PSFU Chairman calls for harmonization of Uganda – South Africa Standards Bureaus

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The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) Chairman Board of Directors, Humphrey Nzeyi has called for the harmonization of Uganda and South Africa Standards Bureaus as a means of facilitating seamless and profitable trade between the two countries.

Nzeyi made these remarks at the ongoing Uganda South Africa Business and Trade Summit currently underway at Speke Resort, Munyonyo.

He called for beneficial collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures that will enable both countries to unlock endless business opportunities.

Here is his full speech:

I would like to extend a cordial welcome to each of you to the beautiful nation of Uganda, which is often celebrated as the “Pearl of Africa.” We convene here for the South Africa-Uganda Business Summit, where we aspire to cultivate and strengthen the prosperous business bonds we initiated during our visit to South Africa in March 2023. Today, we stand on the threshold of forging new frontiers in business and investment cooperation between the vibrant communities of Uganda and South Africa.

In February of this year, we were graciously hosted in South Africa for the Uganda South Africa Business Summit, which was a resounding success. As our two Presidents mentioned at that time, Uganda and South Africa have a long history of collaboration, firstly on the political front with our Pan-African outlook and our collaborative fight for the freedom of all our peoples from colonial and apartheid regimes. And now secondly to the economic partnerships that we have forged between our two nations. Uganda already boasts a large number of South African companies ranging from MTN, who are our sponsor here today to ABSA, ESKOM and many many more. I am happy to report that we have over 70 South African companies in Uganda, who collectively have invested over USD $2.4 billion in this economy. They also report that they are happy with their investments and are also reaping large rewards in the form of dividends from their work here.

 The purpose of our meeting again here in Uganda is to further strengthen those ties and to bring greater synergy between our two great nations. The recent pandemic and the current state of world affairs has shone a light on the need for African nations to increase trade and reliance on one another rather than on other continents and our traditional trading partners. We must take advantage of the Africa Free Trade Area Agreements, to open up a common market for each other’s goods and services.

Expressing Gratitude:

 On behalf of Uganda’s thriving Private Sector and personally, I extend my profound gratitude to our cherished partners. We acknowledge the unwavering dedication of both the governments of Uganda and South Africa, along with the invaluable support rendered by Uganda’s High Commission in Pretoria and the South African High Commission in Uganda. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to MTN Uganda and our other esteemed partners, whose relentless commitment has paved the way for the resounding success of these summits.

 Introducing PSFU:

 Allow me to offer some insights into the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU). PSFU stands as the apex body representing Uganda’s private sector landscape, comprising a dynamic consortium of 320 Business Associations, which in turn represent over 3 million business enterprises, Corporate entities, and significant Public Sector Agencies devoted to nurturing private sector growth. Our membership spans across the 12 pivotal sectors of Uganda’s economy, including Manufacturing, Agriculture and agribusiness, Oil, Gas, Minerals, Extractives, Energy, Trade and commerce, Logistics, Transport, Financial Services, Insurance, Professional Services, Tourism, Hospitality, ICT, Construction& Real Estate, Human Resources & Skills, Culture, and the Creative Arts.

PSFU’s Journey:

Since its inception in 1995, PSFU has played an instrumental role in advocating for the private sector’s interests while fostering capacity building. We serve as a vital conduit for constructive dialogue with the government, acting as its implementation partner for initiatives aimed at propelling the private sector into a dynamic role as the engine of economic growth in Uganda.

PSFU’s Core Mission:

PSFU’s overarching mission revolves around enhancing private investments and productivity, driven by the creation of an enabling business environment characterized by effective governance, efficient markets, and robust human development. We commend the Government of Uganda for its unwavering commitment to nurturing such an environment, attracting both local and Foreign Direct Investments that have thrived within this stable business climate.

Evolving Role of PSFU:

PSFU has evolved beyond its traditional roles, now standing as a multifaceted private sector think tank and innovation hub. This transformation is closely aligned with the aspirations of the Government of Uganda and the UNDP. PSFU’s ethos is firmly rooted in ten sectors that are pivotal in propelling Uganda’s economic growth.

Key Mandates: Key areas of focus

  1. Engaging in research and evidence-based advocacy on behalf of the private sector to enhance the business environment in Uganda.
  2. Spearheading capacity-building and business development initiatives to fortify the private sector.
  3. Creating jobs especially for the women and youth of this nation through our projects and initiatives.
  4. Capacity building of our membership organizations.

The Significance of the South Africa – Uganda Business Summit:

This momentous business forum seeks to fortify and consolidate the enduring economic ties that bind Uganda and South Africa. Our primary goal is to strengthen existing alliances, foster fresh collaborations, and forge joint ventures that will enrich trade and investment landscapes in both Uganda and South Africa. At the heart of this summit lies the imperative task of addressing obstacles impeding the free flow of people and goods—an issue that has direct repercussions on trade and investment. During our visit to South Africa, we articulated our desire as the private sector to see our governments resolve visa barriers. We received assurances, and we are optimistic that this summit will provide the impetus to propel these critical initiatives forward.

Happy to report: Collaborations

Already, I am happy to report that our entrepreneurs are having discussions on areas ranging from Agriculture to trade to Tourism and ICT among others and it is our hope that this summit shall transform these interactions into solid contracts.

Uganda-South Africa Trade Relations and Investment Prospects:

  • The total value of Uganda’s exports to South Africa currently stands at US$20.7 million, while South Africa’s exports to Uganda are valued at US$187 million. We firmly believe that there exists untapped potential to triple these trade values through strategic partnerships and joint ventures.
  • Uganda’s key imports from South Africa encompass electronic and electrical equipment, motor vehicles, and machinery, collectively valued at US$46.4 million.
  • In contrast, Uganda’s principal exports to South Africa encompass Packaged Medicaments ($13.1 million), Coffee ($2.88 million), and Raw Tobacco ($1.28 million). With Uganda’s robust coffee production, there is substantial scope for investment in coffee value addition and an increase in coffee imports from Uganda tenfold. There is no reason that South Africa should import the majority of its coffee from the same European markets where Uganda exports to and rather we should focus on a direct relation between our nations.
  • Uganda’s potential for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is nothing short of significant. In 2022, FDI witnessed a remarkable surge, reaching $474.8 million, predominantly channelled towards the coffee and mining sectors, rebounding from a temporary downturn induced by the pandemic. With opportunities in the mineral sector reaching an astonishing US$620.5 billion, private-sector investments hold the key to harnessing this opportunity and cultivating Africa’s manufacturing prowess.
  • Uganda boasts 6.9 million hectares of arable land, offering vast opportunities for investment in food production and value-addition technologies.
  • Uganda serves as a substantial exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables, dispatching over 5.8 million tonnes annum. Investment in horticultural products and the opening up of the South African market hold the potential to significantly amplify these exports.
  • Uganda’s fish export potential is staggering, surpassing US$150 million per annum. Investment in high-quality fish farming on Lake Victoria can unlock this substantial opportunity.
  • The nation stands as one of the leading milk producers in the East African Community, boasting an annual production exceeding 2.8 billion litres. There are immense opportunities in the milk value chain, including the processing of yoghurts, powdered milk, ghee, and cheese.

How do we Harmonizing Standards: Bottlenecks

To facilitate effective trade and ensure the free movement of people and goods, it is imperative that our Standards Bureaus harmonize standards. This discussion began earlier this year, on the sidelines of the South Africa-Uganda Business Summit, and we are optimistic that further strides in this direction will be taken during this summit.

In Closing:

Ladies and gentlemen, the potential of Africa, particularly Uganda and South Africa, is boundless. However, our pursuit should not be one of competition but rather one of collaboration, partnerships, and joint ventures that will enable us to unlock these opportunities for our rapidly growing youthful population and to strengthen our economies. Uganda, and its people in particular, are open for business. In 2021 Ugandans were voted as the happiest people in the East African Community, ranking 83rd globally (World Happiness Report 2021). Your journey here will not only be financially rewarding but will also immerse you in the warmth and hospitality that defines our beautiful nation.

I welcome you all to the Pearl of Africa

Thank you