President Yoweri Museveni led the discussion to convince Chinese investors based in Guangzhou, China to look into expanding their investment into the mineral sector in Uganda.
The virtual investment conference, held on April 15, was organized by Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Uganda Consulate General in collaboration with the Jiangmen Municipal People’s Government.
President Museveni underscored the excellent and historical bilateral relations between Uganda and China, giving an example of Chinese enterprises such as Guangdong Dongsong, which established an industrial park focusing in Mineral development, and plans to produce phosphate fertilizers, cement, rare earth elements, etc.
“There is still a huge opportunity in the investment of mineral development, given the demand for these mineral products in most of the manufactured products,” the president said.
Joyce Onek Badaru, who heads the International Economic Cooperation Department at the ministry, noted that the Investment Conference was in line with the ministry’s deliberate policy of Commercial and Economic Diplomacy that aims at pursuing and consolidating an avenue for the government of Uganda to increase international trade and to stimulate the national economy which will eventually lead to industrial transformation and economic development.
Uganda is home to various minerals, including metallic ones such as gold, cobalt, iron, copper, industrial minerals (graphite, marble, limestone), and gemstones.
So far, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has identified 18 potential mineral targets for mineral exploration in Uganda. Ambassador Solomon Rutega, Uganda’s Consul General to Guangzhou, noted that the conference presented an opportunity to woo investors, tourists and expand the export base to the Chinese market.
He also expressed the Consulate’s commitment to providing all the necessary support to enterprises wishing to travel to Uganda.
According to the Uganda Investment Authority, for the last 10 years, China has been the leading source country for investments into Uganda.
A number of Chinese firms have set up shop here.
For instance, Ho & Mu has established a fruit processing factory for export to China; Goodwill Ceramics invested $30 million into manufacturing building tiles and this is saving Uganda $35m that would have been otherwise spent to importing tiles.
The two factories employ over 3,000 skilled and non-skilled employees, according to officials. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, over the last 10 years, the sector has been growing positively with growth rates peaking 19.4% in FY 2006/07.
In FY 2009/2010, the sector grew by 12.8%. Cai De Wei, the vice mayor of Jiangmen Municipal People’s Government, said that the Jiangmen city authorities, and the different businessmen are willing to engage further with Uganda to contribute further to the development of the Textile industry.
He also expressed commitment by the City of Jiangmen to continuously explore and deepen exchanges and cooperation with Uganda in the fields of economic trade and investment, tourism, agriculture, health, construction and people-to-people exchanges.