The founder of Suubula.com, Uganda’s fastest growing e-marketplace, has welcomed President Museveni’s support for e-commerce in Uganda as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the nation this past Sunday, President Museveni urged Ugandan entrepreneurs to embrace digital means to sell their products to millions of customers in Uganda and overseas.
“Somebody told me that the shops that used to sell textiles in the USA and much of the West, have gone bankrupt. Clothes are now sold on line – through the internet or on phones,” said Museveni on Sunday.
“This is the way to go, Ugandan entrepreneurs. Stop crying over spilt milk. Look for how to survive in the new atmosphere of tonsemberera (social-distancing),” he emphasised.
Museveni’s speech came months following the launch of Suubula.com, an e-marketplace that allows Ugandan entrepreneurs, innovators, producers, wholesalers and creators of products to sell and buy goods online.
“President Museveni’s remarks are timely and we encourage all creators of products, manufacturers and traders to list their goods on Suubula.com at a free cost,” said Suubula’s Chief Executive Officer, Camble Hope.
“By listing your products online, one is able to tap into the domestic market of 21 million internet users and foreign markets. The opportunities are unlimited,” added Camble.
Suubula.com marketplace recently partnered with Longhorn Publishers Uganda to enable parents and guardians procure books for their children online.
Currently, parents have to walk or drive long distances to visit bookshops to select books for their children.
Suubula which runs a store in Ntinda, recently partnered with Coca Cola, Zenith, Fine Spinners and Simi Phones, to sell beverages, electronics and garments among others online.
Expert speaks out
Gareth Onen, a tech expert in Kampala, says e-commerce is yet to be fully exploited, giving the likes of Suubula vast opportunities to sell and promote Ugandan goods online.
“E-commerce is expected to nearly double by 2023 to more than $6.5 billion,” said Onen, adding, “Uganda needs to wake up and tap into this fast-growing virtual market.”
According to the World Bank, Uganda’s real GDP growth in 2020 is projected to hover below 2% compared with almost 5.6% in 2019, due to COVID-19.
As part of its response to the pandemic’s economic fallout, the Ugandan government is at the forefront of promoting e-commerce and digital solutions for faster recovery from the crisis.
For instance, it has worked with mobile phone operators to reduce fees for digital services and offer complementary internet data packages to consumers to facilitate cashless transactions.
It’s also using digital media to disseminate health messages and fight misinformation.
Martha Orishaba, 35, a mother of four in Kitintale, Kampala, was recently quoted by Daily Monitor as saying since the COVID-19 lockdown in March, she has been buying items including books on Suubula.com which have been delivered at a free cost.
“I rarely move out of my home because Suubula.com delivers almost everything I need, including electronics, books, kids’ clothes, beddings, beauty products, household items and beverages at good prices you can’t find anywhere else,” said Orishaba.
The government has been strengthening public-private sector cooperation to improve trade logistics and enhance the supply of digital services, in line with UNCTAD’s recommendations.
Ugandan authorities are also bolstering entrepreneurship by supporting innovation and start-up-driven solutions.
Further, the country has boosted internet connectivity by extending infrastructure that has enabled firms to lower the costs of their services.
Uganda is also improving trust in online transactions. Last year, it enacted a data protection and privacy law to enhance the security of these transactions.
An e-payments law recently approved by the country’s Parliament is expected to come into effect soon to level the playing field for providers.