Eric Olanya, Head of Trade, Uganda, Department for International Trade, British High Commission
Presentation: BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN UGANDA (An overview by Department for International Trade, British High Commission Uganda.)
Key talking points will include:
- In which sectors are UK exports thriving and how do they remain competitive? What are the major success stories in Uganda?
- Relationship building: Forming local partnerships to greater understand market needs and to position UK exportable products and services accordingly.
- With the rise of cheaper manufacturing in emerging markets such as Asia what are the changes to business practices that UK SMEs need to adopt to remain competitive?
- Gaining competitive advantage: Are UK manufacturers currently competing on price or on quality?
He gave a brief overview of the department their key priorities sectors, competition, cooperation, finance offer and the key risks that UK companies face doing business in Uganda.
The department for international trade at the British High Commission in Kampala in the UK Ministry of Trade under the Minister the RT Hon Liam Fox MP and the role is to secure UK and global prosperity by promoting financing international trade investment and championing free trade on behalf of UK companies. A big part of role was British Trade and now taking up British Investment overseas markets as priority.
The key sectors of focus were oil and gas infrastructure, agritech, renewables promoted under a structure called “The High value campaigners resources are dedicated towards exploring these opportunities and making them a reality.
On oil and gas, the focus was only on major projects, oil refinery, supply chain opportunities that included logistics, oil fields services and others. Also focused on skills development whist included education, training and national development on the infrastructure the focus was on the roads and the particular moment looking at two roads that were for oil and gas development, interested in express ways that was Kampala, Jinja and Kibuye, Busega roads.
The department was in advanced talks for Kabale international airport and also the development of national airline, bridges and emergency bridge and fly overs in Kampala and having high level discussions on institution housing and commercial complexes on renewable in discussion in transmission and distribution with Umeme and electricity transmission company working on projects from biomass to energy and hydro mainly focusing on small and mini hydro plants.
On Agritech, working with Alvan Blanch animal and fish processing, irrigation, grain silos with the government and packaging materials for agriculture projects on the point on how UK companies competed and collaborated to other countries. UK used to be a great business partners to Uganda and overtime there had been a decline in doing business in Uganda. in terms of competition the UK offered high quality services and goods though at higher price due to transportation bottlenecks.
There was a collaboration with china on major projects in the oil and gas sector and construction of projects with Turkey, there was a collaboration on contraction of ports in Uganda and in Tanzania on a standard gauge railway.
The UK export finance is the UK government best kept secret for business and this can help UK registered business. the UK country cover for Uganda had been raised from eighteen million pounds in 2014 to six hundred million pounds in 2017 with a possibility of taking it further as a country cover for Uganda. This showed the UK commitment and demand for projects in Uganda. there was confidence in Uganda market as regards bankable projects over two hundred million pounds had been committed to the Kabale international airport and over another nine hundred million pounds work of projects in Uganda because of backing of UK export finance in the market promoting on the key risks of doing business in Uganda. Eric expressed his personal view from his experience as an individual in supporting UK companies one is the timing of projects when it would it begin, was it a priority project for the government, expressed that he had seen good projects on paper but wouldn’t work as it was not a priority project and it wouldn’t work in the prospective future and the department help companies make those decisions.
The second key risk was contact and relationship, which was a key area for decision makers in Uganda, was it the MP, the Uganda investment authority, the minster, the state house, who should be talked to about the project?
That was always a challenge that this department took on to help British companies to navigate. local partnership was another risk, were they legitimate, honest, did they have expertise to manage the project. Many UK companies came to the department after being burnt by the local partner and then they are taken on by the department to navigate the problem.
The other risk was the process, what documentation was needed, the hierarchy of the requirement, priority of the process and these were risk areas in terms of doing business and it would be great if stream lined. There was Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy and how it affected trade with Uganda and this policy has a lot pro and anti arguments which the department had no position on but it was a risk that companies have to think about.
Local partnership is another risk, are they legitimate, honest, do they have expertise to manage your project?
Many UK companies come to the department after being burnt by the local partner and then we help them to navigate the problem”. Eric warned
Management was the last risk seen in Uganda, how companies intergrade international best practices it was used to in different markets in developed markets with the local indigenous practices that one had to abide by or work with.
That department for international trade help UK companies.
There is a service called overseas market introduction service, the department conduct market research, programme arrangements contacts for companies Etc., this is chargeable service which requires commitment at a subscribed government rate.
- The department do lobbying and support with the trade envoy by Lord Popat engaging the business fraternity in Uganda, meeting senior government officials including the president.
- That department also help to navigate through UK export finance which is under the department for international trade and identify areas that needs direct lending opportunities, insurance guarantees or any other support. The moto for the department “no deal should fail for lack of finance”.
- Lastly, the department arrange events for companies’ trade mission in October and November focused on oil and gas.