Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Uganda this week on the first leg of his two county east African trip. He will be visiting Kenya after he leaves Uganda on June 1.
The Turkish leader’s visit is an important one on many fronts not least of all that it is tacit approval of President Yoweri Museveni recent election victory. It is also an endorsement of Uganda as a important political and economic ally in the region.
The Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) has been ahead of the curve in recognising the importance of Turkey as a useful international partner. In December 2012 The Turkish-Uganda business council was establish, to facilitate the exchange of information between eth two countries’ business communities.
This followed two years later by a high powered business delegation. The members of that delegation had interests in agriculture, import and Export, transport, energy, real estate and construction.
Some useful contacts were made during the trip, which contacts have continued to pay rich dividends. Bilateral trade volumes stand at about $20m (sh70b) and Turkish companies that have set have invested more than $150m to set up enterprises in textiles, construction, education and electronic cables among others.
Turkey is a very useful partner for Uganda to have. For starters Turkey’s economy stands at $750b or more than six times the size of the East African Community(EAC). The $9,600 GDP per capita suggests that there is a huge market of the countries products and services. There is great scope for technology transfer as they have made some determined strides in the areas of the research and development in pharmaceuticals, agro processing and light industry.
But Turkey is not alone, or at least not very much longer. Turkey is in talks to enter the European Union (EU) whose economy is second only to eth United States. There have been several sticking points but one can assume that it is only a matter of time before Turkey takes its rightful place in the EU.
This may bring immeasurable benefits to our country and businessmen. While Turkey will adopt the protocols required to ascend to the membership of the EU, it would be fair to expect that our prior cordial relations will help our businessmen make more determined inroads into the EU because of the mutually favorable relations that will have been nurtured between the two countries.
But Turkey is also at the confluence of Europe and the Arab world so it can serve as a conduit for our products and services into one of the most populous regions on the planet.
Given the above it goes without saying that Turkey is and can be an important ally of Uganda.
Uganda’s most pressing challenge is job creation. If we can facilitate our businessmen’s entrance into markets like Turkey, it follows that our factories and companies would have to ramp up their output to meet the new demand.
We will need thousands even tens of thousands of jobs to be created every year In coming years if we are to more equitably distribute the economic growth but also maintain national stability.
There is still a lot of latent demand locally and regionally that our businessmen still have to tap into but it would not hurt to open up new markets further abroad as well.
We are glad for the visit of the President Erdogan and we hope and will work to make his trip a mutually fruitful and productive one.
The author if the President of the UNCCI