President Museveni together with his Somali counterpart, Sheikh Hassan Muhamud, have joined the business community from Uganda and Somali for The Uganda-Somalia Investment Business Forum.
The maiden Investment Forum was held at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala sought to tap into viable investment opportunities in both countries of Uganda and Somalia.
Addressing the summit, President Museveni welcomed his Somali counterpart to Uganda and pledged to support Somalia’s application to join the East African Community (EAC).
“I welcome you to Uganda. I thank Your Excellency for agreeing to come and visit us. We have used the three-day visit for serious discussions. Uganda will support the application by Somalia -and has already done so- to join the East African Community,” Museveni said.
Somalia, the President added, had already wanted to join EAC way back when the organisation had only 3 members (Uganda Kenya and Tanzania).
“This time, it is good that Somalia has applied again because they have all it takes. Somalia has got a border with Kenya, and is a democratic country. We shall definitely support Somalia to join the EAC,” Museveni confirmed.
He also reaffirmed Uganda’s commitment and continued support for Somalia in their struggle to fight and defeat terrorism in their country.
“We shall continue to support Somalia in their struggle against the terrorists. I am glad the people of Somalia have stood against these people,” he said.
Museveni urged the Somali business community to come and invest in the country.
He said business people play a big role in de-campaigning sectarianism and promoting unity among communities.
“Finally, businesspersons are the most useful group because these people know the importance of market. Business people, historically, have contributed to the integration of countries. If you are a business man, you should not look at the tribe or religion of the customer,” the Ugandan leader said.
The President emphasised that the business community have a duty to politically de-campaign sectarianism and promote unity in the communities.
On his part, Mr. Muhamud thanked Museveni and his Government for the warm reception and the friendly relationship between their two countries.
“I want to thank President Museveni, the Government and people of Uganda for the warm welcome and organising this wonderful summit. Somalia and Uganda enjoy a lot of cooperation and values,” President Muhamud said.
He said his country values the strong relations and brotherhood that exist between Uganda and Somalia.
He commended Uganda under the leadership of President Museveni for its continued effort and support in stabilising Somalia which has helped the country to realise peace and development.
“In 2007, Uganda was the first country to deploy in Somalia and keep peace. We are grateful for the support and the sacrifices you have made towards our country,” President Muhamud said.
He promised that these efforts by Uganda will not be in vain.
“We look forward to welcoming Ugandan business people to invest in Somalia”.
He said that the Framework Agreement signed here in 2016 is a clear statement of the strong relationship that exists between the Government of Uganda and the Government of Somalia.
“This summit is crucial and timely. Somalia has a lot of investment opportunities. We also want to ask President Museveni to champion the Somali quest to join the EAC. I want to reiterate the respect Somalia has for Uganda for championing peace in Somalia and our bilateral cooperation,” the Somali leader said.
He said that as Somalis they are ready to learn and share experiences from Uganda.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa, while addressing delegates at the Business Forum, revealed that a Framework Cooperation Agreement between Uganda and Somalia was signed in Kampala on the 19th of November 2016.
Minister Mwebesa added that the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) covers sectors of Peace and Security, Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation, Education, Civil Aviation and Communication, among others.
“The MOU on Trade Cooperation that my Somali counterpart and I signed on the 8th of August 2022 gives effect to the Trade component of the Framework MOU of 2016. The joint Permanent Commission that has been established will provide the overarching structure under which we will address Trade and Commercial matters of mutual interest,” Minister Mwebesa said.
The Minister invited businesspersons from the Federal Republic of Somalia to come and invest in Uganda since the location gives them wider market access.
“The Government of Uganda has put in place a conducive investment climate with opportunities in Manufacturing, Commercial Agriculture, Logistics, ICT, Energy, Mining, Petroleum, and services such as Financial Services, Tourism, and Real Estates,” Mwebesa said.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Federal Government of Somalia, Khadra Ahmed Dualeh, in his speech read by Mr. Mohamoud Abdi Ali, commended the brotherhood and support that the Government of Uganda and the Ugandan people have rendered to the Somali people in peace-building efforts, economic development, and hosting a large number of Somali refugees and business community in Uganda.
“Your Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I stand in front of you today and an honour to address this business summit where cooperation and collective ideas are at the forefront; aspiring to promote trade, investment, entrepreneurship, job creation and economic growth,” Dualeh said.
The Minister said that Somalia’s trade with Uganda will soar, benefiting businesses and consumers throughout Uganda and helping to level up the whole country.
“Having a trade deal with Uganda means an opportunity for Somali producers to export products to the Ugandan markets and vice versa”.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives of Uganda and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Somali thereafter signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU).
The main objective of the MOU is to galvanise the relations of the two countries, purposeful promotion of bilateral economic and commercial activities, and promote bilateral relations between the two parties and also support each other when it comes to regional trade integration on the basis of mutual benefit and interest.