Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are calling on the government of Uganda to strengthen its working relationship with development partners as a way of boosting fair and responsible local and foreign investment in the country.
The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) say that the current investment environment is not conducive especially to the local communities because related laws are not in tandem with the international responsible investment protocols.
Some of the protocols not aligned with the Ugandan laws include the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI), as well as national frameworks.
These frameworks call for the promotion of secure tenure land rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty and supporting sustainable development.
The concern about the imbalance between the Ugandans laws and the protocols was raised during a training meeting of Gomba District Local Government on the use of the Investment Compliance Monitoring Tool.
The training was organized by the Eastern and Sothern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Germany Agency for Development (GIZ).
Building capacity in Gomba district
The meeting was aimed at building the capacity of Gomba District Local Government departments in using the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool to track data collection, data analysis, data presentation and reporting.
The tools will also support Gomba in making formal discussions and guidance to promote responsible investments in the district to realize the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, human rights, and poverty eradication among others.
Ronald Bagaga, the Policy and Research Officer at ESAFF, said there's a need for the government to come up with investment policies that support the interest of smallholder farmers. He said that on most occasions smallholder farmers have been affected when it comes to allocating land for investments to investors.
"The government should also have in mind that local communities need land, especially for agricultural production. Without respecting their interests, this will affect their livelihoods since they depend on land as a natural resource to earn a living" Bagaga said.
It's on this background that ESAFF and partners conducted the capacity building training where ten Gomba district local government officials were skilled in the use of the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool.
The training attracted the district economic physical planner, agricultural officers, lands officers, environmental officers, district commercial development officers and the Chief Administrative Officer.
It promoted responsible investment governance with a focus on agriculture and food systems that contribute to food security and nutrition.
ESAFF, GIZ commended for innovation
In the training, the District Commercial Development Office of Gomba Kawalya Morgan commended GIZ and ESAFF for coming up with the tool which guides them when it comes to the allocation of land for investment.
Daniel Kirumira from GIZ promised Gomba that ESAFF will avail them with a computer system on which the ICMT Tool will be installed. He said the system will entirely be managed by the district to lower the fear of data insecurity.
He asserted that the entire process is to be managed by the district right from data collection, analysis and reporting and the district will have full control over the data
"The tool will make sure that the district can conduct investor compliance monitoring. The tool will support the district have a record of responsible and non-compliant investors within the district and keep track of investments within the district,” he said.
He also said the tool will support the district to identify areas where different investors require capacity building and ultimately informs them of policies that need to be raised/revised.
Gomba is an example
After the training, ESAFF and GIZ decided to support Gomba with a workstation for monitoring investments in the district and facilitating district officials during data collection from identified investments.
The intention is to ensure that the local government can be a learning centre and point of reference for other Local Governments across the country in monitoring investments in their districts.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), agricultural, investments in Africa have a massive social and economic footprint.
More than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is smallholder farmers, and about 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agricultural investment practices.
In the same way, the economies and livelihoods of citizens in East Africa are predominantly dependent on agricultural investments. The sector accounts for 25%-40% of EAC Partner States (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of South Sudan) Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Agriculture is the leading employer of over 80% of the population in the region. More than 70% of the industries in the EAC are agro-based and depend on agriculture as the main source of raw materials. Agricultural commodities constitute about 65% of the volume of intra-regional trade in the EAC.
In Uganda, Uganda Investments Authority (UIA) estimates Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to increase from 3.68% to 5% and the Domestic Direct Investment to increase from 24.5% to 50% by 2025.
The government of Uganda established UIA as an entity responsible for monitoring and tracking all investments made in the country as guided by the investment code of Uganda.