BY Hon. Aston Kajara
Promotion and facilitation of new investments remains the Uganda Investment Authority’s main mandate, with the vision of making Uganda the leading Investment destination in the East African Region. In accordance with this mandate, therefore, between July 2010 and June 2011, the UIA licensed 337 projects, worth USD 1.7 billion with a planned job creation of 130,732 jobs, compared to 340 projects licensed in 2009/2010, worth USD 1.55 billion, with a 83,659 jobs planned. This is an impressive 5.6% increase in planned investment.
The highest amount of planned Investments was recorded in the Electricity and Gas Sector, which accounted for USD 445 million, with 75,547 jobs to be created out of only 4 projects. Following closely was the Financial, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Services Sector which recorded a planned investment of USD 432 million, 15,927 jobs and 94 projects.
In the Agricultural Sector, 47 projects were licensed, with a total planned investment of USD 280 million, and an envisaged employment level of 14,767 jobs. Halal Meat Company, registered by Iranians, broke ground for a modern abattoir that will be located 17km along Masaka Road at Nakirebe, Mpigi District. The Project will cost Ushs 30 billion in the first phase and will create direct employment for 130 Ugandans, while benefitting farmers in the livestock industry who will supply the abattoir with cattle, sheep and goats. 50% of the meat will be exported, especially to the Middle East, thus widening Uganda’s export base and increasing export revenues.
That said, I would like to say that the top five country sources of the investments for the just concluded financial year were, in descending order; Uganda, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway and China. Cross-border investments between the East African Partner States ranks highly, with Kenya taking the lead as usual, at number 3, with planned investments worth US$ 76 million from 17 projects, Rwanda at Number 12 with US$ 12 million from 3 projects and Tanzania at Number 15 with US$ 8 million from 5 projects.
Ugandan Projects are still Uganda’s highest source of investment. In the just concluded year, 140 projects (41.5%) of the 337 licensed projects are Ugandan. While these figures are impressive, we need to continue putting emphasis on the issue of job creation and the adherence to the objectives National Development Plan. With over 30,000 university graduates every year, emphasis has to be put on vocational training and entrepreneurship skills development, as a responsibility of all key stakeholders in Uganda.
The 2009 Private Sector Investment Survey funded by the Bank of Uganda, the Bureau of Statistics and the Uganda Investment Authority revealed that net employment increased by 5.2% from 119,791 employees as at end-2007 to 125,988 employees as at end-2008 (6,197 jobs created) and to 127,589 by 30th June 2009 (1,601 jobs created). Ugandans, on average, accounted for 96.6% share of total employment over the two & half years reviewed.
Furthermore, in order to boost Small and Medium Enterprises, the Uganda Investment Authority in partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched a Subcontracting and Partnership Exchange (SPX) Centre in Uganda. SPX is a technical cooperation programme that links domestic enterprises in developing countries to the supply chains of large domestic or international companies. The aim of the SPX programme is to develop the capacities of local small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to meet buyer needs and identify profitable business opportunities for them. The pilot sectors will include manufacturing especially metal fabrication, machining and processing; all forms of manufacturing plastics i.e. extrusion, injection and blowing and industrial services.
UIA will develop and manage an online supplier data base. Through the SPX programme, SMEs will be able to gain access to global markets, develop strategic partnerships with major buyers; develop supplier capacity; receive objective assessments of the company’s performance; understand who the key market players in the market are and how to fulfil demand for services and goods. The Small and Medium Enterprise Division at the UIA is working tirelessly to ensure that these small companies benefit as much as possible from the partnership.
On another note, however, we said goodbye to our longest serving Executive Director, Prof. Maggie Kigozi who retired after 11 years at the helm of the Uganda Investment Authority. On behalf of the Government of Uganda, the Board of Directors and the Staff of the Uganda Investment Authority, I would like to say that we will surely miss Prof. Maggie who has been a leader par excellence. Prof. Maggie was passionate about promoting Uganda, we would really like to thank her and commend her for a job well done. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours and we trust that she will continue to be our Champion all over the world. That said, however, the Government of Uganda and the UIA are aware of the challenges faced by the business community in establishing businesses in Uganda and through our constant dialogue with both the foreign and domestic investors in Uganda, and we are committed to addressing these challenges.
One of the initiatives we are engaging in is the regular Presidential Investors Roundtable discussion through which a number of policy recommendations to the ease of doing business have been put forward and some implemented in the last financial year. For example, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau was granted autonomy from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in July 2010, and is now in the process of establishing a website and automation of the register of companies and business names. Generally, the investment scene during FY 2010/11 was good, despite some political challenges, and we look forward to another good year for the business community as government focuses on strategic interventions to accelerate economic growth and create more employment with the objective of transforming Uganda’s socio economy into a prosperous one.
Thank you for your attention.