South African-Uganda forum aims for more business dealsAs he takes the final bow out of the Ugandan unit, Patrick Mweheire leaves an enviable record
The Forum of South African Businesses in Uganda (FOSABU) with the support of the South African High Commission in Kampala, has held its inaugural meeting aimed at promoting more and stronger partnerships between Ugandan and South African businesses.
“This summit presents an opportunity for both countries to leverage and create partnerships to boost economic growth. Today, more South African businesses are seeking opportunities to not only expand their export market, but also cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships with Ugandan partners,” Professor (Major General (rtd), Lekoa Solly Mollo, the South African High Commissioner and FOSABU chairperson said today.
FOSABU is an association that was formed in 2015 and comprises of South African companies doing business in Uganda and other companies operating in Uganda that have strong linkages to South Africa including Stanbic Bank and MTN Uganda.
According FOSABU statistics, more than 70 South African companies are registered in Uganda and are estimated to have invested $2.4 billion to date. Through these investments, South African businesses have contributed to Uganda’s growth through job creation, skills transfer, contribution in taxes and growth in various sectors of the economy.
The summit organized under the theme ‘Trade; The connector and driver of Inclusive growth In Africa’, attracted over 500 delegates comprising of South African companies doing businesses in Uganda and their local business partners and other stakeholders.
Professor (Major General (rtd) – Lekoa Solly Mollo said the theme offered a unique platform for an open engagement to improve the way of doing business. “We should explore the contexts for entrepreneurship in Africa and how it can be understood within our historical, institutional and social contexts,” he said.
He said, “Over the years Uganda and South Africa have had excellent relations as strategic partners in promoting trade and investment. Bilateral relations between the two countries were strengthened with the establishment of the South Africa-Uganda Joint Commission of Cooperation and as such, trade between both nations has been facilitated as businesses enjoy the economic benefits resulting from several bilateral agreements in place.”
Currently trade between the two countries is skewed in South Africa’s favour. By 2016, Uganda’s imports from South Africa were valued at $215 million against Uganda’s exports of $17 million.
Patrick Mweheire, the Vice Chairman FOSABU and Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank Uganda said, “Uganda’s economy is growing northwards of six percent in a highly integrated regional market which is already attracting significant levels of Foreign Direct Investment relative to GDP. Even before Uganda’s current oil and gas potential is taken into account, the country presents a powerful investment case.”
“Ugandan companies can grow a lot more by forging partnerships with South African companies which have the potential to open other markets for Ugandan foods. The scale of global investment in Uganda to date offers broader opportunities for growth through local partnerships. Uganda presents an opportunity to leverage minority interest in high-growth companies rapidly expanding across one of the world’s fastest growing regions,” he said.
Mweheire said in addition to the emerging oil and gas sector, Uganda presents an immense opportunity for increased trade, development and deeper economic integration with South Africa.