The governments of Uganda and Algeria have established a business council that aims at eliminating exploitative middlemen as the two countries engage in direct trade.
The business council is contained in an agreement signed between Francis Mwebesa, Uganda’s Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, and his Algerian counterpart at the inaugural Uganda-Algeria business forum, which kicked off in Kampala on Saturday.
According to Mwebesa, the business council, which comprises 20 members, led by private sector organizations from both countries, with significant contributions from their respective Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), immediately begins work.
“Middlemen have quietly hindered Uganda’s bilateral trade links for far too long. Eliminating their role in this new alliance with Algeria marks a resounding victory for ordinary Ugandans,” he said
As part of the comprehensive trade arrangement, Algeria has committed to providing vaccines, agricultural equipment, and various products spanning multiple sectors, promising mutual benefits for both economies.
Additionally, Algeria has pledged to establish direct trade routes by sea and air, eliminating intermediaries known for inflating prices, which will ultimately benefit both nations.
Algeria currently ranks 13th among Uganda’s trading partners, and Minister Mwebesa urged Ugandans to seize this trade opportunity wholeheartedly to rectify the current trade balance, which favours Algeria.
Alintuma Nsambu, Uganda’s Ambassador to Algeria, expressed concern about the underutilization of these opportunities by Ugandan businesses.
“To demonstrate the quality of Ugandan products in the Algerian market, I became a ‘Mutembeyi’ (hawker) and successfully introduced Ugandan milk to Algeria. It’s disheartening that only Amos Diaries underwent a vetting process, and thank God it was approved. I implore our entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities; they are designed to propel your growth.” Cherif Oualid, the Algerian Ambassador to Uganda, highlighted the collaboration’s focus on eliminating intermediaries, as stipulated in the bilateral pact.
He emphasized that both Algeria and Uganda are committed to adding value to their products, gaining effective access to each other’s markets, and potentially serving as gateways to other markets.
Odrek Rwabwogo, the presidential adviser on exports and industrial development emphasized the surge in consumption and the vast potential for the future. He urged Ugandans to be prepared to capitalize on upcoming opportunities, highlighting Uganda’s comparative advantages in various sectors.
To address the trade deficit, Rwabwogo mentioned Uganda’s ambitious targets and aggressive strategies for increasing exports, particularly to Algeria, which currently accounts for a 1.5% share of Uganda’s exports.
Minister of Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze encouraged large-scale farmers to seek partnerships with Algerian investors and leverage each other’s capabilities to produce sustainably for export markets.
He emphasized Uganda’s agricultural potential, climate, and available arable land, stressing the importance of value addition. “The potential for this partnership is evident, with Algeria already importing Ugandan coffee and milk. Through this collaboration, Ugandans can tap into the prospect of exporting finished products, thus propelling our country’s economic growth even further,” he asserted.
Tumwebaze highlighted the significance of this collaboration, stating that it allows Ugandans to export finished products, contributing to Uganda’s economic growth. He also noted that while Uganda has 80% arable land, only 36% is currently cultivated, indicating untapped potential.
The formation of the business council between Uganda and Algeria signifies a significant milestone in their bilateral trade relations. It presents lucrative opportunities for Ugandan businesses to access the Algerian market and beyond, potentially boosting economic growth for both nations.
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.