A delegation from Iran’s second-largest enterprise, Mostazafan Foundation, recently met the chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), Dr Elly Karuhanga, to discuss investment opportunities in the country.
Speaking at a press conference held at UCMP offices in Kampala, Karuhanga said the foundation owns more than 150 companies in over 27 countries and deals in agriculture, transportation, and oil and gas, among others. He said it is the foundation that will decide where to invest its resources.
“We gave them a very detailed explanation about our minerals, the available resources and the opportunities. We also expressed to them opportunities in the oil and gas sector... They seem to be very passionate about coming to invest in Uganda,” Karuhanga said.
The ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran to Uganda, Seyed Morteza, who headed the delegation, said the moment the foundation invests in Uganda, it expects the funds to be used appropriately because the enterprise is partly a charity organisation.
According to www.finacial-tribune.com, the foundation commits 50 per cent of its annual $4.6bn in revenue to the needy in the form of low-interest loans in the countries where it operates.
However, this could not be verified by The Observer as the delegates declined to talk to the media after their closed-door meeting with Karuhanga. The meeting lasted about an hour. Asked about the challenges that constrain the work of investors like Mostazafan, and what UCMP is doing to curb them, Karuhanga said they have a solution.
“The government has finally agreed to our proposal and they are now persuaded to set up a department..., the department of exploration,” Karuhanga explained.
“The department will be used to go and explore the minerals and then tell the world that we have this much gold in this area and it is of this quantity and then the investors would come.”
On how beneficial the expected investment can be to Ugandans, Karuhanga said if the foundation devotes capital in any sector, Ugandans can be assured of jobs and increased income because, for example, “we can’t allow our oil and gas to be exploited without our participation.”
In 2015, Iran and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding that would facilitate diplomatic relations and transaction of businesses between the two countries. These ties, however, have been hampered by sanctions imposed by the UN on Iran over its nuclear programme.
Also in 2010, Iran contributed $1 million in form of tractors to Uganda. There are also technological, commercial, industrial, agricultural, educational and cultural agreements that the two countries have signed over the last couple of years.