Uganda’s president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was at Kololo Independence Grounds this morning, where he officially opened the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) three-day exhibition. Graced by 350 exhibitors, the fair showcases products and services made in Uganda.
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In the modern world there are two important people; the producer of a good or service and the buyer. The former is the entrepreneur, the thinker, while the latter is important because without them, the business collapses.
Museveni said Africa’s crisis has been that we buy but do not produce. We were asleep. However, we are slowly waking up. Take the dairy sector, for example. For long, Uganda Dairy Corporation imported powdered milk from Europe, added water from here and labelled it Ugandan milk.
This has ended. We not only produce and process milk in Uganda but export the surplus to the region. It is the same with coffee and tea. But even as these sectors struggle to bring in much-needed forex, importers erode these gains by importing even what we would produce here.
While touring the exhibitors’ stalls, Museveni met a group of boys from Soroti making shoes but import leather from China. We have cattle here but import leather. We must add value to our hides to stop this.
It is the same case with producers of baby syrups who import pharmaceutical grade sugar. Our sugar must be purified enough to serve this purpose. Similarly, our copper must be fully purified so that we don’t import it to manufacture cables and transformers,’’he said.
The packaging/paper industry is not any different. I asked the exhibitors and they told me they get paper from Indonesia. Pine trees in some parts of Europe take 120 years to mature while here, it is seven years. Uganda, which has trees, does not make paper, yet countries without trees make paper!
That said, we are waking up. It is why you now hear Uganda exports more to the region than it imports. The challenge now is to ensure we export more to the world than we import. I congratulate the trade ministry and our manufacturers for this.
The government will continue to play its part to ensure the environment is conducive. The roads are done, security is assured and we shall soon have the railway. As for electricity, the supply is increasing and we shall ensure it is affordable.
Also, manufacturers should not borrow from money makers in commercial banks. They should borrow from the Uganda Development Bank at interest of not more than 12%. We are making this money available. I thank you.
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