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Gulf crisis: Uganda investment deals not affected - minister

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 5th July 2017 03:59 PM

A regional diplomatic crisis in the region erupted in April when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a sudden freeze of diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Gulf crisis: Uganda investment deals not affected - minister

A regional diplomatic crisis in the region erupted in April when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a sudden freeze of diplomatic relations with Qatar.

State minister for investment and privatization, Evelyn Anite says Uganda's plans to attract investment from the Middle East were undeterred by the diplomatic crisis. Photo/File



BUSINESS


Uganda's diplomatic and business engagements with Qatar and the rest of the Gulf States are unaffected by a recent standoff among the Middle East powers.

A regional diplomatic crisis in the region erupted in April when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a sudden freeze of diplomatic relations with Qatar.

The countries accuse Qatar of destabilizing the region by supporting groups they linked to terrorism, including: Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS).

They also accuse the oil-rich nation of paying more than $1b in ransom money to militia groups to secure the release of a royal hunting party held captive in Iraq.

Qatar denies all charges of supporting terrorism, including payment of ransom to terrorist groups. The Arab nations issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff and gave Qatar 10 days to comply.

The deadline expired on Monday and the countries extended it by another 48 hours within which to have acted on the demands, although Qatar's foreign minister insisted they had no case.

The four neighbours ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and imposed sanctions on several Qatari firms and financial institutions.

Of the 13 demands issued by the Gulf states to Qatar closing down Qatar's controversial satellite TV network, Al Jazeera, which has long been a thorn in the side of its conservative neighbours.

Courting investors from gulf

The state minister for investment and privatization, Evelyn Anite says Uganda's plans to attract investment from the Middle East were undeterred by the diplomatic crisis.

"We are working with everyone," she said but declined to divulge details of discussions surrounding the diplomatic engagements.

The state minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem could not be reached on phone for comment, as he was reportedly out of the country.

Earlier this year, Uganda had embarked on a campaign to attract investment from the gulf nations in such areas as food processing, energy, roads, minerals and textiles.

In April, President Yoweri Museveni, accompanied by the First Lady, Janet Museveni travelled to Qatar on a three-day state visit at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin Bin Hamad Al Thani.

During the visit, his first ever Qatar, the President held a meeting with the Emir and the two witnessed the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding between Uganda and Qatar.

Ministers Sam Kutesa (foreign affairs) and Matia Kasaija (finance), who were part of the delegation, signed agreements with their counterparts Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah (defence), Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani (foreign affairs), Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani (economy and commerce) and Sheihk Mohammad Al Rumaihi (municipality and environment).

The highlight of his interaction with the oil-rich nation was that Africa and the Arab peninsula, while close to each other, do not conduct as much trade with each other.

The offer was that Africa, with a population of 1.25 billion people (projected to increase to 2.5 billion in the next 5 years) is a good market with huge returns on investment.

With a population of 40 million people, an investor in Uganda has not only the local market, but also the East African region (170 million people) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with over 500 million people, Museveni said in his pitch to investors.

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