go forward.
Commending the Government for the investment in infrastructure; say transport, energy and communication, he pointed out that the Infrastructure had not yet kept pace with the growth of the economy and population.
Lack of suitable Industrial parks across the country is another outstanding issue. Although, Government has a programme of setting up industrial parks across the country, there is need to encourage the investors, both local and foreign, to locate in the right areas.
Uganda is being ranked at 139/168 in Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index. Therefore, Government has to work on this issue of corruption. He appealed to the Government to penalize all those who are corrupt and follow all the bylaws set so as to send a good message to the public of combating this vise.
He further informed the delegates that Uganda compared well on the ease of doing business in East Africa, in some areas like tax collection it is ranked at 70% but on average it is ranked at 56% against a country with the best practice. Nevertheless, Uganda compared well with the rest of the countries in east Africa and it exceeded the rest of Sub Saharan Africa which was a good sign. (Kenya 58.24).
Amin urged delegates to invest in Uganda despite the weakness he spelt out it had done a lot of things and was on the right track. although Uganda still had a long way to go, it had would
As for the opportunity, he pointed out the resilient of the economy. Macro-economic stability had been preserved despite internal/external shocks. It was projected that Uganda’s GDP would grow by 4.8% and 5.0% over the next two years.
On the general outlook, Uganda could be expected to benefit from a triple dividend which includes:
On his general outlook, he advised that Uganda could expect to benefit from triple dividends which include:
- The Youth: Median Age: 15.5 years. Around 70% of the population is under 25! The growing population: 5.97 children born/woman. At current fertility levels, population will double to 70m by 2031 – possibly 100 million after 2040.
- The Oil Dividend: licenses granted to Tullow, Total and CNOOC for the integrated Lake Albert project. Hope for ‘first oil’ by 2020/2022. Pipeline: Decision made to export crude oil through a 24 inch, 1443 km pipeline from Kabaale to Tanga port.
The Infrastructure Dividend
- Roads: Drive to upgrade major roads to bitumen standard, develop road network and bridges. (2016/17 budget $1bn).
- Rail: 1,614km standard gauge railway, connecting Rwanda, Kenya, DRC and S. Sudan. Completion 2018. ($3.2b – mostly China)
- Air: Upgrade of EBB airport ($325m China loan).
- Energy: Power sector poised for growth – 8 eight generation projects scheduled by 2018 (inc 2 large Chinese hydropower units)
He also pointed out a few growth sectors which included:
- Agriculture: Significant opportunity throughout the value chain (farming, processing, packaging, logistics, etc). 40% of arable in the whole of east Africa is in Uganda and aligning aligning the mismatch with the yields. Opportunities were immense in the entire value chain logistics, packaging, marketing etc.
- Tourism: Huge potential. 51% of the world’s population of mountain gorillas; 11% of the world’s bird’s species (1060 bird species)
- ICT/Services: We can expect increases in telecoms, trade and related business activities.
- Industry / Energy: Sector plays a pivotal role in Uganda’s Vision 2040 targets. Lake Albert basin is expected to become a hub of activity.
He ended by reassuring that Aga khan takes a long term view of Uganda country development. For example, Nation Media Group was created to provide free and impartial media across Africa although which sometimes is mistaken by the government for being too critical. When Uganda had an issue of energy, the Aga Khan pulled together a group of investors to invest in Bujagali which provides over 46% of the country’s energy. Among other investments include: Aga Khan schools, Serena Hotels, Diamond trust bank, Aga Khan University, Smart Telcom, Daily monitor, The East African News Paper, NTV, Jubilee Insurance and KFM radio. He further said that all investments are done not on profit but on development and all profits are re-invested back for re-development. The Aga khan intention is to encourage competition.
In his finale note, he revealed that the Aga Khan is investing in a major world class teaching hospital in Kampala where those living in and travelling to Uganda will be able to access the same health services as those in India, Kenya and the West.