The emergence of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) as a g economic bloc continues to spur global economic growth. Africa offers immense potential for the bloc with Brazil now ready to come to Uganda.
Moses Talemwa recently met Joao Bosco Monte, the chief executive of the Brazil-Africa Institute, who was in the country to check out investment opportunities of interest to Brazil.
When will Brazil follow in the footsteps of its peers in the BRIC and come to Uganda?
Uganda should present itself to Brazil. Brazil is already close to Africa. Our former president Lula Da Silva set the agenda by stating that Africa is a priority. He led a delegation of businessmen to Africa and we have been investing there ever since. We have contacts with mostly Lusophone Africa – Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. Now we are looking at other countries.
Like which ones?
First of all we need to define what Africa we want to deal with. Nigeria is attractive, so is Kenya, South Africa, Ghana – but also Uganda. Uganda is especially ideal because there are a lot of similarities with Brazil, especially in culture and climate.
What is stopping you from starting the relationship with Uganda?
Nothing. In fact today, I met your minister for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem, and he assured me that Uganda will soon open an embassy in Brazil next year. If this happens, this will be the beginning of closer ties with Uganda. Brazilian companies will start to come here.
So, are you here to build ties?
Well I’m here to look around, work with the puzzles of the relationship between Uganda and Brazil. The aim of the institute is to link Brazil with Africa. [Previously] we have had discussions with officials in Brazil … with some of them being asked to pick a country where opportunities and infrastructure can be found. But the door in Africa has to be opened [by Africans] everyone has to do their part of the job.
Are there any particular areas of interest to Brazil?
Mostly agribusiness, medicine, education and many others. I think the opportunities are very many. For instance, fish farming and industry is an area we would be interested in. The fish you have here has great taste, but there is nothing being done with the rest of the bi-products of the fish, such as the scales and so on. We can work with you here.
What about food security, since you seem passionate about it?
Brazil would like to be involved with Uganda in dairy farming and maize production. For instance, we could bring Brazilian technology to boost maize production to help in dairy farming. I noticed that the average size of a cow here was only 150kg. Using our technology, we can increase that to 500kg.
Apart from improving cattle yield, what else is Brazil good at?
In Brazil, we have the largest watermelon producer in the world, a farm that produces one million melons daily. And compared to yours here, our watermelons and mangoes are huge. So, this kind of technology can be brought here for the benefit of the local farming community. But the way we work, we don’t just come and impose ourselves the most important thing is to collaborate with locals in whatever partnership we are involved in.
Would you be interested in transport?
Well, I noted that there are no buses here. We can bring in Brazilian-made buses. We can also help with building roads. Brazil is by nature very conservative. It may take longer to make a 100km road but it will be a very good quality road. We use more materials so that the road stays in use longer.
So, do you have a support network for your projects in Africa?
Yes, we have the Brazil National Development Bank (BNDB), which is based in Johannesburg. The BNDB is now a brand on its own, and it usually supports a host of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Well, how much of a barrier is language considering you mostly operate in Portuguese?
Language is not a barrier. If you bring a French businessman here, he can’t survive on only French, he has to adjust. The Brazilian companies are able to hire experts who will adjust to the local situation.
So, are you coming to Uganda to start companies that you control, like the others?
In Brazil, we believe in making a clear difference between cooperation and partnership. We prefer a partnership where one is at the same level, as long as it is good for both parties. There is an African proverb that “If you want to move faster – go alone. If you want to go further, go together. Our agenda is bilateral cooperation and every relationship with a country is different.
What about Ugandans seeking to invest in Brazil?
We welcome all kinds of investments. However, the Brazilian Investment Authority is open to work with you to determine what to do.
Source : The Observer