Monday June 23 2014

Envoy pleased with increase of SA investments in Uganda

Envoy pleased with increase  of SA investments in Uganda

Outgoing South African Ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelaneis received by South African Airlines country manager Yogi Birigwa in Kampala on Friday for the agents’ dinner and gala awards ceremony. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Stephen Otage

The volume of South African Investments in Uganda has more than tripled in the last four years, outgoing South African Ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane has said.

While officiating at the South African Airways annual travel agents awards in Kampala on Friday, Mr Qwelane, who was posted here in 2010, boasted that he is leaving the country after overseeing the increase in the volume of trade and investment between the two countries as well as raising their social and cultural ties.

Seven years ago, South African firms had invested more than $500m (Shs860b) in Uganda. They included telecommunication (MTN Uganda), breweries (SAB Millers), finance (Stanbic Bank), wholesale and retail (Shoprite, Metro Cash and Carry, Woolworths, Game), poultry (Bokomo), Sanlam Insurance, energy (Eskom) and many others.

He said when he arrived in 2010, there were no direct flights between Uganda and South Africa, and traders complained a lot about goods perishing in transit, leading to loss of capital.

“There was a trader who ordered for four tonnes of ice cream which was first offloaded in Mombasa but by the time it left Mombasa for Kampala, all the ice cream had melted,” he said.

He attributed all the positive developments between the two countries to South African Airways country manager Yogi Birigwa, whom he said managed to convince the airlines board to invest in Uganda

Asked about the magnitude of investment, Uganda Investment Authority executive director Frank Ssebowa acknowledged that the trade had grown.
“I know that MTN doubled its investment while upgrading their network. Stanbic Bank also did a network upgrade and one of the Supermarkets also increased its network but I do not have the statistics,” he said.

Travel in Uganda
Tourism is one of Uganda’s exports. It is considered an export because it brings in foreign exchange and it is the number one Forex earner. The travel comprises of Airlines which bring in the tourists from all the international destinations and the local In land travel agencies who provide internal flights to different parts of the country using small aircrafts of by road where.

With tourism again picking up because of the peace and security, many people are again opening up travel agencies to create employment for themselves

south African airlines rewards travel agents
On Friday, South African Airlines hosted its travel agents to recognise and reward those who performed well last year, where 17 of them walked away with cash prizes and plaques.

According to the airlines country manager, Ms Yogi Birigwa, the company which started with three flights a week, now boasts of daily flights, including direct flights to South Africa, which are on high demand by business travellers.

“Today, we are honouring and thanking our agents because we get about 80 per cent of business from them. At the end of the day, it is the service which counts. We have connecting flights and point to point flights which are sometimes known as direct flights,” she said.

The travel agencies plan the travel of tourists by booking for them the domestic transport, accommodation and identifying and recommending the tourists destinations. South Africa is one of the fastest growing sources of foreign direct investment in Uganda.