The logisticians under their umbrella body, the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association UFFA, and the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, were briefing the media on the upcoming Uganda logistics expo in March and the 3rd Oil and Gas Convention in April.
Logisticians are pushing for Uganda to exploit her strategic geographical location and transform into a regional logistics hub.
The logisticians, while meeting the media in Kampala Thursday, said they are concerned that strategically placed as Uganda is she is still not taking advantage of her land-linked location and endowments like water and other resources.
The logisticians under their umbrella body, the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA), and the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, were briefing the media on the upcoming Uganda logistics expo in March and the 3rd Oil and Gas Convention in April.
The two bodies are attempting to create synergies in order to benefit from the massive investments in oil and gas, the huge infrastructure projects and regional market of over 160 million people.
The Chair of UFFA, Jennifer Mwijukye, said Uganda, despite being located in the heart of Africa, is trailing Kenya as a logistics hub because of failure to create synergies. She said while there are government interventions in the sector, they tend to be scattered and unrelated.
Mwijukye said it is disappointing that Uganda has no logistics policy yet the sector is the backbone of the economy. She said there has also been confusion over where to locate the logistics sector leading to logistics issues falling haphazardly between ministries of trade, finance and works.
Mwijukye said the logistics expo, the first ever, will provide a platform to showcase Uganda's logistics opportunities and comparative advantages with the view of harnessing them in order to transform Uganda into a regional hub.
Uganda is in the middle of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. She also has short reaches to many countries in Eastern, Central, Northern and Southern Africa.
According to Mwijukye, in order for Uganda to claim the regional logistics hub accolade, it needs to develop an inter-model transport system that includes an inter-linked road, rail, air and water transport channels.
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Mwijukye wondered why Uganda's transport infrastructures like road, railway, air and water are being developed in silos, adding that it would have been prudent to, for example, link Entebbe airport with the standard gauge railway, the expressway and water system.
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Mwijukye said since Uganda re-exports lots of her imports it would have been great to set up regional hubs in border towns like Arua, Kabale and Kasese so that Congolese, Rwandans and South Sudanese buyers do not need to come to Kampala.
Citing a World Bank report, the UFFA Chair said even as under-supported as it is the logistics sector employs directly over 200,000 people, adding that if streamlined it should employ many more people directly and indirectly.
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Elly Karuhanga, the Chair of Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, said the logisticians will handle nearly 50 percent of goods required for oil and gas development.
Karuhanga said Uganda needs to harness her logistics potential, citing air transport which is lagging behind. He wondered why Uganda has just one airport and five approved air carriers with only one, Eagle Air operational, while Kenya has one thousand approved air carriers and 11 airports.
Hussein Kiddedde, the CEO of logistics firm Graben 4PL, said the benefits of a regional hub are enormous and could reduce the cost of doing business and goods.
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According to Hussein, although they have not conducted the weight of the logistics sector as a percentage of GDP, the sector has transformed and is no longer the realm of so-called “failures”.
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Gerald Ekinu, an economist and statistician with the Ministry of Works and Transport, said government is formulating a logistics policy as well as a regional logistics master plan that will integrate road, railway, water, air and pipeline transport systems.