Kenyan and Uganda business leaders are warming up to new business opportunities that will accrue from an ongoing agribusiness symposium in Mombasa.
The delegation from Uganda led by John Mulimba the minister of state for foreign affairs in charge of regional cooperation and Evelyn Anite the minister of state for investment arrived in Kenya to participate at the event taking place between September 8 and 9 in Mombasa.
The group was received by Dr Hassan Galiwango, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Ambassador Paul Mukumbya Uganda’s Consul General in Mombasa, William Kingi the deputy governor for Mombasa County, Mustafah Ramathan the chairman Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa Chapter.
In his welcoming remarks, the Chairman of KNCCI Mombasa, Mustafa Ramadhan emphasized the important role that Agriculture plays in the economy of both countries.
‘’ Agriculture accounts for over 32% of the region’s gross domestic product and employs about 80% of its labor force. Agriculture accounts for about 65% of foreign exchange earnings and contributes more than 50% of raw materials to the industrial sector. However, the EAC has been experiencing declining agricultural yields due to drought, ecosystem degradation, trade barriers and conflicts’’, said Mustafa.
Hon. Francis Mwebesa, the Minister of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives in Uganda these bilateral interactions are a core part of consolidating and promoting bilateral trade between the two countries.
‘’ Kenya and Uganda are strong economic partners where both depend on each other and are strategic export markets. Since the start of the EAC Customs Union in 2005, Uganda’ exports to Kenya have increased tremendously from US dollars 155.28million recorded in Financial 2005/06 to over US Dollars 617.34Million by 2020/21 while Uganda’s imports increased from US Dollars 422.76Million recorded in Financial Year 2005/06 to over US Dollars 848.26 Million by 2020/21’’,said Mwebesa.
He however asked participants to use this Agri Business Symposium and exhibition and commit themselves to deliberate and achieve the key priorities including; consolidating and promoting Intra-Trade, developing infrastructure interconnectivity and Non-tariff barriers.
Mwebesa thanked the Governor of Mombasa, the Ministers, Cabinet Secretaries, representatives from the Ministries, Agencies and Departments, media fraternity, and private sector from both Kenya and Uganda for taking part.
The event is expected to attract investments in production and post-harvesting handling technologies as well as increased export volumes. It has brought together agribusiness and agricultural stakeholders, including farmer associations and cooperatives, financial service providers and government officials.
Hon. Betty Maina, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development in Kenya highlighted the open communication between the two countries that allowed for some trade challenges to be addressed.
‘’Basic Agriculture was no longer the way forward, hence the need for value addition. Both domestic markets were not enough to maintain the interest of the investors attracted into the countries’’, she said.
The event taking place at the Pride Inn Hotel, Mombasa has an exhibition that is presenting an opportunity for the participants to showcase their products and services as well as interact and hear from the most respected leaders in fields such as food safety and standards, agro-technology, pests and diseases and export producers.
The Agri-Business symposium and Expo is the first of its kind organized by the High Commission of Uganda in Kenya, Uganda Consul General in Mombasa and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It sought to achieve five specific objectives including; establishing the different coping strategies adopted by the different agro-products exporters and other stakeholders to ensure that they perform, discussing the challenges faced by the exporters and importers of agro-products in Uganda and Kenya with recommendations to address them and providing a platform for networking, learning and sharing the agro-products export market opportunities for exporters in Uganda and Kenya.
Other objectives were identifying the new strategies to cope with global trends in the agri-business value chain and coming up with recommendations for priority improvement in the management of export quality standards for agro-products.
Participants came from both the public and private sectors of both countries with presentations and discussions from leaders in Agriculture and Trade from Uganda and Kenya.
The two days symposium closed with the Ugandan Ministers proposing for a follow-up meeting and B2B forum in Kampala later in the year to review the symposium’s recommendation and action points.
They also recommended the establishment of a high level Kenya – Uganda Joint business council that will be constituted by members of the public and private sector from both countries.
According to Kenya’s Economic Survey 2019, the value of imports from Uganda to Kenya rose to Sh49.4 billion in 2018 from Sh17.5 billion in 2014 on account of increased imports of maize, animal feeds, milk and sugar.
Agriculture remains a major driver of economic growth in both countries and has been a dominant source for employment.
In Uganda, the Agriculture sector accounts for over 24 percent of their GDP and generates more than half of the country’s export earnings at 54 percent according to IMF and World Bank reports of 2019.