Kampala- Ugandans living and working in the diaspora have been advised to invest their hard earned money in agriculture because it’s inexhaustible unlike oil.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija made the remarks during the annual Home is Best Diaspora Summit in Kampala last week.
The 9th Home is Best Summit was themed: Diaspora Investment a Bridge to Middle Income’ with the main objective to mobilise Ugandans in the diaspora to invest back home.
Mr Kasaija said: “Many of you invested in real estates because it’s easy to manage but the real money is in agriculture. Money is in the soil. People say money is in oil but oil is exhaustible.”
He told Ugandans in the diaspora that by investing in agriculture, they will never go wrong because the market is available locally and regionally as the population of Uganda is increasing and the need for food is increasing.
“The markets and incomes are increasing. In 2020, we want Uganda to be a modern income transformed country. There will always be a market even within the region,” Mr Kasaija said.
He also advised them that if they decide to go into massive agriculture production it is only possible if they organise themselves into cooperatives.
“Through cooperatives you will be able to add value and this will be achieved with industrialisation which will create jobs for the youth.”
Invest in the East
In his key note address, the executive director National Planning Authority, Mr Joseph Muvawala, urged the attendees to invest in eastern Uganda, saying the region is becoming more of a sugar cane economy at the disadvatage of the food basket it was.
“Invest in food production. This will reverse the country’s trade imbalance which is currently lining towards imports,” Mr Muvawala said.
He also challenged commercial banks to give credit to those Ugandans who want to invest in manufacturing because once it picks up it will create jobs and reduce poverty in the country.
The Uganda North America Association president, Mr Monday Atigo, said much as they are looked at as an asset and cornerstone in achieving a middle income economy, they “get frustrated with the bureaucratic hurdles and process of getting access to services and information.”
He called on the investment authority to guide those in the diaspora on which projects and opportunities they can invest even with as little as $1000 (Shs3.5 million) savings.
According to the World Bank report on remittances in 2015, Africans living and working in the diaspora contributed $53 billion (Shs189 trillion) through remittances to the continent.
Remittances coming to Uganda in the same year grew to $0.9 billion. If each diaspora Ugandan invested $1000 in the country, the Uganda would raise $3b (Shs) towards financial investments.
Latest World Bank (WB) data indicate that East African states received $3.5 billion (Shs11.7 trillion) in remittances in 2015 with Uganda’s remittances growing fastest in the region at 21 per cent. The country received more than $1.1 billion (Shs3.6 trillion).
Remittances to Uganda went up despite a mid-year prediction by Bank of Uganda of a $233 million (Shs777b) drop due to the tough economic environment the country was facing at the time.