SEVERAL Rwandan companies may not exhibit in the on going 15th Uganda International Trade Fair in Lugogo.
The Private Sector Federation, an umbrella organisation bringing together the private sector in Rwanda, claims invitations came in late—therefore the business community could not mobilise enough resources to travel to Uganda.
Records from Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation, a body that coordinates the business community in Rwanda indicate that only five companies had registered to participate, by press time.
Akagera Aviation, a Kigali-based aviation company that provides fun-flights and training to chopper pilots in the region, says bureaucracy in Kampala may not allow them participate in the trade fair.
The company had planned to offer fun-flights to show-goers, exhibitors for a fee and showcase some of the aviation services they offer, but by press time, Kampala had not granted Akagera permission.
In Uganda, it is the ministry of works to issue a licence to aircraft operators. Hilary Obonyo, the Uganda Manufactures Association (UMA) executive director confirmed Rwanda choppers had not been cleared to enter and fly in Uganda.
“We (UMA) asked for clearance on behalf of Akagera Aviation to participate in the exhibition, but we are still waiting,” Obonyo said by phone from Kampala.
He attributed the delay to security concerns. He suspects security personnel could be still vetting the routes. Parts of Kampala where the choppers were to pass are ‘no flying zones’ in aviation-speak.
This is not the first time the Kampala government refuses to licence some of the private choppers in the country.
Presidential candidate Aggrey Awori was a victim when he hired a chopper from Nairobi to ease his movement during the 2001 presidential elections, but the government refused to licence his aircraft. The management of Akagera, however, is still hopeful.
“The show has started but anytime Kampala clears us we shall go and exhibit,” Eve Muvuyi Tushabe, the Akagera Aviation marketing manager said.
The company wanted to participate in the trade fair in order to create awareness about their services and get acclimatised to the Ugandan environment, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting (Chogm in Kampala, slated for next month. Akagera is eyeing to fly the delegates.
“Why should the Uganda government hire choppers from elsewhere when we have several in Rwanda? We are ready to compete with choppers from Kenya,” Tushabe said.
The Trade Fair that opened on October 4 is slated to end on October 10. Records from Uma indicate that at least 700 companies from 32 countries booked space to showcase their products and services.