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Gulu City Lobbying to Host East Africa Community Trade Fair

Gulu City Mayor Alfred Okwonga says they have begun engaging with various stakeholders within the city and neighbouring districts in Northern Uganda in early preparation as they lobby to host the event.
One of the streets oin Gulu City.

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Gulu City Council Officials have begun lobbying to host the 22nd edition of the East African Community Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair.

The21st edition of the EAC trade fair was held in September last year at the Rock City Grounds in Mwanza, Tanzania. This year, the rotational trade fair that brings together the six East African Community partner states is expected to be held in Uganda.

Already two cities of Gulu in Northern Uganda and Mbarara in Western Uganda have been picked as possible grounds to host the trade fair. It's on this basis that Gulu City Mayor Alfred Okwonga says they have begun engaging with various stakeholders within the city and neighbouring districts in Northern Uganda in early preparation as they lobby to host the event.

He says their engagement will help them raise valid concepts and strategies to make a point in influencing the Trade Ministry and the East African Community to grant them the opportunity to host the trade fair. He notes that they have already formed a committee that will be tasked with all the processes of lobbying for the event.

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Okwonga says that while they are lobbying for the opportunity to host the trade fair, the business community and various stakeholders should now begin early preparations towards providing services to the thousands of visitors who will come for the trade fair. He says the event once brought in Gulu will help to export the rich culture of the Acholi people and the available products locally produced.

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Some stakeholders within the city have welcomed the move and believe this will have a positive impact on the region's economy once the city is granted a green light to host the international trade fair.

Philip Emunot, the Bank of Africa Regional Manager-North, however, suggests that its high time officials in the city began aggressive positive marketing of the region using the various mass media channels. He says visual documentaries about Gulu city and the region, in particular, will help attract visitors and make them informed before the main event.

“Do some good pictures, do some documentaries put them out in the international space, let people come and see what Gulu looks like and have a positive image of Gulu before that particular time comes,” he says. Emunot also notes that there is a need for early identification and preparation of exhibitors who will compete well in representing Uganda.  

Gulu University Deputy Spokesperson James Ojok Onono says the University is warming to exhibit its covilyce-1 herbal COVID-19 treatment and share ideas on the use of indigenous knowledge on curbing COVID-19. He says that the University during the 21st trade fair in Mwanza, Tanzania last year exhibited the Covilyce-1 herbal medicine that helped to earn Uganda a second place in the trade fair after Kenya.

The Covilyce-1 Herbal COVID-19 treatment drug was invented by a group of scientists at the Gulu University’s Faculty of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Studies (Pharm-Biotech) headed by Dr Lamwaka last year.

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Onono says they have made suggestions to Gulu City council authorities on their proposals to award East African Head of States with Peace Awards in a bid to attract their participation in the coming trade fair. He, however, says their proposal will depend on the position of the city council to adopt it.

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The Trade exhibitions over the years have benefited small traders in building capacity on value addition, cross-border trade, the EAC Simplified Trade Regime among others through the daily symposium. Over the years, the Region has experienced more traders formalizing their businesses, adding value to their goods, expanding and capturing new markets.

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