Former Uganda Investment Authority executive director Maggie Kigozi has urged local manufacturers to commit themselves to producing high quality products.
She said this will see them thrive in the face of competition from Kenyan and Ethiopian products among others that have been propelled by the ideals of the Common Market for East and Central Africa (Comesa) Free Trade Area.
Speaking as chief guest at the second National Quality Gala organised by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) in Kampala last week, Ms Kigozi warned manufacturers that they are dealing with a consumer market that understands the quality of what they purchase and consume.
She said: “The consumers have changed; you are now producing for a largely middle class people who know what they want. They critically examine products before buying them because they want to consume particular amounts of nutrients. A few years ago, you would get away with such things but this is gone and you should be very much concerned.”
“You are all here celebrating quality, but will your product be able to compete with Ethiopia’s and Kenya’s?” she asked, indicating that the Ugandan market has been opened up to products from various countries that could even have products of better quality.
“We have a number of countries presenting good competition and you should be able to give them a bloody nose by producing quality products which also opens your products to the rest of the world,” she added.
However, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, speaking at same event, said her ministry is in the process of overhauling the trading policies that will see Ugandan products trade better in international destinations.
Despite the increased market base enjoyed by Ugandan since joining the Comesa Free Trade Area in 2012, manufacturers have struggled to maximise benefits of the growing demand, especially from Europe because of certification constraints.