$1,832

2019 GDP per capita (Current US$)

5.5%

2019 GDP Growth (Real)

33.2m

Population

23.3%

2019 Gross Debt/GDP

A unique opportunity

Uzbekistan represents a unique opportunity to invest in a country that has recently experienced their ‘fall of the Berlin Wall’ moment: the rapid and widespread shift from a closed socialist state towards a free market economy. We expect economic growth to be both higher and relatively decorrelated to broader emerging and developed countries.

The Uzbek economy is beginning to converge from a very low base to the level of peer countries. Having been closed off, Uzbekistan’s GDP per capita is abnormally low. President Mirziyoyev’s recent reform package is propelling the country towards the level of CIS peers such as Kazakhstan and Georgia.

Penetration levels of modern retail, consumer products, IT and financial services are at much lower levels relative to its peers. As a result, it is currently possible to invest in future industry-leading companies and related enabling technologies, at their inception. The window to invest in these Uzbekistan companies at extremely attractive valuations will close quickly as foreign capital rushes into the market. Uzbekistan consequently represents a unique opportunity.

Growth catalysts

1. Government reforms

Fundamental free-market reforms (Poland 1990, Georgia early 2000s), currency liberalisation, plus tax reform, anti-corruption, improved foreign relations and visa-free travel.

2. Demographic dividend

Combination of a large (33m, largest in Central Asia), young (50% below the age of 25) and well-educated population (think Vietnam and China at the beginning of their high growth stage).

3. One-off leveraging

Credit is very low across consumer, corporate and sovereign entities. Opportunities for increased retail/SME lending present openings for capital-light Fintech offerings.

4. Foreign investment

With the recent removal of currency restrictions, FDI is expected to flow into the country at an increasing volume.

5. China ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI)

Beijing has already begun pouring billions into the Central Asia region as part of their multi-year BRI project.

6. Tax reforms

A streamlined tax system is boosting government revenue and incentivising private business/investment.

7. Downside protection

Large FX reserves (54% GDP), low government debt-to-GDP (<25%), and strategic location at the heart of Central Asia.

A few facts

Central Asia’s most populous country.

Bukhara, a medieval city in Central Asia situated on the Silk Road, is over 2,000 years old.

The world’s largest open-pit gold mine is at Muruntau in the Qizilqum desert.

Opportunities

The government has embarked on a series of market-driven reforms, fostering privatisation and liberalisation.

Its local stock market has limited liquidity but attractive valuations.

The financial sector is undergoing profound transformation and is likely to be a key beneficiary of the reforms.

Further information

Find out more about Sturgeon Capital’s activity and discover our dedicated Uzbekistan Private Equity Fund which is investing in this exciting country at a pivotal time in its history.

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