President Yoweri Museveni has strongly assured Ugandan investors that the Government of South Africa will solve the issue of entry visas to that country since it is one of the crucial requirements in doing business.
“On the issue of the visas I am sure the government of South Africa is going to solve this because there is no way you can do business without multiple entry visa. If I am doing business, I should go any time I want to travel, I should not come to look for a new visa every time,” he observed.
The President made the observation yesterday at the Business Breakfast meeting with investors from Uganda and South Africa at Johny Makhathini Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, South Africa, who had concluded their two day Business Forum at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, South Africa.
The Business Breakfast meeting was organized by the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Export and Industrial Development (PACEID) Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, to appraise the President on the outcome of the two-day interaction and engagement between Uganda and South African businesspeople.
President Museveni who commended Mr. Rwabwogo for his insight to have a holistic view on identifying bottlenecks that impede bilateral trade between the two countries encouraged the idea of partnership and cited the submission by Mr. Charles Mbire who attracted MTN telecommunications company to Uganda adding that it was all because of the unseen purchasing power of Africa that multinational companies like MTN delayed opening business in the East African country.
“What Mbire was talking about was the unseen purchasing power of Africa. MTN thought that telephone users in Uganda would not reach the required number of 8,000 now they are over 28,000,000 that was all hidden, “he said.
The President therefore assured investors from South Africa that this would apply to other products from Uganda as the consumption will always increase.
Mr. Mbire, an investor in the sector of telecommunication, had earlier told the President and the investors at the meeting of how 25 years ago he attracted MTN to come to do business in Uganda. He said on the first day 7,000 phone users out of the 8000 that were required by MTN were signed. That marked the birth of MTN in the Country and Uganda became the steppingstone to other countries. He assured the investors of the conducive business climate in Uganda because there is stability, security and excellent leadership.
“I appeal to investors from South Africa to come to Uganda. I assure you we are the Pearl of Africa, we are landlocked, but we are very land linked. Let’s work together to develop our countries,” he said.
The President also assured South African investors that his Government is not interested in levying direct tax.
“Our doctrine is that we are not interested in direct tax. That is why we can give you a tax holiday of 10 years why? You will pay tax indirectly how? If you come and start a factory even if you don’t pay corporate tax for 10 years, the people you have employed are earning income and they are now paying income tax. You know Ugandans like enjoying life once you pay them their salary, they will spend some of that money in bars and so pay tax indirectly,” he added.
President Museveni also thanked Ambassador Paul Amoru, Uganda’s High Commissioner to South Africa and Ambassador Lulu Xingwana of South Africa for Mobilising investors from Uganda and South Africa to attend the Business Summit.
The President also assured the Ugandan businesspeople of government’s total support to enable them to grow their value-addition businesses.
“That little money of USD20 million you are talking about is nothing. We shall get it because how much money are the bureaucrats squandering? Money is not a problem. It has always been our vision and I can see the young people are getting it now,” President Museveni noted, adding that, “I don’t have money to support consumption, but I have got all the money to support production. We shall get all the money to support all the businesspeople dealing in value addition of our raw materials.”
Commenting on Mr. Andile Ramaphosa’s remark of the importance of cultural exchange citing the Ankole long horned cattle that are now a business venture and a tourist attraction in South Africa, President Museveni noted that the idea of the Ankole cows was just a tip of the ice bag. He said culture goes beyond even other produce like cereals, coffee and others that are indigenous and ancient. He welcomed the insightfulness of Mr. Andile the son of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa of linking cultural heritage with business adding that it is not only good for Africa but for the whole world.
“This is a gold mine,” he said.
Mr. Andile, who also represented South Africa’s Private Sector at the meeting, had earlier underscored the importance of cultural exchange pointing out the Ankole cattle that even led to the formation of Ankole Cattle Association which he said is today a multimillion-dollar industry in South Africa.
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa also assured the businesspeople that the government has already reduced the cost of doing business when it comes to energy tariffs.
“I can assure you that the low tariff rates have already been approved and we have removed the monopoly of the single buyer model. Every company will now be free to invest in generation, transmission and distribution and we shall reach you at an affordable tariff of 5 US cents,” the Minister disclosed.
Mr. Rwabwogo, who is also the Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Duties, revealed that they are going to appoint trade representatives who will work hand in hand to push their business agenda.
“We want to be able to find a way to improve the business environment in both countries by having a way to address concerns,” Mr. Rwabwogo said, before briefing the President on their findings in the Business Summit that included bottlenecks that impede the thriving of trade between the two countries and financial support required for the implementation of some of the business ventures as well as support from the two governments of Uganda and South Africa.
The breakfast meeting was also attended by Hon. Francis Mwebesa, the Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Evelyn Anite, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatisation among other officials.