BY CHARLES ACHODA.
A strong business environment fosters growth in the domestic market and attracts foreign investors. The NRM government under the leadership of President Museveni is firm on this.
The stable peace and security we are enjoying today as a Country is one of the values we should cherish and capitalize on. For a country like Uganda to develop, we must accept to work hard, have good policies which allow a free zone for foreign and domestic investors.
60 years ago, South Korea was no difference with Uganda. It was an agriculture based country but as we speak now, it’s one of the largest economically transformed economies in the world. In fact, South Korea is now one of the 10 top exporters in the world. Uganda too can be like South Korea!.
Uganda needs to devote extra attention to technology development, research and innovation to promote growth. Innovation and technology are the key factors that can underpin the country’s social economic development.
Statistics show that, South Korea is now spending the largest share of her GDP on research and development (R&D), even larger than the U.S and Japan.
Note, worldwide there is no country that can develop without embracing technology (industrialization), research, collaboration and strategic partnerships like the Uganda- South Africa Trade, Tourism and Investment Summit taking place in Pretoria. This is purely a business meeting which Ugandans must embrace and learn a thing or two.
The three day engagement provides a platform for Private Sector, Government, domestic and foreign business players to share their experiences, create new markets and identify business investment opportunities for the two countries. This summit will also go a long way in bridging the trade gap between Uganda and South Africa giving an opportunity for us to market our beauty and economic potential of becoming Africa’s leading destination for Trade, Tourism, and Investment.
Secondly, Ugandan citizenry in the diaspora should equally play important role in sharing and creating partnerships aimed at fostering development at home. This should be the basic ideal for all under the guiding principles of Patriotism, Pan Africanism, Democracy and Social Transformation noting that, development does not come in a silver plate.
President Museveni and his government should be commended for being visionary. The bold steps being taken to woo investors are commendable. This summit should be used to attract more South African investments into Uganda and expand markets for Ugandan products. Once investors come in, industrialization will be realized hence increase in domestic production and exportation of our products.
We should also be seen marketing our country through products that we produce, add value and export. Responsible stakeholders have an uphill task to also look for markets for products and not just sitting and opening the book of lamentation all the time.
According to the records, Ugandan exports to South Africa in 2021/2022 were $27.34 million whereas on the other side, during the same period, South Africa imported to Uganda goods worth $126 million. This implies that the volume of exports to South Africa is still low. This is what we need to capitalize on and change the narrative.
Some of the products Uganda can exports to South Africa include, packaged medicaments, cotton, gold, fish fillets, raw tobacco, coffee and fresh flowers while South Africa can export to Uganda; machinery, motorcars, plastics, chemicals and electronics, parts and accessories, petroleum, live animals, books and news print, textiles, footwear, vehicles, aircrafts and many others.
Uganda is a more blessed nation in terms of natural resources. Once we realize industrialization, many of those products can be produced here domestically and exported to other foreign nations which will in turn increase our GDP.
Therefore, there is need for African countries including Uganda to embrace trade amongst themselves if they are to benefit more from their resources.
South Africa is one of the fastest growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment for Uganda. In 2010 alone, Uganda attracted FDI of up to US$ 848 million.
I would like to thank Private Sector Foundation Uganda, a body which was founded in 1995 and has since served as a focal point for private sector advocacy, capacity building and continues to sustain a positive policy dialogue with Government.
To maintain sustainable economic growth, Uganda needs to continue its support in innovation, industrialization, research and a favorable business environment.
The Writer is a Communication Officer at the Ministry of ICT&NG.