Uganda, the first leg of the 2nd African Opening
On his official trip to Africa from 31 May to 2 June 2016, the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited Uganda and Kenya. He was accompanied by over 150 representatives of the Turkish business community who were given the opportunity, organised by DEİK, to learn more about the investment environment and business potential in Africa in general and in Uganda and Kenya in particular.
The DEİK/Turkey-Uganda Business Forum organised by DEİK and held on 1 June 2016 was attended by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, the Economics Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Nihat Zeybekci, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of the Republic of Uganda, Matia Kasaijja, DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan and the President of the Ugandan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI), Olive Kigongo. The event was held in Uganda's capital Kampala.
The Turkish president praised Uganda as one of the leading stable countries in East Africa which was currently implementing a comprehensive development drive. President Erdoğan offered Uganda Turkey's support in its efforts to bring prosperity to the country with investments in its infrastructure. The participation of almost 135 Turkish businesspeople in the DEİK Business Forum was proof of his country's good intentions. Erdoğan said that Turkey was assuming an ever greater and very successful role in regional and global organisations and that he was willing to share it with other nations that entertained bonds of friendship and brotherhood with Turkey. He appealed to the business communities of Turkey and Uganda to advance the trade relations between the two countries. In this context, he called upon the host country to sign a Free Trade Agreement.
The President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, thanked his guest for their visit, which had come after a long interlude without high-level contact. He expressed his desire to increase trade and investments in particular in tourism and infrastructure projects. He invited Turkish businesspeople to invest in Ugandan industrial parks, and promised to support such cooperation in every respect.
The Economics Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Nihat Zeybekci, said that his country was aware of the potential of the African continent, and substantiated his statement by pointing out that Turkey's trade volume with Africa had reached a level over USD 20 billion. Turkey was meanwhile the country with the second most representations and with the second most extensive airline network on the continent. He was looking forward to President Museveni's visit to Turkey, in July, which would offer the opportunity to take further concrete steps. Minister Zeybekci also called upon his host to sign a Free Trade agreement with Turkey.
DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan saw DEİK's role in Uganda as that of a catalyst for better trade relations. In his words, Uganda was a leading country in the Horn of Africa and the Lake Region which were of global geopolitical importance for Turkey's opening to Africa. For this reason, his country was very interest in intensifying its relations with Uganda. The Turkish private sector was generally interested in strengthening and deepening its cooperation with African countries. Referring to the current level of trade, Vardan said: "We have increased trade with Uganda 5-fold over the last decade to USD 30 million today. That is a sign of the intensification of or investment and contracting relationship, and it encourages us to diversify and deepen our cooperation. This is why we have come to your country with such a large delegation."
At the closing session of the Forum DEİK, the Ugandan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ugandan Private Sector Foundation signed a Protocol of Understanding on the establishment of a Turkey-Kenya Business Council.