Today, Thursday 6th October 2022, over 100 Ugandan CEOs, Corporates and Senior Government Officials participated in the first ever high-level Ugandan Private Sector CEO Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the Serena Kampala Hotel. The inaugural breakfast meeting was presided over by the Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, under the theme; “Positioning the Private Sector for New Opportunities and Markets for Sustainability and thriving economies through AfCFTA”.
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister appreciated the Presidential CEO Forum (PCF) Secretariat and the Private Sector for organizing the interactive forum which is a testimony to how Uganda’s Government aims to bring about Growth and Prosperity through tapping into the expanded Markets. “The challenge to the Private sector is how best they can compete in these New Markets which have been created from the various initiatives”, she said. Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanjarevealed that she had received a directive from H.E. the President to close over 30 road blocks that have impeded trade along the major routes with the EAC. The Prime Minister shared that among other opportunities, Uganda can be the net exporter in Africa given how blessed the land is and the efforts by the Government to open up roads, make railway transport viable and provide security to pacify Africa’s regions.
Delivering the Key Note Speech at the meeting of business leaders and champions of Industry in Uganda, H.E. Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commended the Ugandan Private Sector, Business Leaders and Heads of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for being at the forefront of promoting opportunities under the AfCFTA. “Currently, 54 countries are signatories to the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA and we now have 44 countries that have ratified and deposited their instruments of ratification, making them State PartiesUganda having been the 9th Country”, said the AfCFTA Secretary General.
H.E. Wamkele Mene revealed that, to achieve the aspiration of the AfCFTA and ensure that gains in economic growth are inclusive – of Women, Youth, and MSMEs – and ultimately sustainable, there is need for real action on the ground. “In recognition of the pivotal role of the Private Sector to deliver on the promises of the AfCFTA, the Secretariat, in collaboration with our partners, has launched an Inclusive Private Sector Engagement Plan, based on four initial priority Value Chains – Agro-processing, Automotives, Pharmaceuticals, and Transport and Logistics.”- the AFCFTA Secretary General shared.
“Already, an amount of US$1 billion has been mobilized by the Afreximbank for the development of the Automotive Value Chain and support Industrialization in the Continent. Uganda can become a first-rate Continental producer and provider of some of the needed goods and services such as; Coffee, Cocoa, Oil seeds, Animal and Animal Products, Tourism, Communication, Transport, Business and Financial Services among others”, H.E.Wamkele Mene reiterated.
The Presidential CEO Forum Chairman, Ms. Barbara Mulwana appreciated the delegates for committing to achieving the lofty mandate of an effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP), stressing that, “a towering economy is advantageous to all of us and it is imperative that collaborative effort prevails in order to fast track it’s attainment”. Ms. Mulwana emphasized that, entrenching PPP in the delivery of the AfCFTA agenda is a mooted and substantive presentation of the good will by AfCFTA Secretariat in which Africa would leverage a lot through the production and sale of goods and services across seamless borders.
Some of the delegates who shared their insights on how Uganda’s Private Sector can participate in the AfCFTA revealed that, Uganda exported about USD 806.7 Million of primary agricultural products to the African Market. East Africa’s intra-African trade in terms of the value of exports is expected to increase by 13% after the implementation of AfCFTA. With AfCFTA creating a single market for goods and services, this will deepen Economic Integration of Africa and form the world’s largest Free Trade Area connecting about 1.2 billion people with a GDP worth $2.5 trillion .
The High-level CEO Forum on AfCFTA was organised by the Presidential CEO Forum (PCF) Secretariat in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MFPED), National Planning Authority (NPA), Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI), Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE).
The Presidential CEO Forum (PCF) is an indigenous body established in 2020 which champions the participation of the Private Sector in activities that foster Social Economic Development of Uganda. This unique CEOs Platform represents the Private Sector; Manufacturers and Industrialists, who work closely with Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to reinforce Private Sector inclusion in development matters.
Sarah Kabasinguzi Kibenge
Senior Policy Advocacy and Research
PRESIDENTIAL CEO FORUM SECRETARIAT