Uganda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are preparing to sign a double taxation agreement later this month to better facilitate trade between the two countries, Uganda’s ambassador to the UAE, HE Irene Florence Persis Wekiya, told Uganda’s New Vision.
“We want to put a stop to double taxation. The deal will be signed by the Ministry of Finance and the Uganda Revenue Authority to boost bi-lateral relations with the UAE,” she said.
Speaking at the Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai, Wekiya told the news outlet that the deal has been planned for October 20, and that the embassy in Abu Dhabi is marketing Uganda’s challenges and investment potential.
The developments comes at a time of growing Gulf and UAE interest in East Africa’s markets – an example being Al Futtaim Group’s $86.3m purchase of a 91.6% stake in Kenya’s CMC Holdings, with its 33% stake in Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers and its subsidiaries in Uganda and Tanzania.
Flydubai also launched a new route to Entebbe in Uganda in September, in addition to new routes to Bujumbura in Burundi and Kigali in Rwanda, bringing it to nine Africa destinations.
September also saw the hosting of the East African Buyers Forum at the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi. Non-oil trade between the UAE and East Africa hit $6.3bn in 2013, excluding free zone trade that registered a further $3bn.
East Africa is also a region of interest in terms of infrastructure investment, and at the same forum DP World chairman HE Sultan bin Sulayem noted: “The route from Tanzania, Burundi, through South Sudan and Uganda also needs railroads and roads, which will help build cities.”
In an interview with Gulf Africa Review, Ambassador Wekiya meanwhile highlighted the agricultural and touristic potential of the ‘Pearl of Africa’, noting: “We have a history of foreign investment, and indeed the richest people in Uganda are not originally from Uganda.”
And indeed beyond the UAE, Fouad Alghanim, CEO of Kuwait’s Alghanim Group, recently led discussions on agro-processing opportunities with Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, alongside talks on hydro-electric power generation projects and critical rail infrastructure.
Uganda particularly leads global banana production with an output of 10 million tonnes a year, and is also looking to expand its coffee production from four to 11 million bags a year, on top of its production of 60 million kilos of tea, as well as other fruits, maize and cassava.
In 2013, an Abu Dhabi-backed US firm Parabel also completed the first phase of a $7m agro-investment in Entebbe into the culture of aquatic plant biomass for food and animal feed.