Kampala, 21 June 2023 – The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) hosted a Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) dialogue at the UMA Head office in a bid to increase the acceptance of locally made products in Uganda. The dialogue, attended by key government officials, UMA member companies, and representatives from the Uganda Supermarket Owners Associations (USOA), focused on strengthening business-to-business (B2B) partnerships and finding solutions to challenges faced by manufacturers and supermarkets.
The BUBU initiative, launched in 2017, has been instrumental in attracting both local and foreign investments in the manufacturing sector, empowering local producers, and improving product quality, thus increasing competitiveness in both domestic and international markets. Furthermore, the initiative has played a significant role in job creation, propelling Uganda towards its goal of achieving middle-income status.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Deo Kayemba, UMA Chairman, emphasized the crucial role of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives in supporting the BUBU agenda and creating enabling policies. He also recognized the contributions of private sector associations like UMA, the Private Sector Foundation, and the Uganda Chamber of Commerce in enhancing tax compliance among manufacturers.
Manufacturers have made substantial investments to enhance their production processes and offer a diverse range of locally-made goods to Ugandans. In light of this, Kayemba stressed the importance of citizen support for these products, as it would bolster production capacity and foster sectoral growth.
Mr. Eddie Senkumba -UMA Board member also acknowledged the challenges faced by manufacturers in dealing with supermarkets, including prolonged credit settlement, unreliability, and credibility issues, exploitation of local manufacturers, bribery, and negative consumer perceptions of locally produced goods.
Hon. David Bahati, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, commended UMA for their efforts in promoting locally manufactured products through the BUBU initiative. He highlighted the significant increase in the uptake of these products since the inception of BUBU.
Recognizing the crucial role of supermarkets in contributing to GDP, he urged businesses to formalize their operations to leverage associated benefits, especially considering that Uganda’s informal establishments currently account for 42% of the economy.
Certification was emphasized as a vital tool in combating counterfeiting, with Hon. Bahati noting that the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) can provide certification within a maximum of three months. Additionally, he called upon the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to expedite the issuance of Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax claims for both manufacturers and traders.
Dr. Dan Tindiwensi, Chairman of the Uganda Supermarket Owners Association (USOA), urged supermarket owners to prioritize locally produced goods to support the BUBU agenda. To further promote this objective, UMA and USOA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in tax matters, engage with government and ministries, and facilitate mutually beneficial trade practices that would drive import substitution and economic prosperity.
With the manufacturing sector already contributing 11% to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), these collaborative efforts are expected to further boost economic growth and prosperity.
The BUBU dialogue resulted in several key outcomes:
- Business Development: Stakeholders agreed on the necessity of holding regular dialogues to address challenges faced by manufacturers and supermarket owners, fostering collaboration between the two sectors.
- VAT Refunds: Manufacturers using the EFRIS system were urged to apply for VAT refunds, which the URA pledged to process within five days.
- Capacity Building: The UMA Secretariat committed to tailoring capacity-building programs to meet the needs of USOA member employees, enhancing their skills and knowledge.
- Policy Advocacy: A high-level follow-up meeting was proposed to further address concerns raised during the dialogue. This meeting is to be arranged between UMA, USOA, and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
- UMA to organize a finance symposium. This would serve as a platform for a meaningful exchange between financiers like UDB and the private sector, fostering awareness of the available financing options for business.
- UMA to organize product launch clinics which will promote innovation and competitiveness among members.
- Formulate a technical working group was established to tackle the UMA & URA’s technical problems, specifically the issue of negative stock.
- Share relevant documents, including minutes of the dialogue and objectives of the MoU, with members to ensure transparency and active involvement.
- UMA to help members access to the BUBU stamp from Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
- URA tasked to streamline the use of EFRIS among members, and suppliers of supermarkets.