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Success requires a positive attitude and the right mindset- Rwabwogo to Bunyoro Sub-Region graduates

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Odrek Rwabwogo has encouraged the graduates of an industrial skilling program not to be afraid of failure, to cultivate a positive attitude, and to develop the right mindset to succeed in their chosen fields. This was on Friday 23rd February 2024 at Duhaga Secondary School playground in Hoima City where 6112 individuals from Bunyoro Sub-Region graduated in various fields after completing a six-month Skilling Program.

The 6112 individuals were awarded certificates in various fields including; piggery, fish farming, fruit farming, bricklaying, baking/cooking, photography, radio and television presenting, computer application, tailoring, motor vehicle mechanics, goat farming, music and soap farming among many others.

The skilling program is an initiative of the collaboration between PACEID and the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) under the Ministry of Sports and Education.

Rwabwogo, who was the Chief Guest, shared personal experiences to inspire the graduates and emphasized the importance of learning from failures and bouncing back stronger, rather than being disheartened by setbacks. “Achieving success requires a positive attitude and a mindset that refuses to quit. PACEID recognizes the potential of the Bunyoro Sub-region in contributing to Uganda’s export sector, and has designed this program to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in various industrial sectors and contribute to the growth of export-driven economies.”

He urged the graduates to view failure as an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement, rather than a reason to give up on their dreams. “Failure is not the end of the road but a stepping stone towards success,” Rwabwogo said passionately. “Do not be afraid to take risks and face failure head-on. It is through failure that we learn valuable lessons and can grow as individuals.”

Dr. Patrick Byakatonda, the Director-DIT thanked PACEID for their efforts in enhancing participants’ employability and enabling them to seamlessly transition into the workplace. “This approach aligns with the principal goal of the initiative, which is to foster economic growth by nurturing a skilled and competent workforce in the Bunyoro Sub-region. By leveraging each other’s strengths, DIT and PACEID aim to create a robust and complex training curriculum that addresses the specific requirements of different industrial sectors within the Bunyoro Sub-region and the entire country.”

DIT Director Dr. Patrick Byakatonda

Dr. Byakatonda further encouraged the graduates to upgrade their skills to higher vocational-level competencies to compete better in the global market.

Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, the State Minister for Public Service applauded PACEID and DIT for the skilling initiative that saw thousands of individuals get certified and pledged to support the cause whenever she is called upon. “This skilling program will create a lasting impact on the industrial landscape of Bunyoro Sub-region. We are grateful that our people are going to be certified and be recognized at an international level.”

Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, State Minister for Public Service addresses graduates

Matthew Bagonza, the Head of the Secretariat at PACEID cautioned the graduates about keeping discipline and urged them to aim for higher rewards. He expressed gratitude to all who contributed to the successful completion of the training and assessment in Bunyoro. “Today’s graduation ceremony serves as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the program participants, as well as the successful collaboration between PACEID and DIT. Thank you Dr. Byakatonda and your team.”

Head of PACEID Secretariat Matthew Bagonza salutes the graduates

As the chairman of PACEID, Rwabwogo continues to inspire and empower individuals in Uganda to strive for success and contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.

By equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the global marketplace, the initiative aims to unlock the region’s economic potential and pave the way for a prosperous future.

The graduation ceremony was attended by a considerable number of prominent leaders in the Bunyoro Sub-region including; Rev. Fr. Dominic Ndugwa Ateenyi, Rev. Francis Mugisa Amooti, Hon. George Tinka Amooti, Hon. Muhanuli Bosco Amooti, Sheik Musa Atwooki, Hon. Lawrence Bategeka Ateenyi, Bakutaga Andrew Ateenyi, Magara Fitz Gerald John Ateenyi and many others at different levels.

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Rwabwogo calls for export-driven economies at East Africa Trade and Investment Forum

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Odrek Rwabwogo has rallied East Africans to adopt export-driven economies for regional transformation.

Rwabwogo, who doubles as the Senior Presidential Advisor-Special Duties, made the remarks at the third and final day of the three-days East African Trade and Investment Summit at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday, January 27, 2024.

He was part of panel discussing how to grow regional economies at the high-profile summit that was organized on the sidelines of the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the 3rd South Summit (G77). He shared stage with Humphrey Nzeyi- Chairman of Private Sector Foundation Uganda, MTN Uganda CEO Sylivia Mulinge, Kudakwashe Matereke-Regional Chief Operating Officer of AFREXIM Bank and Dr. Thangvel Palnivel from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Uganda).

Alongside the panel discussion was a Business-to-Business meeting between Afroexim Bank, DTB, National Housing, Centenary Bank discussing the Packages they can offer to the private sector.

Rwabwogo shed light on PACEID’s interventions and their role in helping Uganda achieve its ambitious $6 billion target in export earnings by 2028. He highlighted the PACEID’s focus on four key areas: market research, standards and compliance, export infrastructure, and export financing. These initiatives aim to address the main challenges faced by exporters and improve the overall competitiveness of Ugandan products in international markets. “By understanding market trends and consumer preferences, exporters can align their products to meet international standards and target niche markets, ultimately boosting export earnings.”

Rwabwogo stated that these reforms will allow our government to re-align the thinking and help to strengthen the productive capabilities of our businesses.

“PACEID has invested in a team of researchers to inform our strategy, planning and decisions. Collaboration with Private and Public sector stakeholders in Uganda trade and investment is essential.” Rwabwogo noted while urging all stakeholders to exercise agency and drive forward the excellent and transformative trade and investment ideas discussed at the Summit.

The rest of the panelists discussed various aspects of trade and investment, including regional integration, market access, investment promotion, and trade facilitation.

John Bosco Kalisa emphasized the need for harmonized trade policies, streamlined regulations, and enhanced infrastructure to facilitate seamless trade flows among member states.

The discussions also delved into specific sectors that offer significant potential for trade and investment in East Africa. Agriculture, manufacturing, and services were highlighted as areas where there are ample opportunities for growth and development.

The East Africa Trade and Investment Forum provided a platform for policymakers, business leaders, and investors to exchange ideas and explore potential partnerships.

Held under theme “Deepening Cooperation in Trade, Tourism and Investment for Shared Global Affluence”, the forum started on 15th January 2024 and was officiated by the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of East African Affairs Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and was officially opened by the Vice President Her Excellency Jesca Alupo on Tuesday 16th January 2024. The forum was been attended by over 500 delegates from 19 countries; Uganda, Qatar, United Kingdom (UK), Türkiye, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria, India, Cuba, China, South Africa, South Sudan, Italy, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria and Morocco.

The forum was also addressed by the EAC Deputy Secretary General – Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba Mutaawe. She underscored the EAC policies on ensuring that the EAC is an attractive destination for trade and investment. Such include the Customs Union and Common Market with no tariffs and harmonized rules of origin, cost, and time of doing business in EAC which is reduced with 13 One Stop Border Point (OSBP), and there is common infrastructure to process goods in customs. She committed that the EAC secretariate is ready and capable to facilitate trade within the community.

Rt. Hon. PM, Amb. Jan Sadek the Head of EU Delegation in Uganda also highlighted the positive trade balance that Uganda has maintained and a top recipient of FDI with a lot of potential for business in the country. He pledged EU – EAC partnership in investment and trade based on the existing bilateral agreements and invited investors to the EU Business Summit which is due this year.

While closing the forum, Humphrey Nzeyi noted that there is urgent need to;

  1. Scale-up cross-country investments in connectivity and high-quality infrastructure across the region both physical and digital connectivity.
  2. Invest in Bwindi and Mgahinga tourism infrastructure especially tourism roads, airports, and internal flights by Uganda Airlines. Data shows that money invested in such strategic infrastructure can be recovered in a period of less than 3 years.
  3. Build the capacity of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to harness the potential of the AfCFTA. Strengthening the competitiveness and export readiness of SMEs in regional value chains through trade financing and business development services is crucial.
  4. Strengthen regional cooperation to eliminate the persistent trade barriers.
  5. Invest in cross boarder infrastructure such as roads, cargo airlines and railways to facilitate trade.

The 1st East Africa Trade and Investment Forum was organized by the Government of Uganda through the Ministries of Trade Industry and Cooperatives and Foreign Affairs, PSFU, UNDP Uganda, Stanbic Bank, National Housing and Construction Company, NSSF, Banana Industrial Research and Innovation and NEC-Streit – Armoured Vehicles among many others.

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Ugandan Peppers Given Green Light to Re-Enter European Market

After years of being banned from export to the European Union (EU) due to failure to meet safety and quality standards, the Ugandan pepper market has received a much-needed boost. The EU has lifted the ban on Ugandan peppers after a thorough examination process that proved they now meet the required standards, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

A statement by MAAIF dated December 22, 2023, announces that the peppers of genus Capsicum (other than sweet) originating in Uganda have been removed from Annex I to the EU Regulation 2019/1793. This is according to a recent communication received from the European Commission, Directorate-General for Health (DG SANTE).

The EU 2019 audit resulted in Ugandan peppers being moved to annex 1, which is the worst before a ban- this means increased controls, all peppers had to be checked thoroughly.

According to the letter from DG SANTE, the information available indicates a satisfactory degree of compliance, leading to the decision that official controls at a harmonized increased level by national competent authorities at the entry into the Union will no longer be carried out. Instead, routine checks will be performed, streamlining the process for Ugandan pepper exports to the European market.

The move is seen as significant for Ugandan farmers, as it will open up additional markets, maximize earnings and result in an overall economic boost. With the ban lift, Uganda is now allowed to provide peppers to the EU, its largest market and the revenue generated could help to create employment opportunities and reduce poverty.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Maj. Gen. David Kasura-Kyomukama said, “This positive development is a result of collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and various stakeholders involved in the pepper production and export chain and reflects the commitment of the Ugandan government and its partners to ensuring the quality and safety of agricultural products for international consumers.” 

The decision is a positive move towards increasing trade relations between Uganda and EU member states and is expected to lead to more investment in the agricultural sector of the country. Ugandan farmers, who have been working on improving the quality of the peppers, have expressed satisfaction with the lifting of the ban and are ready to increase production in response to the new development.

“We welcome the news of the lifting of the restrictions on Uganda’s pepper exports to the EU. This is a sign that when the public and private sector work together on regulatory oversight and self-monitoring and when the private sector observes the SoPs a lot can be achieved. We must however remain vigilant so that we do the same for all FFV exports and not just at point of entry but also at exit points. We thank the NPPO and the private sector for giving us this early Xmas gift and we pledge our commitment to play our role as we rebuild the export so it can boost exports, jobs and incomes.” Fred Zake, Executive Director Hortifresh Association Uganda remarked.

For the EU consumers, the move also means access to a versatile ingredient, peppers, in their diet and presents a crop of potential trade opportunities that speaks to the benefits of globalisation and open trade.

Despite the ban lift, the EU has upheld its stringent standards to protect its consumers, warranting continued vigilance from Ugandan farmers to ensure their produce continues to meet the required regulations.

The lifting of the ban on Ugandan peppers by the EU is a win-win situation for both Uganda and the EU, as it leads to increased trade, reinforces the benefits of international cooperation, and contributes to the growth of the agricultural sector of Uganda.

Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) applauded all the agencies, public and private, that have been working hard to achieve this milestone. “PACEID is delighted about the European Union lifting the ban on Ugandan peppers. This decision is a testament to the tremendous efforts made by our farmers and exporters in meeting international quality standards. This will open up new markets for Ugandan peppers in Europe, a region known for its high demand & premium prices.” Rwabwogo noted.

The removal of these restrictions is expected to enhance market access for Ugandan peppers in the European Union, contributing to increased export opportunities and economic growth for the country. The Ministry encourages all stakeholders in the pepper industry to maintain the high standards that have led to this favorable decision and to continue working towards the sustainability and growth of the sector.

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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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PACEID’s interventions are steadily placing Uganda on the global exports map

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) has been instrumental in driving the growth of the country’s export revenue. Since its inception, March 16, 2022, its strategic initiatives and effective decision making have helped our nation expand its presence in international markets, leading to a significant increase in export volumes.

The committee is tasked with improving Uganda’s foreign earnings to USD 6BN in the next five years and USD 100BN in 2062 from the prioritized thirteen (13) key products; Coffee, Tea, Fruits & Vegetables, Beef, Dairy, Vanilla, Grains, Sugar, Fish, Banana Flour, Flowers, Tourism, Cement and Steel. 

Under the stewardship of Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo, who doubles as the Special Presidential Advisor-Special Duties (SPA-SD), PACEID advises President Museveni on the strategic and systematic interventions aimed at accelerating exports growth and industrial development for national transformation.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo discusses Uganda’s export with a business expert from UAE

PACEID, which aims to increase the competitiveness of Ugandan products and diversify Uganda’s export base, has enabled Ugandan companies to reach new markets and enhance their visibility on the global exports map.

Business Unusual

Under this module of disrupting the usual style of operation, as a new approach to export markets, PACEID in partnership with various stakeholders has rolled out a succession of trade, investment and tourism summits hosted in various countries within the East African region, rest of Africa and the world to identify off-takers of the 13 priority exports. The committee does not just look for new markets, but rather do it aggressively, intentional with every member mentally invested to ensure that these markets are fulfilled. So far, PACEID has organized close to ten of such trade missions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Uganda exported USD 267.19 million worth of goods as of two years ago, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. South Sudan in July 2022, UK in September 2022, US in December 2022 and South Africa in February 2023 are some of the other markets where PACEID made a strong case for Uganda’s exports and appointed a Trade Representative (TR) in each of those. Some Ugandans might be thinking of this as a waste of money but fact is that these TRs are not paid a single shilling. They are selected for their independent personalities, passion and interest in promoting Uganda’s products and services but most importantly, they believe in the vision Chairman Rwabwogo has for Uganda’s exports and economy in general.

At these summits, exporters and trade experts partake in panel discussions, exhibitions and B2B sessions where participants from the public and private sectors network, share opportunities and identify strategies to position Ugandan products and services internationally and attract potential investors to Uganda. TRs provide technical expertise to help Uganda penetrate new regional and international export markets.

Uganda’s Trade Representatives during a forum at State House-Entebbe in March 2023

Unlike before, PACEID is playing a crucial role in lobbying for favorable trade agreements and policies. By engaging with government bodies and negotiating at international forums, the committee has successfully advocated for reducing trade barriers that have been hindering the free movement of Ugandan products, ultimately providing a conducive environment for our exporters to thrive.

PACEID, together with Uganda’s Trade Representative in Serbia, Mr. Bratislav Stoiljkovic, went a step further at the recent mission and set up a Uganda Trade Hub ‘Uganda Connect’ in Serbian capital Belgrade. The Hub, located in state-of-the-art central neighborhood Belgrade Waterfront, features a Ugandan coffee shop and market place for our fresh fruits and vegetables that Serbians cannot seem to get enough of and is an information centre for many who did not know about Uganda and its great tourist destination sites.

Yes, Serbia might be an emerging market economy in the upper-middle income range but what makes it strategic is that it is a gateway to the eleven countries in the Balkan region (south Eastern Europe) with a combined GDP of 100 Billion Euros. Serbia, because of its weather (mostly winter), consumes coffee worth 1billion Euros thanks to their extensive coffee consumption culture.

Uganda Connect hub in Serbia is the first of similar outlets that will be opened in several export markets to accelerate entry of Uganda’s products in key markets in the region and beyond.

Last month, Mr. Clive Hunter from the UK Trade Representative office was in Uganda for two weeks on a fact-finding mission engaging key public and private stakeholders along the value chain, doing buyer assessment on the different export companies to establish their capacity to supply the key commodities identified by the buyers such as macadamia, cashew nuts, ground nuts, fruits and herbs and their capacity to meet the quality requirements for the UK market, home to some of the world’s largest retailers in the world.

Clive Hunter from UK Trade Representative’s office was in Kampala recently assessing farmers’ capacity to export to the UK

Through PACEID, Uganda has been able to establish itself as a reliable supplier of various commodities such as coffee, tea, and horticulture produce. Through trainings in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), exporters have been able to improve the quality and standards of Ugandan products, making them more attractive to international buyers. This has in turn, slowly but steadily, boosted the confidence of international buyers in Ugandan products, leading to increased demand and exports.

By providing guidance and support to local industries, PACEID has facilitated the development of export-oriented sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and services that are enabling Uganda to establish itself as a competitive player in the international market.

The committee works closely with various stakeholders, including government agencies, businesses, and development partners, to identify export opportunities, address barriers, and develop policies that promote trade and industrial growth.

PACEID has also been instrumental in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into Uganda by encouraging the establishment of export-oriented industries, leading to increased production and exports.

Overall, PACEID’s initiatives and strategies have been vital in putting Uganda on the global export map. The committee’s efforts have helped to enhance Uganda’s export competitiveness, attract investment, and promote market diversification, thereby contributing to the country’s economic growth and development.

“We are creating a new pathway for Uganda’s trade by going on the market from the farm through one shipper into supermarkets of another country. Uganda hasn’t been able to do this in the past because of issues of standards, certifications, quantities and funding. This is a new way and we should not make mistakes because this will cost us jobs and tarnish our country’s image. We are encouraging consortiums or clusters of coffee, dairy, tourism, beef, fruits and vegetables and those who can come together to strengthen supply, quantities and deal with sustainability issues. If we don’t act together, each of these companies is too small to do anything on the market.” says PACEID Chairman Rwabwogo.

One of the key achievements of the committee has been its focus on identifying emerging opportunities and promoting the export of high-value products. Through extensive market research and analysis, the committee has identified niche sectors where our nation has a comparative advantage and encouraged businesses to explore these untapped markets. This strategic approach has not only diversified our export portfolio but also helped us reduce our reliance on traditional sectors.

President yoweri Museveni with Trade Representatives

Chairman Rwabwogo has time and again labored to explain that exports can’t happen unless you have infrastructure because improving infrastructure is crucial for enhancing international trade and boosting economic growth. It is upon this background that PACEID has a strong partner in Uganda Airlines which has done tremendously by opening direct routes to new markets that Uganda is looking to take advantage of. In the past two weeks alone, Jennifer Bamuturaki and her team launched the Entebbe-Mumbai where the national carrier will be flying to India thrice a week, a move that is highly appreciated by exporters. Uganda Airlines also launched the Entebbe-Lagos route which opens doors for Ugandan products into the Nigerian market whose GDP is expected to hit USD 489.80 billion by the end of 2023, according to Trading Economics global macro model and analysts’ expectations.  

For this, PACIED is pleased that its message on developing of export infrastructure, routes, standards/compliance and markets is catching on. Uganda has a wealth of products and talent that deserve global recognition. PACEID is proud to partner with local businesses/private sector to promote Uganda’s exports and unlock new opportunities in international markets.

Let’s showcase the best of Uganda to the world.

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