Uganda becoming popular with Indian professionals and companies
Posted on May 9, 2011
With many companies seeking a foothold in East Africa, new opportunities are emerging for Indian professionals in Uganda. And unlike most Western countries, Indians can go to Uganda on a tourist visa and then look for a job. “It is easy for Indians to settle down in Uganda. Besides the Gujarati business community, which has been there for many years, young professionals too are moving to Uganda. There are new immigrants from Punjab and health-care workers from Kerala,” says Nimisha J Madhvani , Uganda’s High Commissioner to India who is herself from one of the prominent Indian business families.
During the dictatorship of Idi Amin in the early ’70s, more than 75,000 Asians were forced to flee the country. While many of them moved to the West, during the process of rehabilitation, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni encouraged Indians to return. Today, Uganda has a liberal and open capital account and a robust financial services sector. It also offers a safe and secure environment.
“I’m a third-generation Ugandan and returnee. I consider this my home,” says Sanjiv Patel who runs his family-business Tomil Agricultural Ltd. “With many companies setting up shop in Africa, Indian professionals are coming here and settling down,” he adds. The Indian Association of Uganda , of which Patel is an active member, is a bridge between Indians and locals.
Indians in Uganda play a vital role in the economy. Murtuza Dalal , a chartered accountant, has been living in Kampala since 1993. “I am very comfortable professionally and head one of the large audit firms. I have been
instrumental in the development of the accounting profession here,” says Dalal.
Applications for foreign workers can be sought from Immigrant Control Board for a specific period. Renewable work permits are given for one year. A work permit for an expat employee is based on the minimum qualifying investment of $100,000.
Workers & technocrats have to pay a bond equivalent to the price of a one-way ticket to their country. Foreign investors need a minimum investment of $100,000 to get a licence from the Uganda Investment Authority . They need to register a company in Uganda at the registrar general’s office. The next step is an investment licence from the UIA. Normal processing time is 2-5 days.
Prominent Indian business families in Uganda:
1 The Thakrars of Tilda Rice, UK, are expanding operations in Uganda
2 The Madhvani Group has a presence in a range of products and services
3 The Mehta Group is an MNC running diversified businesses
4 Sudhir Ruparelia owns hotels and banks
5 Karim Hirji owns a string of hotels
6 Harshad Barot is at the helm of Tirupati Development , one of the largest civil construction companies
7 Other prominent Gujarati business families include the Jobanputras and the Shahs of Bidco Oil
8 Ketan Morjaria is one of the founders of Orient Bank
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