Gabriel Ajedra, the minister of state for Investment, has revealed that government is planning to send “a key delegation” to Rwanda and Kenya to learn how to improve the business environment here.
Speaking at a media briefing on business climate reforms at Serena hotel recently, Ajedra said: “Rwanda and Kenya have been performing well in the World Bank’s doing business ranking. We want to go there and see what they do better.”
The World Bank’s doing business report 2015 ranked Uganda 150 out of 189 nations, after the country fell 18 slots from its previous ranking a year back. Investors take keen interest in such rankings when evaluating countries to invest in.
But as Uganda tries to see what is happening across the border, some experts say it is not rocket science what the country needs to do to fix its problems. Speaking to journalists at the Uganda Media Centre recently, Dr Frank Ssebowa, the Uganda
Investment Authority (UIA) boss, blamed inefficiencies within government agencies for the poor World Bank rankings.
He said: “Until we amend laws and ensure that government bodies recognise the one-stop centre, we shall continue to rank poorly.” He added: “It is only in Uganda where an investor is required to pay for a transformer when they try to connect power to their factories. Government should be doing that.”
In Uganda, investors find it hard to access such simple things like credit, and have their land verified in case they want to transfer it. However, Carol Ndawula, the programmes manager of the Uganda Investment Climate Programme (UICP) at the World Bank’s funding arm, IFC, said a lot of progress had been reached in making Uganda’s business atmosphere better.
She said they had been able to identify 706 licences where they found about 41 of them to be irrelevant. More than 294 licences were simplified. Reducing the regulatory and administrative burdens has the capacity to help entrepreneurs and investors save about Shs 725.73bn, according to Ajedra.
The process of reducing the licences, according to Ajedra, has already achieved savings of about Shs 188.9bn. Meanwhile, Ndawula revealed government had borrowed $100m from the World Bank to help in making Uganda competitive.
“We want to fully automate the business licensing and registration,” she said. “We want to reduce on the human contact, which remains a ground for bribery, and reduce the time taken to have one’s business registered. Some of the money will go into making the tourism sector attractive to investors.”
The UICP was initiated in 2011 by the ministry of Finance in partnership with the World Bank’s IFC to review and remove all the unnecessary processes that dampened entrepreneurship.
Source : The Observer