As one way of encouraging competitiveness in the export sector, business experts have urged local manufacturers to leverage on vast opportunities that lie within the African continent in the absence of tariff barriers.
This was revealed at a Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) organized work shop that was held at Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala.
Addressing participants, Geodfrey Walakia, a senior commercial officer at the Ministry Of Trade, Industries And Co-Operatives noted that whereas it is advisable to invest elsewhere, local expatriates must be cognizant of the fact that some countries if not all of countries in Africa offer free access to the movement of goods and services courtesy of several multilateral arrangements such as East African Community (EAC) common market and COMESA.
Besides that, Walakia says with the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) brighter days beckon ahead.
“As you are aware, in Africa we have 54 countries. Why would we go for the continental free trade area when we have EAC and COMESA?”
Still on the same point, he expounded on the huge market potential of countries namely; Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa which he says offer huge potential in terms of market consumption owing to their voluminous population.
Ronald Kabigumira an official from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) advised local entities on harmonization of standards such as labeling, processing facility conformity and separation or segregation of raw materials among others, in order to access regional markets easily. According to Ahimbisibwe, these measures are not only aimed at raising the competitiveness of locally manufactured products but also protecting consumers from any harm.
According to section 3 (1) of the Uganda National Bureau of standards Act 2018, it is criminal to sell or manufacture anything without certification from the local standards body UNBS.
At a glance, section 3 (1) of the Uganda National Bureau of standards Act 2018 reads; a person shall not import, manufacture, sell or have in his possession of control for sale or distribution any commodity for which a compulsory standard specification has been declared unless the commodity conforms to the compulsory standard specification.
On his part, Micheal Oketcho the director trade information division UEPB cited lack of access to finance capital as one of the key bottlenecks affecting local manufacturers besides unpredictable foreign exchange, lack of adequate information and lack of skills.
To alleviate other related problems, he says that government has embarked on export skills training. So far, 50 entities have been accessed while 25 are already receiving export training. Besides, that Oketcho says they have already enrolled 50 small and medium enterprises to gain expertise in export trade.