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‘Coronavirus Is An Opportunity For Uganda’s Industries, Businesses’

The Minister for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde has said that the persistence of this pandemic may limit input sourcing from China and final consumables from traders, but this creates an opportunity for Uganda’s industries to add value and do final processing of some of their products.

“Uganda is the food basket for Africa and therefore we ought to process and package our products and export to the region. Additionally, this is also an opportunity to embrace digitalization as members of the business sector so as we can reduce the cost of doing business. E-commerce should be highly considered during this time,” Amelia said.

She made the remarks during a dialogue organized by dfcu Bank on Friday to discuss  how businesses will survive the global COVID-19 (Corona Virus) outbreak. The engagement comes at a time the viral disease is taking a toll on world economies, with some markets experiencing the worst financial plunge since the 2008 financial crisis. As the human cost of the outbreak continues to rise, the economic cost also continues to mount as well.

“Government is committed to doing business with the local business community and Uganda Development Bank is working on offering affordable credit lines. We would also like to encourage Ugandans to utilize domestic tourism to create an opportunity for the country so that we retain the money within the economy. I reiterate my appreciation for dfcu Bank and I am impressed with the way they manage their business with a lot of care and concern. The way they look after and encourage women’s businesses as well,” Amelia added.

Amelia Kyambadde speaking during the dialogue.

Delivering the key note address, Francis Kamulegeya,  the Managing Partner at PwC advised businesses to demand for policies that will work from key stakeholders like government, URA and other Banks.

“The common consensus is that the coronavirus crisis will get worse before it gets better. For Uganda, there will be negative economic side effects because most of the markets to which we export have been substantially affected. The trade and retail sector which is a key aspect of our economy will be widely impacted by the coronavirus. We must accept that doing nothing is not an option. The business community and the government must work together to mitigate egate the negative effects of this pandemic,” he remarked.

Speaking during the engagement, dfcu Bank Chief Executive Officer, Mathias Katamba revealed that some of the Banks business partners are starting to feel the effect of the outbreak considering China’s position in the global supply chain.

“In the financial sector in Uganda, we are yet to feel the actual effect, but we know that some of our partners in the hospitality, tourism, logistics and aviation sectors are quickly feeling the impact. It is estimated that the worldwide aviation industry will lose up to $113 billion this year. As the crisis disrupts global value chains, which are essential for economic growth, there is need for companies to focus on preparedness and response to risk. Business Leaders should take initial steps now to monitor and prepare for the impact on their operations. We need to deploy short-term strategies to become more resilient and make longer-term considerations that will reconfigure supply chains to protect against risks,” added. Katamba.

According to a global survey done by Oxford Economics, it has been forecast that the spread of the virus to regions outside Asia would knock 1.3% off global growth this year, the equivalent of $1.1trillion in lost income.

dfcu has urged businesses to among other things; Prudently manage cost of doing business during this period; engage their bankers in time in case of cash flow constraints alongside financial obligations as well as plan for forex needs to mitigate the forex volatility.

The event was attended by business representatives from the manufacturing, trade, hospitality, travel and pharmaceutical sectors among others. It was the second engagement after a smaller one held in down town Kampala for another group of dfcu customers earlier in the week.

By Drake Nyamugabwa

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