Uganda PM discusses Entrepreneurship and Investing as Obama visits Africa
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Uganda Prime Minister Discusses Entrepreneurship and Investing as Obama Visits Africa

(Image: wikipedia)

One of the purposes of the President’s visit is to promote entrepreneurship in the area. How much emphasis is your government putting on entrepreneurship as a way to stem unemployment?

It’s a very high priority of ours. We’re training young people in entrepreneurship. We’re making money available to help startups through programs like the Youth Venture Capital Fund. We have seen that a number of young Ugandans have got good ideas and skills, but what they have been lacking is capital.  The government put the fund together to empower the young people who have good business proposals to get access to money. They have to have a business proposal which is examined. They also have to pass a preliminary test. The government then makes funds available depending on the size and scope of the project. The critical point is that the money they get is adequate to succeed. Once they create businesses, they can create jobs. It has had significant impact and many young people have demonstrated that they can create jobs for themselves and for other youth.

What are you doing to ease concerns and perceptions about doing business in Uganda?

The government is embarking on major reforms to make it easier for investors to do business in Uganda. We are reducing the number of licenses needed for businesses.  We are creating a one-stop center that will let foreign investors get what they need to start a business within a day or two.  You go to the center, which is run by the Ugandan Investment Authority, and they can assist with immigration requirements and the necessary licensing. We are also starting online registration for businesses and online information that is available for businesses and investors.

Entrepreneurs — and potential foreign investors — also express concerns about the high cost of necessities like electricity, transportation, and telecommunications.  What are some of the things your government is doing to address these issues?

We are working hard to review costs and create a favorable environment for investors. We are trying to make power and other utilities much more accessible by assuring that industries, for example, have power and other services that are competitive with the rest of the region.

What would you like to say to potential investors?

I would really say, first of all, that the government of Uganda and Africa are taking security concerns seriously, and that investors should feel confident and safe to invest their businesses in Uganda. The government will give them as much as possible.  The U.S. should do more to support and encourage that message, and there should be a summit in Washington. We are glad that President Obama is visiting Africa. All of this will improve confidence among American investors and bridge the gaps.


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