By ISMAIL MUSA LADU
Kampala. Members of Japanese Parliament have pledged to promote Uganda as a tourism and investment destination but asked the government to work on its image which has been tainted by the two-decade northern Uganda insurgency.
The MPs, Mr Asahiko Mihara and Mr Daishiro Yamagiwa, while touring the country recently, are quoted in a press statement issued by the Ministry of Trade as saying they were amazed by the potential and opportunities Uganda has.
In a meeting with State minister for Industry James Shinyabulo Mutende in Kampala, the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda Mr Junzo Fujita and the two MPs are further quoted as having said Uganda’s potential lies in tourism and agribusiness, specifically in value addition.
According to the Japanese delegation, such potential, particularly tourism has been impacted by the LRA insurgency in northern Uganda and also complicated by the Al Shabaab terrorist attacks in the region. He continued: “When you talk about Uganda in Japan, most people think of the LRA insurgency in northern Uganda and majority think the country is still unstable in the area of security.”
Uganda Tourism Board deputy executive director John Sempebwa said about Shs6billion has been earmarked to market Uganda’s tourism potential in UK, US and Germany this year.
The tourism sector is estimated to provide direct employment of approximately 21,000 and up to more than 240,000 jobs if informal employment is considered.
Uganda’s tourism earnings crossed the $1 billion (about Shs2.6 trillion) mark in 2012, re-emphasising its position as one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners.
Vast areas of investment
The State minister for Industry James Shinyabulo Mutende revealed that there are many areas for investment including agribusiness, value addition, real estate, services sector like banks and insurance companies, energy and many other areas. He said more investment is needed in the area of energy because the country’s hydro power is very low.
He told the Japanese delegation that their Investment can be done in solar power, thermo and even nuclear energy because the country has large deposits of Uranium in eastern Uganda.
He added that whoever invests in Uganda has an assured market not only in Uganda but also in all the East African Countries. .
Following President Museveni’s signing of the anti-gay legislation into law early this year, the Japanese ambassador to Uganda, Mr Junzo Fujita, came out to say his government would not abandon Ugandans even as some donor countries threatened to withdraw aid.
China and Russia were the other countries that pledged their support for Uganda.