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trade with/invest in Uganda

Friday 18 September, 2009

I attended this function US-Uganda Trade and Investment Forum which was sponsored by the Uganda consulate in Chicago, Uganda embassy in Washington, D.C., & Uganda Investment Authority.

1 of the best presentations given of the day was given by the African Alliance.  Here it is:  AFRICAN ALLIANCE BUSINESS FORM PRESENTATION.  I requested the other presentations from the organizers, but haven’t received them yet.  There were also presentations made by Ugandan companies working in the US, such as Akright Projects Ltd./real estate developers, Luba International Relations/Language Consultants, & Uganda Coffee Development Authority, & American companies doing/seeking business in Uganda, like Elfi Wall Systems, & Renew Strategies.

The Director of the Bank of Uganda, Uganda’s central bank, said Uganda’s long-term macroeconomic record is good with 6-7% annual growth, a sovereign rating of B, & S&P rating of B+.  Inflation dropped from14% to 10% last year & is now less than 5%.  7 commercial banks have opened in the last year to bring the total of 21.  Their team of 6 was seeking portfolio investment.  Equity & fixed income investments in Uganda can offer returns of 14 1/2%, which are simply not available here.  Uganda’s Speaker of the Parliament indicated their priority is to protect their environment.

The Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority noted that Uganda’s economy is #4 in Africa & received $700+M in foreign direct investment 2005-9.  The US is #8 in FDI in terms of $, & #7 in number of projects.  Citibank & Unilever are success stories.  Uganda has a population of 30M that is eager for US products.  Priority sectors are manufacturing, organic agriculture, transportation, energy, mines, petroleum, information technologies, services, & tourism.  IT includes business process outsourcing, software development, testing, SANS, & hardware assembly.  There are 20 ISP’s & 7 mobile providers.  Constraints are infrastructure, access to finance, & government administration/bureaucracy.

This was somewhat of a high-falutin’ affair.  The ambassador to Uganda was supposed to be there, as well as ministers of State for Investments, Information, & Tourism, who I think did make it.  Representatives from the city of Chicago & State of Illinois attended, & the IL Trade & Investment dept. made a presentation as well.  For me this was a very interesting contrast-on the same day I attended a German function.  That was tight, organized, & punctual.  This event was a lot more loose, open, & free-flowing.  It was an interesting day.

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