President Yoweri Museveni has urged Indians to continue investing in Uganda. Museveni said during the celebrations to mark 100 years of Indians in Uganda.
The Indians came to Uganda between 1895 and 1901. The construction of the railway line heralded the beginning of organized Indian immigration to East Africa. Although the majority of the construction workers returned home to the subcontinent, thousands of them took a risk and stayed behind to chart out a new life in East Africa, particularly Uganda.
During the celebrations Museveni revealed that there is a market of 43 million people in Uganda and 417 million people in the East African Community (EAC) which comprise of Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rest of African countries.
“We negotiated market taxes to China, so producing here will enable you to access those markets. The other input cost is infrastructure. The transport costs, the electricity costs. We are generating more electricity than that is being consumed,” Museveni said.
Museveni said the cost of doing business in Uganda is low because there is infrastructure and electricity and raw materials like iron core. Uganda is working with Kenya and Tanzania and DRC and other countries to repair the old railway line to lower transport costs for goods and raw materials.
“In a bid to attract new investments, we resolved that Indians should get all their properties lost during the late Idi Amin Government. It was immoral, not strategic and unnecessary to take over properties which belonged to Indians,” Museveni said.
Museveni pledged to recognize Mohan Rao, the chairman of Indian Association of Uganda for coming up with the three Ps describing Uganda as Peaceful, Pleasant and Profitable country.
Robert Mukiza, the executive director of Uganda Investment Authority said Uganda is a beacon of safety both for person and property in the region. “An investor can take a long term bet on Uganda and be sure that their investments and property are safe in the country.”
“There are no capital restrictions in Uganda once the relevant taxes are paid, all profits can be repatriated from the country without restriction. When a company domiciles in Uganda, they not only access Uganda’s market,” he said.
Mohan Rao, Chairman of Indian Association Uganda (IAU) said the summit presents an opportunity to showcase Uganda’s numerous investment opportunities, but also highlight the successes of Ugandan Indians doing business here as well as provide a platform for networking in anticipation of the undertaking of new ventures.
“During the past three years, the NRM government commitment to what I refer to as Peaceful, Pleasant and Profitable (3P’s) has created a good conducive business environment, which in turn has encouraged Indian investment. Idi Amin was an unfortunate interlude in this country’s history and the Indian Community paid a heavy price,” he said.
He said the Indian Community has played a significant and recognized role in building the country’s industrial base, steadily increasing the output of goods and services, creating employment and paying a large proportion of the annual taxes. We are committed to Uganda.
“IAU encourages educational, communal, and artistic wellbeing of Indians residing in Uganda by systematically supporting such for more than 100 years the IAU has been leading Uganda’s Indian community and has enjoyed an unrivalled record for peace and in its efforts to build cohesive societies,” he said.
In 1972, Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of Asians from Uganda with the accusation that they were ‘milking the Ugandan economy’. Since the Indian communities’ gradual return to the country beginning in the early 1980s and 1990s, the IAU has re-established and worked hard to build a fruitful relationship between Indians and African communities in Uganda mainly through charitable activities.
Sudhir Ruparelia said, “I started with a capital of $25,000. The Ruparelia group at the moment employs 9000 Ugandans directly. We are into the flower export business. We export about half a million roses every day.”
“We are in the hospitality business, real estate, education sector, media and others. All this would have not happened if you did not create a very conducive environment for us to do business. Thank you very much,” he said.
During the summit, several companies committed to invest $138 million into Uganda. The companies included; Trishu $38 million in the manufacturing of businesses. UKB Electronics $10 million in the manufacturing of electronics, NK Techno Labs $3 million, Halar group $10 million in construction and agro value addition, Norvik international $11.5 million, Supreme Gold Corporation $75 million into mining and other investment deals.