By Isaac Omoding in Istanbul Turkey
Uganda’s Olive Kigongo, the president of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) was on September 15, elected one of the six vice chairs of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) World Chambers Federation (WCF) at its general council meeting that sat at the Four Seasons Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.
Olive was the only lady on the council of eight people that included the new chairman Peter Mihok from Slovakia, who is also the president of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mihok first served as deputy chair from January 2010 after serving as WCF vice chair since 2002.
The deputy chair is Hamad Buamim, who first served as WCF vice chair from January 2010 after active service as a member of the WCF General Council. Buamim is the director general of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry since November 2006.
Kigongo’s other five co-chairs are Ambrosio Bertolotti (from Uruguay); Jean-Claude Karpeles (from Paris); Mahendra K. Sanghi (from Mumbai India); Lorenzo Ysasi Martinez (from Mexico) and Bark-Jae Shin (from South Korea).
WCF is an umbrella organisation of 15,000 chambers from around the world.
Asked the relevance of WCF to Africa and Uganda in particular, its new chairman Mihok sauid WCF offers a wonderful networking opportunity for the business community. He said its congresses are organised every two years in different parts of the world.
Remy Rowhani, the director general of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is hosting the next meeting scheduled for April 2013 in Doha, Qatar said they going to sponsor 50 African representatives for the Doha meet.
Earlier on the previous day, Kigongo was on a panel discussing the role of global economic crisis and recession that is dominating the world’s trade environment. She was again the only lady among six men in their panel discussing the effects of the crisis in their respective countries and regions. She urged Uganda and Turkey to enhance cooperation and combine their economic and commercial potential.
She told the business summit attended by, among others, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Ali Babacan and Turkish trade minister Hayati Yazici, that the effects of global financial crisis have been limited in magnitude in Uganda as demonstrated by her exports and FDI performance.
She said FDI inflows have largely been stable and growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 4% between 2006 and 2011 and that Uganda attracted the third largest Greenfield investment in low developed countries in 2011 to the tune of $2b in the oil and gas sector.
She said the global financial crisis appeared to have little or no impact on Uganda’s export performance with the value of exports reaching $2.1b in 2011 with an underlying compounded annual growth rate of 10% between 2006 and 2011. The resilience of Uganda’s export sector in the face of the global financial crisis, she said, is in part attributed to regional trade with member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) accounting for 48% of Uganda’s exports by value. COMESA is a grouping of 19 countries with a population of about 390 million people.
She said the global financial crisis showed that protectionism was not a solution to the crisis and ensuing contraction in global trade could not help.