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AFRICA IS THE WORLD'S NEW FRONTIER FOR TRADE, TOURISM AND INVESTMENT

Monday, 12th February 2018
President Museveni at the US-Africa Business and Investment Forum in Addis Ababa
H.E. President Museveni has described Africa as the new frontier for trade, tourism and investment. He said this while addressing the US-Africa Business and Investment Forum in Addis Ababa on 30th January 2018.

Here is the President's speech in full:

I greet you and also extend warm greetings from Uganda - the Pearl of Africa. I also thank you for according me the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering.

Africa is the world's new frontier for trade, tourism and investment. Current indications are that Africa will have business opportunities worth $5.6 trillion by 2025.

There is a great potential for co-operation between America and Africa for the mutual benefit of both continents. By 2050, the population of the African continent will be 2.5 billion people. Only 10 years ago, the purchasing power of Africa was US$ 500 billion. Today, the purchasing power of Africa is US$8.2 trillion.  By 2050, the purchasing power of Africa will exceed US$36.2 trillion. It is growing rather rapidly.  

It is important to develop some common ideas. In America, there are three advantages; savings both private and public, technology and entrepreneurship, while Africa has a market, natural resources, a growing demand and a young population. If we can import the three things from America, it would be mutual reinforcement. It is, however, surprising that, American companies have continued to wait or ignore the market of Africa while their counterparts from China and India are flocking in and expanding their horizons.
 
Africa has historical links with America and those links should be used deliberately for the mutual benefit of the two continents. We are working hard this time to take our strategic position at the heart of global trade, by ensuring peace and democracy, to provide the right conditions for foreign direct investments. 

Though disappointingly, later than it should have been, Africa is finally taking its first real steps on the path of partnership and rectifying the historical injustices that forced its people into subservience.

As Africans, we do believe in open societies (live and let others live) and are always seeking multilateral solutions. We are, therefore, determined to build bridges and not walls.

Across Africa, there is a rising tide bringing with it new national and transnational infrastructure; a better-educated labour force; a youthful, dynamic population; a diffusion of technology and, most important, removing tariff and non-tariff barriers including free movement of people and goods.

A rising tide lifts every boat. We now see the emergence of business clusters that stimulate innovation, the creation of new businesses and real growth. That is why our returns on investment are some of the highest in the world and that is why many people have found that African markets are well worth their interest.  Return on Investment in the USA 4%, in Asia it is 8%, in Europe it is 4%, in the Middle East, it is 8% and in Africa, it is 12%.

Indeed, right across the continent, opportunities beckon.  The rewards are beyond calculation. A freer, more prosperous Africa is a more secure Africa. A freer, more prosperous Africa is a vital partner in solving some of the world's most pressing problems: poverty, immigration, climate change and terrorism. 

Certainly, Africa is just coming from low-level production. If we did not have regional markets, even globally, our cooperation would be impossible. The future of Africa and America will be bright if the opportunities that now exist between the 2 continents are used seriously, deliberately and realistically. Both America, which has a population of about 326.5 million and Africa, which will have a population of 2.5 billion in the next 30 years, are bound to share tremendous opportunities of prosperity in the future as long as collaborative arrangements between the 2 continents are handled correctly.

The continent's transformation is contingent on innovation. That is why we have put ICT at the center of our development agenda. That is why the continent is developing an ICT policy and infrastructure to support one seamless digital market to serve a billion people.

This is where Uganda and East Africa comes in as a very interesting investment destination. I would like to assure you that the steady economic development of Uganda is attributed to having enough electricity in the country. I would like to assure development partners in America that our economy is growing very fast.
 
The tourism industry is Uganda's number one foreign exchange earner and contributed US$ 1.371 billion in 2017. Our target income from tourism is US$2.7 billion by 2020.

A few years ago, the prices of commodities like copper, steel, etc. went up on account of the big infrastructure developments that were going on in China and India ? those heavily populated countries.  In the 1980s, the price of a tonne of steel was US$200. On account of the boom of building in China and India, the price went up to US$900 per tonne.  Since the boom of building and construction has slowed down, the price of a tonne of steel is now around US$550.

Uganda's economy, for instance, has been growing at the rate of 6.74% for the last twenty years in spite of lack of infrastructure. Each year, we are investing the equivalent of US$ 900 million of our money in electricity generation and distribution and US$1.3b for the roads. The whole country is now connected by good roads as well as its neighbours.   We shall never, ever have an electricity deficit again. The consumer and the producer must be linked by cost effective and efficient infrastructure and utilities.

This average GDP growth rate of 6.74% per annum has made Uganda the 17th fastest growing economy in the world, the 4th in Africa. The Harvard Centre for International Development recently brought out a graph which indicated that by 2025, Uganda will be the fastest growing economy in the world.

A country like China has stimulated global business by offering its huge market. Africa is offering more than market. We also have abundant natural resources: - agriculture, minerals, fresh-water resources, forest products and tourism.  Uganda is almost unique in the world.  Only two other countries in the world are like Uganda: a part of Kenya and Ecuador in South America.  The uniqueness of Uganda is that it is right on the equator, belonging to both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, but it is also high by elevation, giving it the best climate all year around.

On the issue of Investment policies; we do not tax machinery for manufacturing, we do not tax raw-materials for manufactured goods, intermediate products attract a tax of 10% and we give tax holidays of 10 years to companies that are exporting up to 80% of their final products manufactured in Uganda.  We are also developing industrial parks in different parts of the country so that the investors find a developed and serviced site where to put a factory.

The actual sectors where Uganda needs investments are: grain milling and making of animal feeds; fruit-processing; making of starch and its derivatives from bananas, maize, cassava, etc.; industrial alcohol; baby foods from milk and bananas; steel manufacture from high grade iron ore; minerals beneficiation for gold, Colton, wolfram, tin, nickel, copper, aluminum, etc.; coffee processing; chocolate making from our cocoa and milk; tea factories are many but we need more; milk factories are quite a number but we need more; paper making from trees and papyrus; textiles from our very good cotton; leather industry from our very good skins and hides, with 14 million heads of  cattle; packaging material of plastics and paper; glass from our very good sand for building and bottling purposes; electronic goods - radios, mobile phones, computers, televisions, etc.;  assembly and manufacture of cars and vehicles; herbal medicine and anti-vermin drugs from plants - part of the ancient knowledge of Africa that is not known outside our area; human drugs (we have got an infant industry); veterinary drugs, acaricides, fungicides, crop production drugs; human and livestock vaccines; defense equipment; hydro-power stations; solar-powered water pumps for irrigation; etc., etc.  I cannot exhaust the list.  This will be consumed by the large hinterland market that we enjoy but also through railway and water transport, exported to the rest of the world.

One of the strategic bottlenecks was the fragmentation of Africa. Although the population of Africa is currently 1.25bn, having grown from 140 million in 1900 and although it will be 2.5bn by 2050, on account of colonialism, this market was fragmented into 55 states (former colonies).  However, the African leaders, starting with the Lagos Action Plan of 1980, correctly worked on integrating these markets.  Earlier than the Lagos Action Plan, there had been efforts like the EAC. As a consequence of all this, we now have the EAC market of 170 million people of East African Community, the 390 million people of COMESA and the 1.25bn of the FTA that we launched recently.  Hence, today, not only do we have the numbers but those numbers are organized.

In conclusion, we all wish to see Africa take its rightful place on the world stage, feeding into the multinational trade mosaic that has always been part of our fabric.

I thank you all.

Source: Uganda Embassy, Berlin

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