The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Hon Matia Kasaija on Saturday opened the Uganda- India Business Convention at the International Conference Centre, Kampala Serena Hotel.
The convention is part of a series of activities organized for members of the Indian Industries Association (IIA) who are on an eight-day tour of Uganda to explore partnerships in Investment, Trade, and Tourism.
“Uganda and India relations date back to centuries. Over the years these relations have evolved and today, our two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations as demonstrated by the exchange of visits at the highest level and concluded memoranda of understanding in the various fields, making India a strategic partner for Uganda” said Hon Kasaija.
Hon Kasaija stated that SMEs are the prime source of new jobs and play a crucial role in income generation as well as in industrialization processes.
“India has consistently remained one of the top investors in Uganda with an estimated investment worth US$1bn in the last two decades. In 2020, India’s investments in Uganda hit USD$200 million” He added.
Hon Kasaija further noted that the trade between the two countries is still skewed in favor of India. In 2020, Uganda exported and imported goods worth US$56.98Million and US$959.11Million respectively.
Uganda has commenced on addressing the trade imbalance, and soon, Uganda Airlines will launch direct flights to India which should enhance our trade and tourism relations. He ended by calling upon the Ugandan business community to take leverage of this opportunity to increase our exports to India under the Duty-Free and Tariff Free scheme for LDCs.
Hon Abubakhr Jeje Odongo, Minister of Foreign Affairs hailed the business convention organizers adding that it is in line with the Ministry’s shifted emphasis to economic and commercial diplomacy which will contribute to the full realization of NDP III and the overall Uganda Vision 2040 to transform the country from the peasantry into a middle-income status nation.
Hon Harriet Ntabazi, Minister of State for Trade remarked that the visit of the Indian Delegation is a great opportunity for SMEs from both countries to link up and form business partnerships. She urged Ugandan Embassies and High commissions to continue mobilizing linkages and partnerships for Uganda’s SMEs to tap new business opportunities.
An MOU between the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Industry Association was signed to foster trade and investment cooperation between the two countries
Mr. Ashok Agarwal, the President of the India Industries Association introduced IIA as a bridge between the Indian Government and SME units. He added that the Indian Government supports SMEs with subsidized lending facilities.
Mr. Agarwal said that IIA can support Uganda with; Development of industry clusters, Know-how transfer, Setting up Farm produce export, Technology support, and Food processing units.
Their delegation represents a diversified set of industry & consulting / skilling partners from ICT Automation. Construction, Agriculture, Veterinary and Human medicine.
Ambassador Grace Akello, Uganda’s High Commissioner to India who moved a vote of thanks commended the Government MDAs for their support towards the successful organization of the convention. She also expressed her gratitude to the Indian Industries Association for sparing their time and resources to travel to Uganda and explore business opportunities in the country.
The convention was also attended by Hon Francis Mwebesa Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives. In addition, there were Senior Government Officials from MDAs Including, Uganda Free Zones Authority, Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Development Cooperation, Uganda Export Promotion Board, Uganda Manufacturer’s Association, The Private Sector Foundations, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce, and Members of the Uganda Business Community.
The Indian Business delegation was organized and brought to Uganda by Uganda’s High Commission to India.
They are Twenty-member business firms of the India Industries Association engaged in manufacturing, processing, assembling, and other industrial activities including trade in commodities.
The Association boasts of a membership of 1,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which power India’s economic growth and socio-economic transformation. Led by Mr. Ashok Agarwal the Association has expressed a long-time interest to visit Uganda in order to explore investment opportunities in Uganda’s growing economy. The Uganda High Commission in New Delhi has engaged with several individual firms which make up IIA membership across India.
While in Uganda the IIA will visit all the five geographical regions of the country.