The Uganda-South Africa trade and investment summit, organized by the Government of Uganda, MTN Group, Absa Bank Uganda, and various South African businesses, officially commenced at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
The discussions centered on improving relations between the two countries to boost bilateral trade and foster economic growth.
Leading a high-powered delegation from the South African government, Angela Thokozile Didiza, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, emphasized the need for African countries to collaborate in the aftermath of economic shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. She highlighted the opportunities presented by the Africa Free Continental Trade Area (AFCFTA) and the vast African population, currently exceeding one billion citizens, as a basis for strengthening bilateral trade.
The summit primarily seeks to attract increased trade and investment, focusing on agriculture, tourism, hospitality, ICT, and mining.
Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Agriculture, underscored the importance of attracting investors who can add value to Uganda’s abundant agricultural commodities. He pointed out that while Uganda is the second-largest coffee producer in Africa and the leading coffee exporter from the continent, limited value addition has hindered revenue growth. The minister urged the need for investors to enhance value addition in Uganda’s agriculture sector.
This gathering, which has garnered participation from the business communities of both Uganda and South Africa, received valuable information from government agencies and authorities regarding investment opportunities.
The Uganda Investment Authority identified untapped potential and significant opportunities in key agricultural commodities like coffee, cocoa, maize, and bananas, emphasizing the importance of deliberate value addition to increase yields.
Agriculture emerged as a key opportunity for collaboration during panel discussions. Ugandan entrepreneurs highlighted the necessity for financial institutions to provide necessary financing to explore broader trade opportunities. Absa Bank Uganda committed to continuing its support for the sector, offering financial solutions, including working capital and trade financing.
Mumba Kalifungwa, the Managing Director of Absa Bank Uganda, revealed that they had allocated Shs12 trillion of total private sector lending to agriculture, reflecting their commitment to financing the sector despite associated risks. He explained that they had developed various financial solutions, including value chain financing and trade and working capital finance, to mitigate these risks.
In conclusion, the summit discussions underscored the importance of sharing best practices within the agriculture sector and engaging in deliberate conversations to find African solutions to address overarching issues such as quality and standards, agricultural productivity, and inclusive growth, especially for small-scale farmers.
Addressing the trade imbalance between Uganda and South Africa remains a key objective of the summit. This requires establishing enabling policies, ensuring a thorough understanding of country-specific policies and laws, improving infrastructure, facilitating financing, and developing mechanisms for conflict resolution and mediation to build trust and address potential issues, as emphasized by Angela Thokozile Didiza from South Africa.