UK Trade Envoy challenges Uganda to reduce the cost of doing business
The UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda Lord Dolar Popat has challenged the Government of Uganda to invest more in the tourism sector and reduce the cost of doing business, if the country is to attain the much desired middle income status.
Lord Popat was meeting Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde to discuss ways of improving the trade between the two countries which has dwindled in the recent years. He is in Uganda to look out for investment opportunities for UK businessmen.
According to Lord Popat, UK’s strategy is to see the economies of the former colonies grow and not just to make money out of them. The UK,he said, is currently on a mission to restore trade relations with her former colonies which have been penetrated by the emerging economies especially India and China.
Uganda’s exports to the UK have gradually reduced from $47.5 million in 2013 to $29 million in 2015 with Uganda mainly exporting edible vegetables, flowers, coffee and tea. The imports from UK have also dropped from $103.3million in 2013 to $83.5million in 2015 with Uganda mainly importing pharmaceutical products, printed books, beverages and spirits and some textiles from UK.
Minister Kyambadde told Lord Popat that Uganda’s focus is now on value addition especially on coffee, cotton, tea among other agricultural products and the minerals.
“There are lots of investment opportunities in Uganda which the UK investors can exploit, and with the economic stability coupled with the Buy Uganda Build Uganda Policy that Government has started implementing, it would guarantee the investors a ready domestic market”, explained Kyambadde.
Kyambadde said although the Ugandan government is still grappling with corruption and bureaucracies in government agencies, a lot of these tendencies are being addressed. She urged the Lord Popat to encourage the UK investors to come to Uganda, starting with the Business to Business engagements to create a firm ground for them to start business.
Lord Popat said Uganda has a lot of potential but a lot still needs to be done to create a conducive environment for investment.
“Uganda needs to do more to ease the doing business environment especially improving the infrastructure which is still a challenge. Although the number of days that cargo trucks take from Mombasa to Kampala has reduced to 7 days, these need to reduce more to at least 2 days”, explained Lord Popat.
Popat said that one area that Uganda has not fully exploited yet there is a lot of potential is tourism.
“Uganda has a better advantage in tourism with a lot of potential compared to other countries in East Africa but this has not been exploited”, stated Lord Popat.
He said Uganda needs to invest in good hotels, aggressive publicity, ensure maximum security in the country, innovations and develop the tourism sites to be able to attract more tourists. He added that aggressive publicity should also be done for Uganda’s products, saying he has not seen Ugandan products in the UK market where Kenya and Malawi are marketing their products aggressively.
Laura Blizzard from the British High Commission in Uganda called on the Ugandan Government to expedite the Anti- Counterfeit Bill in order to protect investors.
UK has remained one of Uganda’s closest partners with over 100 UK businesses operating in Uganda and over 200 non-profit institutions being funded by UK.