BY PPU REPORTER
President Yoweri Museveni has said that although his government inherited a largely collapsed economy when it got into power in 1986, they have managed to take the country's economy through the phases of economic recovery, expanded, diversified and transformed the economy on all fronts.
While addressing a team of investors under the Council for Algerian Economic Renewal-Conseil du renouveau économique algérien (CREA) led by their President Mr. Kamel Moula in Algiers on Monday, President Museveni urged Algerian investors and businessmen to take advantage of Uganda’s profitability by building and locating production facilities in the country which has got all the required raw materials that just need value addition.
“The big battle we have now and we want you to help us is value addition like the coffee for instance. The problem here is that when we export unprocessed coffee, we get little like 2 dollars a kilo and after processing it we get like 50 dollars.
So, this is massive robbery,” H.E Museveni said, adding that with 9 million bags of coffee per year, Uganda ranks number 4 globally in coffee production after Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia.
The President who was concluding his three-day state visit in the North African country, told the Algerian business community that despite the global value of coffee business in the world being 460 billion dollars, the coffee producing countries share only 25 billion dollars out of which Africa gets only 4.8 billion dollars. Uganda being the biggest coffee producer, pockets only 900 million dollars of that.
“It is a big scandal and a battle we’re engaged in,” H.E the President said.
Value addition in coffee is among the ten (10) key priority areas of investment where Algerian investors working together with Uganda’s ministry of Trade should focus their energies on.
The other areas include: Textile industry, Automobiles industry, Chocolate Production using cocoa, Footwear production, Animal feeds production, pharmaceutical starch production, Fruits processing, Human Medicine and vaccine production and Tea processing.
“We have got about 30 factories of tea, but we need more tea buyers but also investing in tea processing. Because there are some areas where we have got the green leaf but less processing capacity. Those are some areas which are not yet covered,” Museveni added.
About footwear production, the Ugandan Head of State informed Algerians that Uganda has built a leather factory which is producing high quality leather, but local absorption of the finished leather is still low.
“Because we have a lot of leather from our leather factory, what we need is a foot factory to use the leather,” he said.
On Animal feeds, the President expressed dismay over the increased imports of animal feeds from Kenya and other countries despite having excess production of maize in Uganda amounting to 4 million tons.
“We produce 5 million tons but consume 1 million tons. How can you have excess maize and you have got a shortage of animal feed,” H.E Museveni wondered!
President Museveni who briefed the investors about the economic history of Uganda said the problem of no value addition and the continued export of unprocessed products had not only made Africa to lose money but also jobs hence underdevelopment.
“When you hear that there’s insecurity in Africa and that African youth are running away going to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea, this is the reason. Africa is the one donating money and jobs to the rest of the world,” the President noted, adding that Uganda is on the right path of waking up people to go from traditional non-money to money economy, producing a lot of raw materials which only need value addition.
The President of the Council for Algerian Economic Renewal-Conseil du renouveau économique algérien (CREA) Mr Kamel Moula informed President Museveni that the private sector is playing a key role in the Algerian economy with plenty of family based private multinational companies leading in the domestic market and are ready to share the knowledge and the know how to Uganda.
“We share the same vision because Africa has been relying on western world. Our president has instructed companies to send 150 representatives to your country to interact with the business community in Uganda to identify the goods we need from each other so that we target our objectives,” Mr. Kamel said.
President Museveni welcomed them to Uganda and commended their strategy of private companies working with the government.
“That’s a very good strategy to combine private sector and the government efforts. That’s how the Chinese economy grew very fast,” H.E Museveni noted.
The meeting was attended by the Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa, the Minister of State for Trade Harriet Ntabazi, the Permanent secretary Geraldine Ssali, Uganda’s Ambassador to Algeria JC Alintuma Nsambu, among other officials.
On the Algerian side were among others; the Vice President of the Council for Algerian Economic Renewal-Conseil du renouveau économique algérien (CREA), Mr. Oma Habes, Mr. Abdeouahed Kerrar (President of the National Union of Pharmacy Operators), Mr. Lazhar Latreche (General Director of the Algerian exterior bank), Mr. Mohamed Lamine Lebbou, (General Director of Algerian National Bank) and Mr. Hassan Khelifati (General Director Allians Assurances).
Before concluding his visit to Algeria, the President held a meeting with Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines Mr. Mohamed Arkab together with the CEO of Sonatrach Mr. Toufik Hakkar and their delegation where discussions hinged on opportunities in oil and gas development in Uganda. The meeting was also attended by officials from Uganda’s Energy Ministry led by Minister Ruth Nankabirwa.
He also met Algeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development M. Mohamed Abdulhafid Hanni and his delegation over animal vaccine/animal product exports between the two countries. The meeting was attended by officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture led by Minister Frank Tumwebaze.
This is President Museveni’s second visit to the North African country after the first one in October 2015 at the invitation of the then President Abudelaziz Bouteflika that saw Uganda open its first ever mission in Algeria to strengthen relations in education, trade and cooperation in the oil and gas sector to boost Uganda's exports.