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Turkey Industrialist discusses Uganda Business Opportunities

Tuesday July 19, 2011

On May 9-13, Turkey hosted the forth UN conference on least developed countries.Isaac Omoding had an online interview with Dr. Mustafa Gunay, Secretary General of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) on its business opportunities and related issues for Uganda. Below are excerpts:

QUESTION: Dr. Mustafa Gunay, Turkey on May 9 – 13, 2011 hosted the Forth UN conference on least developed countries (LDCs). As TUSKON Secretary General, which business opportunities did you identify in that conference that you could recommend a country like Uganda to follow-up?

ANSWER: I think, investment in agriculture, mining industries, infrastructure projects, small size manufacturing are mainly key elements of sustainable development for Uganda. On the other side, cooperation with reliable foreign partners, joint-venture investment and representative activities are important steps to advance.

From your experience, how do you think Uganda and Turkey could work together to improve business and trade ties?

I think, positive political relations should be reflected in the trade between the two countries.

As TUSKON, we already realised business events with Uganda. I think, economic cooperation between Turkey and Uganda is more important and especially in 2010, Turkey accelerated its trade relations with Uganda by organizing bilateral delegations and forums.

For example, the Turkey-Uganda Business Forum in Kampala hosted about 40 Turkish businessmen, and 200 Ugandan business people also showed great interest in the forum.

The forum was organised as a side meeting at the first term meeting of the Turkish-Ugandan Joint Economic Commission (JEC), whose co-chairman is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State H.E. Bülent Arınç. Previously when H.E.Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, visited Turkiye for a state visit, TUSKON had organized a business forum in Turkey.

I believe President of Uganda H.E.Yoweri Museveni gives importance to the economic and political relations with Turkey.

Consequently, organised business events like those are very productive for both countries, I hope we will organize new business programs with Uganda in the near future.

In addition, direct and indirect flights of Turkish Airlines between Turkiye and Africa especially Uganda, which are supplied by the way of TUSKON’s deep efforts, are very productive and comfortable for Turkish and Ugandan businesspeople.

Turkey has a strong and vibrant business sector; which possible business areas would you encourage Ugandans to go for?

Uganda has a population of nearly 33.5 million consisting mainly of young people. This is good for upcoming economic activity. With an organised employment programme, this young population can become a perfect advantage for Uganda.

As an advice about business areas, Uganda have rich underground and aboveground natural resources, and the weather conditions in Uganda are suitable for agriculture and livestock breeding for the whole year.

All these features present big occasions for both Ugandan and foreign contractors. Uganda should focus on these business areas, especially in terms of industrial and raw materials.

I think one of the setbacks and key important area while developing is logistics. For easing the logistics a railway should be built between Kampala and Dar-es- Salaam or Mombasa.

Uganda is an agricultural country with plenty of fruits, how best do you think Uganda can benefit from Turkish industrial exposure in order to add value to its products?

The best ways to add value to agricultural products are packaging them for selling or producing alimentation goods by machinery.

As you know, Turkish machine manufacturers sell high quality machines with cheaper prices than European manufacturers. Ugandan businessmen can buy food machines, agricultural machines, packaging machines from Turkiye or they can collaborate to invest with Turkish businessmen.

As a result of this, they can sell their products in Uganda and export their products to nearby countries and European countries.

Textile is one of Turkish well developed sector; how can Uganda’s cotton growing community benefit from that experience?

Uganda’s cotton growing community can follow in Turkiye’s footsteps in textile sector and contact with experienced Turkish companies in this area.

But the best way to play a game better is to play that game with professional players.

For this reason, I think Ugandan businessmen should collaborate with our textile businessmen. There are a lot of manufacturers would like to settle their factory abroad, especially cotton growing countries.

In order to get this kind of investments, Ugandan government has to give incentives which I think should be better than Egypt and Ethiopia.There are Turkish investments in Egypt more than $2b and in Ethiopia more than $1b.

As Consulate for Uganda, what is your assessment of Turkish business community in Uganda in building potential business synergies?

As you know, I am already Secretary General of TUSKON which is the most widespread business organization in Turkiye.

So, I am encouraging Turkish businesses to invest in Ugandan market and set up partnerships together with Ugandans. Also I would like to say that there are more Turkish investors in Uganda then 2 years ago.

What policies have the Turkish government implemented to boost the private sector which Uganda can learn from?

Turkish companies are encouraged for public-private sector cooperation by Turkish government.

The government takes incentive steps to enhance private sector employment. Ugandan government can legislate to support Ugandan entrepreneurs to develop private sector.

The formation of a strong private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), through free trade and investment is a key engine of economic growth.

An examination of the last 30 years of Turkish economic history provides an excellent example of this.

The New Vision Newspaper

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