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Sunday, 19 May 2013

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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.

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