SMEs prime source of new jobs, income generation- Kasaija tells Indian investors

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (right) and Mr Ashok Agarwal, the President of the India Industries Association introduced (IIA) pose for a photo during the meeting in Kampala on December 4, 2021. PHOTOS/ COURTESY 

SMEs are the prime source of new jobs and play a crucial role in income generation as well as in industrialization processes, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija told Indian investors in a meeting on Saturday. 
“India has consistently remained one of the top investors in Uganda with an estimated investment worth US$1bn in the last two decades. In 2020, India’s investments in Uganda hit USD$200 million,” Mr Kasaija said as he opened the Uganda- India Business Convention at the International Conference Centre, Kampala Serena Hotel.
The convention is part of a series of activities organized for members of the Indian Industries Association (IIA) who are on an eight-day tour of Uganda to explore partnerships in Investment, Trade, and Tourism.

“Uganda and India relations date back to centuries. Over the years these relations have evolved and today, our two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations as demonstrated by the exchange of visits at the highest level and concluded memoranda of understanding in the various fields, making India a strategic partner for Uganda” Mr Kasaija added before noting that the trade between the two countries is still skewed in favor of India. 
In 2020, Uganda exported and imported goods worth US$56.98 million and US$959.11 million respectively. 
According to the minister, however, Uganda has commenced on addressing the trade imbalance, and soon, the national carrier, Uganda Airlines will launch direct flights to India which should enhance trade and tourism relations between the two countries. 
He urged the Ugandan business community to take leverage of this opportunity “to increase our exports to India under the Duty-Free and Tariff Free scheme for LDCs.”

Foreign affairs Minister, Abubakhr Jeje Odongo, who attended the same function hailed the business convention organizers adding that it is in line with the Ministry’s shifted emphasis to economic and commercial diplomacy which will contribute to the full realization of NDP III and the overall Uganda Vision 2040 to transform the country from the peasantry into a middle-income status nation. 
The Minister of State for Trade, Ms Harriet Ntabazi, noted that the visit of the Indian Delegation was a great opportunity for SMEs from both countries to link up and form business partnerships. 
She urged Ugandan Embassies and High commissions to continue mobilizing linkages and partnerships for Uganda’s SMEs to tap new business opportunities.

An MOU between the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Industry Association was signed to foster trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Mr. Ashok Agarwal, the President of the India Industries Association introduced (IIA) as a bridge between the Indian Government and SME units.  
He added that the Indian Government supports SMEs with subsidized lending facilities.
Mr. Agarwal said that IIA can support Uganda with development of industry clusters, know-how transfer, and setting up farm produce export, technology support and food processing units, among others.

The Indian Business delegation was organized and brought to Uganda by Uganda’s High Commission to India.
They are Twenty-member business firms of the India Industries Association engaged in manufacturing, processing, assembling, and other industrial activities including trade in commodities.  
The Association boasts of a membership of 1,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which power India's economic growth and socio-economic transformation.  Led by Mr Agarwal the association has expressed a long-time interest to visit Uganda in order to explore investment opportunities in Uganda's growing economy.  While in Uganda the IIA will visit all the five geographical regions of the country.


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