President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reassured Algerian investors that Uganda is ready to cooperate with them in boosting trade and investment between the two countries that have had a long-standing relationship since the 1960s.
“This historical relationship now can turn into an economy and prosperity for our people. Prosperity has two parts; the producer of a good or a service and the other part is a consumer because if I produce and nobody buys, I cannot be prosperous. So really our pockets are instruments of empowerment,” H.E Museveni said.
The President made the remarks while meeting a delegation from Algeria headed by their Minister of Trade and Export Promotion, Hon. Tayeb Zitouni at State Lodge-Nakasero on Saturday, 30th September 2023.
President Museveni noted that the complementarity between East Africa, North Africa and the Middle East is something they noticed from the very beginning since the 1960s, through their leaders at that time like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. He added that Uganda and East Africa have everything needed to trade with others, especially fresh agricultural products.
“We were talking about this with our leaders at that time but people were not focusing on it and they were spending more time with Europe. But for us we did not give up, because what you need in North Africa and the Middle East, we have it. The only thing we didn’t concentrate on is wheat. Even rice, we don’t grow so much of it. For the milk we can produce any amount,” the President told his guests.
On the other hand, President Museveni told the meeting that Africa has been empowering others all this time and it’s high time this stopped if Africa is to become prosperous.
“For instance, if you see how many Japanese vehicles which we buy, all that prosperity goes to the Japanese but what do they give in return? I have not seen it all this time. We buy more from the Japanese than they buy from us. But now we’re moving away and we are making our own vehicles,” H.E Museveni noted, saying that he stopped the Japanese who wanted to start a motor vehicle assembling plant here after hearing that Uganda had raw materials needed.
“I said your chance is finished. I no longer want assembling because you missed that chance when I was asleep but now we’re going to make our own vehicles. The point is that all these products we are talking about, there’s nothing we cannot produce. Then you come to the pharmaceuticals. This is a big haemorrhage for Africa, linking our health with foreign medicine,” the President noted.
On the side of medicine, the President told the Algerians that Ugandan bushes have a lot of medicine which their ancestors have been using for a long time in a traditional way and Ugandan scientists have of late made exciting discoveries including Covidex; well known for curing Coronavirus.
“Therefore, I’m very glad that you have come. I thank the President of Algeria H.E Abdelmadjid Tebboune for sending you and when I heard you were here, I said I must see them,” President Museveni said.
A high-powered Algerian delegation who included investors in Energy, Agricultural processing, Medicine and Pharmaceuticals, Paper recycling and packaging and Irrigation solutions, among others also discussed solutions to potential challenges that would affect trade relations of the two countries.
Hon. Tayeb informed President Museveni that Algeria imports milk from other countries worth 700 million US dollars and their hope was to channel that money to Uganda because of its quality fresh milk.
The Ugandan Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Francis Mwebesa revealed that his ministry has taken note that some companies are ready for export to Algeria. These include; Brookside, Amos Dairies and Pearl Dairies.
“To meet the quantities required by the market, other companies intend to come On board and these include; Milkman, Jesa, Rainbow, GBK and Lakeside,” Minister Mwebesa said, adding that the Government of Algeria has offered more market access for beef from Uganda and the Ministry of Agriculture has been notified on scaling up production of meat to meet this demand.
The meeting followed President Museveni’s directive with his Algerian counterpart, His Excellency Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in March 2023, that a Delegation of Algerian Businesspersons come to Uganda for a mission to explore business and investment opportunities.
The visiting team also attended the launch of the 1st Uganda/Algeria joint exhibition that has been ongoing at Hotel African, Kampala.
“While touring the exhibition, I noted that Algeria produces many products of high quality and standard yet cheap. These products include shoes, electrical products and edible oils among others,” Minister Francis Mwebesa said.
He also informed the President that a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a joint Business Council between the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and the Algerian Chamber of Commerce has been signed. The Joint Business Council will be charged with continuously identifying business opportunities between the two countries and facilitating the resolution of challenges affecting the two countries.
Regarding the tax regime, the team agreed that both Uganda and Algeria adopt the guided trade initiative of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) to enable similar tariff offers that promote trade between Uganda and Algeria in the product line of each other’s interest.
The meeting was also attended by the Ambassador of Algeria to Uganda, H.E. Cherif Oualid and Uganda’s Ambassador to Algeria, H.E AlintumaNsambu.
Others were; Uganda’s Minister of state for Trade, Hon. Harriet Ntabazi, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Ms. Geraldine Ssali and the chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Mr.OdrekRwabwogo.