BUSINESS

Amb. Wonekha markets Uganda to Chinese investors in Shangdong

Uganda's ambassador to China, HE Oliver Wonekha (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Uganda’s ambassador to China, HE Oliver Wonekha (PHOTO/Courtesy)

SHANGDONG— Uganda has urged the Chinese government to encourage more Chinese to invest in the country.

Uganda’s ambassador to China Oliver Wonekha appealed to the Chinese to invest in lucrative ventures like agriculture, agro-processing, tourism and health.

Amb. Wonekha was speaking during an investment, trade and tourism conference held on Tuesday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Uganda.

China and Uganda established formal diplomatic ties on Oct. 18, 1962, just nine days after Uganda gained independence.

“Uganda has grown itself to be a highly stable country over the past 30 years,” Amb Wonekha told investors also adding that Kampala has one of the lowest crime rates and most stable inflation rate in East Africa averaging 4.89%.

“Uganda is the most open economy to foreign direct investments in the East African Community, she added.

Market availability

The market, elucidated the Ambassador, included the 45 million Ugandans and the 400 million East Africans plus the 530 million people that make up the Common Market for East and Central Africa (COMESA).

“There is a large and growing domestic market of nearly 45 million people in Uganda and strategically located in the heart of Africa. There is a combined market of population of over 700 million in the East African Community and COMESA region. Globally, Uganda has a competitive tax incentive regime,” Amb. Wonekha said also
calling for increased trading between China and Uganda.

The other markets, the Ambassador revealed, include over 6,500 products allowed into the American Market under no tariff plus 440 products allowed into the Chinese Market without taxation.

Singling out textiles, the Ambassador said the USA places about 35% tax on textiles from external markets, which means those originating from Uganda already have that cost advantage since they are tax-free.

Wonekha pointed out that Uganda’s economy had been steadily recovering and growing since 1986, with now 5,900 factories setting up base in the country.

This, she said was because besides guaranteeing peace and stability, government had overseen the establishment of critical infrastructure like roads, dams and skilling the labour force.

Economic ties

The trade volume between the two countries in 2021 amounted to 1.07 billion U.S. dollars, registering a 28.5 percent increase, against the shock waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the end of 2020, China’s direct investment in Uganda reached 710 million U.S. dollars and the investment is mainly focused on manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and logistics.

Amb. Wonekha said that China has been playing a central role in building transport and energy infrastructure in Uganda.

China is financing the expansion of the country’s Entebbe International Airport, the main gateway to the world.

China also financed the construction of the Kampala-Entebbe expressway linking the capital Kampala to the airport.

In the energy sector, China financed the construction of the Karuma Hydro Power Plant and Isimba Hydro Power Plant which helped address Uganda’s energy deficit, a major bottleneck to the country’s development, the ambassador said.

“China has assisted Uganda to move faster on the path of development,” Wonekha said.

Figures by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), a state-run agency, showed that China ranks among the top five sources of Foreign Direct Investment.

Several Chinese-owned industrial parks have opened in the country and created much-needed jobs, according to UIA.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation is also implementing its investment of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars in Uganda’s oil sector which would help stimulate the country’s economic development, experts say.

“Shandong Province economy has a well developed oil and petro-chemical industry, agriculture including cotton and textile production, machine tools production and tourism sector. It is on this basis that the embassy seeks to further strengthen the already existing strategic relationship with Shandong province in mutually beneficial areas including trade, agriculture, petro-chemical industry, tourism, manufacturing, power and infrastructure and capacity building.”

The ambassador told the Chinese investors and businessmen that Uganda seeks to explore ways to pursue economic and trade cooperation on a win-win basis.

This, she said will include but not limited to increased trade, access to markets, attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), technology and skills transfer and people to people exchanges among others from China into Uganda.

Uganda’s consistency and commitment to private sector development is legendary and unrivalled making Uganda a fully liberalized economy. There is renewed focus to further increase profitable execution of Uganda’s abundant investment potential and so Chinese investors are highly encouraged to advantage of this and invest in Uganda to make huge profits.”

“It is, therefore, my wish that we work committedly to enhance the partnership between the Chinese and Ugandan business community for mutual benefit of our two peoples. I sincerely invite companies and business people from Shandong to explore doing business in and with Uganda for maximum gain.

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