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Private sector can gain from EAC Common Market?

By Patrick Kagenda

Gideon Badagawa is the Chief Executive at Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU). He spoke to Patrick Kagenda.

What challenges do you face at PSFU?

The major challenge today is that of the East African Community economic integration. The pace at which it’s unfolding is way beyond the potential and preparedness of Uganda’s nascent private sector to engage the regional markets.

The roles and tasks to accomplish, for the Uganda government and the private sector, are quite enormous compared to our regional trading partners especially in infrastructure and energy development, business regulation, business legislation, patriotism, and governance.

In essence, Uganda forms its non-tariff barriers against itself because all these inhibit its access to regional markets and beyond.

How are you resolving these challenges?

We are doing advocacy to get the public sector to understand and appreciate the challenges holding back private sector competitiveness and, through Public Private Partnerships, build an environment that will facilitate investments and reduce the cost of doing business in Uganda.

This will help improve Uganda’s positioning in the regional competitiveness ranking.

PSFU is also working with associations and enterprises to build capacities at the enterprise level through the provision of Business Development Services (BUDS), increase access to business finance, enhance technology transfer and application, enhance skills at the enterprise level, and improve exposure to market information and access.

What will PSFU’s role be in the EAC Common Market?

The main role for PSFU is to sensitise the businesses and the civil society and disseminate information relating to regional integration.

Many challenges have emerged under the Customs Union and will continue to emerge under the common market. The private sector would want to understand the implications of such challenges on their businesses and how best to mitigate them.

What do you think will be the impact of the Common Market on Uganda?

The EAC Common Market is about free movement. All though the market has recently been launched, this will not be the case until regulations, procedures, laws and taxation are harmonised. Many businesses are likely to be frustrated across the borders because of the limited understanding of the phrase €œfree movement€. For Uganda the level of readiness for the EAC common market is still dismal; national identification for citizens, tax harmonisation, issuance of Certificates of Origin, and increased presence of Non-Tariff Barriers continue to pose significant challenges. All such impediments are much likely to take their toll on the competitiveness and profitability of Ugandan companies.

What is the future of the PSFU in the EAC Common Market?

The future of the PSFU and indeed the private sector in Uganda is bright in view of the opportunities under integration. These include expanded market, enhanced reward for skilled labour, opportunities to locate and produce at least cost in the region and exposure to products of a higher quality.

What new innovations are coming up at PSFU?

We have the €œProudly Ugandan Campaign€, the Trade Facilitation Expo to ease and facilitate trade and cross-border business, encouraging group/association formation especially upcountry, expanding our outreach to support rural communities/enterprises, encouraging good governance at association and enterprise/company levels, and supporting innovation through Business Plan competition.

What is your style to successful management?

My style to management is by encouraging team work, respect for everyone’s views, appreciating that there is always something new to learn, and being open to criticism including one’s own.

Who are your mentors to successful business management practices?

James Mulwana and my predecessor Gabriel Hatega have been inspirational to me during the period I have been with the private sector. Their approach to advocacy, dialogue and doing business is quite intriguing.

When do you start your day?

My day starts at 5:15 am when my little girl and I prepare to go to school and to office respectively.

 

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