Nigeria-Uganda discuss investment opportunities

May 03, 2023

“SMEs can undoubtedly play a critical role at the grassroots by making significant contributions to income-generating activities, which create employment and increase overall standards of living,” Kigongo highlighted.  

Ambassador Akinremi Bolaji, Director Economic, Trade & Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria (right) shaking hands with Hon Francis Mwebesa, Ministry of Trade. (Photos by Shamim Saad)

By Moses Mulondo and Shamim Saad
Journalists @New Vision

NIGERIA-UGANDA | BUSINESS FORUM | INVESTIMENT OPPORTUNITIES

 

Nigeria and Uganda have held the first-ever business forum to discuss investment opportunities on the optimization of existing investment and trade opportunities in the two naturally endowed African countries. 

 

According to the Minister of Trade and Industries and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa, the forum will find a harmonious ground in tackling the bottlenecks and the cost of doing business that hinder exports of the two countries' competitiveness. 

 

“Trade between Uganda and Nigeria is still very low and there is a need to promote intra-Africa agenda. We were both very active during the negotiations of the African Continental Free Tarde Area (AfCFTA) and I am quite sure that both countries will remain steadfast during the implementation of the AfCFTA protocols,” he explained.

Participants listen attentively during the Nigeria-Uganda summit to discuss investment opportunities on the optimization of Small and Medium Enterprises between the two countries held on May 02, 2023 at Hotel Africana.

Participants listen attentively during the Nigeria-Uganda summit to discuss investment opportunities on the optimization of Small and Medium Enterprises between the two countries held on May 02, 2023 at Hotel Africana.

Mwebesa noted that Uganda is committed to improving the business environment and has taken a strategic direction to embrace the liberal trade policy and continue to drive the economy in different spheres like a computerized land registry, quick access to licenses and registration, introduction of electronic single window system under the cross borders trade initiatives establishment of a one-stop border point.

 

There is also automation of customs procedures, an improvement in transit flow through the elimination of existing non-tariff barriers, and expansion of market access opportunities through the East African Community (EAC), COMESA, and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among others which Mwebesa said are a positive move for private sector players to do business in Uganda to expand regional markets.

Hon Francis Mwebesa, Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives speaking during the two day Nigeria-Uganda business and investment forum held at hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday

Hon Francis Mwebesa, Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives speaking during the two day Nigeria-Uganda business and investment forum held at hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday

The minister referred to statistics that indicate that at the EAC level intra exports increased from $1.22b in 2016 to $1.8b by 2020 while the intra-EAC imports increased from $1.43b recorded in 2016 to above $2b by the end of 2020.

 

“This tells how big the market is and therefore, regional markets cannot be doubted anymore, we, therefore, invite serious traders and investors to partner with the Ugandan business community to invest,” he said during a two-business investment forum held at a hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. 

 

Participants listen attentively during the Nigeria-Uganda summit to discuss investment opportunities on the optimization of Small and Medium Enterprises between the two countries held on May 02, 2023 at Hotel Africana.

Participants listen attentively during the Nigeria-Uganda summit to discuss investment opportunities on the optimization of Small and Medium Enterprises between the two countries held on May 02, 2023 at Hotel Africana.

 

The President of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UNCCI) Olive Kigongo contended that the private sector in East Africa is the engine that drives the economic growth. Kigongo noted that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are considered to be the backbone of the economy.

 

“From the regional standpoint, SMEs represent the majority of business entities averaging 60% and exceeding if micro enterprises are considered, and from a continental perspective, SMEs constitute approximately 80% of the private sector, and are most likely led by women and youth. 

 

“SMEs can undoubtedly play a critical role at the grassroots by making significant contributions to income-generating activities, which create employment and increase overall standards of living,” Kigongo highlighted. 

 

She emphasized the need to optimize the productivity of SMEs by offering them practicable information for their comprehension and appreciation of the AfCFTA citing, strategic positioning and adequate preparation for SMEs are of vital importance, especially bearing in mind the negative pandemic-related impact which affected their performance. 

Olive Kigongo, President, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UNCCI) speaking during the two day Nigeria-Uganda business and investment forum held at hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday

Olive Kigongo, President, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UNCCI) speaking during the two day Nigeria-Uganda business and investment forum held at hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday

The Director of Economic, Trade & Investment for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Akinremi Alade Bolaji who also headed the delegation said “This is an important milestone in the relationship between the Governments and peoples of Nigeria and Uganda. It would further deepen and strengthen our existing cordial diplomatic, trade, and economic relations,” 

 

He said Nigeria and Uganda enjoy excellent bilateral relations, since their independence however, despite warm excellent relations, trade between them has been very low.

 

“Recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria reiterated its interest in seeking to harness the diverse opportunities in the areas of trade, industry, and investment to create jobs and boost economic recovery. This was hinged on the knowledge that investment remains a critical tool for poverty reduction and sustainable development,” he revealed.  

 

The Uganda High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nelson Ocheger, said Uganda and Nigeria enjoy very cordial relations rooted in their common history, common culture, and aspirations.

 

“Both countries have also been at the forefront of promoting Pan-Africanism and the doctrine that African problems require African solutions so, we have a mandate to engage with the public and private sector stakeholders, with the view of increasing interactions between our two countries and ultimately increase the volume of trade, investment and other forms of mutually beneficial cooperation,” Ocheger stated

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