Why is Uganda finding it hard to attract large investments?
There are many investment funds willing to invest in Uganda in form of venture capital, however, the challenge is it is difficult to find businesses that are able to adequately absorb large capital investments.
And for those that are willing to invest smaller amounts such as $100,000, they find the informal set up lacking in terms of corporate governance and the inability to keep proper audited books.
This makes it difficult for potential investors to evaluate the investment and make decisions. Information about investment opportunities is also not readily available and in addition to this, the Uganda Securities Exchange is small with few listed companies.
So what can government do to improve this?
As I said, investors look at a number of factors such as economic growth, productive capacity and the size of the economy.
And as you might be aware there has been a stagnation in the growth of our economy in the last three to four years, which could have negatively influenced investors.
However, beyond this, the quality of our labour force, corruption, weak legal systems, poorly developed financial markets and perceived political instability in Africa, have a bigger say in investor decisions. Other factors include lack of property rights and inflation rates.
From your assessment what kind of investment suits Uganda?
It is difficult to point out which investments. Investors have different views and different goals. But as you might be aware there are investors (venture capitalists) that might be willing to take risk to innovate a project, while others (pension funds) may want less risks and steady returns.
Besides what you have already mentioned, are there other factors that hamper investors from coming here?
Yes, Uganda generally does not have restrictions on international trade and flow of capital or tax. Investors are sensitive to such things because they expose them to corruption and abuse of their innovations. Investors want a strong legal regime and a stable political environment to guarantee the security of their investments and innovations.
So how else can government turn this around?
We need to look at our education system and the skills of our labour force. For example, China and India have invested heavily in their education system, mainly in engineering and technology. That is why companies such as Apple find China attractive.
However, besides that we need adequate investment in our health care sector as well as improve our rate of saving.
How has Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) as institute helped in this regard?
We have helped in a number of ways such as growing the number of CFA candidates 149. Apart from this we have also been offering access and awareness scholarships to regulators, academia, media and women to improve their grasp of finance and investment matters.
Your membership is composed of business leaders, especially in the financial sector. How have they helped, especially at a time when economic fundamentals are not reading right?
Through our regional partnerships we have signed agreements with Capital Markets Authority to collaborate on public awareness and investor education.
The employment of CFA charterholders in fund management firms, such as NSSF and organisations such as Bank of Uganda has resulted into improved quality in investment decisions and the integrity of the industry.
Beyond this, our programmes have bridged the theory part of investment professional and ethical standards that has created a strong foundation of advanced investment analysis. As an institute we are actively involved in shaping public policy that strengthens investor confidence and market integrity around the world.
You may also want to know that our institute offers a rigorous study programme which together with years of professional experience earns a candidate the highest distinction in the investment management profession, the CFA designation.
And that makes not just an outstanding professional but a problem solver as well.
You hope to hold a conference in Nairobi. How will it help to improve Uganda and the region’s investment potential?
It is an educational-focused conference on the East African economies, capital markets and the global market.
It is the second conference of its kind and it provides a platform to discuss topics that are affecting us currently such sovereign debt and borrowing for infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, Fintech, disruptive technologies and new products. It offers an opportunity to learn, network and exchange ideas.