768President Yoweri Museveni continues to market Uganda as the best tourism destination in the world not for just tourists but travellers in general who want to experience the uniqueness and diversity the Pearl of Africa has to offer.
The president addressed trade representatives, MDA’s & the private sector at the Annual Trade Representative Forum (TRF) at State House Entebbe on Tuesday, organized by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID).
President Museveni hailed Uganda’s climate saying it is the best and favorable for tourists around the world especially now that Uganda is more peaceful than ever before.
“We used to have problems of lack of peace in the past but that stopped long ago. The only issue is now promotion,” H.E Museveni said.
He added that the government has made it a priority to improve the infrastructure to make it easy for tourists. Setting up airfields in different tourist destinations is top on agenda.
“I have already told the government that we need to build more Airfields near the national parks. This is because some of the rich people don’t have time to come and land at Entebbe and drive 500 miles to Kidepo National Park. It’s only small people who can manage to do that but the rich people want to come in their private jets, land in the national park and then fly out. So, we shall have to build more hard surface airports in Kidepo, Kasese, Kihiihi, Gulu etc.,” the President said.
The Trade Representative Forum is an initiative by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development PACEID headed by Mr. Odrek Rwabogo, that brings together all trade representatives, allowing them to network, learn and build strategies with Uganda private sector local input.
According to the Chairman of Uganda Tourism Board Mr. Daudi Migereko, Prior to Covid-19, tourism was Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner fetching the country 1.6 million dollars and that it had been predicted that Uganda would be among the 10 fastest growing fastest destinations for leisure, travel and spending between the year 2020 and 2026.
“We need to appreciate the fact that we have already lost time with everything and we must pursue everything with urgency. We’re fortunate that ever since H.E the president launched our country’s destination brand in January 2022, our tourism has been getting very good ratings to unprecedented levels. We have received awards and endorsements from international media houses,” Hon. Migereko said, calling upon the Ministry of Works to have an emergency program to develop the roads with high tourist demand.
President Museveni tipped the gathering about the many ways of making money in Uganda especially if one is focused on adding value to the existing raw materials like coffee, Milk, cotton, tea, tobacco, fruits, beef, oil seeds, cocoa, bananas, leather, cassava, sugar, etc.
On minerals, the President said that government has already identified investors who are setting up an integrated steel industry for the inland parts of Africa instead of importing steel from other places.
“I think we now have about 4 or 5 factories coming up to produce steel from our good iron ore, phosphates for fertilizers, cement, oil and gas, lithium (we need to produce electric batteries here for electric cars), copper, gold, tin, potassium etc.,” he added, praising PACEID group for identifying the gaps in export promotion and involving the young people.
“The other day I was in Gulu district and I saw an exhibition by the young people who are engaged in processing all our precious products for the world market and we are ready to support them.
I would really like to advise anybody who wants to work in government to understand this. If you do not understand that Uganda must be business oriented, then resign.” Museveni warned, saying Africa has for long missed out on the global money market with people until recently producing only for home consumption and not for the market.
He said that the now growing population of Uganda which will be 100 million people in the next 30 years, up from the current 43 million is an opportunity for growth.
“Now with the bigger population, competition for economic space increases. You can no longer afford to be laid back because more people now need access to resources. Nobody can compete with us once the people wake up,” President Museveni noted.
The head of state gave an example of milk which until recently was not among the exports.
“My family has been keeping cows for the last 7000 years but my father who was born 1916 and died some years ago, was not involved in the money economy for milk until he was about 80 years old when we commercialized milk in 1989 for the first time. The milk sector has now been commercialized and the production has gone up to 5.3 billion liters per year,” he further said.
According to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Mr. Odrek Rwabogo, the meeting focused on strengthening coordination in order to move faster.
“If we’re not coordinated in our institutions to deliver these targets, we’ll run around, our trade reps will get us orders that we won’t be able to fulfill. So, coordination is a lesson we have learnt and that’s why we have brought these trade representatives,” Mr. Rwabogo said.
The Minister of State for Trade Hon. Harriet Ntabazi who presented on Trade Infrastructure for Export growth, said the interaction between government and the private sector will make Uganda a private sector led country, hailing PACEID for driving Uganda’s exports.
“We have hit very many markets which are ready to receive our products because of the guidance that we’ve received from PACEID,” Minister Ntabazi said, adding that Uganda’s trade trajectory has increased over the years with exports increasing from 2,917 million US dollars in 2013 to now 3,589.4 million in 2021.
On the emergency key standards Uganda exporters need to enhance production and setting the stage for value addition. The Minister for Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze said his ministry is developing a new approach to production, informed by the market requirements.
“As you open the market for us, just know that we’ll not only give you volumes, but we’ll also give you quality volumes. We are working out a regulatory system on foods and medicines under one framework so that regulation and fighting of fakes is made easier and when you do that, you contain disease to ensure more rewards to the farmer and eventually exports,” Minister Tumwebaze emphasized.
Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala the Minister for Works and Transport presented on how key transport infrastructure can drive Uganda’s Exports Competitiveness. He said government is addressing the few pockets of poor road networks which are making goods expensive on the market.
“We have harmonized our laws within the country and the region to support regional trade and to ease movement of goods and services. We are also implementing key infrastructural development like the one stop border posts to facilitate easy movement of goods and services and people between countries,” Gen. Katumba said, adding that as Uganda dreams of exporting 12 million bags of coffee, the government is developing the railway system to move goods across East Africa.
The event organized on the theme: Coordination to drive Uganda’s Export Targets through better trade representation targeted about 150 participants who included; Exporters, Exporter associations, Services providers (Transporter, Airlines, etc.), Development partners supporting exports UNDP, TMEA, EU, WB, Policymakers, Parliamentarians that align with exporters and PACIED Committee Members.
It witnessed presentations from among others; Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), Uganda Revenue Authority, Private sector foundation Uganda and the Ministry of Finance.
Professor Jin-sang, Lee from the Department of Technology and Society, University of New York, South Korea presented on the transformation and development of the Korean Economy and the lessons and implications for Uganda while the Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Competitiveness & Experience Exchange and Chairman-UAE Competitiveness Council H.E Abdulla Nasser Lootah presented on the importance of competitiveness “For Sustainable Economic Growth, the United Arab Emirates Experience”.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) was established by President Museveni on March 16, 2022 with a key objective to increase Uganda’s exports by USD 6BN in the next five years.
It seeks to improve the approach to selling Ugandan products and services in various markets of the world and identifies key contacts in the markets providing relevant market information on Industry, Investment, Trade, and Tourism opportunities.
Story by PPU
Photos by Abu Mwesigwa/PPU