By Hamza Kyeyune
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - Uganda remains a key investment destination for Turkey in Africa, Uganda's Ambassador to Ankara Stephen Mubiru told Anadolu Agency as the 3rd Africa-Turkey Partnership Summit in Istanbul concluded on Dec. 18.
"Turkish investors should look at Uganda as their investment destination because they will find a well-regulated highly liberalized economy in which all sectors are open for investment and there is free movement of capital to and from the country," said Mubiru.
The face of Africa is changing, its demography is expanding and so is its fate. The size of the African market is widening, and as a neighboring country, Turkey is strengthening its influence on the continent.
Since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited in 2016 – the first-ever presidential visit to Uganda from Turkey – relations have grown between the two countries based on common understanding and mutual respect.
Over the years, the two countries have developed political, economic, educational, cultural and social relations along with ties in other areas. The trade volume with Uganda increased to $63 million in 2020 from $41 million in 2019, according to Turkish Ambassador Fikret Kerem Alp.
“A big development gap exists between Africa and the rest of the world,” Alp told Anadolu Agency. “Our desire is to share our development model with Africa in general and Uganda in particular, ultimately to realize shared prosperity.”
Turkish contractors have carried out major development initiatives in Uganda in the public and private sectors as well as high-tech infrastructure.
Turkish company Polat Yol Yapi won a civil works contract to upgrade the 92-kilometer (57-mile) Muyembe–Nakapiripirit road in the northeast and work will be completed in 2023. The important road will link Uganda to neighbors Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Many residents are employed through Turkey’s investments, thereby creating employment for Ugandans.
In November, the Ugandan Embassy in Turkey opened an honorary consulate in one of Turkey's top tourist provinces, Antalya, with Emek Eker inaugurated as Uganda's honorary consul.
“We chose our partners in accordance with our priorities. The Turkish leadership has shown a willingness to share the Turkish model of development with us based on mutual respect and a win-win strategy,” Uganda’s Foreign Minister Abubaker Jeje Odongo said recently.
Turkey is now more visible among African youngsters through its government scholarships program Turkiye Burslari. More than 15,000 African students have received scholarships from Turkey in the last 20 years. Other African youths are visible in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in Turkey as businesspeople, tourists and immigrants from countries on the continent.
“Trade and investment opportunities are abundant in Uganda, in various sectors of agriculture, education, health, ICT among others,” Chairman for the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Morisson Rwakakamba told Anadolu Agency
"Areas of Investment opportunities that exist are in services, education, finance, and health. Priority sectors for investment include commercial agriculture and agro-processing, building and construction, transport, information communication technology, oil and Gas among many others," he added.
Uganda’s labor is highly trainable and the cost is competitive in the region.
Turkey’s presence in Africa is reciprocal. Today, about 40 African states have embassies in Ankara and thousands of Africans prefer Turkey as a destination for work, education, trade, and investment or tourism.
The trade volume between Africa and Turkey increased from around $5.4 billion in 2003 to around $26 billion in 2019, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute, also known as TurkStat.
The Turkish government pays special attention to development projects on the continent through its aid agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA).
Several projects have been implemented in Uganda through TIKA, in education, agricultural development, environment and infrastructure and a women's empowerment project was launched under the auspices of the first lady of Turkey Emine Erdogan in 2016 among others.
TIKA Uganda Coordinator Omer Aykon is currently in charge of the initiatives.
Turkey’s approach to Africa is framed by mutual declarations accepted in two Turkey-Africa Summits under the Joint Implementation Plans accepted and signed by parties during the summits.
According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Turkey has been making an annual financial contribution of $1 million to the African Union since 2009.