Tag: unaaseattle2018

Patrick Ayota to Speak at T&I Forum

It is a distinct honor and pleasure to welcome Mr. Patrick Ayota to this year’s UNAA Trade and Investments Forum.

Mr. Ayota is the Deputy Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in Uganda.  Prior to this Mr Ayota was the Chief Financial Officer of the NSSF and before that the Chief Financial Officer of Barclay’s Bank Uganda.

Mr. Ayota was born in Tororo District (Eastern Uganda) and attended local Ugandan schools for his pre-college education.  He attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, for his under-graduate degree and subsequently graduated with an MBA from the University of South Carolina at Columbia.

Mr. Ayota is a certified CPA in the USA and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Uganda.

Mr. Ayota is a member of the board of directors of the New Vision Group and the Housing Finance Bank.

Prior to returning to Uganda in 2007, Mr. Ayota was a prominent member of the Ugandan community in Atlanta, Georgia, and we are particularly honored to welcome him as a distinguished alumni of UNAA where he served as its treasurer from 2001-2003 and as the chairman of its Electoral Commission in 2005.

Mr. Ayota will make presentations on the following topics.

  1. Opening Voluntary Retirement accounts
  2. The houses that NSSF is developing.
  3. Accessing benefits for members who are eligible.

About the writer

Moses R. Wilson, PE, is a registered professional engineer and president of WILTEC, a consulting traffic engineering firm headquartered in Pasadena, CA.  Married with 2 sons, Moses is a past president of UNAA.

T&I Forum: Revisiting AGOA and its Benefits

So what exactly is the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) and how does it benefit Uganda?

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 with the objective of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, to stimulate economic growth, to encourage economic integration, and to facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. The Act establishes the annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) to promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.  The Office of the US Trade Representative reported that in 2016, the United States imported more goods from AGOA-eligible African countries than it exported back to them.

Yet even with such a reportedly overall favorable balance of trade the US still exported $18 million more goods than it imported from Uganda in the same year.  Even President Museveni recently conceded that AGOA has not lived up to expectations in Uganda. Indeed, a popular counter argument is that Uganda should focus more on trade with its neighbors like Kenya, Tanzania, the DRC and South Sudan than with the United States.

So let us rethink this whole process starting with a couple of very simple but important questions.

  1. What can Uganda realistically produce that it can “competitively” export to the United States in quantities that make AGOA worthwhile?  Another way to look at this question is to ask what can Uganda produce for export to the United States that is not already being produced better and more competitively in a multitude of other countries?
  2. Is it possible to overcome the pervasive adverse business environment in Uganda (rampant corruption, under developed manufacturing infrastructure, lack of skilled labor, prohibitive transportation challenges, etc.) that is so often cited as the principle reason inhibiting the positive realization of AGOA benefits?

These very questions are going to be featured in a debate format at the 10th Annual Trade and Investments Forum at the upcoming UNAA convention in Seattle.  Invited panelist will present arguments both in opposition and defense of this program.

About the writer

Moses R. Wilson, PE, is a registered professional engineer and president of WILTEC, a consulting traffic engineering firm headquartered in Pasadena, CA.  Married with 2 sons, Moses is a past president of UNAA.

What’s in store for Trade & Investment Forum 2018

Fellow Community Members.

This year UNAA will be hosting the 10th Annual Trade and Investments Forum at its 30th Annual UNAA Convention in Seattle, Washington.  But let me start with a question.  What have been the “measurable” outcomes of all of these Trade and Investment Forums?  By this I mean can we quantify new or additional trade between Uganda and North America, or can we point at some new significant investment made or new company formed as a result of these forums.

I ask this question because I believe that we should always work towards measurable outcomes in these forums and build upon them in subsequent conventions.

You see, in hosting this annual event, UNAA creates the environment for attendees to meet, network and (hopefully) form dynamic business relationships that promote trade and investment between Uganda and North America.  Let me give you an example of one such relationship from a previous year.

At what was then called the “Business and Entrepreneurship Workshop” held during the 2004 convention in Seattle, I challenged attendees to raise money to buy a building in Uganda.  This challenge raised $80,000.00 with which we formed a company in Uganda and bought a building that we have very happy derived rental income from for the last 13 years.

In response to a presentation at the 2009 UNAA convention in Chicago, my company here in Los Angeles entered into a partnership with a local Uganda company to provide technical support services.  This relationship has been a tremendous success and continues to grow with each passing year.

In response to a presentation by the Chancellor of Gulu University at the 2011 UNAA convention, a Ugandan doctor from Canada built 2 student hostels units near the campus and is enjoying very profitable returns.

These are just some of the more visible outcomes of past workshops at UNAA conventions.

By the time we host the UNAA Trade and Investments Forum in Seattle this year, two other similar forums will have already taken place – one in Seattle and another in Toronto.  It is planned to incorporate and add to that which was achieved at these other forums.

This year the forum will address trade and investment separately.

The morning will be dedicated to trade and discussions will focus on identification of products Uganda can realistically export to the US (besides coffee) and products made in North America (other than heavy machinery, used clothes and such) for which a market can be found in Uganda.  Discussions will also include such ancillary aspects like AGOA, the challenges of transportation, import/export taxation, distribution, etc.

The afternoon will be dedicated to investments and feature discussions on specific “achievable” investment opportunities (real estate, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, etc.) in Uganda.  Seattle being the home of Microsoft and other tech giants, there will be significant discussions about tech investment opportunities in Uganda. For example, high speed internet service costs about $800 a month in Kampala.  The very same service in Nairobi costs only $400 a month.  I see tremendous opportunity here.

Uganda has a large population of highly educated but under-employed young people.  I even know a Makerere graduate who drives a boda-boda.  I believe that this is a very important discussion to have with an end to seeking employment solutions for some of them.  India, China and the Philippines have done a great job of attracting call centers.  So is this a viable option for Uganda?  How about medical data entry and other book keep-type services?  Indeed, how about support services in architecture and engineering?  The licensed professionals could practice over here and outsource some of their tech-level work to Ugandans back home.

A presentation is also being planned on strategic investment planning for retirement in North America.  More information about this will be posted in the near future.

As a final feature, the forum will end with something new – an event somewhat modelled after the American TV show “Shark Tank.”  Attendees who wish will be invited to stand up in front of the whole forum and make presentations on projects and investment ideas for which they seek partners or investors.  For example, my partners in the investment group I mentioned above and I plan to present a proposal in which we will seek investors to purchase a 2nd building in Kampala.  I am thinking that folks from Uganda will be particularly interested in this forum as it may give them an opportunity to attract partners for projects they have back home.  I know of at least two other real estate proposals and one agri-business proposal being planned.

So plan to come and attend the Trade and Investments Forum on Friday August 30th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM – a whole day dedicated to discussions on how to make and grow money.

About the writer

Moses R. Wilson, PE, is a registered professional engineer and president of WILTEC, a consulting traffic engineering firm headquartered in Pasadena, CA.  Married with 2 sons, Moses is a past president of UNAA.

Seattle 2018: Leaders complete site visit

The 2018 UNAA Convention and Trade Expo is happening in less than four months, and the mood coming out of the UNAA leadership site visit in Seattle is that this will be an exciting one. The UNAA Executive and UNAA Council met with the Local Organizing Committee and the local community this past weekend – Friday 27th to Sunday 29th April 2018 to perform a customary site visit.

Among the activities of the site visit were: boat tour, hotel tour, food tasting and deliberations among leaders regarding the state of UNAA and the state of convention planning. The feedback from the weekend will allow the local organizing committee to polish up their preparations and to refine their plans.

On Saturday April 28th, there was a public meeting with the local Seattle community, which was presided by Eng. John Julius Muwulya, UNAA VP and LOC chairman. All LOC sub-committee heads – as well as the team from Miss Uganda North America – presented their progress, and all had a positive outlook. UNAA President Monday Atigo commended the Seattle members and the LOC for the progress made and promised that the executive – hand in hand with the council – will continue to work with them to deliver the best possible UNAA Convention. The local community chairperson Madina Nalwadda echoed the community’s desire to move full speed ahead with convention planning without distractions and backed the current UNAA leadership to unite the entire North American community towards a successful convention.

The entire executive and majority of the UNAA Council were present in a strong expression of unity towards #UNAASeattle2018. Take advantage of the current Spring Savings rates to avoid paying full price come the peak summer season!

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