The upcoming DRC-Uganda Investment Promotion Summit and Market Access Expo will present new investment and business opportunities for Ugandans, according to John Mulimba, the State Minister for Regional Cooperation.

The Summit which will take place in Kinsasha from June 27 to 29 will see various manufacturers, traders and business experts from Uganda travel to DRC to participate.

While briefing reporters at the Uganda Media Centre on Monday, Mulimba said the joining of DRC into the EAC family provides an opportunity to Ugandan investors to access new markets and opportunities for growth.

Hon John Mulinda, the State Minister for Regional Cooperation

“The new EAC now offers a combined market of approximately 300 million people with GDP of USD 243. DRC alone has a huge market with a potential of 90 million people who have now joined the fraternity of EAC,” Mulimba noted.

He said Uganda and DRC ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area removing barriers to inter and intra Africa trade and that the EAC now spams from the Indian Ocean making it through to the Atlantic Ocean, noting that the market access is supported by access to external markets under special agreements with over 6,000 products eligible for US markets under African growth opportunities act and quarter free and tax free access to all products to all products in Europe.

“Uganda’s both formal and informal exports to DRC are focused to run over USD 500 million with an impressive trade surplus of about 50% that is USD 250 million,” says Mulimba, adding that: “based on these statistics, DRC will be number one market for Uganda. This market potential provides a significant opportunity for investment and business hence the importance of DRC-Uganda Investment promotion and market access expo.”

He says that leaders of both countries have made significant milestones to boost business and investment in agribusiness, energy, mineral development as well as development of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between chambers of commerce in order to improve quality of products and services.

“Key milestones to date include Uganda Airlines currently flies to DRC’s Capital Kinshasa five times a week, which has improved connectivity and allows smooth free flow of commerce between the two countries.

Uganda earns over USD 265 million annually from DRC in the export of cement, foods and beverages, palm oil, sugar among others. Mulimba says the launch and construction of three main road projects in DRC will significantly ease the movement of business and investment.

“Uganda with its landlinked location on the heart of the EAC is poised to be the major investment hub and supply artery to the EAC block and beyond. The planned summit will access business and transform Uganda as an investment and trade hub to the region,” he explains.

Mulimba noted that government will support the investment summit because “without it, the country will lose these gains that have been realized in the previous period. I call upon Ugandan investors and businessmen to tap into this opportunity and participate actively in the summit and Expo.”

Government to pay for Visas and part of air ticket fees

Speaking at the same Presser, Investment Minister, Evelyn Anite revealed that government of Uganda is fully in support of the Summit and will cater for the visa fees and part of air ticket costs of the selected Ugandans who will be traveling for the Summit and Expo.

“Government is going to support the private sector, this time we will be the ones to offer all the visas to the participants who will go with us,” says Anita.

“In addition to the Visas, we are partnering with Uganda Airlines to get very good rates.”

Hon Evelyn Anite, Minister of State for Investment

“Government of Uganda through Uganda Investment Authority, will be facilitating part of the air ticket costs and we would like to go as a group and so, it will be a one flight. I was reliably informed by Uganda Airlines management that we will go with the Bombardier Aircraft,” adds Anite.

She says Uganda has been doing business with DRC informally for a very long time. “Ugandans who are at the border of DRC are always in Congo and Congolese at the border are always in Uganda, but following the joining of the DRC to the EAC, the two governments have been formalizing the relationship between the them.”

“I will go into specifics of who we are targeting to go with to DRC because we are not going there just for fan, we are going for business,” Anite notes.

“You are all aware that our President is working with the relevant ministries to rebuild a road to connect Uganda to DRC not just for Ugandans to continue walking there informally, but for business. Therefore, today we are calling upon Ugandans in the Private Sector particularly in manufacturing, agriculture, agro-processing and services to come and we go together formally this time,” says the Minister.

Mukiza Robert, the Director General Uganda Investment Authority addressing the media on Monday

“The President has guided us that we should promote these particular sectors in our country so as to enable Uganda reach middle income status. Ugandans in these sectors, please quickly register with Uganda Investment Authority to be part of this historic event of the investment summit and exhibition,” adds Anite.

She however rallied Ugandans to go and register with the Uganda Investment Authority because a few slots are remaining.

“We shall not go with everyone, it is a big number, we have over 4900 campanies that are manufacturing in the country that we have registered but we only need 200 people and so, you will have to register fast,” she says.

“Those in commercial agriculture, those in services and we are looking deliberately on ICT – those who have developed apps – we know there are very many young people who have developed very good ICT apps and they are looking for opportunities should register,” she adds.

According to Anite, the President has negotiated for a market for Uganda and “this market we are talking about of 80 million people need this technology. Those in electricity sector, real estate, hotel, tourism we are inviting you to come and go with us,” she says.

On accommodation and security in DRC, Anite says government is in touch with authorities in DRC to ensure availability of accommodation to Ugandans who will attend.

“Our counterparts in DRC will be waiting for us, we don’t want our citizens to go and meander around in Kinsasha looking for accommodation, UIA (Uganda Investment Authority) is working with DR Congo to get good accommodation to us all, Anite says.

“I have also heard some Ugandans saying that there is insecurity, how are we going to be there. Don’t be worried, our President through the UPDF has provided security and is continuing to so and pacifying the DRC. The country is very peaceful and so I want to emphasize that come and go with us and utilize the opportunity,” she adds.

She says Ugandans have always be encouraged to do value addition, engage in manufacturing and also given tax incentives to empower them manufacture.

“We now want to give you access to market and our President has done this ably well, we a have to tap into this opportunity,” notes the Minister.

On her part, State Minister for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi said efforts are ongoing to ensure both quality abd quantity of the goods and services produced locally.

“We are mainly focusing on standards because most of the issues that hit our market here deal with standards. We have promoted storage, the warehousing and the handling of our products and the solution to most of these has been gotten. So under the UNBS, standards have been improved. In fact, we have gone as far as opening offices at regional levels to handle standards of products so that whatever we are selling outside the country has quality,” Ntabazi said on Monday.

“We can produce in large quantities so that we can stock it, put it in silos such that we consistently supply throughout the year without breaking the market,” adds the Minister.

She says, her Ministry together with Uganda Investment Authority, Ministries of Investment and Agriculture we are working as together to ensure that the DRC market is totally exhausted.

She says there should not be any worries that traders from Tanzania and other countries have already stormed the DR Congo market, saying she is convinced that Ugandans, given their excellent entrepreneurial skills, will outcompete them once enter there as well.

“I am sure that once, Ugandans hit the market, nobody will compete, we have the potential, we have the capacity. I want to tell the many traders who have been asking when they are going to DRC, that this is the opportunity and the opportunity clocks once. When we get there, let us be peaceful, humble because Uganda is a humble and peaceful country. Let us target getting dollars from DRC and nothing else,” Ntabazi says.

Morrison Rwakakamba, the Chairman Uganda Investment Authority, noted that Uganda is seeking to geometrical increase products the country has been exporting to DRC which include cement, palm oil, rice, wheat flour, raw iron bars, iron nails, plastic pipes, backed goods, alcohol which is 80% ABV, processed tomatoes, aluminum hardware and shoes.

Others are clothes, beef, fish beans, maize flour, sandles, cassava, bags, cattle, maize grains, bedsheets, fruits, eggs, sorghum, mattresses, soda, bananas, bread, motorcycle parts, polythene bags, textiles, suit cases among others.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He...

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