For MNCs looking to expand their business in fast-growing East Africa, Uganda presents attractive growth opportunities across several sectors. Major investments in infrastructure, in particular, are creating new B2G opportunities for companies looking to become contractors and suppliers to the government and other public-sector institutions.
On a recent visit to the capital, Kampala, I had the pleasure of speaking to business executives and government officials working in the infrastructure space. What struck me immediately was the scale of some of the projects underway, including new airports, highways, rail links, power stations and waste water systems, as well as an oil pipeline – all geared towards supporting Uganda’s longer-term development.
While these projects certainly create demand for materials, components, and technology providers, the people I spoke to were frank about the challenges MNCs face in Uganda.
The government itself is often difficult to engage with, and decisions frequently get mired in red tape. Competition from Asian firms is another factor to contend with, with Chinese companies especially benefitting from “tied” financing arrangements where Chinese lenders, such as the China Exim Bank, provides loans to Uganda on the condition that Chinese contractors are used for certain designated projects.
However, this is not always the case, and I came across numerous examples of US, UK, French and other European firms successfully tapping Uganda’s burgeoning public sector spend.
Click below to watch a short video where I summarize 3 key takeaways from the trip.