Tayebwa makes case for Germany to invest in Uganda

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, has called for the support of visiting Germany legislators to push the European Union to import more Ugandan coffee.

To achieve this, Tayebwa urged the EU, especially Germany to invest in value addition of Ugandan coffee, justifying that Uganda and the rest of Africa are the biggest producers of coffee and yet the continent earns very little from the cash crop.

Together with a cross section of MPs, Tayebwa met the lawmakers from Germany, under their umbrella body, the East African Friendship Germany Parliamentary group at Parliament on Thursday, 23 May 2024. 

The Deputy Speaker said that whereas global coffee exports stand at US$ 460 billion, Africa earns only US$ 2.5 billion, while Uganda gets only US$ 870 million.

“As a continent, we are concerned on the issue of value addition especially on coffee. Countries which are not producing coffee are earning much more than those that are producing so we want to work with you to see how best we can have value addition done,” Tayebwa said. 

He also interested the visitors to support Uganda’s tourism sector, saying that Uganda has one of the best tourism sites in Africa, adding that travel is now easier with the existence of direct flights to and from the country. 

“We would need to see more German tourists in Uganda. What we have in Uganda, the rest of the world does not. Sixty percent of mountain gorillas [in the world] are in Uganda. We have a very high level of security and we are highly welcoming people. So, I believe one of the exports to Germany is the beauty of the country,” Tayebwa said. 

He was pleased to note that Uganda’s exports to Germany are growing at a rate of 3.74 percent, from USD$ 45.7 million in 1995 to USD$ 123 million in 2023. 

“This is very impressive and Uganda has registered a trade surplus for the first time with the European Union. You have also supported us on issues of promotion and preservation of culture, hosting of refugees, scholarships. We appreciate the good relationship and we hope it can grow further,” said Tayebwa.

Hon. Lawrence Songa, Ora County MP, who is also the Chairperson of the Committee on Climate change rallied his German counterparts to push their government to invest in solar panel manufacturing in Uganda, saying that Uganda has the required minerals as well as human resource. 

“A lot of [solar] panels in Uganda are from Germany and yet the investors can do them from here. When we are transporting them to Uganda, there is a lot of emission but if we have the investment here, that will save us from causing this emission and also create employment,” said Songa. 

Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) called for increased support from Germany in ensuring sustainability of Uganda’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). 

He said that Uganda can learn from Germany, whose biggest percentage of companies are SMEs. 

“As a country, that is where we are trying to go, there is a lot to learn from Germany and this is an area we need to explore. The biggest challenge with our SMEs is funding because they struggle to access cheap and patient capital, and that erodes away advantages that are embedded in policies that promote SMEs,” Kateshumbwa said. 

The Head of the Germany delegation, Hon. Kordula Schulz-Asche, acknowledged that the secret of Germany’s strong economy are the SMEs and she inquired about what the Ugandan government is doing to support SMEs. 

“Ninety eight percent of Germany’s companies are SMEs and that is the country’s backbone, as well as technical education,” she said. 

She also assured the Ugandan lawmakers that the Parliament of Germany intends to enter a dialogue with partner countries, Uganda inclusive.