Insight Visit, Kampala/Gulu, January 2018

Insight Visit, Kampala/Gulu, January 2018

Our Director travelled to Uganda focusing on three centres: the capital, Kampala, in the south, Kiryandongo in central Uganda, home to the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, and Gulu, in northern Uganda, the former epicentre of the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict.

As with our insight visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the journey once again confirmed the necessity of any prospective exporter to visit a country in order to check how written facts and statistics relate to the reality on the ground. Firstly, the sheer size of Uganda becomes evident. Whilst Uganda looks very small on the standard Mercator map projection of Africa it is approximately the size of the UK. With relatively poor transport infrastructure a company solely based in the south will not easily be able to serve the north.  The cultures and language between north and south, indeed throughout Uganda, are also different so take this into consideration.

Uganda is a beautiful country with diverse climates, natural resources, languages and cultures. It is a member of the Commonwealth as well as other regional economic groupings such as the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and East African Community (EAC). Read more about our insight visit in our blog Reflections from our First Visit to Uganda.

Insight Visit, Sarajevo/Mostar, April 2017

Insight Visit, Sarajevo/Mostar, April 2017

It is easy to advise on doing business with a country using statistics and prescriptive export models, however, our insight visit to BiH underlined the imperative to visit a country to understand what is going on and whether reality reflects all that is written.  The Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war in BiH, yet the country still sees political division and, some would say, inertia. This is evident by the slow progress made with accession to the EU.

BiH imports almost twice as much as it exports and is still classed as transitioning into a free market economy (1).  Despite the above observation, at grass roots level the citizens of BiH are getting on with everyday life. Yes, there are language differences (consider using interpreters from the locality you are visiting) and yes, due to the lack of single economic space, there may be difficulties doing business across the entire country, however, for the more experienced and persistent exporter there are opportunities. UK companies looking for for further guidance should contact the DIT in-country team based at the British Embassy in Sarajevo.

BiH is a beautiful country. If it ever came off your list of travel destinations then you need to put if back on! For more information on our insight visit read our blog Ethical research in post-conflict environments: a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(1) US Commercial Service – Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) 2016 Country Commercial Guide