The events were organized by the Ismaili Councils for Ontario and British Columbia, respectively, in collaboration with their Economic Planning Boards (EPB) and the Aga Khan Development Network Diplomatic Office in Ottawa.
At the High Commissioner’s request, these sessions were organized to highlight investment prospects and business opportunities in Uganda to the Canadian Ismaili Jamat and other interested business professionals. Notable guests included representatives from the High Commissioner’s Office, such as Deputy Head of Mission Margaret L. Kyogire, as well as local Ismaili leadership and EPB representatives from Toronto and Vancouver. Amaan Ismail, Policy and Partnerships Advisor at the Aga Khan Development Network Diplomatic Office in Canada, was also in attendance.
In both cities, the audience was largely made up of small business owners and investors with existing ties to Uganda.
The High Commissioner discussed Uganda’s growing economy in sectors such as agriculture and agribusiness, which currently employ 69% of the Ugandan population. Various incentives are in place to encourage Canadian business owners to expand to Uganda, including favourable terms of long-term leases of government land, tax benefits for start-up businesses, and the services provided by the Uganda Investment Authority, such as free registration of businesses. New projects may either take the form of a public private partnership or a joint venture. The High Commissioner also noted the high rate of youth unemployment and the impact that investment would have on job creation.
Zahir Kassam, Chair of the Economic Planning Board for Canada, delivered the closing remarks in Toronto.
“Many of us here have historic and deep ties with Uganda, and so it is very heartening to hear, first-hand, about significant progress being made in many sectors within the country,” he said. “Uganda has much potential, and with the right conditions, we can all be catalysts for growth and prosperity.”
During the sessions in Toronto and Vancouver, the AKDN’s strong linkages to Uganda were highlighted along with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s receipt of the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who had praised the Ismaili community’s contributions to Ugandan society. During their presentations, the High Commissioner and Deputy Head of Mission discussed further investment opportunities in mining and minerals, information technology, healthcare, and energy.
Following the formal programs, the High Commissioner attended networking receptions with institutional leaders and local investors.