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AfCFTA: Africa is more reliable than other markets, experts say

Walugembe addressing SMEs at UMA on March 22.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Small and medium enterprises have been urged to take advantage of the African market if they are to easily grow their businesses.

Speaking at an African Continental Free Trade Area sensitization workshop held at Uganda Manufacturers Association headquarters in Kampala on March 22, John Walugembe, the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises-Uganda (FSME – Uganda), said advanced markets in Europe and beyond are not reliable because of the changing international trading regimes/rules regarding standards, quantity, capital requirements and more and may not be easy to penetrate.

“We are urging our SMEs to first think of serving the African market and not the international market,” Walugembe said.

The federation organized this workshop to sensitize members on several issues geared towards exploiting the African market especially now that economies have been reopened, after two years of covid induced lockdowns.

Hundreds of SMEs have been sensitized about standards, timely delivery of goods, technology, credit needs and more issues since the end of last year across all regions of Uganda, according to Walugembe.

Walugembe added, “We must work together and sell goods and services to Africans because our market is big. It is better we start here.”

Going forward, he said, they are going to ensure that the knowledge that these companies have received is put into practice.

AfCFTA creates a market of 1.2bn people with a combined GDP of US$3tn. Experts in this area believe that its tangible implementation would reshape economies across the region and enhance output in key sectors, diversify exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment.

Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda’s former minister of trade, industry and cooperatives said, matters AfCFTA is important because it could easily boost economic growth and socio-economic transformation for Uganda.

She said, “We are here to see that SMEs benefit from this bloc…some people have asked me before— EAC failed to work, how will this one work?… I want to assure you that these things will work.”

Kyambadde promised to continue joining partnerships geared towards sensitizing the people to understand the key issues including standards and related opportunities for this big market.

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