My tips on visiting Uganda
First time visiting Uganda? Don't expect business to be conducted as quickly as you may have come to expect in a developed country. The good thing, though, is that some business processes, such as company registration can be done online. However, for expediency, you may want yo use the services of professionals, as not getting it right the first time can cause lengthy delays.
Don't expect to get fast speed internet everywhere; this is a bit of a luxury unless your business happens to be located in a serviced office such as the Kiyiira Africa office at Acacia Mall and a few other places. So if you are planning a brick and mortar office and your business requires fast speed internet, you will have to bear this in mind.
Local Mobile Numbers
It's quite cheap to pick up a local sim card, and this is recommended for making local calls, and it's a lot cheaper than using your home provider.
It can be a little confusing figuring out what airtime package you should subscribe to, as call minutes are purchased separately from data bundles. There is also a social media tax payable. There is a way of organising your packages so you get the best value. I have never taken the time to figure it out, but don't worry, we will send someone with you to help you set this up.
If at all possible, avoid travelling in the typical rush hour traffic in Kampala, though it’s probably no more frustrating than rush hour traffic anywhere; certainly if you have been to India, you might say nowhere can be as bad as that. Most people travel by motorbike (Boda Boda), and you may feel on edge with their weaving in and out of the traffic with little regard for road markings.
It’s quite amazing to see these Boda drivers display their manoeuvring skills; you will sometimes see a few foreigners riding them. My advice is to use a car. Uber and other app-hailing companies are widely available. However, if you do brave the Boda, it's the quickest and cheapest way to get around.
Road congestion is set to improve with a major programme of new and existing road infrastructure now underway, most notably the new road to Jinja from Kampala and the road that goes to the area near Murchison Falls safari park where a vast oil deposit has been found.
Having travelled the continent widely, I can say that living costs in the East African region are much lower than in West Africa or South Africa. It's not untypical to find a lovely two-bed apartment between $200–300 per month. Food from the many local food places is very reasonable, and you can expect to pay between $10–15 for your daily food requirements at the upmarket places as hotel meals can cost you around $20.
The currency is UGX (Ugandan Shilling), and you will get a lot of it for your money exchange, but don't get carried away, it can go just as quickly as you change it if you don't pay attention to your spending. The tip is not to compare the value against what you are used to paying at home, but against the local value. I guess it is the same the world over.
For entrepreneurs ready to solve problems and innovate to meet Africa’s unmet needs there is a tremendous opportunity for growth. One example is Julian Omalla, the owner of Uganda's largest juice processing factory, Delight Ltd, with an annual turn over of US$4m and 45% of the local market.
Julian has diversified into a range of other business activities, including poultry, a flour mill and bakery, a student hostel for 400, as well as coordinating women’s farmer cooperatives that provide food aid into Sudan.
The Mind Set
The opportunities that exist, both personal and business, far outweigh any challenges you may come across. Uganda has a large pool of talented young individuals capable and ready to help grow your business.
Here at Kiyiira Africa, we are dedicated to bridging the gap between the entrepreneurs and investors and smoothing your path to a successful business venture. The country has room for many more such entrepreneurs and investors. We hope you will be one of them.