As the country starts to talk about the post-COVID-19. More conversations have been shifted to look at the BUY UGANDA BUILD UGANDA strategy. The reasons are somewhat obvious to us especially as Uganda has a private sector-led economy. In a talk show on NBS television (The Frontline) last Thursday, Hon Amelia Kyambadde (Minister of Trade Industry and cooperatives) noted that it’s time we recognized that Uganda has an efficient private sector that has been able to push Ugandans through the COVID 19 pandemic notably that the private sector was and still is instrumental during the donation period as an answer to the call the President of the country made in as far as donations to the Uganda Taskforce against COVID 19 is concerned. However, an even more intense discussion arose during the E-Conference on the same television that was dubbed #Covid19UGRecovery organized by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) that yours truly did give focus and watched.
But what does BUY UGANDA BUILD UGANDA mean? Well, it is a slogan that is intended to draw the Ugandan manufacturers and investors to look at import substitution as an implementation in the economy and the Ugandan population to provide the primary market for the same products thus increasing exports and decrease imports. I personally always had to give it a thought every time I visited a restroom public or private and noticed the number of Kenyan products we use in comparison to Ugandan products. This really does not justify that their products are superior but rather that we have an eye for imports whenever we go shopping. Barbra Mulwana, the chairperson Uganda Manufacturers Association in the same e-conference asked us to consider how a product will be produced in Uganda in the next six months when we opt for its competitor(import) when we pick the latter from a supermarket shelf while shopping.
We may have learned a lot of lessons during the COVID 19 pandemic but economically we sure have learned that we can survive and be comfortable while we use Ugandan products. Ugandan producers were not reluctant to donate their own products for fear that their products will be below the standards compared to the rates of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards. Yours truly believes that it’s right about time to think BU-BU if we are to mend our already not good economy rather than building other economies first as we look at our own fall. The reasons are rather simple to understand. Firstly, our producers will be able to expand thereby employing more labour as most Ugandans have been and will be laid off by some of the hard-hit economic players.
With an expanded and growing private sector, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) too will get boosted as well as most of the Retail businesses both online and person to person retail. Uganda’s transportation and logistics business have improved over time and it would be a good idea to utilize it more to export rather import. A company like Nytil Uganda was able to shift its production to medical masks easily and efficiently. Why then would we consider to import second-hand clothes that end up suffocating the primary market for the same company in Uganda? Surely by this time they have shown the capability to produce considerably superior products than they did before. The same goes for disinfectant producers that we’re able to shift and produce sanitizers that kept the price of sanitizers constant on the market.
It is worthy to note that our economy may rise again as we consider E-Commerce as a new strategy to not only advertise our businesses but to transact too. Internet usage has more than tripled in Uganda and Uganda records over 15 million mobile money users. This should enable Public-Private Partnerships to transcend and make it possible and easier for e-commerce to become more than a reality in Uganda. This is inevitable as throughout this period online retail and transactions have made it easier to carry out business and keep safe from COVID 19.
We are now in a time of forced entrepreneurship as James Saaka, the Head Of National Information Technology Association noted on the #covid19UGRecovery Conference. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are some of the businesses that will obviously consider this new line of trade. BUY UGANDA – BUILD UGANDA can thrive in this era as it is easier to make an online transaction with a person in the same regional space rather than add shipping costs for what would have been much cheaper.
Its high time for Ugandans to adapt to and consider BUY UGANDA –BUILD UGANDA as a strategy that would aid our economy to recover from the pit it has receded due to the COVID 19 pandemic. BU-BU may have been a dream 3 years ago but while we may think an adaptation to e-commerce as COVID 19 has forced us to think, our economy should evolve to that as we think about BU-BU.