OVER a dozen Egyptian companies have expressed interest in investing in Uganda this year, following efforts to augment relations between the two countries
By Francis Kagolo
OVER a dozen Egyptian companies have expressed interest in investing in Uganda this year, following efforts to augment relations between the two countries.
Interested companies range from those manufacturing household appliances to furniture makers among others, according to Dr. Sherif El Khoraiby, the chairman of COMESA.
He said the first investor has established a $2m (about sh5.8b) energy technical institute in Entebbe which is due for commissioning next month.
Dr. Khoraiby made the revelation during a press conference he convened ahead of Thursday's third international conference for economic integration among the Nile Basin countries.
The press conference at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel was attended by finance state minister Fred Omach and other Egyptian dignitaries and the private sector.
Michael Galabuzi, the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) secretary general, welcomed the Egyptians investors and advised local businessmen to prepare for the opportunity.
"Egypt is a big economy in Africa; we would like to see our businessmen entering into cooperation with their Egyptian counterparts," Galabuzi said.
Egypt is one of Uganda's main export markets in the COMESA region, trade between the two countries was disrupted by the recent political uprisings in the Islamic country.
Uganda was exporting goods worth $5.8 million (Shs15.1 billion) to Egypt before the 2011 political revolts that saw hundreds of people die and businesses paralysed.
Uganda's major exports to Egypt include fish fillet, Coffee, and Tobacco, warm clothing /articles, ceramic pipes and printed materials. However, the country also indirectly exports her tea through Mombasa Auction to Egypt.
But in 2012, Uganda's exports to the North African state fell to $780,000 (about sh2b). The figure further dropped to $168,000 (about sh440m) in 2013.
In the period 2009-2013, trade between Uganda and Egypt fell by 41%, according to Moses Mabala, the Export Promotion Board (UEPB) trade officer.
However, Minister Omach is optimistic that trade between the two countries will soon pick up again, thanks to the on-going efforts to pacify the North African country.
The minister said the Government wants to shift from exporting raw materials to finished or semi-finished products.
He announced plans of setting up a modern meat factory with a capacity to slaughter 1,000 head of cattle, targeting Egyptian and Chinese markets.
He said the international conference will unlock more trade potential between the two countries. The conference will be followed by a trade fair at Lugogo showground where over 60 Egyptian based manufacturers will be showcasing their various products.
Elly Karuhanga, the president of Uganda chamber of mines and petroleum, advised local businessmen and women to seize the opportunity and make links with their Egyptian counterparts. "We don't want to just simply be consumers, we want to be partners," Karuhanga said.
Egyptian investors target Uganda