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Unlocking Potential in Uganda: Key Takeaways from the Entebbe International Business Summit

Entebbe, Uganda - The recently concluded Entebbe International Business Summit, held at the heart of Uganda's commercial and military hub, drew in a crowd of eager entrepreneurs, industry experts, and government officials keen on tapping into Uganda's growing economic potential. The two-day event, hosted by the Africa Center for Economic Dialogue and the Entebbe Chamber of Commerce marked the fifth year of the summit and proved to be a resounding success, setting the stage for future business collaborations and investments in the region.

One of the key highlights of the summit was the presence of Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Mwebesa Francis, who attended at the request of Vice President Jessica Alupo. Francis expressed his contentment with the presence of so many young entrepreneurs at the event, and praised AfCED Executive Director Julius Nsubuga for his leadership. The event also saw esteemed speakers such as HE Muhammad Hassan Wazir, Ambassador to Uganda from Pakistan. Wazir's presentation shared valuable insights on Uganda and Pakistan trade relations.

In 2022, Uganda exported $40.6M to Pakistan. Wazir commented that much of Uganda's exports to Pakistan are raw materials, which Pakistan adds value through its modern manufacturing processes and sells on the world market at a substantial mark up. He encouraged Ugandans to pursue value addition opportunities and extended an invitation for those in attendance to visit his home nation. The main products exported from Uganda to Pakistan in 2022 were Tea at $27.9M.

Professor Charles Kwesiga, who's illustrious career as an industrial engineer in the United States led Uganda President Yoweri Museveni to invite him back to his homeland where he now is the Executive Director of the Uganda Industrial Research Institute. UIRI's core activities focus on establishing platforms for value addition; product development; process design; sourcing technologies; fabrication of machinery; managing processing plants; provision of SME outreach services; and business incubation. Kwesiga, left the country during the reign of Idi Amin, and was able to provided a historical overview of the development of Entebbe during his presentation.

The atmosphere within the summit hall was described as electric, with over 40 vendors representing various entities, including tourism brands, banking institutions like ABSA Bank, and business development officers from companies like Britam Holdings. Nsubuga, remarked that this year's summit may have been the best one yet, reflecting the growing interest and enthusiasm surrounding Uganda's business landscape. He and John Mugabi Socrates, Chairperson of the Entebbe Chamber of Commerce each have walked side by side all five years of the Entebbe summit after first meeting at Kyambogo University.

Professor Robinah Nanyunja, speaking on a panel related to spurring investment in Uganda, highlighted the need for capacity building and project facilitation to bridge the gap between investors and viable projects. She went on to invite attendees to join her organization, Pilot International and Women's Entrepreneurship Forum Africa, in their efforts to facilitate investment opportunities in Uganda. Nanyunja, a no nonsense businesswoman is quietly leading a surge in women involvement in large scale business operations throughout East Africa.

Also in attendance was Ethan Brisby, the Founder of SHIFT Enterprise Academy. Brisby, an African American resettling in Uganda, introduced SHIFT Forward Centers, innovative mixed-use developments aimed at designing and developing sites in strategic locations around the country where residential, office, retail, and industrial uses are delivered within one site. The model is similar to modern development trends in live, work, play and will include a venture studio and research into robotics for industry. Brisby who spent ten years as a real estate professional in Texas prior to his time in East Africa, offered multiple investment opportunities for those interested in contributing to the development of these centers.

As Uganda continues to evolve into a middle-income nation, events like the Entebbe International Business Summit play a crucial role in facilitating dialogue, networking, and real business outcomes. With agriculture accounting for a significant share of Uganda's export earnings and GDP, and the country's economy showing promising growth potential, there has never been a better time to explore business opportunities in Uganda.

As the next investment summit is scheduled to be held in Kampala in May 2024, interested parties are encouraged to seize the opportunity to be part of Uganda's economic transformation journey.

For those interested in exploring business opportunities in Uganda, the Uganda Investment Authority provides valuable resources and support to facilitate investment in key sectors such as agriculture, industry, and services. With a GDP per capita of USD 964 most opportunities are ground floor and there is much room for growth. Uganda may just be Africa's sleeping giant offering a promising environment for business growth and investment.

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Will Forward Centers be in other places than Uganda?

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