The founder and chief executive of Good African coffee, Mr. Andrew Rugasira has announced his intention to run for president of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce at the coming Annual General Meeting in 2016.
Rugasira, a member of the chamber seeks to replace Mrs Olive Kigongo who has been at the helm of the oldest private sector body since 2001. The Uganda National Chamber of Commerce was set up in 1933 as an umbrella institution to bring businesses together, promote trade and investment, and enhance business networking and partnerships among others.
Addressing journalists at the Kampala Serena hotel on Sunday, Rugasira said “…I would like to recognize the many years of service and contribution that the current president Mrs. Olive Kigongo has made at the chamber. It is my intention to build on that contribution and transform the chamber to better serve its members and the wide private sector community.”
However, the entrepreneur says the chamber today is a far cry from its original mandate. “It is institutionally ineffective and it has fundamentally failed to deliver on the expectations of its members,” he said.
“It is a tragedy that this historic institution has been allowed to degenerate this far because of poor leadership, weak governance and bad management and yet the country is faced with several crucial challenges like very high unemployment rate, a big skills gap in the labour force, high cost of doing business among others,” he says.
Rugasira says he want to borrow a leaf from other economies in the world which have achieved success by harnessing their private sector potential and spirit. “The American chamber of commerce has over 3 million members and raises $200m in annual membership fees and is at the fore front of job creation. The south African chamber has 20,000 small and medium enterprises and is significant in development of the country,” he says.
Mr. Ramadhan Ggoobi an economics lecturer and researcher from Makerere University Business School says the private sector is key to development of any economy and as such a united and strong private sector can easily better address the issues facing the country. And as such he says the chamber needs reforms that can better address the issues affecting businesses today.
Mr. Amos Wekesa, the chief executive officer of the Great Lakes Safaris urged the private sector to seize opportunities and sign deals with other foreign investors. “The chamber of commerce should be at the forefront of advising the president and also signing contracts with foreign business when they come or visit other countries,” he said.
Mrs Olive Kigongo the current president of the chamber however says they are yet to seat down as board and agree on dates and guidelines for the elections of the president of the chamber. “If you look at the chamber today, you will appreciate where we came from when I took over as president,” she said. Adding; “We shall announce proper guidelines and channels to be followed by those who wish to contest for president during the forth coming AGM to be held at an announced date.
Story By Jonathan Adengo