A campaign recently launched by Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister Amelia Kyambadde to lure more Ugandans to consume locally produced goods continues to generate debate. Critics of the campaign argue that it was based on false assumptions.
Dubbed “Buy Uganda-Build Uganda (BUBU)”, the campaign is part of the ministry’s efforts to implement the 2014 Buy Uganda policy and correcting trade imbalances. The policy was premised on similar campaigns in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Malawi among others.
South Africa in 2001 launched “The Proudly South African brand” campaign with the goal of encouraging South Africans to buy local products. It was based on the idea that boosting consumption of local products by South Africans and those visiting the country would lead to economic transformation and job growth in the country.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde and her team adopted a similar approach expecting that the country could earn over one trillion Shillings annually if Ugandans and visitors were encouraged to consume locally produced goods.
The ministry estimated that the county could earn 6.7 billion Shillings if parents purchased locally produced school uniforms for pre-primary pupils. It also expected earnings of up to 199 billion Shillings from locally produced school uniforms for primary and secondary schools uniforms annually.
The army, police, prisons and Uganda Wildlife Authority uniforms would fetch over 33 billion Shillings if sourced locally.
However, critics say the campaign is bound to fail. One line of thought says the private sector which the minister expects to play a crucial role has not been supported to deliver to the expectation. Others have accused the minister and technocrats of attempts to sabotage the East African Customs Union’s free trade.
Bank of Uganda’s Director Research Dr Adam Mugume is one those that have expressed reservations about the Buy Uganda Build Uganda campaign.
He says it is unlikely for Ugandans to buy the locally manufactured goods at a time when demand is low and when people virtually don’t have money to spend.