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Uganda Free Business Regulations Pitched to Dubai Investors

Ruth Biyinzika Musoke, a manager at the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) said while other countries required investors to have local people own stakes in their companies, say 50%. This, she pitched, is not the case with Uganda
Vegetables are among Uganda's key exports to the UAE. Photo by vegetables.co.nz

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Businesses ability to operate outside strict regulation has been pitched as a key advantage that Middle East investors should look out for in Uganda.  

This was at the Uganda-United Arab Emirates investment forum at Kampala Sheraton on Thursday.

Ruth Biyinzika Musoke, a manager at the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) said while other countries required investors to have local people own stakes in their companies, say 50%, this is not the case with Uganda.

  An investor can decide to have locals as partners or not.   

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Investors love less strict environments. However other things like reliable electricity, predictable political climate, and certain taxation region plays a key role in attracting investors, according to the World Bank. Uganda is trying to generate as much electricity although tariff remains high.

  Another advantage with Uganda is that an investor can bring in money and take it out as and when they want. The Kampala forum is expected to link visiting Middle East companies with local players for possible synergies.

  Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, the chairman of the UAE’s Sharjah chamber of commerce, said they wanted to learn from Uganda and what opportunities it offers. 

  At Sheraton, several companies from steel makers to insurance to glass manufacturers pitched camp to interact with Uganda’s companies. Oil and gas, tourism, and agriculture featured prominently on Uganda’s pitch.

  Alex Onziima, the state minister in the office of the vice president, said Uganda was taking pride in the fact that trade between UAE and Kampala was growing despite the fact that it was tilted in favour of the Middle East country.

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  Pearls, precious stones, metals and coins were Uganda’s main exports to the UAE in 2018, fetching the country up to USD 514m.

  Other exports to the Arab country included mineral fuels, oils. Edible vegetables, roots and tubers are other products that Uganda takes to the UAE.

However, these don’t match the $784m import bill that Uganda spent in UAE in 2018. Electronics lead the pack of the goods that Uganda imports from there.

  According to Biyinzika, the government push to establish the agriculture free zone will be an opportunity for Ugandans to push fresh produce to the UAE to bridge the trade deficit.

  Michael Werikhe, the state minister for trade, said Uganda can take advantage of its organic products to capture the UAE market. He added that coffee, spices, and tea could be premium products to sell to the Arabs.

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