President Museveni Urges South African Investors to Fuel Uganda’s Economic Potential

KAMPALA – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has extended an earnest appeal to South African investors, urging them to collaborate with Uganda in harnessing its vast economic potential.

He emphasized that this partnership could contribute significantly to the growth of both nations and, in a broader sense, bolsters Africa’s economic prospects.

Reflecting on the historical backdrop, President Museveni reminisced, “When South Africa attained freedom, I had the privilege of meeting Mzee Mandela, and I proposed that we embark on a collaborative venture between our countries. South Africa possessed considerable investor capacity and capital at the time, which I believed we could leverage, reciprocally benefiting both nations and contributing to Africa’s economic strength. One of my proposals was the establishment of a joint airline, although it faced challenges and did not materialize.”

These remarks were made yesterday during the Uganda-South Africa Trade & Investment Summit, held at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo. The summit, operating under the theme “Accelerating Uganda-South Africa Trade and Investment,” attracted over 40 South African companies.

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President Museveni stressed the critical importance of this summit as a platform to connect Uganda’s economic potential with that of South Africa. He encouraged South African companies already operating in Uganda, such as MTN and Stanbic Bank, to align with the government’s efforts aimed at facilitating broader participation in the formal economy, ultimately fostering socio-economic transformation.

He posed a rhetorical question to the audience, stating, “You have heard that until recently, 68 percent of the population was excluded from the formal economy. We had to mobilize the army to distribute coffee seedlings, enabling these individuals to enter the formal economy through coffee cultivation. Presently, the percentage of those outside the formal economy stands at 39 percent, and we aspire to integrate everyone. The telecom industry, for instance, will undoubtedly benefit from this expansion. With everyone in the formal economy, will they not have more money in their banks?”

President Museveni called upon investors to enhance the value addition of Uganda’s raw materials, envisioning an independent, integrated, and self-sustaining economy. He illustrated this point by saying, “By adding value to products like coffee, we can transform its value from USD 2.5 per kilogram to USD 40 per kilogram. As Uganda’s economy grows, we all stand to gain.”

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He lauded South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for his efforts in strengthening the bilateral ties between their two nations and encouraged further collaboration across the African continent.

Museveni said, “I want to thank His Excellency Ramaphosa for his commitment to strengthening our ties. Uganda possesses abundant resources, spanning agriculture, minerals, and forests, among others. By uniting as Africans and collaborating, we can unlock the tremendous potential within our grasp.”

President Museveni urged South African entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in Uganda’s E-mobility sector, specifically in the manufacturing of lithium batteries. He stated, “We are embarking on building our own electric vehicles and developing lithium car batteries. We intend to manufacture these batteries locally, and we invite investors to join us in this endeavor. Our lithium batteries will power our vehicles and also offer export opportunities.”

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During the summit, several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between Uganda and various South African companies. Mcebisi Hubert Jonas, Chairman of the MTN Group, called upon the Ugandan government to work towards reducing the cost of doing business, which would enhance the investment environment and create a favorable climate for investment.

The summit drew the participation of key figures, including Hon. Francis Mwebesa, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, and Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of ICT and National Guidance, as well as members of the diplomatic corps and private sector stakeholders.

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