KAMPALA —Ugandan tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has described Uganda as a land of opportunities which propel businesses to thrive.
Mr. Ruparelia, also Chairman Board of Trustees for the Lohana Community was on Wednesday speaking at the Business Forum hosted at Speke Resort Munyonyo, which saw over 800 delegates from 28 countries across the world attend.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni graced the Business Forum as Chief Guest.
Mr. Sudhir said:
“Uganda has many natural resources, a young and increasingly educated workforce, steadily rising middle income and more stable in governance including micro economic policies which makes an ideal environment for a long term investment,” he said.
“Some people who are here for the first time can’t believe that such beautiful country exists in the world. Uganda has a conducive investment climate which helps businesses to consistently grow,” he assured the businessmen and women.
Mr. Sudhir described President Museveni as foresighted, supportive of the business communities in Uganda and is always willing to listen to all business entrepreneurs whenever need arises.
“We have invested in commercial activities like agro-processing, ICT, construction, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and education,” he said of the glowing influence of the Lohana Community in the country’s productive sectors.
In his speech, President Museveni said he was optimistic that Uganda’s rich raw material base will make it a first world economy once they’re fully exploited, now that the country continues to attract investors who are willing to support his value addition strategy.
“This economy can quickly become a first world economy. It is now entering the middle-income level, but it can easily go faster, why? Because the raw material base is already big,” Mr. Museveni said, mentioning materials like coffee, which is fetching Uganda, 900 million dollars with potential to bring in 10 billion dollars. He added that Uganda is also doing well on steel production.
He luster seven sector including agro-processing (fruits…oil seeds, agricultural products), Minerals (iron ore, steel, copper, phosphates, cobalt, gold, Nicol, lithium and niobium), Fresh water resources to facilitate fish farming, Forest products (furniture, ceiling boards, paper Industry), Knowledge sector like the automobile industry, the services sector and the Pathogenic economy that will drive the Ugandan economy.
“These human diseases are a problem but also a very big opportunity. Our scientists here discovered one substance called Covidex which cured many people of corona. Uganda only lost 1,600 people to Corona,” he added.
About the automobile industry, the President told the meeting that Uganda is on the right track when it comes to production of motor vehicles and will soon stop importing from Japan and other countries. He said the cars manufactured in Uganda are already on the road.
“We have designed our own buses and electric cars. I don’t want to hear about assembling, that one I will not accept. We must manufacture and fabricate here not assembling,” the President said, adding that part of the problem of Africa has been confining ourselves to producing raw materials only and not adding value.
He gave an example of coffee whose global business in the world is 460 billion dollars but the coffee producing countries only share 26 billion dollars.
The Global chairperson of Lohana international Business Forum Mahaparishad Satish Vithalani and the Chairperson board of trustees of Lohana community in Uganda
The Minister for Finance and Economic Development in charge of investment Evelyn Anite thanked President Museveni for always being available to speak to investors, adding that Uganda now boasts of over 1900 factories owned by Indians in Uganda and 900 by the Chinese.
She informed the president that they have interested the Lohana Business Community to invest in various virgin ventures including pharmaceuticals and edible oil.
“Today, we import pharmaceutical products worth 100M dollars and we import edible oil worth 10 million dollars every year. We have interested them to come invest in the pharmaceuticals sector and edible oil so that we avoid importation and improve our exports. And your Excellency we told them that your policy is that for every product manufactured in Uganda will be bought by Ugandans,” Minister Anite said.
The President also flagged off 50,000 uniforms manufactured in Uganda going to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
According to Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Export and Industrial Development (PACEID), deals worth billions of dollars have been reached with different companies at the sidelines of the forum in the fields of; Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals, Bio refinery and Mineral processing.
The Lohana International Business Forum dubbed “Africa Calling” attracted over 750 business elite and investors from 139 cities, representing 22 countries and from 29 businesses and services sectors from the influential global Lohana Indian community.
Some of the countries represented were; India, Kenya, UK, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates UAE, USA, DRC, Canada, Portugal, Oman, Angola, Mozambique, South Sudan, Germany, South Africa, Madagascar and Uganda.
The forum showcased opportunities for business and investment in Uganda and provided a platform for Lohana delegates to promote their companies to the Ugandan business community.
In Uganda, the Lohana Community form one of the strongest investment and business blocs and includes luminaries like Ruparelia Group (real estate and hospitality), Madhvani and Mehta (sugar) and House of Dawda (processed foods), amongst others.
They form part of the 27,000-strong Indian community that dominates trade, real estate and manufacturing in Uganda.
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