Abu Dhabi, UAE | By Michael Wandati | Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Monday 13, November 2023, convened with a delegation of investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi. This meeting, part of a working visit initiated by an invitation from UAE’s counterpart and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, unveiled discussions on potential collaborations between the two nations.
Strategic focus on pharmaceutical production
President Museveni, in a meeting with a delegation led by H.E. Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, the Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, emphasized the untapped potential in Uganda’s pharmaceutical sector. Encouraging local production, he highlighted the surplus of raw materials such as sugar and starch from cassava and maize, which could be harnessed for pharmaceutical purposes.
“We have a lot of sugar here in Uganda which could be used for pharmaceutical purposes. Usually, a lot of syrups for children contain sugar to make it sweet for them, I think this is something we can also do here locally by taking advantage of what we have,” he noted.
President Museveni urged the UAE investors to consider partnering with the Ugandan government to convert the abundance of starch from various crops into pharmaceutical-grade starch. He underscored the importance of this initiative in addressing local needs and creating a sustainable pharmaceutical industry.
Diversifying investments: Sugar and minerals
The President further outlined the vast opportunities in refining raw sugar into pharmaceutical-grade sugar, presenting a substantial area for investment. With Uganda’s abundance of sugar, he suggested the possibility of producing different types of syrups, aligning with global pharmaceutical demands.
Highlighting Uganda’s rich mineral resources, President Museveni invited investors to explore opportunities in various sectors, including iron ore for steel, phosphate for fertilizers, copper for electric military industries, and gold and lithium for electric batteries. He emphasized the country’s readiness to collaborate with investors in these lucrative ventures.
“There is iron ore for steel, phosphate for fertilisers, we have copper for electric military industries, gold, and lithium for electric batteries. We are already making electric cars so we need those batteries and many others. You are therefore welcome to tap into these areas locally,” the President said.
“The big ones here though are iron ore and phosphates; iron ore is like 800 million tons, while the confirmed phosphates are 230 million tons. So the only thing we are struggling with now is for us to be able to link the industry and the minerals.”
Positive reception from UAE investors
H.E. Abdulkarim expressed gratitude for the insights provided by President Museveni, acknowledging the potential for collaboration in manufacturing, particularly in the automotive sector. He cited batteries as a potential market area, expressing interest in Uganda’s prospects.
“We are talking about manufacturing cars here, and so when it comes to batteries, we believe that it will be the next big potential market area, so why not consider Uganda?,” Abdulkarim said.
President Museveni also engaged with Mr. Saifee Rupawala, the CEO of Lulu Group International, lauding the company for exporting Ugandan products globally. Ensuring support for the construction of a food processing and logistics center, he acknowledged the importance of professional packaging to attract a broader market.
President Museveni assured the investors of a ready market for their goods and services in Uganda, emphasizing the conducive business atmosphere.
Commitment to collaboration
The meeting with various investors, including Dr. Abdulmonem Almarzooqi, the Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Elite Agro, H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates, and the Managing Director and Group CEO Abu Dhabi National Oil Company ( ADNOC), Brig. (Rtd) Saeed Saleem Khalfan Al Marri, the Group Chairman of SSK Technologies International and Prince Chaher Al Taki, the CEO and Managing Director of Rowad International Commercial LLC ( RCC).
Speaking to another group of investors led by Mr Saifee Rupawala, the Chief Executive Officer of Lulu Group International, President Museveni hailed the investors for exporting Ugandan products on a global market.
“Thank you for reaching the bigger markets of the world with our good natural products, I will make sure you get the ten acres of land that you need for the construction of the food processing and logistics centre,” he promised the group.
Mr. Rupawala informed President Museveni that the company requires a piece of land near the airport for easy transportation of fresh fruits and foods from within Uganda to other countries for sale.
“We have been exporting a lot of different kinds of food products from Uganda to other countries, however, the only problem that we have now is having your space which can enable us in professional packaging of the products to attract the bigger market,” he said.
The group CEO added: “Uganda is blessed with natural foods and fruits that are of high quality and they do not have any chemicals. Your Excellency, we are therefore proud to export these products and promote them even further.”
The Ugandan delegation included key government officials, namely the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Henry Okello Oryem. H.E. Zaake W. Kibedi, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda to the UAE, and Ambassador Joseph Ocwet, Director General of External Security Organization (ESO), also attended the meeting.
In conclusion, the engagement showcased a mutual interest in exploring diverse investment opportunities, fostering economic growth, and strengthening the bilateral ties between Uganda and the UAE.
President Museveni’s commitment to providing a conducive business environment and support for strategic initiatives for the UAE investors reflects Uganda’s eagerness to embrace collaborative ventures for sustainable development.