Jolly Kaguhangire is the new executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority. She spoke to The Independent’s Isaac Khisa about the major reforms that await the agency.
It is now a few months since you took over office as ED of UIA. What is your assessment of your performance based on your set targets?
At the time I took over office, I had mainly three things to accomplish in my first 100 days: building investor confidence, rebranding UIA, and strengthening the country’s promotion activities. And have I achieved them? I have tried to make sure that the agency is visible through public dialogues and the media and we are in the process of rebranding; especially our website, making sure that it is more interactive and informative with all the required information. This will eliminate corruption that tends to come along as investors move from one government department to another. We want to change the face of UIA, the logo and the way we work, including having a One- Stop- Centre – where investors will find all the investment services from the different government agencies including Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Kampala Capital City Authority, and National Environmental Management Authority on a single online portal.
How do you plan to make Uganda a global competitive investment destination?
We already have good environment and policies for investment. But we have not been able to attract investors because of inefficiency and being disorderly, with each government agency doing its own work.
I have contacted a number of sister agencies; including Uganda Tourism Board in the line of tourism and the Uganda Export Promotion Board in terms of promoting exports, shared their messages and we are now in the process of merging them so that all of us speak in one voice to investors. We are coming out with the script and a video so that whoever goes out of the country can market Uganda more easily before going to their area of specialisation.
I am hoping that if we become orderly in the way we do our work, straighten our internal systems for efficiency, as well as work with our embassies abroad, then, we would be good to attract investors.
The past three months have been very terrible for me because you get pressure from all corners, invitations, conferences. In addition, this institution does not have a research department to follow sector performance and trends of the economy. Yet, one can only talk to investors well when armed with statistics. That needs to change.
What are the key priority areas that UIA is eyeing at attracting investors and why?
We are focusing on agro-processing, industry, oil and gas, and tourism. These areas are based on the plan; I don’t have good researched information about why we are focusing on those areas as I am yet to get a team to work on the evidence. That is something that needs to change.
What is the criterion for awarding land to a prospective investor in these nine business parks?
A prospective investor presents a business proposal and confirms financial capability. We still don’t have a minimum capital requirement for one to be allocated land and this is one of the weakness that we need to address.
It is the reason a section of the land in these parks was given out to the so-called investors yet they are not able to develop it. For instance, the Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namamve, we no longer have land. Yet there are only about 20 companies that are active leaving the vast land idle. It is for that matter that I have hired research assistants to gather investor data and information from different agencies, institutions, and sectors for a period of one month.
It is from here that we shall profile all these investors in terms of their capacity and jobs created. I would also like to know who the investors are. In our system, we see licences issued to more than 6,000 investors but where they are? Are they doing the work or it is just on paper? Which type of businesses are they doing? Is it the same business that that they applied for? How much money have they invested in the business, how many employees do they have?
I looked for these figures and got frustrated and thus had to start working right away to get these facts because they are needed out there for investors, the government, and the general public. The statistics may not be exact but at least I will have a base as we look for a way forward.