Uganda looking to strengthen Middle East ties with eyes on China
According to a senior government source, Uganda is trying to enhance commercial links with the GCC, which will also serve as a springboard for more collaboration with China and the Far East.
According to Odrek Rwabwogo, senior counselor to the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, the country’s emphasis has changed from European markets to the Middle East. “We are not quitting the European market,” he said. Instead, we are diversifying in order to increase shelf space for Ugandan companies in both new and old market categories.” We recognize the Middle East’s current success, its expanding affluence, money, and consumption, and we firmly feel that Uganda has enormous potential to provide products and services to the region.”
The UAE is the East African country’s main commercial partner in the area, with exports increasing from $300 million in 2009, when diplomatic ties were established, to $1.85 billion in 2020. The primary exports include rare minerals, high-value crops, and labor — there is already a 60,000-strong Ugandan diaspora in the UAE alone.
Rwabwogo, on the other hand, stated that plans were in the works to better promote the fruits and vegetables cultivated in the nation, which are currently widely sold to markets around Europe.
“We cultivate food all year,” he stated. You eat a lot of fruit and vegetables in the Middle East, and we believe that by developing that sector in Uganda, we can increase the production capacity of many more people, which is what shared prosperity is all about.” That is what drove us to the Dubai Expo, to illustrate some of the changes that have occurred in the nation over time.”
And it was unquestionably a successful visit to the World Fair, which is presently taking place in Dubai until March 31 of next year. During the visit to Expo, the UIA signed a deal with UAE-based Connect to invest $500 million in the nation on initiatives like renewable energy development.
A total of $650 million in new business transactions were inked, including investments in renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, mineral processing, and medical kit manufacture.
While Rwabwogo welcomed the new investment, he noted that the approach involved gaining the attention of nations farther east.
“We’re attempting to create this connection with the Middle East as a stepping stone, as a learning curve, to be able to access the larger, bigger markets of the Far East and Europe,” he added.
We believe that the greater partnerships we can create in the Middle East, which is four hours away from China, will enable China to obtain items from there that have come through us.”
According to Robert Mukiza, director general of the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), who recently spoke in Dubai, Uganda is trying to attract $4 billion in fresh investment to push its post-pandemic recovery.
During the visit to Expo, the UIA signed a deal with UAE-based Connect to invest $500 million in the nation on initiatives like as renewable energy development.
Rwabwogo also indicated that plans were in the works to capitalize on the fruits and vegetables cultivated in Uganda.
The UIA has also committed to collaborate with Dubai’s Worldera Corporation, which plans to invest $50 million in sectors such as mineral processing, agriculture, and education.
While China-based Wondfo Biotech will spend $50 million in a pharmaceutical factory in Uganda, global finance firm Modha Investments has agreed to a contract that would generate over 5,000 employment for Ugandan farmers.
“These partnerships will not simply be agricultural, industry, and oil,” Rwabwogo said, “but they will bring human cultural linkages that will increase the wealth and stability of the Great Lakes by cooperating with Uganda.”
He went on to say that more collaboration is desired in terms of luring visitors to the nation and upgrading Uganda’s infrastructure.
Rwabwogo said that the nation now has roughly 6,000 hotel rooms, but that 50,000 were required to enable tourists to visit Uganda and stay longer.
“We need to create roads into the game parks and these processing facilities; we need new airports and improved capacity at the one airport we now have, which has roughly 4-5,000m of runway,” he added. We want to construct five airports around the nation.”