Dubai, UAE | THE INDEPENDENT | The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija on Monday morning signed the first investment deal at the Dubai Expo, with global financing company, Modha Investments which focuses on commercial agriculture and food processing.
Modha’s license in Uganda targets the development and commercialisation of cashew nuts, macadamia nuts and hass avocado.
On Sunday, the delegation had announced that it has attracted deals worth $750 million, which were awaiting the arrival of Kasaija the following day.
Later in the afternoon today, more deals were signed with other investors including Worldera, which the Uganda Investments Authority said is interested in mining, “with an indicative investment value of USD 50 million” for Uganda.
According to its website, Worldera Corporation is a global mineral commodity trading and transportation company operating in Asia and European countries.
Others that have so far signed investment deals with Uganda are Turkey’s Dog-Yap Insaat Tur.Enerji Urt. San. Ve Tic, which plans to construct an agro industrial business park with cold stores, meat and poultry slaughter houses as well as a whole sale fruit and vegetables market. Connect LLC, based in the UAE also signed an agreement to invest in renewable energy for electricity, smart energy storing and last mile supply.
It will also invest in the billing of all utilities and the planning building of innovative public transport routes, according to UIA. By the end of the day, UIA Board Chairman, Morrison Rwakakamba said they had signed deals worth 900 million dollars.
All this came amidst social media criticism of the Ugandan organisers for what the critics called ill-preparations and a poor showing at such a great event. The social media posts featured pictures taken at the event showing lone product displays and some empty stands.
Organisers say the pictures were circulated with ill motives, to give a bad image, with some taken before the expo fully commenced, and before some stalls were occupied.
“I don’t know the motive of such people. I don’t know what they want or what their intentions are. Our aim is to attract investments and that is what we are doing and that is what Ugandans want,” says Rwakakamba, the UIA Board Chairman.
Uganda was allocated space for a stall covering 213 square meters with two stories.
Priority areas into which the country hopes to attract investments include agriculture production and processing, mining, infrastructure, oil and gas, tourism, energy and general industry.
The overall manager of the Ugandan stall, Dr. Elly Twineyo, who is also the Executive Director, Uganda Exports Promotion Board, says he is satisfied with the exhibition as a whole and the Ugandan stall display.
The fruits of the expo for Uganda include the the planned visit by the the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to Uganda.
However, Ugandan exhibitors have complained about the poor preparation, saying, they were not given adequate information, about the different services required like hotels, travel and exhibition space.
Some say, despite submitting information about their exhibitions, the organisers did not inform them of the limited space and some have been forced to ship their samples back home.
The exhibitors are also not happy with the inspection of their stalls by President Museveni and the UAE leaders, because the exhibitors were ordered to stay away from their stalls as the government officials took them over to make explanations to the visitors. They say this was unfair because they have better knowledge of their products than the government officials. UIA and the UEPB are yet to respond to our request for an expiation.
However, State Minister for Industry, Harriet Ntabazi earlier said the tour of the stall would be restricted to few people because of the Covid 19 restrictions at the expo. The organisation of the trip to Dubai started three years ago, when the country decided that it would participate at the event then planned to commence in October 2020.
As early as 2019, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, then led by Amelia Kyambadde, was already expressing disappointment that its finance ministry counterparts were not forthcoming as far as releasing funds for the preparations was concerned.
The Ministry had asked for five billion shillings. At that time some, countries had already put up their stalls, including the UAE and the UK whose stalls are either side of the Ugandan stall.
Following the rescheduling of the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries had more time to prepare. However, while speaking at the Budget Conference 2022/23, Minister Kasaija castigated ministries and agencies for not planning earlier for events even when they know will take place. He cited the supplementary budget request for the expo.
Last month, the president directed the Ministry of Finance to release 3 billion shillings for the completion of the construction works, which had been supported by the UAE government.
Minister Ntabazi said it the funds were then released and used to complete the stall because it had to be used by Oct 1.