The Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) has asked the government of Uganda to build warehouses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
PSFU Board Director, Sarah Kagingo, told bazzup News during a media briefing at Serena hotel on Thursday that some of these SMEs cannot afford to rent storage facilities.
“We saw the need for Uganda to establish warehouses to receive goods before they are distributed,” she noted.
According to Kagingo, many traders don’t own warehouses yet the cost of doing business is high in DRC. As such, they need warehouses where to station their goods for safe storage.
Sarah Kagingo and Amb Katureebe Tayebwa during a media briefing at Serena hotel
While advocating for the widening of markets, Kagingo said Uganda’s neighbors have goods in short supply hence the need for the business community to take advantage of the markets in the region.
“We need to extend services and build relationships to trade on equal terms in the future. I’m glad that DRC joined the East African Community. We can now trade more formally,” she added.
Warehousing is one of the key issues that will be discussed during the Reciprocal Summit in Kampala by Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (FEC) and partners.
Speaking at the Uganda-DRC Business Summit Post Event, Odrek Rwabwogo, the Presidential Advisor on Special Duties, said they started quietly around February this year with catfish businessmen who wanted to get into DRC.
Odrek Rwabwogo making his remarks
“It opened our minds and we realized this needs a combined effort as Ugandans. We decided to reach out to everyone in the export sector. Export is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end,” he said.
He said the process of building the country’s capability to do business led them to the Uganda-DRC Business Summit.
Rwabwogo quoted President Museveni while emphasizing four key areas; that 15 million people living in poverty must be brought into the money economy through the Parish Development Model, imports should be substituted, use science in terms of technology and embark on aggressive export promotion.
“We need to deal with export laws to allow us to sell our goods in markets. The Animal Feeds Bill must be passed. We need to amend those laws so that we can compete. Once we achieve these, then we can launch research and build the capacity to supply.”
Rwabwogo listening to a presentation
While speaking on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), Rwabwogo said even after DRC Congo comes into the East African Community, it won’t be a magic wand to end barriers.
Kagingo had earlier said these need to be eliminated in a bilateral way to resolve some of the issues affecting the smooth flow of trade.
“We need to work together. That’s why we have a desk at Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB) not to rely on the other side’s goodwill,” Rwabwogo pointed out.
Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa, the head of regional economic cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the issue of NTBs “a challenging one”.
Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa notes down a question during a media interface
He cited the case of Kenya and issues surrounding Ugandan exports and wondered: “why fight for the Kenyan market in a world full of billions of people?”
He suggested bilateral engagements through the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to resolve these issues.
According to Rwabwogo, Uganda can improve its competitive advantage.
“We can do it. If we sell more, the suppliers will increase production; produce more and process more. It will force suppliers to improvise.”
He quoted the DR Congo minister for External Trade, Jean Lucien Bussa, who said during the summit that they were “tired of exporting Coltan as a raw product to make rechargeable batteries when we have neighbors in Uganda who can produce these products”.
“Processing minerals is a priority to create jobs,” Rwabwogo noted.
Kagingo, on her part, said the new Ugandan budget is emphasizing value addition.
“We need to expand the market. Soon, we will have surpluses in Uganda,” she said.
She added: “We are invested in ensuring a favorable environment in both countries.”