President Yoweri Museveni has criticized public servants who frustrate foreign investors, warning that their days of corruption are numbered.
While speaking at the official launch of Pearl of Africa hotel, owned by Aya Brothers Group, President Museveni noted that Uganda’s private sector still lags behind due to the red tape brought on by rigid public servants, who risk being fired for corrupt tendencies.
The hotel is partly managed by Mohammed Hamid, a businessman who accused Herbert Kabafunzaki, the former minister of state for Labour, of soliciting a bribe to cover up a case.
Museveni said that without a vibrant private sector, the economy cannot support its citizens.
“Many of the rich countries in the world are rich because they [countries] have got a strong private sector but here in Africa, including Uganda, they have been looking at the private sector as if the government is doing them a favour. That is why you find all those illiterate people in the offices sitting in swinging chairs and wasting time of businesspeople. But I have sworn to make those public servants endangered species,” he said.
With tourism among Uganda’s top exports, Museveni emphasized that with more investment in the hotel and service sudsectors, Uganda would be able to lure more tourists into the country.
He revealed that government wants to attract at least five million tourists every year from the current 1.5 million.
“We are handling a number of issues, including facilities for tourists. Tourism is an export bigger than coffee…The other day we had a big club of tour operators and conservationists and the experts stated that they need more demand. We now need to build a big conference center which can sit 5,000 people. I am working with some people to build it somewhere near the new road going to Munyonyo,” he added.
The Pearl of Africa hotel has 253 rooms and employs 2,000 Ugandans. Hamid Mohammed, also the chairman of Aya Group of companies, thanked government for supporting the private sector, revealing that the new hotel has created employment for 2,000 Ugandans.
The company is also planning to open up an industrial park in Soroti district, which is forecast to create a minimum of 500,000 jobs for Ugandans.
“We also plan to create more jobs for Ugandans in the near future through the industrial park. We are working very hard to make sure we bring more investors to invest a minimum of $4 million,” Hamid revealed.
Trade and Industry Minister Amelia Kyambadde said the hotel industry has grown by 6.5 per cent and currently one of the biggest constributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
With a national policy on services trade in place, Kyambadde encouraged more Ugandans to invest in the sector, noting that it now employs 450,000 people directly.