Who knows you? Frustrations of doing business in Uganda, part 3

If you have not been disappointed, you probably have not yet tried. One of the local entrepreneurs explained how his business hit a snag

If you have not been disappointed, you probably have not yet tried. One of the local entrepreneurs explained how his business hit a snag because executives just don’t have time to listen. After failing to meet government executives, he visited the Private Sector Foundation and Uganda Investment Authority.


These too turned cold feet.

Never mind these are top organizations whose mandate is to contribute and foster investment and economic growth of the country. “I was told by the receptionist that the CEO could not see me. Not even his assistant had time to meet me. At the Private Sector Foundation, after several attempts to see the CEO, I was asked to meet an officer who initially liked my business. He asked for a proposal that I immediately submitted. Unfortunately, it stopped at that. Two years later, I am yet to hear from them.”

But the story is different in some countries.

Safaricom is arguably one of the best companies in East Africa. Its success is attributed to the open hand approach to receiving and nurturing business ideas from all and sundry. The company has a department responsible for innovations, welcoming ideas from any individual in or outside the country. Anyone who has an idea is free to walk in and meet the head of the department for innovations. Such a platform has helped to keep the company as a leader in telecommunications ahead of the competition.

In Europe, it is the children who invent most of the technology we use today. Companies like Google give opportunities to outside knowledge and indeed they have seen their performance improve greatly.

The failure to hold MDs of public entities accountable for their performance has made it difficult for people to do business. There is no mechanism to hold public officers accountable for missed opportunities. No one cares. The biggest challenge is the conflict of interest everywhere – in government and private sector alike. Take a case of telecommunication companies. The head of marketing has a private PR firm or bulk SMS business. How can such people do the right thing when they are faced with a conflict of interest situation? On the one hand s/he has to evaluate your business proposal and on the other hand, he needs the project to be handled by his private company and allies.

The same reason is said to be responsible for poor service delivery. The government encourages public servants to operate private businesses to augment their revenues. When it comes to awarding a tender should I mind about merit or I should award it to my firm? What if my firm cannot deliver? Who cares whether the contract is not performed

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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