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Uganda Plans Investments worth $806 Million in Q1 vs $223.3 Million in Q4 2011

Uganda's planned investment more than tripled in the first quarter of this year from the preceding three months, buoyed by increasing interest in the country's energy sector, a state agency said on Wednesday.

Poised to be a top-50 crude oil producer, Uganda's economy is forecast to grow at 5.4 percent in the 2012/2013 (July-June) fiscal year, fueled by investments in infrastructure and energy, according to the finance ministry.

It is expected to expand at a rate of 5 percent this fiscal year, from 6.3 pct for the fiscal year 2010/2011.

Patrick Bitature, chairman of the Uganda Investment Authority, said east Africa's third biggest economy recorded planned investments worth $806 million between January and March compared with $223.3 million in the last quarter of 2011.

"The energy...sector recorded the highest value of planned investment ... followed by mining, real estate and business services," he said.

Uganda is beset by frequent and widespread power outages from years of underinvestment and poor planning in the sector, which have in turn hobbled industrial growth.

The country's power supply deficit is currently estimated at 130 megawatts (MW) and last year, 24-hour-long outages sparked a series of riots across the nation.

The government has in recent years stepped up efforts to promote private investment in the sector in part to fill the gap in public financing.

In the next financial year the government has allocated a total of 215 billion shillings ($86.59 million) toward the financing of 700 MW Karuma hydropower project.

According to the investment agency, Ugandans accounted for the largest chunk of planned investment at $708 million followed by Sweden with investments worth $78 million.

UK explorer Tullow Oil says it plans to invest up to$750 million in Uganda this year with its partners, France's Total and China's CNOOC, as the country races to start commercial oil production.

By Elias Biryabarema
Reuters
16-May-2012

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