With just hours to the new year 2015, there remains a bag of mixed emotions over what is likely to happen. Alon Mwesige spoke to business leaders for their expectations and wishes for 2015.
Stephen Asiimwe, chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board
We are looking up to a very positive trend in terms of tourism in 2015. Domestic tourism is going to be our catch-word phrase. We recently launched the EAC tourist visa for Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. So we expect more regional visitors coming in.
We are also engaging in a lot of grading and classification. We shall do more of monitoring and evaluation for quality standards in the sector. We shall also look to marketing in the international continental and regional markets.
As for government, we are hoping that it will give us more money. Our neighbours are spending heavily on marketing the industry.
Kenya is spending $40m and Rwanda is spending more than $5m and for us here we are only spending just $2m, which has to cater for all things, including salaries. In general we are looking at a very positive year.
Michael Niyitegeka, IT consultant
We shall see technology claim more ground in terms of government usage. There is a desire to have departments automate and it will become more less like a norm as ICT is being used prominently. On the private sector side, especially the telecom sector, datainternet is going to be the new frontier for competition.
We saw Vodafone announce its entry in the country and it’s likely to be more active in 2015. People no longer send as many SMSs as they used to they now use Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp.
Another key highlight in 2015 is going to be e-commerce with the Jumias, the Kaymus, and the Hello Food of this world taking centre stage.
Someone in office will not have to go to a restaurant to eat they will order on the phone and have the food delivered. Supermarkets, insurance firms, and other businesses will become more prominent on online platforms, including social media.
Charles Ocici, executive director of Enterprise Uganda
In 2015, I would like to see government turn greater attention to attitudinal transformation of Ugandans to use the available infrastructure such as roads and electricity. Ugandans must engage in productive activities to make use of the available infrastructure.
Government should not engage so much into outrageous promises to the electorate and conversation should be to direct the public to take aantage of what is already around us.
Dr Fred Muhumuza, senior manager, KPMG Uganda
The events that have been happening in the NRM may calm down the noise people may have wanted to make in 2015. For the investors, they have already been coutious not only for Uganda, but also in the region.
Many of them have lost money in South Sudan they want to see how that revolves. So here, we are likely to see slower investment, with investors sitting at the fence watching events play out.
However, more investments are likely to come through into government papers (Treasury bills and bonds) rather than the real sector investment.
The two-year bond issued in 2013 will mature so government will be looking for money to pay back and again finance the elections. We are also likely to see a continued slowdown in growth. Revenue shortfalls will also continue. In a wrap, it is going to be a tight economy.
Mathias Katamba, managing director of Housing Finance bank
Pre-election years come with a lot of anticipation and on the side of business, investors tend to slow down as a cushion [to what may happen after] and immediately after elections they invest a lot.
But in Uganda, we don’t have cases of post-election violence so it could be business as usual. On the side of mortgages, supply will remain a major constraint. So we need to see more activity on low cost housing.
We are also likely to see more people building as opposed to purchasing complete units. It is hard to get a complete unit under Shs 100m in a good neighbourhood, and it’s going to be a struggle in 2015.
Gideon Badagawa, executive director, Private Sector Foundation Uganda
Looking at the year we have just closed, it has been a challenging one, largely because the cost of doing business has been so high. Looking ahead, two or three things should happen. More resources should be directed to infrastructure: roads and energy.
The business community expects less costly energy, which means government should invest more in power generation.
Time has come for Ugandans to realise that the future lies in investment and not in politics. I expect government to be more efficient and effective in the allocation of public resources, and create more employment and as more people engage into work, more taxes should be realised.
We have not been able to mobilise enough resources. And without investment, we can’t have the macro-economic stability.
Shakib Nsubuga, Lamudi Uganda Country Manager
I expect to see a sustained performance of the Ugandan commercial real estate industry in 2015, fuelled by improving fundamentals and robust investor appetite [in the sector].
In 2015, we will see a slight drop in prices of properties due to an increase in the supply of commercial and residential properties. Next year will also see more Ugandans purchasing properties due to eased access to mortgage facilities.
Many Ugandans will become home owners, thanks to eased credit facilities being offered by the banks especially now with many more players expected to come into the financial services industry.
Property developers are likely to build more properties outside of the Kampala central business district and will move to the outskirts like Wakiso, Mpigi, and Mukono, areas that have always been considered rural. The sale price of land in these areas is more affordable than the land in the central business district and surrounding areas at the moment.
Source : The Observer