Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), under the Office of the President in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), are working together to unveil unique investment opportunities in every region of Uganda to local and international investors. In this light, they have organized the Rwenzori Investment Expo (RIEX), the third in a series of symposia.
Earlier organized were the Uganda-China investment and the West Nile symposia which paved way for successful inter-linkages between the Public and Private sector, local government, development partners and the community creating strong synergies for improved service delivery in the intended areas.
Due to the proven success of the previous symposia, RIEX is a fundamental and necessary activity to harness the great potential of the Rwenzori region.
The symposium is scheduled to take place between 30thand 31stJanuary 2020 under the theme “Investments for Local Economic Development” at the Mountains of the Moon University in Fort-portal city.
The Rwenzori region consists of a number of districts namely: Kabarole, Kasese, Kamwenge, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kyenjojo, and Kyegegwa.
The region is blessed with fertile soils that enable residents to practice subsistence agriculture trading in food crops such as bananas, maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, tea and animal husbandry.
Endowed with natural resources like minerals (copper, cobalt ore, salt, etc.), freshwater lakes and wildlife, Land linked to Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi, Rwenzori region presents itself as a hub for a multi-dimensional development agenda.
The Batoro, a tribe of people whose Kingdom palace is situated in Fort-portal often say, “Toro okasemera” to mean the kingdom of Toro is a beautiful place gifted with nature.
Many tourist sites like the kingdom of Toro itself, Rwenzori summit hike to Margherita peak, “amabere ga’nyinamwiru” to mean stalagmites and stalactites, various crater lakes and others alongside an impeccable hospitality sector.
In light of the Rwenzori region’s absolute advantage, this week’s symposium will focus on a number of sectors tailored to tap into its great underlying potential.
These include; Agriculture and Agro-industry, infrastructure (railway, air, roads/bridges), tourism, minerals, energy, and other cross-cutting issues like gender, ICT, and innovations.
Majority of the Rwenzori region residents, practice agriculture for subsistence purposes. OWC has embarked on efforts to utilize this agricultural production capacity through the Presidential Initiative for Agro-Industrialization for Local Economic Development (AGRILED) among other initiatives.
The focus of this initiative is poverty reduction and sustainable wealth creation, as guided by the Local Economic Development (LED) Policy (2014) through the creation of Regional Farm Service Centres (RFSCs). These will be centers for all agricultural related information like logistics, soil testing, harvesting, marketing, value-addition, plant/animal care pricing, land preparation to mention but a few.
Poverty reduction and wealth creation require a multi-dimensional approach with all hands on deck. The Rwenzori region harbors over 500 Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) schools where pupils and students are not provided with lunch.
Assuming, the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports decided to offer a balanced diet of meals to school-going children in UPE and USE. For purposes of simplicity let us look at the value chain of spillovers with one farmer.
Mzee Akiki in Kabarole grows maize, matooke, sweet potatoes for his family. If the Government chooses to procure the necessary foodstuffs from residents of the Rwenzori region, Akiki will grow more food crops for sale to the Government. Essentially, he will shift from being a subsistent farmer to commercial one because of the ready market.
Akiki and his family can earn a stable income. If the weather is favorable, he can afford proper medical care, clothing, electricity, proper housing, good quality schooling, clean water to mention but a few for his people.
Now, equipped with vast agricultural knowledge from AGRILED, he is not only able to escape poverty but also escape the idea of being vulnerable to falling back in poverty through possibilities of value addition for his crops.
For instance, Akiki could take out a loan to process his maize and packaging it for sale to not only UPE schools in Kabarole but also to the neighboring districts across borders.
Undoubtedly, the Rwenzori Investment Expo is long overdue. The region, one would say is the pearl of Africa, Uganda whose true potential has remained untapped for decades.
The time is now, all people in and outside the region are welcome to showcase their potential for better livelihood. Rwenzori Investment Expo, harnessing great opportunities for sustainable development.
The Writer is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.