Yesterday, 6th September 2023 marked the conclusion of the Uganda-SA Investment and Trade Summit in which MTN Group convened key companies in the South African private sector with operations in Uganda to Accelerate Investments and Trade between Uganda and South Africa.
The Summit which was convened in line with MTN’s commitment to partnerships in driving sustainable development was [presided over] by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
Speaking at the Summit, MTN Group Chairman Mcebisi Jonas, noted the importance of working together and paying focused attention on the growth and development of the various countries that MTN has operations in and in Africa as a whole.
He said, “as a Pan-African organization MTN sees its role as an important part of the broader conversation to support and facilitate growth and development across the continent and that is why the Group has played its part in engaging with the public and private sector to make the Summit a reality.”
In attendance from South Africa was a government delegation led by the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development Thoko Didiza, the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies and her Excellency the South African High Commission to Uganda.
The private sector, which was led by the Forum for South African Business in Uganda was represented by leadership of MTN, Standard Bank Group, Absa Group, Multichoice, Quantum Foods, Tiger Brands, Woolworths, Convergence Partners and Sanlam Group alongside amongst others.
The Summit, which builds on an initial Uganda-SA Investment Trade Summit that was hosted by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in February continued the conversations related to bilateral trade and investment across the two countries.
Specifically, the Summit’s success was in how it enabled commitments to be made and discussions related to solutions to the structural weaknesses that the continent faces and the problems that hampers its progress.
Topics under discussion looked at key pillars of trade including the strengthening of institutional quality and lowering the cost of doing business as well as encouraging intra-regional and continental trade. On this topic Jonas said “we are encouraged by the continued commitment to the AfCFTA, which will play a significant role in ensuring enhanced trade within and across our borders. I am hopeful that through discussions such as these, we will be able to reduce the current hampering trade costs in our continent to well below the current comparator of more than 50% higher than East -Asia.
The discussions over the two days enabled trade and investment plenary sessions across key sectors as well as roundtable discussions and the ability of business and government to engage. To make these tangible a business exhibition was hosted, with delegates closing off the Summit by attending the MTN Skills Academy launch and visiting the Kabalega Industrial Park on 7 September.
In his concluding remarks at the Summit President Museveni said he forgave MTN for the past thanked MTN along with Stanbic and Absa for their efforts and participation in the Summit. He further encouraged the companies to continue to invest in Uganda and to encourage other businesses across industries, including manufacturing to invest and beneficiate in the country.