Written by Ambassador Zaake Kibedi – UAE
Building on the gains from the official opening of the Dubai Expo 2020, Uganda has continued to register key milestones. Basing on its four-mile journey strategy at the Expo, Uganda’s aviation industry recorded an important milestone that will serve to foster increased trade, investment and tourism between Uganda and UAE in particular and the entire Middle East in general.
The milestone was the official launch of the Uganda Airlines flights to United Arab Emirates which took place on the 9th October 2021 in Dubai at the Uganda’s Dubai Expo Pavilion and presided over by the Hon. Fred Byamukama, Minister of State for Transport and Works.
The launch of Uganda Airlines to Dubai comes as a result of the continued lobbying efforts by the Uganda Embassy in UAE aimed at opening up the Dubai route for the country’s carrier. In mid this year the Embassy secured a flight permit for Uganda Airlines to fly to Dubai and this certainly was a big score for Uganda.
Without a doubt, the Dubai route is going to become a game changer as it will not only increase on the Uganda’s exports volumes to the UAE, but also will increase the inflow of tourists from UAE to Uganda.
In the last three years, Uganda’s exports to UAE have grown from US$600m to US$1.5bn today. With more cargo incentives to Uganda exporters there is a foreseeable likelihood of Uganda’s exports to UAE to grow further to at least US$ 2.2bn in the next one year.
However, it must be noted that if Uganda is to fully exploit her export potential especially to the UAE, there is immediate need to address the current impediments such as lack of consistent supplies in terms of quantities and quality.
A quick visit to the food markets and supermarkets in the UAE, one will be quick to observe that almost all the food products grown in Uganda can access the UAE market with almost no restriction. But you will find very few Uganda’s products on the shelves as compared to the supplies from countries like India, Bangladesh and as far as Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.
The glaring reason for this deficit is due to the fact that Uganda’s exports cannot be supplied consistently in sufficient volumes and at the required and acceptable standards. Therefore, there is urgent need for the key stakeholders like; the farmers; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives; Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) amongst others to do the needful and address the factors affecting consistent supplies of food products to UAE.
There are urgent interventions that the government must do in order to address the current bottlenecks
Some of the required interventions needed are as below:
- In order for the farmers and exporters to be able to fully engage in large scale and meaningful farming and export of products, there is now a compelling need for government to set up an Agricultural Bank to support farmers in order address those challenges, hence enhance production and improve product standards.
- There is also need to support Local Governments to build capacity in order to be able to offer requisite technical support to farmers to improve their agricultural practices so as to improve on production.
- In order to mitigate the current challenges of maintaining the freshness and integrity of the food products for export, there is need to increase on the cold storage facilities at the Entebbe Airport which can be accessed and rented by the exporters at an a reasonably affordable cost.
The launch ceremony was attended by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Transport Mr. Bageya Waiswa; Uganda’s Ambassador to the UAE, H. E. Zaake Kibedi; the Acting CEO of Uganda Airlines Ms. Jenifer Bamuturaki; the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Patrick Ocailap; the Chairman of Airbus Africa and the Middle East Region Mr Mikhaïl Houari; and several senior UAE and Uganda Government Officials.
Later in the evening, Uganda Airlines and Uganda Embassy in Abu Dhabi entertained guests to a dinner attended amongst others by the UAE Director for Airport Transport Mr Abdulla Mohammed Bin Khediya.
It should be noted that the Uganda Embassy in Dubai is leveraging on the ongoing expo by organizing four theme month promotions and exposure campaigns for Uganda’s targeted areas as follows:
- December it will be Tourism and Uganda/UAE convention.
- January it will be Trade, Industries and Manufacturing.
- February it will be Agriculture and Agro-processing and Agribusiness
- March it will be Science and Innovation.
The Embassy would like to encourage all those that are able to participate and take advantage of this exposure to do so in order to enable Uganda reap maximum benefits from the expo.