The picturesque setting of Speke Resort Munyono, Kampala, played host to the Uganda – South Africa Business Summit from September 5th to 6th, 2023. Mr. Humphrey Nzeyi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), delivered the welcome remarks to a distinguished gathering of business leaders and delegates from Uganda and South Africa.
The summit aimed to foster and reinforce the burgeoning business connections that were initiated during a visit to South Africa in March 2023. These efforts seek to establish new frontiers in business and investment cooperation between Uganda and South Africa, nations celebrated for their rich history of collaboration and shared Pan-African values.
Mr. Nzeyi acknowledged the historical ties between the two nations, which began with a shared vision of political freedom. He cited the extensive presence of South African companies in Uganda, including MTN, ABSA, ESKOM, and others, as a testament to their economic partnership. These companies have collectively invested over USD $2.4 billion in Uganda, reaping substantial dividends from their endeavours.
Highlighting the significance of this summit, Mr. Nzeyi stressed the importance of African nations increasing trade and cooperation among themselves. The ongoing global challenges, including the pandemic, have underscored the need for African nations to rely more on each other and less on external partners. Leveraging the Africa Free Trade Area Agreements, the summit aimed to facilitate a common market for goods and services among African nations.
Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU): Nurturing Uganda’s Private Sector Growth
Mr. Nzeyi introduced the role of PSFU, an apex body representing Uganda’s diverse private sector. Comprising 320 Business Associations and over 3 million business enterprises, PSFU covers 12 pivotal sectors of Uganda’s economy. PSFU’s journey since its inception in 1995 has been dedicated to advocating for the private sector’s interests, fostering capacity building, and facilitating constructive dialogue with the government.
The core mission of PSFU revolves around enhancing private investments and productivity by creating an enabling business environment marked by effective governance, efficient markets, and robust human development. PSFU has evolved into a multifaceted private sector think tank and innovation hub, focusing on ten sectors critical to Uganda’s economic growth.
Key mandates include research-based advocacy for the private sector, capacity building, job creation (particularly for women and youth), and capacity building for member organizations.
Significance of the South Africa – Uganda Business Summit
The summit aimed to fortify the economic ties between Uganda and South Africa, strengthening existing alliances and fostering new collaborations. A key focus was addressing obstacles that hinder the free flow of people and goods, impacting trade and investment. The summit was viewed as an opportunity to resolve visa barriers, further facilitating collaboration.
Already, entrepreneurs from both nations were engaged in discussions covering various sectors, from agriculture to tourism and ICT. The summit sought to transform these interactions into solid contracts and agreements.
Uganda-South Africa Trade Relations and Investment Prospects
The trade relationship between Uganda and South Africa has significant potential. Uganda’s exports to South Africa currently stand at US$20.7 million, while South Africa’s exports to Uganda total US$187 million. There is room to triple these values through strategic partnerships and joint ventures.
Key imports from South Africa include electronic and electrical equipment, motor vehicles, and machinery. Uganda’s exports to South Africa encompass Packaged Medicaments, Coffee, and Raw Tobacco, with potential for growth in coffee exports.
Uganda’s potential for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is substantial, particularly in the coffee and mining sectors. Opportunities in the mineral sector alone exceed US$620.5 billion. Uganda also offers vast arable land for food production and value-addition technologies.
The nation excels in the export of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and milk. Investment in these sectors can significantly boost exports.
Harmonizing Standards for Effective Trade
To facilitate effective trade and the free movement of people and goods, it is imperative for the Standards Bureaus of both nations to harmonize standards. Efforts in this direction began earlier in the year and were expected to gain further momentum during the summit.
Mr. Nzeyi concluded by emphasizing collaboration over competition, calling for partnerships and joint ventures to unlock opportunities for the region’s rapidly growing youthful population. He extended a warm welcome to all delegates to the “Pearl of Africa.”
The South Africa-Uganda Business Summit marked a significant step towards stronger economic ties and collaborative growth between these two African nations.