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Museveni pitches tourism at World Customs conference


There couldn’t have been a better time to sell Uganda. The 4th World Customs Organisation (WCO) conference sitting at Serena hotel in Kampala has gathered at least 1,000 delegates from 169 countries.

And President Museveni used the chance to charm delegates not just about the country’s tax regimes but also a tourism gem Uganda has become.

President Museveni addressing delegates at the 4th World Customs Organisation (WCO) conference

“Uganda is one of the three spots in the world right on the equator but on the high altitude. The other spot is near Mount Kenya and the Ecuador,” Museveni told delegates. “Please do your customs conference, but don’t miss on human contact and tourism so that you have a story to tell when you go home.”

World Customs Organisation is an independent intergovernmental body representing more than 182 customs administrations across the globe and collectively processes 98% of the global trade.

This is the first time the conference has been held in Africa – previous meetings were held in South Korea, Spain, and Cancun Mexico. It attracts tax experts, civil society, academia and traders. The conference being held in Uganda is hosted by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

A tourism pitch was handy as Uganda’s tourism sector has become such an important part of the country’s purse that billions of shillings have been spent to hire public relations firms to market the country abroad. Tourism earns the country about $1.4bn annually, dwarfing coffee receipts and diaspora remittances.

“They [conference organisers] will give me the attendance list and will interact with each of you later,” Museveni said amid cheers. “Apart from the customs conference, don’t miss out on the tourism,” president pitched.

“Uganda is right on the equator but on the high altitude side. When you go out, the climate is mild. Even if you don’t work hard, you can survive. You find somebody here who does nothing but very fat,” he said in a brag about the country’s favourable climate.

The president said Africa had missed the industrial revolution that most western countries witnessed because of slave trade and colonialism. He added, however, that continent now was more united and “Africa will not miss again. It will be part of the global trade on equal terms,” Museveni said.

Dickson Kateshumbwa, URA commissioner for customs, picked the moment and told delegates to book for their next holiday in the country and spend on the local goods available.

“Think about investing in Uganda,” he said.

This year’s conference focused on the Authorised Economic Operator – an instrument used to give most tax compliant firms a privilege to import or export their products without much customs checks.

This has advantage of reducing clearing time with companies making enormous savings. URA Commissioner General Doris Akol said at least 51 firms in Uganda have been granted the AEO privilege and they account for at least 28 per cent of the country’s international taxes.

“A high proportion of customs revenue is paid by people on the AEO,” Akol said. “We have seen a lot of people especially those trading across the region express a lot of desire to join the programme.”

She said they tax body was doing assessments to see if they deserve to be given the privilege.

Africa and Uganda in particular share of global trade remains very small. The continent accounts for just about 2 per cent of global trade. To gain fully from the WCO programmes, the continent must increase its share in global production.



+1 #1 Lysol 2018-03-16 00:08
Many tourists from abroad are always turned-off when foreigners died mysteriously in Uganda.

Asides from the political uncertainty in the country. Who would want to take the rist, really?
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