European Commissioner for Development meeting with officials, private sector representatives in Uganda to explore improving access to financing for small, medium ventures in agriculture through public-private partnerships

BRUSSELS , November 7, 2011 (press release) – Tomorrow, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will arrive in Uganda for a two-day visit. Together with government and private sector representatives he will explore how to improve access to financing for small and medium enterprises in agriculture and the agribusiness through public-private partnerships. The Commissioner will also inaugurate an EU-funded road that is essential for cross-border trade in the region. He will meet, among others, President Yoweri Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

Prior to his departure, Commissioner Piebalgs said: "The EU has a solid political and cooperation relation with Uganda. The country has huge potential in many areas and our aid can help to grasp and manage it. I have recently presented policy proposals that highlight agriculture as a key area and stress the relevance of innovative ways of financing development. Uganda is an excellent partner country to start putting our ideas into practice, together with public and private partners."

At a High Level Roundtable meeting on 8 November, Commissioner Piebalgs will discuss how innovative financing like the blending of public and private funds can help to boost financing for small and medium enterprises in agriculture and the agro-based industry (e.g. food processing). Together with government and business representatives the Commissioner will sign a "Joint Declaration of Intentions" to further explore concrete options. Agriculture represents a key sector of the Ugandan economy and contributes 24% to national GDP. The country has significant potential of becoming a major net exporter in the region and beyond; the agro-based industry represents 40% of the country's total manufacturing.

On 9 November, Commissioner Piebalgs will officially open an EU-funded 99 km section of the Masaka-Mbarara highway, which is part of the vital so-called Regional Northern Corridor that links the economies of East Africa and the Great Lakes region with the Indian Ocean (Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo). He will further attend the groundbreaking ceremony for another section of this road, between Mbarara and Katuna.

The new road will contribute to reduction in travel time and vehicle maintenance cost, which will have a positive impact on the economic development. It has been estimated that 1% of reduction in the transport costs will result in 2.5% increase in the volume of trade. The transport sector accounts for 6% of Uganda's GDP and is dominated by the road sector, which carries more than 90% of domestic trade.

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