Lawrence Byensi

CEO | Uganda Investment Authority

“In my travels around the world, I meet people who are surprised by Uganda’s level of development. The perception of Africa around the world is one of disease and destruction. Most people expect us to be extremely challenged and war-torn. Our days of civil strife are over and the country is very stable at the moment.

Though positive changes have been seen, there is a lot we have to do for the sake of future generations. As an institution, we realise that our education system has not changed radically since the days of colonial rule. This outdated set up has left us producing graduates that are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of today’s business market. The conversation about revamping and decolonising our education system has begun here in Uganda. Consultations are being made with the industry to identify what should be taught and what skills should be imparted on students. The private sector is key in this process because it is always first to raise an alarm when they are not happy with the quality of graduates being produced.

Things have moved along much faster in vocational training though. Vocational institutions have been able to adjust to changing times and are producing way more relevant graduates. Our government has been very involved. Though a lot has been done, we still have a long way to go. Our government must stay focussed on infrastructure. Bad infrastructure discourages business and hinders SMEs especially those trying to get involved in cross border trade. Trading between us and the DRC, for instance, can be improved with better roads and electricity services. We must also stay true to the spirit of the Africa Free Trade Area agreement which advocates for open borders for business. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though, we are seeing progress and opportunities for investment in the country as well. The recent discovery of oil and gas makes our mining industry quite attractive. We would like to see more investors coming in and seeking mining permits. The tourism industry is also looking good. An investment in our hotels and hospitality facilities will go a long way in boosting that sector.”

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