Practical Tips and Advice for the Business Travelers headed for Uganda
Straight – Practical Advice for Business Travelers to Uganda – Tips that will save Time-Money and avoid Frustration
Practical Advice for Business Travelers to Uganda – Doing Business in Uganda – Doing Business in Uganda can be a mutually satisfying venture – or it can be one of cultural frustration, financial losses, disappointment. Here we have compiled some practical, useful information that will helpful in Traveling to Uganda, visiting here and conducting business here that brings satisfaction to all involved.
Our List of Practical Advice for Business Travelers to Uganda that will keep you safe and sane.
It all begins with Common Sense:
The page was written for Safari travel – however any travel including business travel needs to start with common sense. Uganda is a land of promises, not necessarily promise but promises that often dissipate into steam and air like water on a tarmac in equatorial Uganda.
One needs to rely on one’s common sense and in your case business sense, add a dash of skepticism and you will be just fine. where
A Business Person can have a successful and mutually satisfying Business Visit in Uganda where Ugandans and you both profit – it all begins with common sense and do not leave home without it.
As of July 1 -2016 you can apply online on the Uganda Immigration Website for a visa. This includes all visa application and is a four-step process. The link above gives you more and detailed information as to what is involved.
The online process has been created to make the process of obtaining Ugandan visas easier.
You co not have to contact the Ugandan Embassy in your country, you simply apply online from home or office.
We hope that the process will work well for visitors and for Uganda. Presently you can still obtain a Ugandan visa on arrival – that may change.
A Yellow Fever Immunization Certificate is now required for entry.
As a business traveler you are most likely used to paying for everything by credit card. Welcome to Uganda where cash is the rule of the day and often hotel rates are in US Dollars.
The US Dollar is good to have with you – 2003 or newer, clean and unmarred. 50 or 100 USD Bills receive the best exchange rates at Forex Bureaus. Do not use the Hotel Front-Desk to change your USD into Uganda Shillings, you’ll receive a much lower exchange rate on average.
If a business accepts credit cards you will often pay a 5% or even higher surcharge.. One could say that Uganda has a Cash based price and a higher credit Card Price.
Using Traveler Cheques in Uganda is a cumbersome and time-stealing process and you definitely receive a lower exchange rate – some Hotels in Kampala accept them and at banks you have to prove that you bought them and show the documentation for that.
If you are coming here on business, do not attempt to use the local modes of transport such as a Boda-Boda, Taxi-Van or even the use of a for-hire car and driver where you have to bargain for each trip that you will take.
The best choice for you would be using a vehicle and driver, something that we can supply. Anyone in Uganda can drive, but doing business here you need something more, someone more.
A safe driver who is also a guide, who knows local culture and ways and he knows where to go to get things done. That will most often not be there in the average Ugandan Driver you may be given, who most likely will be a some for-hire taxi operator. What you also not know that the hotel that may recommend him to you also gets a cut of the money that you. We on the other hands can give you a true personal drier who knows the ins and outs of Uganda, can bypass traffic jams and our twice daily gridlocks, take you on alternate routes and as a plus knows where to get things done for you.
Our driver-guide becomes your advocate – all at a reasonable Cost. Contact us with any requests.
Just because President Clinton stayed there (they probaly did their best), does not mean it is a good hotel. In fact the comments on TripAvisor for that hotel are mostly negative.
Stay close to where you are going to have your business dealings. Do not stay in Entebbe if you have business appointments in Kampala. Many business travelers will use the 5 Star Serena Hotel in Kampala or the Sheraton Hotel due to their central locations near downtown Kampala.
There are also many boutique hotels in Kampala and even Entebbe that will do a wonderful job in serving you. It all depends on where you need to go in Kampala to conduct your business meetings and what you need to stay in touch with your business and family at home.
Kampala has many outstanding restaurants that you can choose from with various cuisines such as Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Continental, Ugandan traditional food, Congolese, Nigerian, German,French, Belgian, Dutch, South African, Japanese including Sushi, English, Mexican, Kenyan, Ugandan Pork Joint Restaurants and much more.
The choices on where to eat for the Business Travelers is endless, even if you are a Vegan or Vegetarian there are many alternative places to for you.
If you are staying in the Serena Hotel or Sheraton you have various choices where to eat in each hotel that will satisfy your need.
We would suggest for your well-being avoid roadside vendors of popular foods such as Rolex – not the watch but rolled eggs in a chapati and those hawking Beef, or Chicken Brochettes.
Staying well whilc in Uganda on business is most important since you do not need any downtime with a case of an intestinal version of Idi Amin’s revenge.
Uganda – is not a tipping culture, however at the larger hotels such as the Serena or Sheraton Hotel tipping is expected since business travelers and tourists have done so for years.
One does need to keep in mind that wait-staff salaries in Uganda are low and your tip on a business trip here does make a difference in life of a Ugandan and their family.
A tip will also get you quicker and better service the next time you are in that restaurant or from hotel staff that will attend to every need you might have.
We do not have a tipping culture in general however in Tourism and Business establishments it is more or less expected and appreciated.
If you want improved service and attention – faster service – special requests – try tipping.
Safety and Security Advice and Tips for Business Travelers to Uganda:
Uganda is one of Africa’s most secure, stable and friendliest countries in all of Africa. You will safe and secure here. There are some precautions to take such as the company that you are dealing with in Uganda is legitimate and real. Do not carry large amounts of cash on you as you move around in your business dealings.
Hotels such as Serena or Sheraton however beware of those charming and beautiful ladies that you might encounter in such a hotel, especially in the bar areas, many are mosquito girls – time spent with them has resulted in sad stories of theft, of fraud, HIV and STD’s can be told and they are not just anecdotal but reality reported by both police and press.
Kampala like the big Apple – NYC is a city that never sleeps, nightclubs and bars are open until the next morning. If you want to safely go out and taste Kampala’s nightlife which is from mild to wild – Bradt’s Guide to Uganda gives one bar a rating of 8 for shock-value – always go out with a Ugandan and have a non-drinking driver with you.
Most Business Travelers will have no health problems while in Uganda, especially if some basic precautions are taken while in Uganda such as not drinking tap-water, avoiding salads except in better restaurants, not eating buffet food that is not adequately heated, avoiding food from street vendor and keeping the windows closed to your room if air-conditioned.
If your room is not sprayed for insects such as mosquitoes in teh evening, you can always purchase a spray-can of Doom that will do the job of eliminating pesky insects in your room.
If you need to receive quality care while on your business trip to Uganda you can visit the Surgery in Kololo or the International Hospital in Muyenga, two of Kampala’s finest medical treatment centers.
You can bring an unlocked International Quad cell Phone with you and purchase a Ugandan Sim Card from MTN, UTL Airtel,or Ora. This way you avoid high roaming charges.
UTL and Warid international calls are at 20 cents a minute to places such as Europe, Asia and North America, whereas MTN charges about 30 cents a minute for such calls.
You can even buy a local phone with sim-card for as low as 2 USD and give as a gift when you leave Uganda.
Another choice for Business Travelers to stay in touch with home if you will be in Uganda for an extended stay is to set up a Skype number in your home country which people there can call and you can receive it automatically on your local Ugandan Mobile Phone. This is an added convenience at a most reasonable price for business travelers to Uganda. You can also receive money on your phone using MTN and sending it from your country via WorldRemit. This can be done on the internet.
You can access at one of the many Internet cafe’s that you will find in Kampala and most larger Ugandan cities. There is also WiFi at better Hotels in Uganda that will give you Internet access with your laptop, smart phone or Tablet or iPad. Many restaurants also provide WiFi for customers – there are also Hotspots throughout the city.
Better Hotels also have business centers that you can use if you came without laptop or other device with Internet access – Boutique Hotel have such centers on a smaller scale
Another choice is have a USB dongle at MTN, with data time and use it with your laptop giving you Internet Access while you are in Uganda – advantageous if you are here for a longer period of time- for groups routers that are inexpensive can be purchased.
Speeds can be had up to 4G and 3.5G which will meet the needs of most business travelers to Uganda.
Electrical Current – Plugs and Power Availability:
240 volts is the voltage in Uganda and you will need a UK plug. You can buy a converter plug that will make your appliance fit locally.
Power supply is iffy in Uganda – therefore it is best to stay in a hotel that has a generator system or solar alternative in place.
Uganda can have extended power outages that last 12 hour or. It is also good if you are using a laptop that you have a surge protector of one kind or another.
Most better hotels will have uninterrupted power for their guests since they automatically switch to alternative power when there is a blackout.
In Uganda you can easily buy electrical strips with outlets that will work with your devices.
Business Travelers will find out rather quickly that the Ugandan Business Attire is more formal – Suits for Men with Tie and Women in Business will dress what one calls in Kampala-Smart.
Uganda is a conservative Country and during the daytime while conducting business the emphasis should be on dressing in a similar fashion as Ugandan Business Men and Women.
Dressing appropriately and as Ugandans say smartly will gain you immediate respect. Often people may feel that they are in Africa one can dress down and that includes business traveler.
However the opposite is true – Ugandans in Kampala are considered by other Africans as quite fashionable but during the daytime the style is conservative – at night that is another story in the city that never sleeps.
The African Concept of time – Ugandans may tell you they are on the way but still a long way off. Punctuality is more often concerned when it comes to doing business for Ugandans.
The concept of time is based more on relationships than on punctuality. In non-business dealings a person who told you that they would be there at 7 pm may show up at 8pm or later.
If you are dealing with government institutions those meeting you will usually be on time and prompt about it.
If you are visiting someone on an unscheduled visit you will be most often gladly welcomed and given time – be sure to allow for lengthy greeetings before dealing with the reason for which you came for.
More reading on the Concept of African Time on our Out-of Africa-Too Blog
African – Ugandan Culture is quite different from most anywhere in the world – it is based on relationships. Confrontational Conversation is simply not accepted here.
Ugandans will aim to please you and agree to doing what ever is necessary by saying yes, please but you better check up since it may not get done.
Direct eye contact is not the norm in Kampala – that is a cultural practice here. Meeting people – always shake hands (presently shaking of hands is out due to the West African Ebola Crisis) – Uganda however is Ebola-Free. Handshakes will be rather light than firm, younger people will add an African Twist to the Handshake that you will soon learn.
English is the official language but like in every country where English is spoken certain local words – phrases are added – in Uganda it is called Uglish which is Ugandan English. If someone says to you that they have to go make a short call – that is not a phone call but a trip to the bathroom. If someone asks you to extend that means move over.
You will soon get used to it but such things are good to know. The link above and the Uglish link will give you some good idea about conversation Ugandan style.
It is also good to know some Luganda Phrases – that will endear yo to the Ugandans that you are doing business with. Lastly a knowledge of Uglish would help, even the President uses it.
Doing business in Uganda makes knowing Conversation Ugandan Style a necessity so that you are on the same page as the Ugandans that you are dealing with are.
Different ways, different laws, different and exciting opportunities especially for investors who most often receive a tax break if they invest a certain amount of money in a business in Uganda.
Uganda has a economic growth rate of about 6% or better and there is an emerging middle class that will make a huge difference. Uganda represents all kind of exciting business opportunities but always proceed in cautious manner. Use a lawyer to protect your interests and deal with legitimate businesses only.
Uganda is a land of opportunity but is also filled with landmines and people pretending to be the nicest person on the planet but their only aim is extract money from you.
The link above is to help you to set up a new business – your embassy in Kampala will often have more sound advice for you when it comes to doing business in Uganda.
You are in Africa – in Uganda on business, most business travelers do not realize that while here they can take a few days and track gorillas, chimpanzee, see the big game and other African wildlife that is in Uganda.
Take two to 5 days and explore the African Wild in Uganda – fulfill your lifelong dreams to go on an African Safari, while you are in Uganda – you can.
If you simply want to relax and chill out for a couple of days you can do that too. Visit one of our islands on Lake Victoria or spend time along scenic Lake Bunyonyi, an island on the Nile River and more.
There are many safaris to choose from – discover another face of Uganda, its wild spaces, scenic wonders, primates, and wildlife.
Take a 2 to 5 day mini-safari in Uganda or Rwanda – they can include flying Safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for Gorilla Tracking – 3 day Drive Safari for Gorilla Tracking.
Two or Three-Day Murchison Falls Park Wildlife Safaris-this one can include Chimpanzee and Rhino Tracking – Queen Elizabeth Park Wildlife Safaris – Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge. Kibale Forest 3 day Chimpanzee Tracking Safaris and 2 or three-day Lake Mburo Wildlife Safari just to name a few.
A mini-Safari is a great way to get a taste of Ugandan Wildlife in two or three days
Practical Advice for Business Travelers to Uganda – if you have any questions – please ask us.