President Museveni has today received Prince Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Kabeer, a member of the House of Saud and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Almarai Company.
The President received the Prince and his entourage at State House, Entebbe at about 3pm today (Wednesday) and later held a one-hour meeting with the team.
Prince Sultan Bin Mohammed, who is ranked the 12th richest man in the Middle East by Forbes magazine, is the founder of the Almarai Company, a joint stock company established in 1977 in the dairy industry sector which has grown to be the largest vertically integrated dairy products company in the world. He is also founder of the Arabian Shield Insurance Company, the Al Tayyar Travel Group and is the largest shareholder in the Al Yamama Cement Company, the biggest cement producer in the Middle East.
In the meeting, the President listed the possible areas for investment for the multi-billionaire businessman, including fruit-processing, textiles manufacture, grain milling among others.
“Uganda currently is the second biggest producer of bananas behind India and yet ours are organic and very tasty bananas,” noted the President. “You can set up factories here to help with agro-processing.”
The President offered the Prince and his team a cluster of ‘bogoya’, with Prince Sultan after eating two bananas, saying: “These taste very nice. In Saudi Arabia we import bananas from South America and the organic types are very expensive.”
President Museveni said Uganda was spending a lot of money on imports, citing China ($800 million) and India (over $1 billion), adding that if factories were set up locally here to manufacture some of these imports, it would grow the local economy. Uganda’s population, said the President, was growing and offered opportunity for investors.
“In 1962 at Independence we were only 6.5 million. We are now 40 million people,” said the President, adding that it not only provides available labour but offers market for products too.
Drawing comparisons with India, President Museveni said: “India was 430 million people in 1962 and they are now 1.3 billion people and yet they are more prosperous than they were in 1962.” The government, he said, was managing Uganda’s population so that its growth (projected at 100 million people by 2050) delivers prosperity.
The Prince on his part expressed delight at being in Uganda and thanked President Museveni for the warm reception. “We want to set up shop here. We want to help Uganda produce its products and avoid imports. People like products if they are of quality and locally-made,” said Prince Sultan. “It benefits the local population people more, creates for them jobs and strengthens the local currency since it avoids capital flight. It is what we want to do in Uganda.”
Prince Sultan Bin Mohammed said his team would traverse Uganda to appreciate the people, country and its potential and decide which investment undertakings to make. He noted that Uganda is increasingly becoming an attractive destination for investors because of the good weather, fresh water and importantly the peace and security.
“Any country without peace is a dead country. See what is happening in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They have problems and we are now looking at stable countries. It is the reason we are coming here,” said the businessman, who also together with other partners, has set up investments in Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Yemen and Qatar.
They range from chemicals, commercial banks, telecoms, agricultural services, schools and construction. The Prince will tour the President’s farms in Kisozi and Rwakitura, Jesa Farm, several tourist sites and also attend a business forum in Kampala before departing on Saturday.
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