How Ugandan Govt. woos investors by providing free land
The Ugandan government in an effort to promote the export of value-added products and also generate jobs and revenue for its people has promised free land to investors in the country.
The president Yoweri Museveni who made this promise at the opening ceremony of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC) meeting held in Kampala recently stated that the government intends to recover the cost of the land through job creation for the people and that this would boost the investment climate in the country.
He noted that the OECD works closely with other stakeholders in Africa to support African countries in developing policy reforms that strengthen investment and development adding that the two-day forum which brought together 30 European countries, the United States of America (USA), Japan, South Korea and Mexico has its objective as addressing the challenges of globalization.
The president stated that transport costs remain high in Africa, accounting for 14% of the value of exports, compared to only 8.6% for developed countries and that currently, only 27.6% of Africa’s two million kilometers of roads are paved compared to 43% in Asia and 33.5% in Latin America. “If we address this bottleneck, including adding value to our products, our economies will be doing much better,” Museveni said.
As it concerns energy, he warned environmentalists against sabotaging the building of hydro-power dams adding that building a dam in Africa is a war. “Some so-called environmentalists talk of environmental protection when in Uganda we destroy 40 billion cubic meters of wood annually for firewood.”
He said that Africa needs to use alternative sources of energy to attract investments and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which calls for the reduction of poverty by half by 2015.
“If we don’t develop electricity facilities, how shall we achieve the MDGs? Are we supposed to use magic, witchcraft or what?” Electricity together with transport will lower the cost of doing business and will open investment opportunities.”
Also speaking at the Forum, the Acting Chief Executive of New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), Amb. Olukorede Willoughby, said African governments need to develop consistent policies in a bid to attract private investors to the road sector adding that there is high risk involved and that African governments need to give assurances, fight corruption, improve transparency and political stability
In a related development, the Ugandan government has also decided to fight poverty by allocating more funds to agriculture in its national budgets to a minimum of 10% and also to maintain a growth rate of 6%.
The government has also seen the need to spend more in order to meet the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) goals of fighting poverty through aligning more funding to the agricultural sector, which it has not met since 2003.
However stakeholders say that Uganda’s agricultural growth has stagnated at below 4% for many years and that it was 0.4% in 2007, while funding rotates around 4%.
Its State Minister for Agriculture, Bright Rwamirama, pointed these out during a conference at Munyonyo, decrying the low funding to the agriculture sector, “We need to do more financing of the sector if poverty is to be fought. Agriculture is implemented in remote areas with hardly any infrastructure and it is susceptible to weather vagaries.”
He stated that agriculture accounts for 30-60% of the gross domestic product, 60-90% of employment and 25-45% of export earnings in most African countries adding that over 70% of Africans live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for survival.
Also speaking on the need to fund agriculture, the Ugandan Vice-President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, said that intervening in infrastructure development, health and education will have a positive effect on the development of the agricultural sector.
He observed that when the roads are good, agriculture would be boosted adding that in the 2009 budget, the government definitely would allocate more money to the agricultural sector.
He stated: “Several countries have already achieved the CAADP agreed goals. These include Mali, Madagascar, Namibia, Niger, Chad and Ethiopia. All have budgets that are above 10%.
Prof. Bukenya emphasized that the government in an attempt to promote the export of value-added products and generate jobs and revenue has offered investors free land adding that land should be given free without the question of whether there would be rent or not and that this would be recovered ultimately through job creation for the people, when the investment climate is boosted.