By Nyeko Christopher
KAMPALA: Uganda’s first Deputy Prime minister and Minister for East African Affairs Rebecca Kadaga has praised the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for supporting its citizens to attend the East African trade Exhibition amidst the havoc by the M23 rebels in the country.
Kadaga shored DR Congo with praises while addressing the exhibitors at the ongoing East African Community trade exhibition at Kololo Independence Ground in Kampala on Saturday.
Kadaga described DR Congo as an active participatory baby in the event.
“I must praise the leadership of His Excellency Felix Tsheisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo whose country is grappling with insecurities but managed to send traders to participate in the ongoing East African Trade show for the first time since joining the East African community,” said Kadaga.
DR Congo, which shares geographical boundaries with various East African countries, was last year 2021 admitted into the East African Community after meeting all the requirements.
Its admission increased the membership of the East African Community to seven countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The protocols require the member states to participate in any activities of the community.
Kadaga noted that Africa has the best textile industries in the world and that there is no need to import textile from the foreign countries like China, Japan and India.
“The product I saw being exhibited here meets International standard plus …..so there is a need to promote and market it so that it can be known globally,” she noted.
Kadaga urged all the EAC members to embrace Swahili language in order to ease communication during the events that brings the citizens of the community together.
She revealed that Uganda has already moved a step by organising Kiswahili lessons for its cabinet members every Monday.
Bira Bbosa, the chairperson of the Confederation of the Medium and Small Enterprises Organisation(C-MSEO) Uganda Chapter revealed that they had registered a total of 1,500 traders from the seven East African Community Nations for the exhibition.
According to Bbosa, 600 of these are Ugandans, 120 Burundians, 360 Kenyans , 350 Tanzanians while South Sudan and Rwanda presented 100 traders each.
Bbosa revealed that the organising committee had allocated only 500 slots to Ugandan traders but it was overwhelmed by the number that turned up for the event.
Bosa lobbied the Government of Uganda to donate land to C-MSEO within Kampala City where they can put a permanent exhibition center.
In response, Kadaga promised to present the request to the cabinet for consideration.
Cleopas Ndorere, the assistant commissioner in the Ministry of trade, Industries and Co-operative revealed that only 15 percent of the African countries are trading with African countries while the rest are still trading with European countries.
He therefore called upon the African countries to embrace regional and cross border trade that he said will create regional ties and end cross border conflicts.
The commissioner also tipped the exhibitors on the business opportunities in Uganda and urged them to tap into them by investing in the country.
“If you invest here in Uganda you will not regret, because we in Uganda don’t tax your interest, all you earn from our country you are free to carry it to your country of origin”, he said.
Robert Kabusenga, one the model exhibitors dealing in coffee and tea value addition, called upon the organisers to scale up the publicity of the event so that more people know about it.
“If the masses are made aware of the event ,many of them may come and buy our products hence supporting the exhibitors”, Kabushenga stressed.
The event, which is rotationally organised within the East Africa community, was initiated by President Yoweri Museveni Kaguta in 1999 and it was later adopted under Article 172 Of the East Africa treaty.
The treaty dictates that traders with low cost commodities are allowed to cross to the neighbouring countries hosting the event to sell or showcase them without being taxed.
Kampala is hosting the event after meeting the standard required of the City to host such event.
The requirements include good quality Hotel facilities, large space for hosting exhibitors, and well improved transport infrastructure.
During the event, the exhibitors are required to showcase their talents, Art and craft innovation,Technology as well as quality display of their goods and services.
The exhibition started on 8th December 2022 and will end on 18th December 2022 when the best performing exhibitor team, entities or countries will be awarded certificates of recognition by the organising committee.