International Alert–Uganda recently launched Contributing to a Peace Economy in Northern Uganda: A Guide for Investors, a report that provides information and advice for investors seeking to operate in northern Uganda in order to assist them in maximising profits while ensuring that they contribute to the peace and development of the region. Taking in consideration the sensitivities around investments in northern Uganda, the guide identifies how these can be conflict-sensitive and therefore promote peaceful economic recovery.
The launch was led by H.E. Ambassador Johnson Anderson from the Embassy of Sweden who commended the work of Alert–Uganda and called upon all stakeholders to actively participate in making sure that the Guide for Investors is used and put into practice by present and future investors in northern Uganda. The event was also attended by Mr Pius Bigirimana, Permanent Secretary of the Ugandan Prime Minister’s Office, who in his keynote address highlighted that the guide is a very timely tool that can assist investors to work within government’s existing development plans. He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to continue abiding by government plans in order to ensure the sustainability of any similar gestures. Participants included Randy Harris and Jessica Huber from USAID/SPRING, representatives from the donor community, members of the Ugandan parliament, business leaders and civil society representatives, among others.
The idea of developing a guide for investors was first proposed by a representative of the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association during a workshop. Alert–Uganda took the suggestion on board and led a consultative process that benefited from the inputs of business leaders from northern Uganda and Kampala, investors, traditional leaders, district officials, civil society, and private-sector representatives from Gulu and Amuru, Kitgum and Pader. By reflecting the views of all these stakeholders, the guide aims to establish a higher level of trust and collaboration between them around a common agenda of peace.
In addition to providing a contextual analysis of the conflict in northern Uganda and an overview of northern Uganda’s economic prospects, theguide outlines four key steps that should be followed by investors:
1. Recognise the sensitivity of land issues and handle them appropriately;
2. Consult widely and develop trusting relationships with stakeholders;
3. Uphold high standards of business integrity; and
4. Identify opportunities to contribute to peace and development: post-conflict corporate responsibility.
The report was positively welcomed by all stakeholders, who during the launch made recommendations and expressed ideas on how to take the peaceful economic recovery process further. In particular, they highlighted the need for the people of northern Uganda to embrace the private sector as a facilitator of development as well as their need to identify and utilise opportunities that already exist. They also recognised that investors should conduct a thorough consultation process prior to investing in the region and that they should diversify investment opportunities to benefit local communities.
The Guide for Investors will be widely distributed to all targeted stakeholders. An electronic version of the report can be found here.