Uganda was among several African countries that participated in the recent two-day trade exhibition in Beijing, China from 6th to 7th November 2006, and several Chinese were attracted by the wildlife, coffee and art and crafts items that were being exhibited.
The exhibition was part of the 2nd China-Africa Summit that took place from 4th to 5th November 2006 and brought together nearly 40 African presidents and several other African leaders to discuss strategies for strengthening trade relations between China and Africa.
Dubbed the African Commodities Exhibition, it attracted participants from nearly 40 African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Mauritius, Egypt, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Zimbambwe, Zambia and Namibia.
Government agencies that participated included Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Export Promotion Board, Cotton Development Authority, Uganda Coffee Development Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Private sector participants mostly came from the coffee, real estate, and the leather industries. Paul Akiiki Mwesigwa and Florence Kata who exhibited paintings, fabrics and crafts represented the art and crafts sector.
The Executive Director of Uganda Investment Authority, Dr. Maggie Kigozi said government wants to attract Chinese investors in the mining sector so that Ugandans can benefit from the over 70 minerals that are available around the country through increased employment opportunities.
The Public Relations Manager of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Lillian Nsubuga said that concerted efforts are being made to get more Chinese tourists to Uganda, and these include identifying people who can teach Ugandan tour guides to speak Chinese.
The Executive Director of the Cotton Development Authority, Jolly Sabuni said that government aims at exporting higher-quality lint to China as well as attracting Chinese businessmen to invest in processing Uganda’s cotton. The Uganda government has emphasized value-addition as its strategy for ensuring that agricultural products fetch a higher price. Other products which Uganda exports to China include tea, coffee, art and crafts and fabrics.
The total of Uganda’s exports to China in 2005 was $5.7m, while China’s exports to Uganda amounted to $109.2m.
Visitors to Uganda’s stall were mostly attracted by the paintings and fabrics, caricatures of wild animals and the Ugandan coffee and tea. Prospective investors mostly showed interest in the agricultural, trade and education sectors.
The Public Relations Officer of the Uganda Export Promotion Board, Augustus Baguma Mutooro said Uganda has always eyed the Chinese market, which is very lucrative.
Uganda’s stall was visited by the Minsiter of Finance, Dr. Ezra Suruma, the Minister of Information Technology, Hon. Ham Mulira and the Minsiter of State for Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon Serapio Rukundo.