UAE plans to build free trade zone in Uganda

Friday August 28 2015


Kampala- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking for land close to a lake in Uganda where to establish a free trade zone.

A free trade zone is an area in which goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of customs authorities.

UAE Ambassador to Uganda Abdulla Mohammed Al Takkawi said if they got such land, more investors from the Emirates would set up shop in Uganda, adding that the National Bank of Abu Dhabi wants to invest in some projects here.

“The one in charge of free trade zones in Dubai came here; he wants a place by the lake and a main road,” Mr Takkawi said yesterday while meeting Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

“Business people prefer it that way. When we get it, he will come here and bring business people with him.”

The ambassador did not say how much land they would need and what kind of factories they would establish.


Uganda enacted a Free Zone law in 2014. The law provides for the establishment of free zones – areas where the goods introduced into the designated areas are exempt from Uganda Revenue Authority taxes.

Some governments adopt the policy to attract foreign investors.

However, critics say given that many sub–Sahara African governments have low tax bases, free zones deprive them of revenues.

“The free zone people are willing to make Uganda a free zone,” Mr Takkawi said. “They want to establish factories here.”

Ms Kadaga, on her part, called on the UAE to help to train Ugandans in oil and gas matters.

The trade volumes
Ugandan exports. According to the Bank of Uganda 2014 figures, Uganda exported items worth $81m (about Shs288b) in 2013, down from $217.97m (Shs776b) in 2012, to the UAE..
UAE exports. The UAE exported goods worth $348.30m (about Shs1.2 trillion) to Uganda in 2013.