The Ugandan government seeks to diversify the exports to the
United Arab Emirates and increase the value from the current $1.82b annually,
through the world expo that is due to be held later this year in Dubai.
The Dubai Expo 2020 runs from October to April 2022, attracting
exhibitors from at least 190 countries, as well as expecting more than 20
million people to visit the event.
The Uganda Investments Authority says the expo under the
theme; Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, is different in several ways from
the previous editions that the country has participated in.
This time round, Uganda has its own stand, unlike previously
when it was given a stand jointly with other countries, especially from East
The UIA says this gives more exposure to Uganda, to be able
to market to the UAE and neighbouring countries what it can do.
According to the 2020 figures, almost 99% ($1.82b) of the
export earnings from the UAE, were from gold and other precious metals, while
mineral fuels, oil and other related products follow with $10m.
Others are fish, fish products and other water foods, vegetable
Cash crops like coffee, tea, spices, cotton, grain and fruits
combined fetched less than $3m.
In recent days, Ugandan producers have been encouraged to
fight for the regional and continental markets, which are deemed to be cheaper
and less competitive than the international markets.
This is also supported by the ongoing economic integration
programs like the East African Community, COMESA, the Tripartite Free Trade
Area and the African Continental Free Trade Area, all aimed at enhancing intra-African
Lwere John, the Trade Information Executive at the Uganda Exports Promotions Board -UEPB, says they are now giving priority to the
UAE or other international markets, adding that there are many initiatives
targeting different markets including Africa.
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But there are questions as regards the quality of Ugandan
products and if they can really do meaningful business on the global scene.
Uganda has for long suffered market hitches both in Europe
and East Africa, with the consumers and governments claiming that the products
are substandard. The most affected are sugar, fruits and vegetables and animal
On whether the country has what it takes to meet the global
standards, Lwere admits that there are challenges with Ugandan products, but
that those which are being promoted for the international market, already have
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Experts say that the country needs to improve on the
traditional products especially organically produced foods items, and the
market will automatically grow.
For example, fish and fish products accounted for $177m
dollars of total exports last year, but the UAE only consumed $6.5m worth of
fish and other seafood products from Uganda.
To improve production and productivity as well as the
standards, Ugandans need capital and technological capacity which are currently
Lwere says the expo should not only find markets for Ugandan
products but also attract investors to start production here, or partner with
other local investors.