KAMPALA – Uganda’s President Museveni has pledged to support Somalia in its bid to join the East African Community (EAC) and exploit trade opportunities that exist in the region.
Mr Museveni said Somalia has all qualifications to join EAC, which include; sharing a border with one of the member countries, having a private sector-led economy, and being a democratic country.
He was speaking during the closing ceremony of a two-day inaugural Uganda-Somalia business and investment summit held in Kampala yesterday.
The summit attended by Somalia President Hassan Sheik Mohamud, among other dignitaries, aimed at providing a platform for the private sector, the business community, and the government to discuss ways of reducing the cost of doing business between the two countries.
ECA currently comprises Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and DR Congo. Mr. Abdirashid Duale, the chief executive officer of Dahabshiil, a money transfer company, said the summit not only presents opportunities but also helps the business community understand the challenges that people in the region face.
Mr Duale said while Dahabshiil operates in Uganda, there are more opportunities for the company to expand due to a conducive investment environment.
Other companies, including Somtel, one of Somalia’s largest telecom companies, exhibited their products and services at the summit.
According to SomInvest, an investment promotional agency in the horn of Africa, Somalia is striving to attract investors in renewable energy and expand on its power generation capacity.
Renewable energy is a viable and immediate way to increase affordable energy, according to the African Development Bank (ADB).
Somalia has one of the highest potentials for onshore wind power in Africa and one of the highest rates of daily total solar radiation in the world.
Ms Amina Hersi, a Kampala-based woman of Somali origin, who runs a number of businesses in Uganda, including Atiak Sugar Factory, said EAC provides a huge market that all member states should exploit.
On Tuesday, President Mohamud visited Luweero Industries, which is managed by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, in Nakasongola District.
Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeeyi, the general manager of the facility, told President Mohamud that they carry out many activities, among them the production of crop fertilizers, mineral water, explosives, breeding of cattle for beef, and manufacture of medicines.
President Mohamud said he was amazed at the diversity of areas that UPDF is engaged in and gaining tangible results. He stated that this reminds him of how useful the military is to society.
During a high-level retreat for the East African Community common market last month, Somalia expressed interest to join EAC. President Mohamud said Somalia belongs to EAC since it has been doing business with member states.