Governments of both Uganda and Tanzania have said they have started a new economic chapter that will lead citizens of both countries to prosperity through a joint business forum.
Speaking during a press conference in Kampala, the Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Isaac Ssebulime said despite close political ties dating way back, economic ties between the two countries have not been at their best.
“For many years, Uganda’s suffering has been shared by our brothers from Tanzania and because the main business of government is business, it is high time we translate political relations into economic and business ties,”Ssebulime said.
“We can’t concretize or relations or develop without business. This is our first step to doing more business with Tanzania.”
The Tanzanian High Commissioner to Uganda, Aziz Mlina said despite a history of doing business between the two neighboring countries, there is need to improve it through a joint business forum.
“As governments, we have been doing business together but there is need to improve this and our role is to provide a platform that will propel business between the private sector of the two countries,”Mlina said.
“The joint business forum is one of the tools for economic diplomacy and this will improve the welfare of the citizens.”
The Ugandan High Commissioner to Tanzania, Richard Kabonero said the first ever joint economic forum will try to create opportunities and networks where the private sector from both countries can tap for their wellbeing.
Uganda’s exports to Tanzania in 2017 amounted to 49.8 million dollars according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade through goods including pharmaceuticals, cereals, mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, dairy products, eggs, honey, iron and steel.
On the other side, Tanzania exported good worth to 91.7 million dollars in the same period.
According to officials, through the amplified economic ties between Uganda and Tanzania, both countries will undertake joint projects to further their common goal.
The Tanzanian High Commissioner to Uganda said by working on the joint project of the Standard Gauge Railway, they would help ease the cost of transport and doing business between both countries.
“Tanzania is working on the SGR project and by the end of 2019 it will reach Morogoro before going to Mwanza. It will make it easy to transport cargo from Dar-es- Salaam to Mwanza and then to Uganda through Lake Victoria,”Amb.Mlina said.
According to officials from both countries, there is need to fully utilize water transport through Lake Victoria for movement of goods between both nations.
“We need to improve transport on L.Victoria because currently there are a few vessels on the lake yet they have limited capacity to carry cargo making it time consuming,” the Tanzanian High Commissioner said.
Officials said a vessel carries 24 wagons and it takes between 7 and 8 hours from Mwanza to Port Bell port in Uganda but noted it makes it time consuming to transport 200 wagons brought by the train.
“We need to have more joint investments in renovating the vessels currently on the waters and this way, the cost of transport and doing business between the two countries will be reduced,”Mlina said.
Amb.Kabonero admitted there has not been many vessels on L.Victoria but noted that through joint projects, the same can be addressed.
The first ever Uganda Tanzania business forum is scheduled to take place between September 4 and 5 at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar-es- Salaam .
The forum organized by the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation will be graced by Presidents Yoweri Mueseveni and John Pombe Magufuli from both countries.
A new website, WWW.businessforum.biz has been put in place to help participants register for the Uganda -Tanzania business forum.