The Governor of the province of Hunan in the People’s Republic of China Mr. Xu Dazhe at the invitation of the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister visited Uganda from 20th to 23rd June 2018. The Governor led a delegation of 84 members, among who were 30 business enterprises. Other members comprised Provincial entity officials. The aim of the Office of the prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UIA coordinated visit, was to deepen and consolidate the trade and investment cooperation between Uganda and the Province of Hunan.
Visiting the UIA
During the three day visit, UIA hosted part of the delegation to a business workshop at the UIA offices. The 11 man team to UIA was led by Mr Zeng Chaoqun, Party Committee Secretary of Changsha Economic Development Zone. Mr Emely Kugonza, Chairman of the UIA Board presided over the meeting, which was also attended by Mr Fred Opolot, Member of the Board and Mrs Jolly Kaguhangire, Executive Director of UIA.
Mr Emely Kugonza welcomed the delegation to Uganda especially to Uganda Investment Authority and noted that the visit fitted well with the UIA 5 year strategic plan objective of reaching out to Hunan to seek strategic investment and networking partnership.
He highlighted some of the reasons making Hunan a well suited partner in development to include;
UIA has a plan to develop 4 regional science and technology parks and it is well-known that Hunan Province is home to Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zones that have major industries that include biotechnology, food processing and heavy industry.
It is also known that Hunan University is one of the most prestigious public research universities in China. Its Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Design and International Trade programs are some of its strongest.
He informed the meeting that this would concretise the collaboration that began sometime back in August 2016, when Mr. Xu Xiang Ping, the Hunan Provincial Director General, led a delegation to attend a one-day Hunan- Uganda Investment Conference here in Kampala. Since then Uganda’s Embassy in Beijing had also been very instrumental in following up on the commitments made to strengthen the collaboration.
An overview on UIA’s mandate to develop Industrial & Business Parks around the country to create jobs and ease accessibility of land for investments was provided. Uganda Free Zones Authority was invited to inform the delegation about the opportunities for investment in the establishment and management of Free Zones. The delegation was later taken on a guided tour round Kampala Industrial Business Park in Namanve, and Roofings Company Ltd.
The Hunan Uganda Trade and Investment Cooperation Conference
The delegation visit was concluded with a Uganda Hunan Trade and Investment Cooperation Matchmaking Conference, which was presided over by the Rt Hon Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and attended by the Ambassadors of both countries as well as various Ministers, Heads of institutions and private sector. H.E Dr. Chrispus Kiyonga, Uganda’s Ambassador to China, said that the forum was opportune to consolidate business to business linkages and a platform to formulate trade and investment exchange mechanisms.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Uganda, H.E Mr. Zhen Zhuqiang, noted that Uganda has enjoyed great stability and the business environment is booming with the economy expected to grow at 5.8% in the coming financial year 2018/19.
He further noted that the service sector grew by 7.3% and the Industrial sector expanded by 6.2% in 2017/18. He stated that Economic trade between the two countries has been beneficial in sectors such as construction and infrastructure. He highlighted new possible partnership areas to include Tourism, Agriculture and Energy.
He called upon the members to participate in the upcoming Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that will be held in September 2018 in Beijing China. H.E. Mr. Xu Dazhe, Governor of the people’s Government of Hunan Province noted that Uganda and Hunan shared similarities such as the friendliness of the people and committed to the two countries working together. He noted that potential areas for exchange between the two countries include Energy and metallic minerals and suggested that a new model of cooperation needs to be formed to concretize the already existing cooperation in tourism, construction and industry and agriculture. He affirmed that the economic integration between Hunan and Uganda will grow and result in economic development.
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, during his key note address, raised a question as to why the two countries hadn’t yet developed their relationship to a vibrant commercial law that is beneficial to both countries. He said that Uganda had for a long time been unresponsive to exporting the desired quantities and qualities needed and infrastructure has been a significant bottle neck.;
‘The good news now is with the help of Chinese companies; the power dams that have just been constructed (Karuma and Isimba) will increase the amount of electricity and help reduce the cost of production. Further, roads
also being worked on and the coming of the Standard Gauge Railway will reduce the cost of transportation.’
He recommended the need to create quota free exportation of goods as one of the outcomes of the partnership. However, Ugandan products should be value added and competitive in quality in order to benefit from the exchange. He emphasised the need to stop wrong elements in trade and urged the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to ensure the quality of goods by putting in place punitive measures. He informed the conference participants that a special mechanism had been put in place to deal with doing business with China.
The Prime Minister, Governor of Hunan, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, as well as the Ambassadors of Uganda and China, witnessed the signing of the Framework Memorandum of Understanding.
During the afternoon one on one sessions, the Executive Director, Mrs Jolly Kaguhanigre, held discussions with the Provincial and business representatives from Hunan, who reiterated their interest in collaboration with UIA to develop agro processing, food processing, pharmaceuticals and mineral beneficiation industrial parks.
Focused discussions on tourism, mining and agriculture / agro processing were also held with identified Ugandan private sectors and relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Site Visits Upcountry
On 21st June 2018, Uganda Grain Council together with UIA and investors from Hunan Province in China travelled to Masindi and Luwero Districts. These visits were a follow up of the Uganda Grain Council visit to Hunan Province in China on invitation of the Uganda Embassy in China.
The visits to Masindi and Luwero districts were aimed at showcasing the potential of Uganda to grow maize, soybeans, simsim and chia seeds. The Uganda Grain Council was also looking to gain market from the Hunan province for the grains. The team toured Asili farms which are operated by a group called the Joseph’s initiative. It is a group of 4 farms totaling 15,000 acres.
The farms grow sunflower, maize, soy bean and sorghum on a commercial level. They also offer training, seeds, fertilizers and crop protection to out growers. The Asili farms are one of the regional grain hubs of the Uganda Grain Council.
The teams also toured the Kehong China– Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park (CUAIP) located in Butuntumula Sub-county, Luweero District. This is a joint venture between the Government of Uganda and China. The Agricultural Park focuses on growing of seeds for rice and the growing of rice on a commercial scale. During the tour the operators of the industrial park informed the team of plans to venture into large scale poultry production.
Going forward on the Grain Collaboration
The delegation from Hunan requested the Grain Council to provide them with exporters of sim-sim, Soy beans, maize and Cotton seed cake so they can partner and do business. The Grain Council in turn also requested Uganda Investment Authority to work closely with the Council to facilitate them in growing their capacity and seeking export opportunities to different markets.
The delegation also visited NARO and appreciated the level of research Uganda is at. They then travelled to Masindi, Kiryandongo and Nakasongola to visit farms of Soya beans, maize, sunflower and sorghum.
The Chairman of the Uganda Grain Council, Mr Chris Kaijuka, stressed the need to identify and agree on commodities of exchange focusing on quantities and qualities. He said Uganda may need support in adding value to the grains inform of provision of equipment for processing and drying.
The Grain Council is going to develop a road map for the exchange mechanism to include short, medium and long term plans. Hunan is more than ready to absorb US$ 500 million is imports from Uganda