Investment: where culture, creatives, and performing arts meet

The interest in culture, creatives, and performing arts has consistently grown over the past few years not only because of the employment opportunities they provide but also because they do significantly contribute to the sustainable development of economies. In FY 2018/2019, Uganda is estimated to have earned $1.6bn from the arts, culture, creativity, and tourism sectors alone.

The critical question that then needs to be asked is, how do we support these industries so that that they can draw investment in from both local and international investors.  

We can create new markets. As the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), we are vested in ensuring that we are not only promoting and attracting investment to Uganda but also creating opportunities for our investors to scale to other markets. We pay very keen attention to the market potential internally as well as the interest in other markets and play a facilitation role in linking the two. This not only ensures that the investor gets an equitable return but that as a nation, we retain creatives as well as generate revenue.

Promote investment opportunities. We believe that information is critical to any decision and as an Investment Promotion Agency, our goal is to ensure that the opportunities to invest in are highlighted and promoted across different platforms. The goal is to ensure that while we can attract investment into projects here, our investors are benefiting from scale and the exposure of their products to much larger markets. We also pay keen attention to investor profiling so that we can make the best matches between investors that are beneficial to all parties.

Upskill entrepreneurs. The ability to create might get an investor in the door but it is their business skills that keep them in business and make them successful. For this reason, we have developed Entrepreneurship Training programs and Hands-on technical skill training for value addition which are accessible to investors to help them with the business side of their businesses. An offshoot of that is the Youth Apprenticeship Program through which youth graduates are attached to SME businesses to get practical business skills.

Create spaces where creatives can work. Uganda is currently pursuing an aggressive industrialization agenda and we are set to establish 25 serviced industrial and business parks across the country over the next 5 years. Each of these parks has, SME workspaces inbuilt to help platform and grow these businesses and four have been specifically designated as Science, Technology, and Innovation Parks. By working with other government agencies and private sector partners, we believe that these spaces will help grow not only the quality of the works being produced but our appeal to broader markets.  

Increasing the information available on arts, creatives, and performing arts. The world revolves around information and digitalization now means that the ambitions and reach of people interested in investing in a business in Uganda are much wider.

Ensuring that policy supports these industries. Platforms such as the Presidential Investors Round Table allow for frank discussions about particular industry needs and propose policy reforms which then form positive business and regulatory environments for investors. Through this and other platforms, we are able to ensure that once an investor places their money in Uganda, they are assured of the security of that investment, a positive business environment and that they made the right choice by choosing to invest in Uganda.

Formalization of operations. Informal employment accounts for about 75% of employment in Uganda which can limit the options available to businesses looking to scale and find investment partners. In addition, the informal status also means that those businesses cannot take full advantage of the tax and non-tax incentives available through government programs and provide the confidence to potential investors of being legally recognized by the government. This may have adverse effects on the level of investment or the interest from potential investors/partners.

What are some of the investment opportunities available to invest in Uganda?

Cultural tourism.  According to the World Bank in the financial year, 2018–2019 tourism earned Uganda’s GDP 5.6 trillion Ugandan shillings (US$1.60 billion or €1.3 billion as of Dec 2019) from 1.6 million tourists. One of the big draws for tourists to Uganda is our cultural and heritage sites. At the moment, partnership opportunities are available for the development of museums and cultural heritage sites, tourist stop-over points, and cultural centers.

ICT and digitalization. There is quite a bit of interest in the creation of digital solutions as the nation continues its modernization journey. Opportunities exist in creating mobility solutions, e-payment solutions, upskilling in digital marketing, and app development.

The film industry. Uganda boasts some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, has perfect weather, and is literally at the heart of Africa. Opportunities to invest in the on-site locations for films as well as to take advantage of the perfect gateway to the rest of Africa (about 1.2 bn people) are readily available.

Ugandan crafts, music, dance, and drama. As a nation, we have a very rich culture influenced by the land itself, the people, and our very rich heritage. As a result of this, and particularly as the continent moves more towards embracing local content through the arts, this presents prime opportunities for investment.

Culture, creatives, and performing arts are a vital part of shaping societies and nations. In addition, to also indirectly positively impacting other parts of the economy, such as health, technology, and innovation, they bring character to a nation, provide employment, and attract new revenue.

Robert Mukiza

Director General

Uganda Investment Authority

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