President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has appealed to South African investors to join forces with Uganda to ensure that they exploit the economic potential of the East African country.
This, the President said, will help build a strong economy for the two countries and Africa at large.
“When South Africa got freedom, I met Mzee Mandela, and I suggested that we work together with South Africa because it had some capacity at that time of more investors, some capital and I wanted to take advantage of them, and they also take advantage of us to build a strong economy for Africa. That is how I proposed to Mzee Mandela that we start a wide body joint airline, but it didn’t continue due to some challenges,” H.E Museveni said.
The President made the remarks today during the Uganda- South Africa Trade & Investment Summit held at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo.
Running under the theme; “Accelerating Uganda- South Africa Trade and Investment”, the two-day summit attracted over 40 companies from South Africa.
President Museveni informed the audience that the summit was a crucial ground to link Uganda’s business potential with that of South Africa. He therefore requested the South African companies operating in Uganda like MTN and Stanbic Bank to join the government’s efforts of helping all Ugandans to join the money economy in order to achieve the desired socio- economic transformation.
“You have heard that until recently, 68 percent of the population was out of the money economy. We had to bring in the army to distribute coffee seedlings for these people to join the money economy by growing coffee. Now the figures of the ones outside the money economy are 39 percent and we want everybody to join the money economy. If all these join the money economy, will it not benefit the telecom industry? If all these people join the money economy, won’t they have more money in the bank?” he inquired.
President Museveni further rallied the investors to add value to Uganda’s raw materials such that the country can be able to build an independent, integrated and self-sustaining economy.
“If we add value for example on coffee instead of getting USD2.5 per kilogram, we shall get USD40 per kilogram and when the economy of Uganda becomes much bigger, we shall all benefit,” President Museveni asserted.
“So, I’m very glad that now in our small battle here, we are working together to solve this problem. That means more Ugandans who are outside the money economy will join the money economy,” he added, before commending the President of South Africa, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa for working towards strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries.
“I want to thank His Excellency Ramaphosa for remembering and sending you here because the items you have captured here are good. Countries like Uganda have got everything. There’s nothing that we don’t have ranging from Agriculture, minerals, forests etc., so we have a very big potential, it is good that we link up as Africa and work together.”
The President further tasked the South African businesspeople to also pick interest in Uganda’s E-mobility sector by investing in areas of manufacturing lithium batteries.
“We are building our own electric vehicles and we are also trying to come up with lithium car batteries. We shall make the batteries here so get me investors. We shall use our lithium batteries in our vehicles and export others.”
President Museveni also witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between Uganda and several companies from South Africa.
The Minister of State for Privatisation and Investment, Hon. Evelyn Anite commended President Museveni for creating a conducive environment for Ugandans to live in but also most importantly for businesses to thrive.
“Right from the time you took power in 1986, you stated the agenda for the country very clearly and you did say that it was not just a mere change of guard, but it would be a fundamental change. Mr. President, we have indeed been witnessing fundamental change in different sectors of the economy,” Hon. Anite said.
“Your Excellency, you led a delegation to South Africa recently where you made a call to MTN to have an investment and trade conference in Uganda and Your Excellency, today MTN is walking the talk, it has brought on board 40 companies from South Africa.”
She also revealed that during the summit, Uganda has been able to sign deals on value addition that will steer the country’s development.
The MTN Group chairman, Mr. Mcebisi Hubert Jonas asked the government of Uganda to strive in reducing the cost of doing business, saying that such a move will strengthen the investment environment and ensure an enviable investment climate.
“This summit has been very successful. It has not been looking at deals only but also looking at the investment environment in Uganda and the continent at large.”
The summit was attended by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Francis Mwebesa, Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, members of the diplomatic corps, private sector players among others.