“The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa… concentrate on Uganda. It is the pearl of Africa” – Winston Churchill
Uganda gained its independence from the British in 1962, is currently led by the 74-year-old Yoweri Museveni who claimed his presidency in 1986 after overthrowing the previously self-elected president, Idi Amin. President Museveni, formerly a rebel leader that fought for the freedom of Ugandan people, is also a forward-thinking democratic leader whom promotes technological growth and foreign investments into the country.
Uganda has a population of approximately 39 Million people consisting mostly of citizens under the age of 18, totalling 55% of the population in a country with a size of 241038 Square km, with waterways accounting for 26% of the total area. Uganda is the home of the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, which offers resource transport at a lower cost to the people (Pearls) of this country.
Uganda is part of the EAC (East African Community) which promotes free trade between the subscribed countries. Voted as the most beautiful country in 2019 by CNN travel, Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa. They experience good weather all year round which enhances the countries flourishing tourism sector. Uganda and Rwanda are currently in a dispute over arbitrary border closure and impacting the lives of more than 400 families due to limited trade.
Their currency is relatively weak which in comparison with the Rand (1 ZAR=264.76 UGX), makes Uganda an appealing tourist destination. Their GDP forecast for 2019 is US$ 27 Billion with their primary exports consisting of coffee, tea, cotton, fish and tourism. The export of agricultural produce amounts for 80% of the country’s total GDP. Uganda’s ICT sector accounts for 6% of their GDP and service providers have driven coverage up to 80% nationwide.
Investments are profitable driving the trade volume between South Africa and Uganda to over $300million, causing the two countries to fight for top spot of tradable goods. On the Neil economic scale, the current price of a can of Coke is currently UGX2850 (R10.60). While the petrol price is UGX 4286.46 (R16.19) per litre, slightly higher than the current South African petrol price.
There are also many incentives which come with investing in Uganda such as Duty- and Tax-free import of plant and machinery. Investment Capital allowances, Tax Holidays, Exemption from income tax in agricultural processing. Exemption from value added tax on agricultural equipment and inputs as well as subsidized land for investors in four priority areas. The Ugandan government’s priority is to encourage more industrial parks as well as free trade zones.
The financial requirements for industrial parks and free trade zones have also been drastically reduced from $100 million to $2 million for foreigners and $1 million for locals. Investment licences are easy and fast to attain as it can be done online.
Whilst looking at Uganda and its illustrious history, showcasing previous leaders like the infamous Idi Amin and the now well-known battle of Entebbe, Uganda has become a nation of hosting peace talks, the conservation of Gorillas and no doubt the huge promotion of tourism. Having also the advantage of a huge water border, fishing and water activities seem natural. Uganda’s wealth in agriculture, certain commodity resources and a growing tourism is a huge attraction, but in my opinion its true wealth exist in its people or the “ Pearls Of Africa”.