UNIDO ITPO Tokyo invited Ms. Hope Waira, Senior Investment Executive from Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) from 22 May to 2 June 2017.
Ms. Waira has been working at UIA for 15 years and is a contact point in charge of Japan. Ms. Waira participated in the business seminar in Tokyo and in Osaka and also met with the Japanese companies individually along with the related organizations seeking for business opportunities in Uganda.
— How did the audience respond to the seminars in Tokyo and in Osaka?
There were well attended with a participation of over 150 in Tokyo and 70 in Osaka. The presence of big companies and the SMEs gave us hope. I felt the sincere interest of the Japanese people and the presence of Her Excellency Ambassador of Uganda, Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Executive Director of UIA, the CEOs representing the private companies culminated the confidence. In my presentation in Osaka I presented not only to show the good picture of Uganda but also challenges, as they are also investment opportunities.
— Why Japan?
Uganda is in the heart of Africa. Geographically landlocked, market-wise land-linked. My mission was to guide Japan to obtain a better view of our country while we learn much from Japan
— What are the challenges in Uganda?
The most challenging is infrastructure. They are not bad but not adequate enough to propel investment. Infrastructure in Japan is incredible. I believe that this issue can be mitigated by having Japanese business investing in infrastructure development. Administrative barriers that used to be a challenge have been reduced as there one-stop center is now implemented by the Uganda Investment Authority.
— Can you introduce some of the successful cases of the Japanese businesses in Uganda?
Saraya, one of the SMEs, is an interesting case. They have set up a factory in Uganda with disinfectants produced from the sugar canes which produce ethanol. They started with UNICEF followed by JICA’s scheme. Now they have an office in Kenya as well. It shows that once the company is on the ground, they grow interested in the region.
I must mention Kashiwada-san or referred to as the Father of Africa. With his company, Phoenix Logistics, he produced textile and garments from organic cotton. He grew with Uganda and even stays by mentoring other companies; Smileyearth.
— How does Uganda cultivate human resource?
Skilling Uganda, is one of the programs established by the Government of Uganda to impart hands-on skills to Ugandans. ABE Initiative is also a scheme of the Government of Japan that allows development in educating
You can take away the technology but one cannot take away the skills. We appreciate Japan for supporting us in this area.
— What kind of regional efforts are in place for the East Africa?
We use 2 ports in Kenya and Tanzania for import/export.
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are currently working on a railroad project, which should also excel the logistics. South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi shall also benefit from such logistics. By 2021, the project should be intact.
Harmonization is key in the development of the region in sharing the common market of 50 mill. Regular meetings are held for every sector and actions follow.
We agree to ride on comparative and competitive advantage. We respect the strength of each other. That way, we all win.
— What is the role of the female leadership in Uganda?
When the current regime came into power, it was decided that women shall come out of the kitchen. With affirmative action or women’s emancipation, it is believed that women have the capacity. This time as a delegation, we had a female Ambassador to Japan, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Executive Director and a delegate, myself, women. When you empower women, you empower the nation. Women shall use knowledge, skill and efforts.
— What is next for you as you go back to Uganda?
I have met and received many questions from the Japanese during my stay, including financial transactions. Japanese take time to decide and in the meantime, need constant follow-ups. That is what I intend to do as I am confident to have built good relationship. Break of communication is a break of relationship and even what comes after. I see potential with new Japanese businesses on top of the 12 Japanese companies currently registered under UIA.
Read More about this programme here