Dr. Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman of Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU), has said security assurances, good transport infrastructure and fast-tracking of Somalia to join the East Africa Community, is among the key areas needed to spur trade between the two countries.
“Your Excellencies, allow me to re-emphasize that Somalia offers a vast range of investment and trade opportunities with Uganda, especially in agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing especially building materials, and trade-in dairy products, tobacco and that, among others, when the existing fears and Non-Tariff barriers are removed, our trade relations are unstoppable,” said Dr. Elly Karuhanga, Chairman of PSFU.
Dr. Karuhanga made the remarks at the Uganda-Somalia Business Summit held on August 10.
The summit was graced by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Dr. Karuhanga said to exploit the numerous trade and investment opportunities to full potential, there needs to be security assurance.
“We thank you for the efforts put in place to ensure a secure environment in Somalia. The private sector is looking forward to your continued efforts that will create a safe environment when trading and investing in Somalia.”
He asked the two presidents to ensure that security agencies make information available for the private sector such that they are well informed of the security situation and how to navigate some obstacles (if any).
He noted that in 2012, Uganda’s exports to Somalia were US$14 million.
That number was less than US$1 million in 2021, adding, “Our wish and ambition today is to set ourselves a target to grow three or four times the 2012 number.”
On transport infrastructure, he noted that the cost of transporting cargo from Uganda to Somalia and vice-versa is still high given that there are no open routes for water transport and the cargo airlines are limited.
“Somalia is one of the most popular routes for Uganda Airlines. The private sector is willing to work with both governments to ensure an environment to attract investments in cargo aircrafts to supplement what the two governments are able to offer so as to facilitate easy movement of cargo.”
On the movement of investors and students from Somalia to Uganda, Karuhanga said Uganda hosts a big number of students and business communities from Somalia.
“Uganda hosts over 41,000 Somali citizens. We request that a special visa on entry consideration be given to both students and the business community entering both countries.”
The PSFU chairman also called for the fast-tracking of Somalia to join the East Africa Community.
He said this will facilitate seamless flow of goods, services and capital between the two countries.
He further called for the developing of the horticultural export cold chain and special insurance schemes for the private sector investors.
Karuhanga noted that the private sector wants special regional insurers to provide insurance policies to investors in Somalia preferably under special guarantees by the two governments.
He also called for access to affordable financing since it is one of the key constraints amongst the Somali business community whose investment priorities/ interests target Uganda as a destination.
For this to thrive, Karuhanga called for there amendments in the Islamic financing policies and laws to be expedited.
He asked the Bank of Uganda and Parliament of Uganda to expedite the development of the required regulations to support the implementation of Islamic financing together with its tenets.
Uganda exports products such as; cereals, maize flour, milk preparations and products, dairy products like ghee, eggs, honey, articles of iron or steel, electrical, electronic equipment and furniture (among others) to Somalia.