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The Minister for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde has advised the business community in Uganda to pull their resources together and go into manufacturing some of the goods they are currently importing to improve Uganda’s self-reliance especially in case of a breakdown in the international market.
The minister was speaking in reference to the on ongoing coronavirus crisis that has wreaked havoc around the world.
Coronavirus, now a global pandemic broke out in China in December 2019 and has so far spread to 141 countries including Uganda’s neighbors, Kenya, Rwanda, DRC among others.
Minister Kyambadde who was speaking at the dfcu Bank customer dialogue on supporting Business and industries during and after the current Coronavirus Global Crisis on Friday at Serena Hotel said Uganda is the food basket for Africa and therefore ought to process and package its products and export to the region.
“This epidemic will limit input sourcing from China and final consumables but creates an opportunity for Uganda’s industries to add value and do final processing of some of the products,” she said.
Delivering the keynote address, Francis Kamulegeya the Managing Partner, PriceWater Coopers advised businesses to consolidate their resources and put up factories instead of importing everything from outside.
“The common consensus is that the coronavirus crisis will get worse before it gets better. For Uganda, there will be negative economic side effects because most of the markets to which we import from have been substantially affected.
“The trade and retail sector which is a key aspect of our economy will be widely impacted by the coronavirus. We must accept that doing nothing is not an option. The business community and the government must work together to mitigate the negative effects of this pandemic,” he remarked
The KACITA Chairman is Everest Kayondo said that importers have not yet felt the effects because by the time the Virus, they had secured most of the products as China was going into the annual festival.
“The real effect will be felt in April when the shelves became empty and we are unable to make new orders. URA will also be highly affected because international trade contributes a big percentage to Uganda’s revenue,” he said.
According to a global survey done by Oxford Economics, it has been forecast that the spread of the virus to regions outside Asia would knock 1.3% off global growth this year, the equivalent of $1.1trillion.
Mathias Katamba the dfcu Bank Chief Executive Officer said DFCU is ready to support and stand with its customers during these hard times.
“In the financial sector in Uganda, we are yet to feel the actual effect, but we know that some of our partners in the hospitality, tourism, logistics and aviation sectors are quickly feeling the impact.
It is estimated that the worldwide aviation industry will lose up to $113 billion this year. As the crisis disrupts global value chains, which are essential for economic growth, there is a need for companies to focus on preparedness and response to risk,” he said
He further urged businesses to among other thing prudently manage cost of doing business during this period and engage their banks in time in case of cash flow constraints alongside financial obligations.