The first Europe-Uganda Business Forum took place in Kampala, Uganda, last 9th and 10th of March.
Promoted by the Delegation of the European Union, in partnership with the Private Sector Foundation and the Government of Uganda, the Event is part of a joint initiative to improve and facilitate collaboration among public and private actors, aiming to promote partnerships between companies from this country and the EU.
The Europe - Uganda Business Forum was honored by the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kagura Museveni. The Event brought together European and Ugandan investors, policy makers, public sector agencies, private sector support institutions, Europe and Uganda industry leaders, delegates from the development partners of Member States institutions, EU members and donor agencies. As the ultimate aim of this initiative, a platform was created for, on the one hand, share experiences already carried out, and on the other, to explore and build sustainable commercial relationships that can best contribute to promote investments in Uganda.
At the opening of the Forum, the Ugandan Minister of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, stated that the country is "totally committed" with the European Union, not only to increase trade and investment, but also to enhance opportunities that are still unexplored. For his part, the country's Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, said that Uganda stands out for its political stability and good business climate, which allows it to attract companies from all over the world, not just from Europe - standing out here the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany - but as well from Asia.
Attilio Pacifici, EU Ambassador to Uganda, stressed that it is important to facilitate productive investment in the country by facing three essential challenges: improving the skills and attitudes of the country's human resources; promote access to high-cost capital finance and, finally, implement good economic governance and the fight against corruption.
According to Pamela Mbabazi, Director of the National Planning Authority, there are, in Uganda, several innovative sectors where the Europeans skills and technologies could be valued, namely in the field of urban planning, sustainable energy production (such as irrigation powered by solar energy), mobility and, finally, in the field of responsible tourism. In her view, an investment in the areas identified in the context of the EU / Uganda strategy - which focuses mainly on promoting investments and combating climate change - could create around 4 million jobs and allow economic growth of about 10% in the country.
Plenary and interactive thematic sessions, meeting and exhibition spaces for public institutions and the private sector were planned during the Conference. It was intended, therefore, to provide occasions for meeting and debate, aiming to share the best practices and to recommend concrete solutions in several areas, namely:
- Analyze the main gaps in existing skills and find the appropriate solutions to overcome them;
- Find appropriate responses so that the private sector can contribute for fighting corruption;
- Know and understand the tax issues related to investments;
- Discuss access to finance, either through the banking sector, or via long-term lenders;
- Consider concerns about business operations, including the EU export markets.
Watch some of the interventions carried out at the Forum here.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although around 1,000 delegates had previously registered for the Forum, many of the European participants ended up not attending because of the restrictions imposed by the Ugandan authorities on people from EU countries, such as Italy, Germany, France and Spain.
The first Europe-Uganda Business Forum, falls within the context of the priorities that the new European Commission has recently established concerning international partnerships with Africa. First, the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investments and Jobs, proposes to increase strategic investment and strengthen the role of the private sector in creating jobs through, inter alia, investment in education and the skills of individuals, strengthening the business and investment environment. On the other hand, it intends to promote digitization and data technology, thereby enhancing the digital transformation currently taking place in Africa.
The first Europe-Uganda Business Forum is part of the Technical Assistance for the implementation of the EU Public-Private Dialogue Platform in Uganda that CESO is currently implementing. With a foreseen duration of 7 months, the project will promote the involvement of public and private entities in Uganda and the EU - in a continuous and sustainable manner - through a political dialogue, that will contribute to improve the investment climate, the business environment, and enhancing possibilities for new public-private initiatives.
Know more about this project here.
Photographer's credits: Cristiana Garcia