South African companies urged to invest in Uganda

By David Rupiny

As the South African Outward Trade and Investment Mission to Kampala gets underway, calls have been made to South African companies to reclaim their Top 10 slot in foreign direct investments in Uganda.

The delegation comprises business captains from 30 companies drawn from sectors like energy, agriculture, agro-processing, capital equipment, furniture and civil engineering, amongst others.

Delivering the keynote address at the Uganda-South Africa trade and investment meeting at The Sheraton in Kampala, Dr Joshua Mutambi, who represented Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, urged South African companies to invest in and trade with Uganda because the returns are impressive.

Dr Mutambi said the trade volumes of US$300 million, tilted heavily in favour of South Africa, and is not only negligible but need to be increased with Uganda also increasing her share.

He said the Government of Uganda has strengthened and transformed the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) into a One-Stop Centre for investors which is a great avenue South Africans to invest in the country, citing opportunities in sectors like agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing.

The acting Director-General of UIA, Lawrence Byensi, challenged South Africa to reclaim her position among the Top 10 investment source countries in Uganda, pointing out that over 10 years ago investments from South Africa used to be relatively high.

Byensi said investing in Uganda is very important because it opens up access to a market of over 600 million.

He enticed the South Africans with a list of incentives like duty and tax free import of plant and machinery, investment capital allowances, tax holidays for companies exporting over 80 percent of their products, exemption of income tax for agro-processing, exemption of Value Added Tax on agricultural equipment and inputs and subsidized land for investors in four priority areas namely agro-processing, ICT, tourism and  mineral processing.

The UIA acting Director-General said the Government priority is to see more industrial parks and free zones set up in Uganda, highlighting that the financial requirement for setting up an industrial park or a free zone has been reduced sharply from US$100 down to two million dollars for foreigners and one million dollars for locals.

Byensi said acquiring an investment license is now easy and fast, as it is done online at, as well as key investment services like business registration, tax registration, acquiring work permits, environmental impact assessment and trade permits.

The Secretary-General of Uganda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Churchill Bachwa encouraged South African companies to partner with Ugandan counterparts in trade and investment.

South Africa’s acting High Commissioner to Uganda, Phumeza Mukendi, said Uganda is a strategic partner within the East African Community with which South Africa enjoys sound political and economic relations hinged on several bilateral arrangements.

Ambassador Mukendi said the 30 South African companies participating in the trade and investment mission are seeking opportunities to not only expand their export market but also cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships with Ugandan partners.

Kwanda Modise, the Head of South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, said they are keen on increasing trade with Uganda in particular and the East African region which currently stands at a meagre 3.1 percent.

Describing trade between South Africa and Uganda as “unpleasantly low”, Modise said there is an urgent need to, as she put it, “scale up especially for the benefit of Uganda because the trade has always tilted in favour of South Africa”.

Chiboni Evans, the Chief Executive Officer of South African Electro-technical Export Council, said one of the areas of interest for them is contributing to the evacuation of excess power being generated in and how to maximize African content in infrastructure projects.

She said their proposal to Ugandan companies is “how can we promote partnerships in trade and investment?”

During their stay in Uganda over the next three days the South African business captains will engage in a series of business-to-business engagements with their Ugandan counterparts and visit several establishments in and around Kampala, including the Kampala Industrial and Business Park in Namanve.

General Salim Saleh, the head of Operation Wealth Creation, has also invited the delegation to visit Kapeeka Industrial Park.