Reflections

In Uganda, investors are permanent visitors!

By Mpuga Rukidi

Mine is not the best of countries. It is not even well known, save for the prefix “one of the poorest countries in the world” every time Uganda is mentioned. In short, we don't have much. Despite all that though, we Ugandans are warm. The vague African sayings of giving a visitor a hoe after three days don't apply here. Here, once a visitor, always a visitor.

Lately, we have taken our warmth a notch higher; pakalast (til the end), as we say here. We take our warmth up there, to those special people. You know them – investors. Ladies and gentlemen, we Ugandans love, respect, and revere investors. Don't be shocked if we, in the near future, worship them. And just so you know what am talking about, you don't have to come with bullions of a thousand dollar bills. You don't even have to know the bare basics of doing business. Nay. You need no license, no nothing. You just have to don that cloak with the magical word investor, and lady or gentleman, or whatever sex you are, a door of great opportunities will open itself to you.

To begin with, our dear government will lend you money at record low level interest rates, or no interest at all; and you can pay back at any time of your convenience. But if even that is hard for you, dear investor-to-be, we, thanks to our warm character, can give you a grant. You don't even have to worry about the prefix that is tied to our name; we are that warm. Here you can go ahead and open up a factory that has nothing to do with manufacturing, or start an import business in goods that can't be allowed into any other country because they are unfit for human consumption. We shall allow them in, because you are a visitor, and an investor at that.

If you have come to invest in the agricultural sector, you can grow food enough for only you and your family. And did I tell you that we can give you a huge chunk of land to do all this, which you can sell if you like?  Pardon me. I have so much to tell you. And for any business that you are to start, we make it even lighter. We allow you lots of other benefits. We can give you free labour, and you can even make your own selection. If it pleases you to have only young and nubile virgins, we provide those and whatever you do with them is up to you. Who can dare ask an investor what they wish to do with young and beautiful girls? Not us!

But even if that is a little too hard for you, we allow you to bring your entire staff from your country – from the storekeeper to the gateman. That saves costs after all, and we don't have the expertise for any jobs here. The range of businesses, by the way, that you can take part in is unlimited. Who said investors have to be bothered about being limited about ventures in which they can take part? We don't do that here! As a result you could be the guy or lady making us the tasty chapattis or riding us around on our dearly loved boda boda bikes, selling mchomo (barbeque meat) along highway bus stops. The list is, simply put, endless.

In case you still habour doubts in your heart of hearts about how serious we Ugandans are about investors, I can tell you one more thing: we are even willing to give you what we treasure the most. You see, one of our favourite sayings here is gifted by nature. We treasure our nature so much; our forests attract a big number of tourists every year. But because we can do anything for investors, we are willing to cut down the biggest of those forests to offer land to just one investor. Plans are underway to fell the damn trees. Who needs them when investors want the very piece of land the good for nothing trees occupy? Wear that magic cloak very fast; we have lots of other forests to cut down, with huge smiles on our faces, just to make sure you, our investors, are happy. Plus we have lots of lakes, rivers and game parks. We shall clear all those, if that is what it takes to make you, investors, happy.

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