The State Minister for Investment and Privatization, Evelyne Anite, has said although the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting negatively on the economy, including investments, it also presents immense opportunities which should be harnessed.
Speaking in a video interview with NBS Television, Anite said it is true that many businesses and people have been hit hard and the Government is doing all it can to ameliorate the situation.
The minister, however, disputed media reports that 4,200 industries have shut down due to the ongoing 35-day lockdown, which ends of May 5. The claim was that the factories had closed due to the lockdown and the factories’ inability to implement the standing operating procedures, particularly hosting workers on site.
Minister Anite assured the country that while shocks are reverberating through the economy, the situation is not as alarming as was portrayed, adding that nonetheless the Government is dealing with the situation.
The minister said the information she has is that only a few companies have approached Uganda Investment Authority indicating that they are scaling down operations and downsizing their labour force, while about 20 companies have written to the Government requesting for tax deferment.
The minister said while there are shocks, Covid-19 also presents great opportunities for investments and business. According to Anite, this is now the opportunity to promote import substitution through local manufacturing and value addition to local raw materials.
Minister Anite said the Government will increase financing of Uganda Development Bank which will in turn finance local small and medium enterprises, adding that this is the right time to escalate implementation of the “Buy Uganda; Build Uganda” policy.
Other opportunities afforded by the Covid-19 pandemic are in agriculture, local supply chains, small-scale manufacturing, ICT (e-education, e-working, e-markets), exports to the region, domestic tourism, healthcare, amongst others.
With global supply chains likely to get recalibrated, Uganda’s land-linked position and abundant natural resources provides great opportunity for factories in Asia intending to relocate production lines to low-cost production settings which are also closer to markets in Africa, Middle East and Europe.
Meanwhile, the Uganda Investment Authority is conducting a survey with investors, SMEs and the general business community to ascertain the true impact of Covid-19 on business and the economy.
According to the Ag. Director General, Lawrence Byensi, results of the survey will provide a reliable picture of the impact of Covid-19 and will help to inform appropriate interventions and policy measures.