Andrew Rugasira`s name is synonymous with the Good African Coffee brand and for being the first indigenous Ugandan to add value to the country’s coffee and have it available on the European supermarket shelves.
He has talked and smelled nothing but coffee in the last two decades. But on Sept. 18, Rugasira, a graduate of Law and economics from the University of London, said he is interested in talking matters beyond coffee as he declared his intention to contest for the 83-year old Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) Presidency.
He intends to replace Olive Kigongo, who has been at the helm in the last 20 years amid various controversies including selling of chamber properties. Kigongo, however, is yet to declare her intention to retain the seat.
“It is my intention to build on the Olive Kigongo’s contribution and to re-engineer the chamber to better serve the private sector by harnessing its enormous potential,” Rugasira said during the launch of his bid at the Serena Kampala Conference Centre.
He has promised, if given opportunity, to turnaround the chamber through a seven-point programme that includes; strengthening the chamber leadership, growing and strengthening chamber membership from the current 500 members to 5,000 fully paid up members, and focus on enterprise development.
He has also promised to strengthen linkages and partnerships with both local and external investors, support government through policy formulation and service delivery, strengthening youth skills, and rebuilding the chamber brand through strategic engagements and collaborations.
Rugasira said the chamber is currently broken and institutionally irrelevant to the aspirations of its members, attributing its poor performance to poor leadership and governance structures
Commending on Rugasira’s candidature, Ramathan Ngobi, a researcher and lecturer of Economics at Makerere University Business School said Rugasira is one of the few Ugandans who need to be given an opportunities to grow the private sector.
Andrew Mwenda, the CEO of the Independent Publications Limited said Rugasira is an ideal candidate who will organize the business community that can exert pressure on the government to design better policies for businesses.
“If the business community cannot influence policy, it is a statement about the business community,” he said.
“The state of Uganda does not have the knowledge to design policies and institutions that can respond appropriately to business and its interest unless it has a base network of communication and interaction with business so that it learns from them.”