Uganda successfully overcame the “hiccups” brought on by former President Idi Amin, who drove away over 55,000 Indians and people of Indian origin, primarily Gujaratis, in the 1970s, according to Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda, the country’s high commissioner to India.
“Uganda is open to business…Yes, there were some hiccups in the past. There is no country which has grown without some hiccups. Those hiccups we have overcome… Idi Amin, in his madness, sent you from Uganda. You never perished. Instead, you thrived. So you are good at that,” said Kikafunda, while inaugurating a three-day roadshow organised by the Ugandan High Commission in Ahmedabad.
“This first person to open a shop in Uganda was from Gujarat,” the diplomat said while explaining why Uganda was looking for investments from Gujarat.
Kikafunda said 70 per cent of the exports of Uganda was from the agriculture sector. “We are tired of being peasant farmers. We are tired of being exporters of raw materials. They take our coffee. They process it and return it as Nescafé at ten times the price. Why? When our farmers sweat, growing that coffee and drying it. We want to change that. Our problem is with value addition, and so we want investors in agribusinesses,” said the high commissioner.
The official said Uganda was also scouting for investors and partners in the oil and gas, infrastructure, real estate, pharmaceutical, information and communication technologies (ICT) and tourism sectors. “Since we discovered oil and gas, we are building new cities. These new cities require new buildings requiring investments,” said Kikafunda, adding that 35,000 people of Indian origin are settled in Uganda.
Speaking at the media briefing, Sanjiv Patel, a Ugandan national and director of Tomil Group of Companies travelling with the visiting delegates, also assured the “safety” of Indian businesses in Uganda.
India’s exports to Uganda have risen from $57.4 million in 1995 to $695 million in 2021, while imports from Uganda stood at $53.6 million in 2021. Coffee, cocoa beans and dried legumes are the principal exports from Uganda to India.