Lord Sheikh is a serving Lord in the house of Lords and one of the most successful Ugandan Asian businessmen in the UK chairing 4 successful companies. Jambo was the greeting tag line he used to greet delegates amid applaud. He said that he may be an active serving Lord but at heart is just a simple Indian who was brought up in Uganda, thanked Mr. Mutenza for asking him to speak on a key subject of attracting UK investment in Uganda. Being an active member of the House of Lords he stressed that he speak on a variety of subjects which includes business, trade and foreign affairs and very keen for UK business to take business to foreign countries including Uganda.
In the House of Lords he emphasizes that this is the right time for British companies to invest in Africa. Lord Sheikh referred to the 7% good club and they are now 9 African countries which achieved more than 7% growth this year. In Uganda the GDP growth has been at average of 6.5% for the last 20 years and he pointed out that it will not be long before Uganda joins the 7% club. Uganda is one of the fast growing economies of Africa. In 2012 Uganda GDP was over 20billion dollars. UK is Uganda’s largest foreign direct investor with investment worth over 1.1 billion dollars. UK has historical ties with Uganda and believes if the ties are strengthened further will create more business links and opportunities for the two countries.
Uganda is a democratic government with a multi party system and NRM with its leadership has been in power since 1996, there has been stability in Uganda ever since and Lord Sheikh commended the ruling government for the peace and stability which are vital elements that influences investors to come into a country.
He further pointed out that top exports to Uganda includes road maintenance equipments, pharmaceutical, power generating machinery and general industrial machineries. Top imports from Uganda relates to agriculture products which includes vegetables, fruits, tobacco, coffee, tea, and spices, He commended his wife Lady Sheikh for being an excellent chef and always buys Ugandan Matooke (applaud). He emphasised that you never forget your roots wherever you are.
The elements of marketing Uganda is outlined as follows; stable liberalised economy. strong natural resources base, government commitment to private sector, low cost and trainable workforce, investment incentives and security with repatriation of profits, re-export support schemes. Regional markets like South Sudan, COMESA and the East African common market and DRC places Uganda as a strategic market to be a hub for businesses not only for Uganda but for the entire region.
Lord Sheikh talked of being chairman of four successful companies whose business interests ranges from insurance, financial services and properties. Besides his living in the UK for a long time he still has great satisfaction and affection for Uganda (applaud), born and educated in primary and secondary education in Uganda. As Winston Churchill named it the pearl of Africa, Uganda has not lost its glory and Uganda is shinning now than it has ever been before. He thanked his father who was a visionary businessman, philanthropist, politician who contested on the card of DP in the day and most importantly sown a seed in Lord Sheikh which has enabled him to succeed in politics and business in the UK. Thanked Uganda (applaud).
He said that he would like to address his remarks to the Ugandans Asians in the UK and recognised Jaffer Kapasi in the audience who is a leading personality in the Asian community. He further addressed remarks to the African Diaspora in the UK and commended the Vice President who spoke excellently on the subject and the potential of investors. The Ugandan Asians were expelled with nothing. Amin took everything but never managed to take away their brains and they used that to succeed. Ugandan Asians have done well in every walks of life and a considerable number have done well in business, professional and politics.
Recently the House of Lords debated the success of Ugandan Asians. He 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 with the government and the people of Uganda, “the past is past and we should forget and move on, this is the time to think about the present and the future of the coming generations” he said.
The African Diaspora have done well , both in business and professional and have remitted a significant amount to their countries. He pointed out that Uganda is soon launching a Diaspora bond to provide a safe method for Ugandans in the Diaspora to invest in their country.
He urged the Uganda Diaspora that Uganda needs them (applaud).
Sheikh urged potential investors to look at opportunities which includes agriculture, oil and gas and being new it presents a lot of opportunities in the field of exploration, engineering, training, refinery and infrastructure which has apply opportunities in building roads, commercial housing and design of hydro power generation plants. Fisheries is another sector to consider as vast opportunities in fish farming and processing for exports.
Further urged investors to look into mining, forestry, financial services, telecommunications, tourism, manufacturing, printing and publishing, just to mention a few.
He finally referred 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.
by Lord Sheikh