A newfound self-confidence and vision for international commerce is fuelling a new generation of Ugandan entrepreneurs and promoters.
Ugandans are not only showing off their country’s investment opportunities — they’re also steering a new surge in growth.
The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) promotes investment opportunities, with support from the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC). While a for-profit entity, the UDC facilitates cooperation between the government and foreign investors.
According to UIA Executive Director Frank Sebbowa, the agency will in future perform the services of a ‘one-stop center’ for investors, paralleling those existing in other investment-hungry countries.
Sebbowa also envisions the creation of an electronic interface with the investment community: “If an investor is in New York and sees an opportunity in Uganda, he will be able to access the information he needs to make a decision from his desk. This is crucial because it will become our cheap but very effective window to the world.”
According to Mahmood Ahmed of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Uganda is raising its investment profile by adding value. After the government accepted the AKDN suggestion to process some raw leather domestically rather than export it, a whole new industry arose. These new tanneries will manufacture finished goods like shoes and boots. “If Uganda developed all its hides and skins into finished products for export,” says Ahmed, “the resulting revenue stream would dwarf every other source, including tourism.”
The improving conditions for business are having a rejuvenating effect on local creativity and participate in global trends. While Uganda was once a textiles powerhouse, Asian competition affected this. However, new textile company Fine Spinners expects success – as is attested by its $40 million investment in two milling factories, plus the recruitment of 6,000 cotton farmers.
According to Executive Director Jasvinder Bedi, Fine Spinners represents a concept. Unlike the Asian sweatshops decried by human-rights activists, Fine Spinners will be “a UVP, a unique value proposition,” says Bedi. “We are giving our customers traceable and sustainable cotton.”
The company cooperates with the Cotton made in Africa initiative, founded by Dr. Michael Otto with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative aspires to keep the entire supply chain on African soil. “This is the first investment in Africa where we will capture the full value in our investment from field to fashion,” enthuses Bedi. Regarding export potential, he adds, “we have the whole world as our oyster and it’s looking very interesting.”
Source: EY’s attractiveness survey Africa 2015, Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom,U.S. Govt 2014 Uganda Investment Climate Statement.