Ugandans Urged to Invest in Free Trade Zones

5963 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The opportunity to create free zones in Uganda is provided for under the Free Zones Act of 2014, which also created the Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA).

Ugandans have been urged to invest in free trade zones and contribute to increased productivity and exports of finished products. A free zone is a geographic area where raw materials and goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured for export without being subjected to export and import duties.
A free zone can take the form of a manufacturing or processing facility, a science and technology parks or even a tourism development zone. The idea is encourage productivity and value addition in order to boost exports. The opportunity to create free zones in Uganda is provided for under the Free Zones Act of 2014, which also created the Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA). 
The authority is responsible for the establishment, development, management, marketing, supervision and control of free zones. It is a semi-autonomous government agency under Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Many Ugandans are, however, unaware of the law, the authority and what it does as well as the opportunities there are for investment and big money.
Doreen Kembabazi, the UFZA Public Relations Officer, says the opportunity exists to create as many free zones for diverse products and in diverse places. Kembabazi says the authority, which has been in existence for seven months, is encouraging Ugandan to take advantage of the opportunity and invest in free zones for whatever products they may be interested in.
She says three firms have so far applied for licenses but are yet to be approved. She declined to reveal their details till later. According to Kembabazi, developers of free zones have a lot to benefit like export duties exemptions or reductions, adding that wherever one is set up the government takes the responsibility of providing infrastructure and facilities like roads, electricity, water, communication and security.
She says a free zone can be set up literally in any part of Uganda as long as it has comparative advantage in its targeted product. Kembabazi explains that free zones have great potential for import substitution because the law provides that 20 percent of the production can supply the local market and the East African Community while the 80 percent are for exports.
In addition, adds Kembabazi, free zones create jobs and have the potential of driving in foreign direct investment because even foreigners can set them. When I asked people on the streets of Kampala whether they know about the opportunity for starting free zones in Uganda, all respondents expressed ignorance.
Gaetano Opoka, an official of the Administrator General's Office, on understanding what free zones are, said it would be good if each region had one. According to Kembabazi, the opportunity exists for as many free zones as possible and for locals and nationals alike.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."