Exporters Counting Benefits Months After the Successful Uganda-Drc Business Summit

In the African traditional setting, a successful hunter is one who comes home with a big catch after a daylong expedition. The head of the family considered the provider is then welcomed with joyful hugs from children and wife.

This is exactly what happened following a successful Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Business Summit which took place in Kinshasa and Goma.

The 10-day event that happened on May 29-June 8, 2022, drew a total of 200-300 delegates from Uganda, mainly from the private sector. These included local traders, exporters, transporters, as well as government officials from various ministries departments and agencies.

The business summit was to run under the theme of Boosting Trade and Investment between Uganda and DRC. It was spearheaded by the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) together with the Office of the Presidential Advisor – Special Duties led by Odrek Rwabwogo.

Stephen Asiimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of PSFU, was clear on the aims and objectives of the summit.

Asiimwe’s message was short. “We’ve come here to sit with our brothers and sisters from the DRC to do business, to make profit, we pay our taxes and make our countries prosper,” Asiimwe said.

The specific sectors targeted were health, ICT, agriculture, tourism, oil and gas, creative and culture, transport and logistics as well as finance among others.

Led by East African Community Affairs Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga, the contingent was welcomed in Kinshasa by Acting Ambassador to DRC, Dr. Edith Nsubuga Namutebi.

The good news started immediately on day one of the summit as Ugandan investors were promised a number of tax holidays were they to take up opportunities in the DRC.

This was revealed by the Congolese Minister for External Trade, Jean Lucien Bussa Tondga.

“The business climate has been enhanced. We have other various tax incentives for you. We liberalized the sectors of insurance and electricity, income tax for foreign companies was reduced while we have other taxes like the mining code. Ugandans should come and take up these opportunities,” Bussa said.

The minister said his president Felix Tsishekedi had already put in place a committee on improvement of business and that his vision was “creating African billionaires”.  “We have no choice, we have to take advantage of our potential and create African billionaires. It is saddening to learn that billionaires are only found outside Africa, with a few ones on the continent,” Bussa said.

DRC Industry Minister Julien Paluku earlier invited Ugandan investors for joint ventures in the manufacturing of phone batteries.

“DRC is the centre of ecological and industrial revolution. Zambia and DRC are soon start to manufacture phone batteries using the resources (lithium) that we have. We would like to take this opportunity to invite Ugandan entrepreneurs to take part in this venture,” Paluku said.

He called upon Congolese and Ugandans to forget the past history of conflict between the two countries and work together.

Kadaga said she was happy the Congolese application to join the community was expeditiously handled. Indeed, she followed up on her promise and the application was handled and the protocols for ratification signed.

As the speeches ensued, the traders were individually interacting with their Congolese counterparts. By the end of the summit, at least 300 business deals had been signed mainly to supply poultry products, sugar, beef, milk, chili, cement, fruits, vegetables as well as cereals among others.


Rwabwogo proposed that Uganda explores plans for putting up an industrial warehouse in Kinshasa where traders could store their perishable goods safely.

“I’m not saying traders will store their things for free. They can pay to our government a small fee and keep their products as they call suppliers to deliver more goods when the ones in the market are finished,” Rwabwogo said.

Uganda Airlines also made more promises for the traders. Direct flights from Entebbe International Airport to Goma in eastern DRC were in the pipeline following a feasibility study. This would cut the transport costs per kilogram by more than half.

In Goma, the Ugandan delegation was promised safety by the Governor of North Kivu Province, Lt Gen Constant Ndima.

“There are a lot of opportunities of investment in North Kivu. Ugandans can invest in agriculture and tourism among others,” he said.

“I would like to assure Ugandans that I will continue improving the situation to enable smooth trade,” the General told the more than 200 delegates from Uganda.

End of summit, start of business

As the delegates headed back home, they were thinking about the 90 million additional population in the DRC market.

Indeed, some of them who were interviewed by local media said they have started exporting mainly cereals, beef and poultry products.

“The rule is one. Once my money is reflected on the bank account, I go ahead to give the products to the transporter. Life has changed,” said a trader who did not want to be named but deals in poultry products.

As the two countries carry out joint ventures to construct roads linking various internal markets in DRC to the Ugandan borderline, traders can only hope for bigger opportunities in the latest country to join the East African Community. They also look forward to growing to great heights the figures from the 2021 COMTRADE record of $267.19 million in exports from Uganda to the DRC, the scope for expansion is massive.

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