Oslo – The Norwegian business community would like to increase its partnership with Ugandan business enterprises through the Norwegian-African Business Association (NABA). NABA serves as a platform where business opportunities in Africa are promoted, and as a channel between Norwegian and African business communities. And, it works towards increasing efficient and less risky trade between Norway and Africa.
NABA currently has 126 member companies doing business in 44 African countries in the sectors of oil and gas, renewable energy, agribusiness, finance, tourism, shipping, fishery and real estate. 16 of these companies operate in Uganda.
Thecelah Ndagire caught up with the NABA Managing Director, Mr. Eivind Fjeldstad at the just concluded seventh annual Nordic-African Business Summit in Oslo.
Today, most African countries are beyond aid discussions but interested mutual trade relations. Where does Uganda fit within the NABA partnership?
In NABA we are very happy to promote win-win solutions and great partnerships between Norwegian and Ugandan business communities. We believe there is a huge untapped potential for more business collaboration. We are doing everything we can to promote the opportunities in Uganda and Norway. We think companies in Uganda will benefit from working with Norwegian companies who are serious partners you can trust.
Is the partnership with Africa strategic or a legacy for Norway?
For a business to succeed, it requires win-win solutions. I don’t think there has been a clear business strategy or policy for Africa in Norway. Our organization is advocating for more, better and safer trade and investments between our two countries.
A big percentage of the African economy relies on Agriculture, how does NABA plan to work with the agricultural sector?
Too few Norwegian agribusiness companies are focusing on the global growth markets in Africa. I think this is where we have a huge potential to contribute with inputs to the important value chain. It is madness that a continent with so many agribusiness opportunities needs to import food, but I think many governments are now addressing the issue, and I do hope more Norwegian investors can contribute to Africa’s green revolution and better value chains. Our best example is Yara International who has been working with fertilizer for African farmers since the 1960’s. The Yara CEO & President told the audience in Oslo that he thinks that African markets will be the most important ones for Yara in the future – and we could not agree more.
Which Ugandan sectors is NABA targeting?
For now, most Norwegian investors have focused on the energy and technology sectors, but I believe there are also great opportunities within aquaculture and agriculture. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with the Ugandan embassy who can keep us informed on what is required of investments.
In relation to this year’s Summit theme (“Investing in Africa’s transition: how, not why?”), how can Uganda tap into the opportunities?
I think Uganda is well positioned, as our key focus areas this year is energy, technology, and finance – and we have companies in all three sectors working in Uganda today. We are also very happy that the Government sent two Ministers to take part, and share their experiences and insights.
How can private enterprises in Uganda build synergy with NABA? And, what channels do they have to go through?
Ugandan companies that are interested in working with Norwegian investors should contact us (NABA). The Norwegian embassy in Kampala is also a great first stop, where I know we have excellent colleagues working with private sector development. And of course, Ugandan companies should become members of our association.