Category: Blog

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Uganda Trade delegation meets US trade representative over proposed AGOA bans

The Uganda trade delegation yesterday met with the US Assistant Trade Representative for Africa, Ms. Constance Hamilton and the US special envoy to advance Human rights of the LGBTQI+ people, Jessica Stern. The meeting took place in Washington DC at the office of the US Trade representative, Ms. Catherine Tai. The Uganda delegation which included Dr. Olivier Kamanzi, Uganda trade representative in Chicago and Ambassador Roby Kakonge, was led by Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) and Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Duties.

Rwabwogo made a case for Uganda’s exporters who have for the last 23 years benefited from the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) duty and quota free market access to the US and urged US government not use disproportionate force against an ally whose values and relationship have stayed firm on multiple fronts over the years. “Uganda has not violated any trade or human rights law. We continue under President Yoweri Museveni’s capable leadership to score on economic liberalism, supporting free enterprise, protecting our environment, making laws on food safety and building our trade standards”.

He said, “We have never lost our vigour for protecting minorities, workers and leading the charge on regional stability along with ending extreme poverty to keep our nation stable and growing”. He asked, “How can a government that promotes free enterprise, freed women and gave them education and representation along with people with disabilities and hosts over 1.6m refugees be called a violator of human rights of her people? It is a contradiction of mega proportion”.

Rwabwogo said, “We are your best friends for an open engagement with Africa but this has to be done in a respectful and dignified manner especially, on the matters of freedom and rights that you might have. Our leadership has been defenders and fighters for freedom of African people and all our allies and humanity since 1965”. He said Uganda takes exception at the weekly threats and statements sent against people who want to trade with Uganda or visitors, academicians and person to person exchange. These statements you issue to our allies and trading partners on a monthly basis are unacceptable way to communicate to allies and don’t show good will”.

He asked the US government not mix wrong perceptions picked from data sources that aren’t verifiable with our own systems and leaders and use them to judge us harshly. The US state department has lately issued travel advisories, proposed visa restrictions and threatened to remove Uganda from AGOA list, all in three months.

Rwabwogo said, “The US is an important ally and a big signaling market to us and the world in terms of raising capital and technology for enterprises. At USD 18trillion consumption on this market, there is nowhere else we want to be as Ugandans, the reason we have two trade representatives for Uganda in the Mid-west and why President Museveni visited you in December of 2022”.

He added, “If even some of your adversaries who are super powers keep coming here for conversations, why should Uganda be silent when you seem to want to destroy the little trade shoots that are coming up? These trade shoots give jobs to women and youth entrepreneurs who have boot strapped to build their businesses and should be protected from politics”

Uganda’s and US trade in the last three years averages UGX 1.9trillion (about USD550m) with a heavy trade imbalance in favour of the US that sells to Uganda aircraft parts, computers, used clothing, machine parts, generators etc. Uganda exports coffee, vanilla beans, chocolate, dairy products, fish etc. President Joe Biden in October wrote to the speaker of the US House of representatives, Mike Johnson seeking to terminate Uganda’s eligibility on AGOA list of countries in 2024 on account of the gay act passed by Uganda’s parliament in May. Uganda has increased its efforts for trade with the world aiming at USD 6bn in the next five years. PACEID has a target of USD 1bn on the US market and is opening trade hubs in key markets of the world.

Ms. Hamilton said Uganda’s anti homosexuality law ‘demonizes gay people and goes against the values President Biden’s government adheres to. She said, “words matter and this law and the words it uses horrifies many people in the US”. Rwabwogo explained the context of the law as an effort to protect children from the onslaught of curriculum and content that should not be exposed to minors. He asked for rescinding of the January 2024 deadline to allow for more engagement between the two countries in order to protect trade relations. Jessica Sterns raised concerns on what she called ‘documented attacks on gay people and arrests and property damage which causes fear to gay people’. Ambassador Kakonge agreed to follow up on the report from US special envoy on the human rights of the LGBTQ persons.

Dr Kamanzi, who is helping Uganda in Chicago to raise export credit funding and open markets for Uganda said, “I visit Uganda regularly and I have travelled to all corners of the country and I have not seen the claims being made here being committed in Uganda. On the contrary I live in South Side Chicago and I am an American citizen. I am sadly aware every weekend our city of Chicago loses 55 people to gun violence. Should we not be concerned about our internal US issues rather than using disproportionate power against a small peaceful country? He asked.

Earlier, the Uganda delegation which included exporters of leather bags (Seko designs/Arise Kollections), vanilla (Simons Vanilla), fruits and vegetables (Jacana fruits) were hosted by the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) who invited over 45 corporate business in the US, NGOs, civic groups to explain Uganda’s trade and democracy journey over the also couple of years. Some of the US companies and institutions that attended the meeting included Transformative Energy who are working on green energy projects in Uganda, Boeing Aircraft Corporation, manufacturers of fertilizers, producers of beverages, bankers, lawyers and the Africa Trade Development Center, activists for AGOA extension in Washington DC.

The Uganda delegation met the Hudson institute, members of Congress and address the Press later on Friday.

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MDAs Commit Support to PACEID’s TradeXchange Digital Platform for Exports

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 convened several ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to discuss the TradeXchange, a digital export transformation platform being developed by Technology Associates at their offices along Yusuf Lule Road, Plot 23 in Kampala. The MDAs overwhelmingly pledged full support to the TradeXchange Platform that is key for Digitalization and growth of Uganda’s exports.

The orientation meeting with the MDAs was facilitated by PACEID so that Technology Associates could provide an update on the progress made thus far and to share a detailed plan, including the objectives, schedule, methodology and tool to be used during the Needs Assessment and requirements Gathering phase for stakeholder feedback and buy-in.

The key stakeholders in the meeting included officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Hortifresh (FFV) Association Uganda and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC).

Technology Associates Chairman Girisch Nair explaining how TradeXchange works

TradeXchange seeks to help exporters simplify trade processes and navigate complex procedures and regulations. Through this platform, Ugandan businesses will be able to connect with buyers and sellers worldwide, find competitive pricing and product opportunities, and submit and track electronic trade documents. All of these processes are streamlined using technology, resulting in time and cost savings for businesses turning to export.

The platform is intended to make a significant impact on the export industry in Uganda, as it tackles some of the most common barriers that local businesses face in the international market.

During the meeting, Technology Associates Chairman Girisch Nair highlighted TradeXchange’s potential to transform the entire Ugandan export industry, boosting the country’s export performance, and ultimately contributing to the country’s economic growth. He further emphasized the importance of support from MDAs in this process. “We need to come together as a nation to use TradeXchange to harness great technologies and move exports forward. This is very important as we embark on this project” stated Girisch Nair. He appreciated PACEID led by Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo for current strategies already being implemented to incentivize export-oriented businesses and initiatives.

PACEID’s Matthew Bagonza expressed gratitude to MDAs for their support on the project

Matthew Bagonza, PACEID Head of Administration/Operations expressed gratitude towards the MDAs and the private sector stakeholders for responding to the invitations to attend the orientation workshop. He asked NITA-U to provide guidance during this journey so as to avoid making mistakes. “We hope to establish an advanced sustainable national digital platform and ecosystem to manage Uganda’s trade activities across borders.”

Bagonza informed the meeting that Rwabwogo was unable to attend because he is currently out of the country on a similar cause making a case for Uganda’s exports. “Chairman is passionate about trade and exports in particular. He wants to improve our export earnings and is urging exporters to embrace the use of technology”.

Uganda has a target of USD 6bn in the next five years as export revenues across key products in selected markets.

PACEID Executive Committee member Mahmood Hudda

PACEID Executive Committee Member Mahmood Hudda presented the Digitalization Master Strategy to the MDAs stating that its implementation will not only be crucial for Ugandan SMEs but also for larger exporters looking to expand their market reach. ”The collaboration between PACEID, Technology Associates and MDAs will be vital to ensure that TradeXchange fulfills its potential as a driver of economic growth for the Ugandan business community.”

Dr. Paul Mwambu, Commissioner- Crop Inspection and Certification at MAAIF welcomed the initiative noting that the engagement was good and timely adding that the ministry is looking forward to working with PACEID and Technology Associates to make TradeXchange a reality. “This platform will certainly improve our market access. Traceability will be better because we shall have actual data. This digitization process makes so much sense and speaks to all the challenges we are facing in export. I applaud Technology Associates and PACEID. MAAIF fully endorses what you have put on ground”.

Dr. Paul Mwambu, Commissioner-Crop Inspection and Certification at MAAIF

He however cautioned that there must be due diligence. “This will help to know the key importers and exporters and what has been traded. Such information is required for us to make informed decisions regarding trade.”

Dr. Mwambu urged members to embrace the digital era as it reduces risks of forgery involving paper work saying that since going digital with E-phyto, interceptions have reduced by 97%.

Andreas Nocolaides, CEO- Great Lakes Coffee Uganda Ltd suggested that the developers of TradeXchange be sensitive when it comes to data collection as the data belongs to the farmers. “This is an amazing opportunity to have uniformity for brand Uganda. Transparency will transform our economy.” he expressed.

Andreas Nicolaides, Great Lakes Coffee Uganda Ltd CEO and Founder

Godson Mwesigye, Ag. Assistant Commissioner, Uganda Revenue Authority- Customs pledged the tax body’s full support and requested that PACEID coordinates this project to ensure traders are abiding by the laws. “The integrity of our business people (exporters) must be checked. URA is here to fully support this project.”

NITA-U Director Collin Babirukamu reaffirmed their support and commitment to seeing platforms like TradeXchange succeed. “This TradeXchange project is a move in the right direction and it resonates with our E-single window. It will definitely help with export verification.”

Godson Mwesigye, Ag. Assistant Commissioner- URA-Customs

Samuel Kawalya, Senior Trade Information Executive at Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) emphasized the importance of the TradeXchange platform. “Companies do business but countries trade. We are ready to work together to ensure the country continues to do sustainable trade and also change the mentality of our business people and have a good reputation out there.”

The insights gathered during this workshop will be instrumental in guiding the project through its next phase as Technology Associates expressed its commitment to helping Ugandan exporters succeed in the international market.

L-R: Maria Bisamaza from PACEID, Atwine Loyce from Fresh Cuts Uganda Ltd and Andreas Nicolaides from Great Lakes Coffee Uganda Ltd

Other members in the meeting were; Mwanje John and Caroline Nankinga (both from MAAIF), Atwine Loyce from Fresh Cuts Uganda Ltd, Nsamba Taufeeq, Augustine Ssekyondwa (both from NITA-U), Steve Huges from Uganda Agribusiness Alliance, Maria Bisamaza, Allan Agaba, Jonathan Kaweesa, Joshua Magambo, Rowland Nkahebwa, Victor Mugasa (all from PACEID), Ajesh Sasi, S. Kaleeswaran, A. Balachandran, Naveen Kumar, Henry Tumusiime, Douglas Onyango, Suresh Thirumalaisany, Kwaiwia Humphrey and Resper Nyivuru (all from Technology Associates).

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PACEID Facilitates Dialogue Between Private Sector and Technology Associates on TradeXchange’s Advantages for Ugandan Exporters

Key private sector players in the export industry were today, Tuesday December 5, 2023 updated on TradeXchange, a digital export transformation platform being developed by Technology Associates in partnership with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID). The meeting was held at Technology Associates offices along Yusuf Lure Road, Plot 23.

Technology Associates (TA) is a leading, award-winning IT Systems Integrator operating from 6 country offices in East & Central Africa for over 25 years. Their 300 associates have undertaken national-scale, enterprise technology projects in over 17 countries across the continent.

The engagement between the private sector and Technology Associates was part of the week-long orientation workshop facilitated by PACEID to provide updates on the progress of TradeXchange in order to share the plan, methodology and tools to be used for the needs assessment and requirements gathering phase.

Technology Associates team during the engagement

In August 2023, PACEID signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Technology Associates and CargoX to develop a sandbox model of TradeXchange as a digital frontier to solve the trade facilitation gaps identified. The platform aims to revolutionize the export industry by digitizing and streamlining the process. It seeks to simplify and enhance the efficiency of export transactions, reducing paperwork, and making the entire process more transparent and accessible.

The day’s session kicked off with a briefing from Douglas Onyango, the Project Manager explaining to the private sector that the engagement was more of a needs assessment to establishing under which components of the export ecosystem they (exporters) belong to.

Douglas Onyango, Project Manager at Technology Associates

Mr. S. Kaleeswaran (Business Solutions Lead) and Mr. A. Balachandran (Technology Lead) from Technology Associates made a presentation highlighting the four pillars upon which TradeXchange will operate; E-registry pf businesses, E-registry of farmers, Supply chain traceability and Consignment certification. “The platform also incorporates blockchain technology to ensure the security and immutability of transaction records, making it more reliable and trustworthy,” noted Mr. Kaleeswaran.

Mr. Kaleeswaran, Business Solutions Lead at Technology Associates

During the orientation meeting, Technology Associates team responsible for the development of TradeXchange showcased the various features and functionalities of the platform. They explained how it simplifies the export process by providing a one-stop digital platform where exporters can access all the necessary tools and resources.

“As PACEID expands Uganda’s market reach and enhances value addition, the TA-CargoX Consortium will provide a robust, globally compliant digital trade platform as the surest means to integrate Uganda into the global trade network. TradeXchange shall automate the import and export value chain, provide visibility in the trade supply chain, ensuring transparency, reliability and save costs directly for all participants”. Mr. Girisch Nair, Chairman Technology Associates says about the platform.

Mahmood Hudda (C) with Allan Agaba (L), both from PACEID and Dr. James Kanyijje (R) from KK Foods Ltd

Mahmood Hudda, PACEID Executive Committee Member highlighted the platforn’s potential to drive Uganda’s exports saying TradeXchange will be a blockchain-based collaboration platform that streamlines processes and enhances information flow among farmers, producers, traders and government bodies. “It helps government offer more efficient regulation on accreditation, quality and produce traceability in a secure manner, promoting trust between participants, preventing fraud, and minimising disputes.”

The orientation meeting was attended by prominent private sector exporters, who expressed their appreciation for TradeXchange and its potential to transform the export landscape. Dr. James Kanyijje, CEO of KK Foods Limited applauded PACEID for the initiative and is looking forward to the benefits TradeXchange will offer. “We have had challenges with establishing the actual figures as far as exports go. Ministry of Agriculture will ask me for export figures of bananas and I am unable to tell because I am one exporter and we have over 140 companies exporting. So, I believe this platform will help not only exporters but the whole country as well to easily track its exports revenues.” Dr. James Kanyijje remarked. He however emphasized the need for more and improved infrastructure to be able to export smoothly.

Atwine Loyce from Fresh Cuts Uganda Ltd (L) and Joshua Magambo-Digitization Project Lead PACEID

Loyce Atwine from Fresh Cuts Uganda Limited emphasized the need for continuous updates and refinements to meet the evolving demands of the export industry. She, like other exporters, expressed concern over the high cost of operation in the export industry.  

Steven Kasalirwa, CEO of Kastus Investment Uganda Ltd, a vanilla and cocoa exporting company, welcomed the idea of TradeXchange and highlighted its potential in revolutionizing the export industry. “It will be a game changer and will simplify the process as it will bring all the export stakeholders in one space.”

Additionally, the exporters provided valuable feedback and suggestions for further improvements on the platform.

The meeting concluded with PACEID expressing their commitment to supporting TradeXchange and facilitating its widespread adoption. They recognized the platform’s potential to drive economic growth, job creation, and overall industrial development. Uganda has a target of USD 6bn in the next five years as export revenues across key products in selected markets.

Ajesh Sasi, Lead-Project Delivery thanked all for their time and valuable insights which he believes will contribute to the improvement of the platform.

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Uganda secures customs-free storage space for exports at Serbia’s second biggest Airport

Uganda has signed an agreement with the airport of Nis, some 200 kilometers south of Belgrade the capital of Serbia, to handle cargo from Uganda into the Balkans and Eastern Europe. The airport named after the third century Roman emperor Constantine the Great who was born in the region of Nis, receives 150 large size cargo trucks daily with transit goods to Greece, Albania, Macedonia and other Balkan nations of south-Central Europe. The airport also handles large volumes of tourism passengers in the region during summer in Western Europe.

Nis Constantine the Great Airport is the second largest and second busiest airport in Serbia, after Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

PACEID Chair Odrek Rwabwogo (C) witnessed the signing of the agreement between Bratislav Stoiljkovic (L) and Mihaldjo Zdravkovic (R), the Managing Director Nis Constantine the Great Airport

The agreement was brokered by Uganda’s Trade Representative in the region, Mr. Bratislav Stoiljkovic. Bratislav believes that securing this space is a step closer to getting Uganda’s value-added products into Serbia and the entire Balkan region through a fully integrated logistics value-chain. H.E President Yoweri Museveni opened a trade hub (Uganda Connect) in Belgrade the capital of Serbia in July this year. The hub has generated demand for visits to Uganda and orders to source products from Uganda. Uganda Connect is a facility promoting Ugandan exports in Serbia and the European market.

Serbian investors including Kafica Moja, one of the largest coffee sellers in hotels and supermarkets in Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, will be processing and exporting roasted coffee from Uganda to the Balkan region. The company was invited by President Museveni when he visited Serbia to open a trade summit in July 2023.

Odrek Rwabwogo and Uganda’s Trade Representative in Serbia outside Nis Constantine the Great Airport

The agreement signed on Saturday 4, October 2023, at the airport with the Managing director of the Nis Constantine the Great Airport Facility Mr. Mihaldjo Zdravkovic, gives Uganda exporters more than 750 square meters of storage and shipment space for the shipment to the onward seaports of the neighbouring Thessaloniki in Greece, Duress in Albania and Varna in Bulgaria, all in a sailing range of less than 300kms from southern Serbia. The port of Nis receives and clears all cargo from Asia and Africa into the Balkans. A number of Serbian companies in July confirmed orders for Ugandan vanilla, coffee, banana flour, cocoa, flowers, nuts and dried fruits amounting to USD200m.

The agreement signing on Saturday was witnessed by Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID).

PACEID Chair Odrek Rwabwogo speaking to Serbian press after witnessing the signing of the agreement on Saturday 4, November 2023

Rwabwogo was in Belgrade, Serbia to meet the trade minister, Mr. Tomislav Momirovic to press for tax free entry of Ugandan products and services into Serbia as agreed between Presidents Museveni and Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia in July 2023. He was also in Belgrade to check on the preparations for the visit of President Vucic to Uganda in January 2024.

“This storage and shipment base for Uganda gives us much better access to a GDP market of over USD100bn of the Balkans. It will lessen storage and shipment costs once we connect it to Entebbe and Mombasa or by air out of Entebbe. Ugandan companies can now use this as testing ground for holding and conveying cargo in the region and beyond”. Rwabwogo said at the signing ceremony.

Bratislav Stoiljkovic speaks to Serbian media after signing the agreement

Ugandan exporters have applauded the move and expressed their gratitude to Bratislav and Rwabwogo for their dedication to promoting Uganda’s exports through new markets, infrastructure development, adherence to international standards, and improved export financing which are vital for unlocking the country’s export potential.

Dr. James Kanyijje, Managing Director KK Foods Limited has welcomed this achievement saying it’s a key requirement in order to trade in international markets. “It means a lot, it’s part of all requirements for better business after capital. Now, with cold storage, it is possible to increase our exports in the Balkans. President Museveni promised to support local exporting companies, now is the time.”

Uganda has secured more than 750 square meters of storage and shipment space at Nis Airport in Serbia

The Simons Uga Limited CEO Simon Musisi says, “With this opportunity of accessing free storage space at Nis Airport, our Ugandan vanilla exports into the Balkans (a region of over 200M people) shall greatly increase and a positive effect on returns on exports is to be registered. This will grow our sales throughout Eastern Europe and our farmers will be able to receive fair prices on their vanilla. We Thank PACEID under the leadership of Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo for this great achievement”.

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Intra-African Trade Fair a significant step towards realizing the potential of the AfCFTA

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Chairman, Odrek Rwabwogo, will lead a Ugandan delegation of private sector exporters to Cairo, Egypt for the 3rd Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023).

Organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim bank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the event will run from 9th-15th November, 2023 under the theme ‘The AfCFTA Marketplace’.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo

The trade fair will provide a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people with a GDP of over US$3.5 trillion created under the African Continental Free Trade Area. It will also facilitate networking opportunities and discussions on how to capitalize on the AfCFTA agreement.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is a significant initiative aiming to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments. Currently, intra-African commerce accounts for only 16% of the total African trade. The IATF aims to boost this percentage by providing a platform for businesses across the continent to connect, showcase their products and services, and explore investment opportunities.

The AfCFTA agreement, which entered into force earlier this year, seeks to create a single market for goods and services within Africa, leading to increased trade and economic development. With the participation of 54 out of the 55 African Union member states (43 parties and another 11 signatories), it is considered the largest free trade agreement in terms of participating countries since the creation of the World Trade Organization.

PACEID recognizes the immense potential that the AfCFTA holds for African businesses and by participating in the trade fair, the committee aims to help local businesses expand their footprint and tap into new markets. PACEID, working with exporters, development partners and the Government of Uganda will showcase at Africa’s Marketplace in Cairo.

“The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development is gearing up to participate in the Intra-African Trade Fair. By showcasing Ugandan products and providing valuable information, the committee hopes to contribute to the growth of exports in Uganda and on the continent at large. We encourage Ugandans businesses to register and take advantage of this unique opportunity to position themselves for success in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.” Matthew Bagonza, PACEID Executive Committee Member notes.

Matthew Bagonza, PACEID Executive Committee Member

Ugandan exporters will set up exhibition booths at the trade fair, where they will showcase a wide array of products from various industries; agricultural goods and manufactured products. They will also be educated about the benefits of exporting and how to navigate the AfCFTA agreement.

PACEID is working closely with relevant government agencies and trade associations to ensure a successful and impactful participation in the trade fair. This participation is a significant step towards realizing the potential of the AfCFTA and promoting economic prosperity across Africa.

During the seven-day event, attendees will participate in a number of activities; exhibition, investment forum, fashion/entertainment, B2B/B2G platform, Egypt Culture Day, Africa Automotive Show, AU Youth Start-up Programme and Diaspora Day among others.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) is a significant initiative aiming to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments. Currently, intra-African commerce accounts for only 16% of the total African trade. The IATF aims to boost this percentage by providing a platform for businesses across the continent to connect, showcase their products and services, and explore investment opportunities.

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STATEMENT ON AGOA BAN FROM THE OFFICE OF ODREK RWABWOGO, CHAIR OF UGANDA’S PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON EXPORTS AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT (PACEID)

We are disappointed by the unfortunate decision by the United States (U.S.) to end the participation of Uganda in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade programme.

The reason given by U.S. President Biden was, ultimately, because Uganda’s democratically elected parliament passed an Act of which he and his colleagues in the U.S. Democratic party disapproved. 

It mattered not that the law in question – the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) – is popular amongst Ugandans. There are numerous public opinion polls conducted by reputable western opinion research companies that are testament to that fact. However, it was not popular with President Biden and his colleagues. Therefore, it seems they have decided Ugandans should be punished.

It is difficult to see for whose benefit the Biden administration took this decision, if not their own domestic voter base in advance of the upcoming 2024 election. Certainly, no Ugandan – whatever their sexual preference – will benefit. While Ugandan trade with the U.S. through AGOA was insubstantial, growth of our exports to the U.S. and other partners was an important pillar of our economic strategy going forward. Ugandan farmers and small business owners will suffer. 

But more than that, it sends a message to all Ugandans – indeed all Africans – that their already slim prospects for economic prosperity are contingent on whether they vote in line with the values of whoever happens to hold high office in the U.S., not their own. They will not find this acceptable. Nor should they.

It is worth noting that democracy is backsliding across Africa while instability is on the rise. Uganda is an increasingly rare example of an African economy that shares Western values of democracy and rule of law. Like most African countries, we also believe in and seek to uphold our own traditional African values – and public support for AHA stands testament to that. 

The AGOA programme was established in order to promote economic growth, good governance and free markets in Africa. It is a policy of great generosity and foresight by those who created it to bind Africa and the U.S. in partnership and respect. It was not established as a stick to beat the populace of African countries who vote in a way that offends the social sensibilities of the developed West. Yet that is how it is being used now. 

We note that the decision made this week is a recommendation to Congress – and not yet passed into law. We therefore remain, as always, ready to discuss this decision with our American partners and allies – and hope that they have the generosity to listen. 

Odrek Rwabwogo 

CHAIRPERSON 

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON EXPORTS AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT (PACEID)

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Uganda Airlines boosts exports with new direct route to Lagos

Uganda Airlines, on Thursday October 19, 2023, made history with its first ever direct flight from Entebbe International Airport to Lagos, Nigeria, landing at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.  

Lagos becomes Uganda Airlines’ thirteenth (13th) destination. This new direct route is expected to open up more trade and investment opportunities between Uganda and Nigeria.

There were extraordinary scenes as the Uganda Airlines team led by Captain Isaac Ogoyi skillfully navigated the skies on the national career’s inaugural flight. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with Uganda Airlines on this milestone. Uganda Airlines hailed UNDP team for their dedication to enabling trade, investment and tourism in Uganda.

Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki says the aim is to open more routes on the continent to enhance efficiency, and expediting transit of both passengers and commodities every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. This development comes after the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August.

She highlighted the impact of this air brigade not only in Nigeria but across Africa, “Our Entebbe-Lagos flight is the gateway to immense opportunities. It connects Uganda and Nigeria through business, tourism, culture, entertainment and more.”

UNDP Uganda Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah expressed her excitement at the milestone saying, “This is an exciting opportunity for us to connect more within the continent and create more opportunities for trade. This is an airbridge for trade, for jobs, for wealth creation, and for ensuring Africa takes its rightful place in the global world.”

The decision to introduce a direct flight from Entebbe to Lagos comes as Uganda Airlines strives to expand its network and increase connectivity within Africa. With the new route, travelers will now have easy access to one of Africa’s most populous and vibrant cities.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo

Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) has applauded Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki and her team for the initiative. “This new direct route to Nigeria has significant implications for promoting exports and enhancing trade relations between the two countries. The new route offers immense opportunities for Ugandan businesses to expand their export activities into one of Africa’s largest economies.” Noted Rwabwogo.

He further notes that Ugandan products, such as agricultural commodities, textiles, handicrafts, and processed foods, have a competitive advantage in terms of quality and uniqueness. “With the direct connection, these goods can now reach Nigerian consumers and businesses more quickly and reliably. This increased accessibility will raise the profile of Ugandan exports in Nigeria and pave the way for stronger bilateral trade ties.”

H.E Ismael Ayobami Alatis with Uganda Airlines team

H.E. Ismael Ayobami Alatis, Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda has encouraged Ugandans to visit Nigeria and take advantage of the incredible market potential that is there.

The move reinforces Uganda Airlines’ commitment to becoming a leading carrier in the region. Since its relaunch in 2019, the airline has steadily expanded its network and upgraded its fleet, which now includes two brand new Airbus A330neo aircraft. The addition of the Lagos route is another milestone in its ambitious growth plans.

The launch of the direct flight comes at a time when African nations are seeking to boost intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The AfCFTA aims to create a single market for goods and services across the continent, fostering economic integration and enabling African countries to trade among themselves more easily.

The direct flight will also provide a convenient connection for passengers traveling from other parts of the world. With Entebbe International Airport serving as a regional hub, passengers from Europe, the Americas, and Asia can now easily reach Lagos with a seamless transfer in Uganda. This will undoubtedly boost Uganda’s standing in the global aviation industry and further enhance its reputation as a gateway to Africa.

Uganda Airlines will operate flights to Nigeria three times a week with flights on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, using its 258-seat state-of-the-art Airbus A330-800neo.

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Uganda’s Vanilla Industry Booms as a Profitable Export

Uganda is known for its rich agricultural landscape, producing some of the finest coffee, tea, and cocoa beans on the continent. What many people aren’t aware of, however, is that Uganda is also a leading exporter of vanilla.

Uganda is currently exporting over 400MT of vanilla a year which is more than 50% production increment in a period of 5years.

Vanilla exports have shot up

According to Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), Uganda exported 89.038 Tons of cured vanilla worth USD 8.33 million (30.5 billion shillings) by March, 2023.

Ugandan vanilla is a unique and highly sought-after product, simmering with natural flavors and fragrance that is exclusive from other vanilla products in the world. It’s been described as “exquisite,” “delicious,” and “distinctive” by those who have had the pleasure of tasting it. It is for this matter that Ugandan vanilla exporters signed huge deals to export the product to Serbia during the opening of the Uganda Connect trade hub in Belgrade in July this year.

Simon Musisi-CEO of The Simons Uga Limited with some of his processed products

Simon Musisi, Chief Executive Officer of The Simons Uga Limited dealing in premium quality vanilla is one of those who signed deals. He is a processor and exporter of vanilla beans, powder and vanilla pure extracts. “Vanilla processing requires a production team of persons who are trained and experts in that field in order to achieve a higher vanillin and good quality vanilla that can match the global standards of the international food industry.” he says. His major export market is USA and Europe.

The major markets for Uganda’s Vanilla include; USA, Indonesia, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Denmark, Check Republic, Switzerland and Republic of Korea.

One of the unique qualities of Ugandan vanilla is its hand-picked, thanks to farmers harvesting plants only when they reach maturity, using traditional and time-honored techniques to guarantee the quality of their crops. This dedication to quality ensures that the product is of high value to consumers who seek natural and unique products, which gives Uganda a competitive edge in the global market.

Uganda, the second-largest exporter of vanilla in Africa behind Madagascar, has various suitable growing conditions for vanilla, making it possible to produce a substantial and consistent quantity of vanilla beans every year. The country has two vanilla seasons, the June-July harvest and December-January harvest. The districts of Kayunga, Mukono, Mpigi, Jinja, Kmauli, Bundibugyo, Luwero and Kasese are the biggest vanilla growing regions in Uganda. Vanilla production of vanilla in Uganda is picking up, and farmers are working tirelessly to meet the growing demand for this natural and delectable ingredient.

Vanilla is a significant source of income for many small-scale farmers in Uganda. It provides a valuable opportunity for economic growth and stability in communities across the country. Musisi provides employment to thousands of people during the two seasons of vanilla harvesting. “We directly work with more than 2000 farmers and over 10,000 farmers through general suppliers.”

Simon Musisi, CEO of The Simons Uga Limited is a vanilla exporter

Vanilla production is an ideal business for farmers in Uganda because it requires a relatively small amount of land and can be grown alongside other crops. This makes it an affordable crop for small-scale farmers who may not have access to a lot of land.

When it comes standards, Musisi says he does not compromise on quality as he always exports the best that meets regional and international standards. “Vanilla is a raw material for the food industry, quality is a major requirement. Therefore, global food standards are mandatory. This is a major challenge that we have tackled through training our farmers and general suppliers to consider good agricultural practices. For example, farmers should not use pesticides on their vanilla farms or intercropping their vanilla gardens with crops that require pesticides, the farmers must harvest their vanilla after maturity and on proper harvest dates,” he emphasizes.

It is because of practices like these that Ugandan vanilla offers unique and exceptional taste and is highly valued in the global market. Uganda’s vanilla industry has transformed into a profitable export, driving economic growth and providing opportunities for local farmers. However, stakeholders must address challenges related to sustainability and market volatility to ensure the long-term growth and success of the industry.

Vanilla is one of the thirteen priority sectors the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) under the leadership of its Chairman, Odrek Rwabwogo, is working with to grow Uganda’s exports revenue to USD6B and beyond by 2028.

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Uganda-Algeria Business Forum: Producers and exporters encouraged to embrace Value Addition

Day one of the Uganda-Algeria Trade and Investment Forum & Exhibition kicked off today, Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Hotel Africana with delegates from both countries advocating for value addition and mutual respect for quality requirements. The forum will run throughout the weekend until Monday, October 2, 2023, under the theme; “Harnessing Benefits of AfCTA; Strengthening Bilateral Trade Relations Between Uganda and Algeria”.

The forum is being organized by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives in partnership with the National Chamber of Commerce, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from the Uganda Marketers Society.

Odrek Rwabwogo with Dr. Francis Mwebesa, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives

The Uganda Algeria-Business and Investment Forum aims to unite trade & investment policymakers, key business groups, trade institutions, and regional organizations from both Uganda and Algeria.

Geraldine Ssali, Permanent Secretary-Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives thanked the Algerian government for their cordiality. “Whenever we come to Algeria, we feel at home. I began to say Algeria is a home away from home for me. Thank you so much. We would like you to also feel at home.” she said.

Geraldine Ssali-Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives

She also expressed willingness to give Algerians free economic zones so that they can enjoy competitive prices from Ugandan producers so they don’t feel the pinch of high costs of production when they come.

“If we work with Algeria, gone will be the days of looking for a funder for our oil because they are self-sufficient in the oil and gas sector.” H.E. Alintuma Nsambu, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda to Algeria noted.

H.E. Oualid Cherid-Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Algeria to Uganda

H.E. Oualid Cherif, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Algeria to Uganda was pleased that the efforts between the two countries were crowned with the holding of what he referred to as a ‘historical’ forum. “This development comes as a translation of the strong will demonstrated by our two heads of state, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Mr. Yoweri Museveni, to further enhance these relations in the commercial and investment fields. Like Uganda, Algeria advocates for value addition to its raw materials and the diversification of its economy and its earnings by promoting the non-hydrocarbon exports and boosting the local production of goods and services,” he said.  

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo

Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman- of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development reiterated H.E. Oualid’s point regarding value addition as this will go a long way to boost trade relations between the two nations.

He also urged Ugandan exporters to be intentional by researching new markets to avoid entering them blindly.  “We need to be very intentional, very deliberate from studying the tastes & preferences of our brothers in Algeria & other markets we want to export to & ensure we know what to supply them in terms of standards, quantities and certification”. PACEID is tasked with growing Uganda’s exports to USD6Bn by 2028.

PACEID’s Odrek Rwabwogo with National Chamber of Commerce’s Olive Kigongo

The President of the National Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Olive Kigongo encouraged Ugandan business people to explore Algeria and discover the opportunities it offers to gain a competitive advantage.

Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries said, “Opportunities abound in Uganda. We invite you not only to engage in trade with us but also to actively participate in the value-addition process.”

Miss Ndstefai Khaoula from the Algerian Investment Promotion Agency guided Ugandan traders through the company registration process for trading with Algeria, including the duration of the investment period offered to licensees. “The Algerian Investment Promotion Agency is actively engaged in promoting investment, providing information, streamlining registration procedures, and managing the associated benefits.” – she said.

Miss Ndstefai Khaoula from the Algerian Investment Promotion Agency

Others present were Dr. Francis Mwebesa- Cabinet Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Harriet Ntabazi, Amb. Katureebe Tayebwa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, John Mulimba-State Minister of State for Regional Affairs.

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Uganda-Algeria Business Forum launched, to propel intra-African Trade

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Algeria to Uganda, H.E. Cherif Oualid is optimistic that the upcoming Uganda-Algeria Trade and investment Forum scheduled to take place from September 30, 2023 to October 2, 2023 at Hotel Africana in Kampala, will mark a critical step in propelling business relations between the two countries and fostering intra-African Trade which is still weak and standing at no more than 16% of the continent’s global trade.   

H.E. Cherif Oualid revealed this on Wednesday afternoon at the official launch of the Uganda-Algeria Business Forum at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He added that, Algeria, under President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has set out as a matter of priority, to focus its trade and investment endavours within the African continent, especially with countries such as Uganda.

H.E. Cherif Oualid, Ambassador of People’s Republic of Algeria to Uganda

“Uganda and Algeria have a huge potential and complementarities to harness for the mutual benefit of their respective peoples. They are both endowed with tremendous natural resources waiting to be tapped. They can also both leverage markets offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Just like Uganda, Algeria is in discussions with the AfCFTA Secretariat with a view to integrating the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI). Both countries can partner with each other to be part of the GTI.” H.E. Cherif Oualid noted.

The Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Harriet Ntabazi officially launched the business forum after making her keynote remarks during media briefing held at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa, Head-Regional Economic Affairs moderated the session inside Wapakabulo Auditorium.

Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Harriet Ntabazi officially launched the business forum

Ministry of Trade, National Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) partnered to organize the two-day forum.

According to Vincent Bagiire, the Permanent Secretary- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the business forum offers an opportunity for the Algerian economic operators to explore the investment potential and business climate in Uganda as well as the reciprocal needs of the markets in both countries.

Vincent Bagiire, Permanent Secretary-Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Chamber of Commerce president Olive Kigongo

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Odrek Rwabwogo reiterated the value of having a Buyer-Seller Session during the business forum to match-make companies from both countries sector by sector and capacity by capacity. He called for regional cooperation and removal of the bottlenecks that hinder intra-African Trade. “Algeria has a huge economy that comes with huge opportunities”.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo

Geraldine Ssali, the Permanent Secretary-Ministry of Trade urged the Ugandan business community to take advantage of the opportunities that this business forum presents as Algeria offers big opportunities for off-takers in trade.

Geraldine Ssali, Permanent Secretary- Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives

The President of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce, Olive Kigongo announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is due to be signed by the Chamber of Commerce of the two countries on the sidelines of the business forum.

Over 60 Algerian companies in various sectors; agri-food, leather, textile, marble, poultry equipment, fertilizers, steel processing and electrical appliances, have already confirmed their participation at the forum. Uganda expressed its interest in getting Algerian investors established in Uganda, particularly in the fields of energy and mining, agriculture and packaging.

Olive Kigongo, President National Chamber of Commerce

Other members present at the presser were Shadrack Wasike, Humphrey Mutaasa from The Grain Council of Uganda, Matthew Bagonza, Brenda Karatikawe, Allan Mugisha (all from PACEID), Cleopas Ndorere from Ministry of Trade, officials from National Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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