Private Sector continues to influence development amidst non-tariff barriers and poor infrastructure challenges.

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The private sector continued to influence Uganda’s development in 2023, even amidst several challenges that affected the ease of doing business locally and across the region.

Speaking at the first private sector Gala organized by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), the organization’s chairperson, Mr Humphrey Nzeyi, said that the private sector has this year recorded several positives which include influencing the tax and budgetary decisions of the country.

“In the 2023/24 annual budget, PSFU was instrumental in advocating for a better tax regime and budget allocations and to this end 78% of the suggestions we made during the budget cycle were adopted by the Government in this year’s budget,” Nzeyi said.

The PSFU Gala and Awards event was organized to give private sector players, government and development partners a chance to network and seek more developmental partnerships.

PSFU used the Gala to unveil several partnerships including with UNHCR, UN Women, KCCA and Uganda Baati. These partnerships will see private sector players work directly with these organizations to explore business opportunities in refugee settlements, empower more women and plant over one million trees around Kampala as means to mitigate climate change issues.

Challenges.

Nonetheless, the persistent non-tariff barriers across regional markets continued to affect the growth of Uganda’s private sector and further delayed the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic aftershocks.

According to Mr Stephen Asiimwe, the PSFU CEO, hopes for an improved private sector growth have this year were undermined by these non-tariff barriers after several exporters registered losses due to blockades.

“This year, one of our main challenges was the standoffs we have had with countries like South Sudan over maize, and Kenya over milk among others which have had a great negative impact on the sector,” he said.

In March, Kenyan authorities banned Ugandan milk products from their market reportedly to protect local farmers from external products, as they anticipated an increase in their output.

Then, around May, over 40 Ugandan registered trucks transporting maize produce were impounded on their way to Juba by the South Sudan Bureau of Standards.

Mr Asiimwe added that apart from the non-tariff barriers, the private sector growth has also been thwarted by poor road networks to key markets, expensive air transport which could have been used for perishable goods like flowers and vegetables and slow progress on the Standard gauge railway which is highly billed to cut transport costs and time.

Government Commitment.  

Ms Evelyn Anite, the State minister of Finance for Investment and Privatisation said that the government was still committed to reducing the cost of doing business in the country to bolster operations of the private sector and attract more investments both foreign and local in the long-term through improvement of transport, electricity and easier access to market.

“We are in advanced stages of making sure that we address the challenge of access to the market for our private sector. This is mainly going to be through the Africa Continental Free Trade area,” she said.