By Anne Mugisa and Ibrahim Kasiita

07/01/2010

New Vision

By Anne Mugisa and Ibrahim Kasiita

70,000 jobs created, says investments body

OVER 70,000 new jobs will be created from the projects registered by the Uganda Investment Authority last year.

A total of 354 projects in various sectors were registered with a planned investment of $1.6b (about sh3.04 trillion). This will result into 70,289 new jobs, investments minister Aston Kajara said yesterday.

A progress report on these investments will be computed by September, he said.

The expected number of jobs constitutes an increase of 20,000 more above the 4,9173 created in 2008.

The minsiter attributed this to the efforts of the authority which came into existence in 1991. In that year, for example, 427 jobs were created.

Kajara said for every job, about 12 others are created indirectly.

The minister was addressing a press conference on the status of investment in Uganda. He was accompanied by the head of the authority, Maggie Kigozi.

Kajara said the jobs created are in the sectors of manufacturing, real estate, finance, insurance and business services, transport, communications, agriculture, hunting, forestry and fisheries as well as mining, quarrying, electricity, gas and water.

Agriculture will provide the biggest number of jobs, he added.

The minister said the investments in 2009 surpassed those of the previous years. “This is the first time that the 70,000 planned jobs mark has been reached.” He attributed the growth in investments to improved infrastructure including a liberalised telecommunications sector, rehabilitation of airports and airfields, more passenger and cargo routings, government intervention in the energy crisis and efforts at improving water and rail transport.

The minister also said Uganda’s exports to the COMESA countries had increased, with Sudan accounting for 14.3% followed by Kenya, 9.5%, Rwanda, 7.9% and the DR Congo at 7.2%. The top 10 countries from where investors came, according to Kajara, are China, India, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Togo, Germany, Russia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan.

He said Uganda will host the next East African investment conference in April at the Speke Resort Munyonyo. This, he said, is intended to spur investments in the region.

Kajara denied that the Government favours foreign investors whom it grants incentives such as VAT refund.

He said many Ugandans who qualify shy away from registering with the Uganda Investment Authority, fearing that the revenue authority would over-tax them.

He explained that investments of $50,000 qualify for VAT refund, but Ugandans do not apply for the exemption.

“You see big buildings coming up and many of them are owned by Ugandans,” he said.

“They fear that the tax men will come after them.”