Much potential for investment in Africa
Strengthening diplomatic and economic relations with countries in the
African continent is a timely and important decision from an economic
and business point of view, analysts said.
Commenting on the official visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to
Uganda, they said that today the political and economic landscape of the
African continent is changing and powerful nations are looking at
emerging businesses and economic opportunities in Africa.
Analysts said that the prospects of the African economy has been
highlighted in a special report published by The Economist magazine
recently. The report said that contrary to the dismal picture we have of
Africa, wars, famine and dictators have become rare today.
“People still struggle to make ends meet, just as they do in China
and India. They don’t always have enough to eat, they may lack
education, they despair at daily injustices and some want to emigrate.
But most Africans no longer fear a violent or premature end to their
lives and hope to see their children do well. That applies across much
of the continent, including the sub-Sahara.”
“There is an improvement in human development in sub-Saharan Africa
and secondary-school enrolment grew by 48% between 2000 and 2008 after
many states expanded their education programs and scrapped school fees.
“Over the past decade malaria deaths in some of the worst-affected
countries have declined by 30% and HIV infections by about 74%. Life
expectancy across Africa has increased by about 10% and child mortality
rates in most countries have been falling steeply.
“A booming economy has made a big difference. Over the past ten years
real income per person has increased by more than 30%, whereas in the
previous 20 years it shrank by nearly 10%. Africa is the world’s
fastest-growing continent just now. Over the next decade its GDP is
expected to rise by an average of 6% a year, thanks to foreign direct
investment. FDI has gone from $15 billion in 2002 to $37 billion in 2006
and $46 billion in 2012,” the report said.
During President Rajapaksa's visit to Uganda the Sri Lankan
delegation had discussions on a number of sectors on which the countries
had agreed to collaborate during President Museveni’s visit to Sri Lanka
in November 2012.Sources said that the discussions mainly focused on
agriculture, energy, trade, cotton and the textile industry.
President Musevni requested assistance to develop Uganda’s textile
industry given Sri Lanka’s success in the sector.
Pointing out that there are several successful Sri Lankan companies,
President Rajapaksa assured that he would encourage Sri Lankan companies
to visit Uganda and look into investment opportunities.
Improving production techniques, building capacity and strengthening
research were some of the areas of potential collaboration. Only five
percent of the cotton produced in Uganda is used by the existing textile
mills. Therefore, the Ugandan ministers pointed out, there is great
investment potential for Sri Lankan companies, sources at the
Presidential Secretariat said.Sri Lankan companies are already engaged
in the power and energy sector and a Sri Lankan company has constructed
a 6.6 MW small hydro power plant in Uganda. Ugandan Minister of Energy
and Mineral Development hailed the work of the Sri Lankan company. The
hydro power plant was constructed on difficult terrain and the project
was completed on time and within budget.