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Uganda International Trade Fair Starts On Low Note

A prototype electric farm vehicle developed by the International University of East Africa

The 28th Uganda International Trade Fair opened Monday on a slow note, with the major activity being the setting up of stalls, with some still undergoing final touches. Some exhibition centers like the Nice Main Exhibition Hall, which usually hosts scores of local and international exhibitors, were closed.

The exhibition space sizes range from as small as two feet by three feet for the small exhibitors who share exhibition tables, to small cubicles and large rooms, and open spaces out of buildings, especially for agricultural and other automotive equipment.

By the beginning of the second day, Tuesday, the organizers expect that all the confirmed exhibitors, 920 of them, will have settled in at the Lugogo Uganda Manufacturers Association, UMA, Show Grounds. At least 120 exhibitors are foreign companies.

Some say they started construction of stalls late because they had to be allowed only after clearing the cost of the spaces, while others say they had ‘logistical issues transporting the products to Uganda and to the venue.’

Mubali Prossy and Namara Monius make herbal food supplements, immune boosters, and medicines they claim help treat chronic ailments, at their facilities in Jinja and Kaliro.

They say apart from the local market, they hope to expand their export markets, especially from jackfruit, which they currently export to the Netherlands.

Some micro and small-scale entrepreneurs declined to talk to the media saying they will be exposing their businesses to authorities, especially Uganda Revenue Authority, yet they are not taxpayers. Gloria Erimu, a dealer in stationery, says she is participating in the show for the first time, with her products that include selling ordinary products but also branding to the client’s preference.

Other exhibitors include government agencies like URSB, URA, Insurance Regulatory Authority, Uganda Investments Authority, NSSF, and Uganda Communication Commission, UCC. UCC says they decided to use this chance to sensitize the community about fake and substandard mobile phones and other electronic communications gadgets, because there is a plan to switch them off.

Their sensitization drive involved showing users how to tell a counterfeit product and what to do about them. Also, they are advising the communities on how to handle electronic waste like batteries, phones, and computers.

The eight-day show running under the theme “Harnessing economic recovery through local sourcing and deepening value chain integration,” comes as businesses and the economy as a whole try to recover from a devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

The program features business conferences with lectures by state agencies including the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, the Uganda Exports Promotion Board, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Investments Authority, and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.

Ministries like Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives; Finance, Planning and Economic Development; Energy and Mineral Development are also due to hold discussions with investors, prospective investors, and consumers.

-URN

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