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Rwanda-Uganda feud: Ugandan traders turn to other markets


The impasse lies in the hands of two leaders –President Museveni and Paul Kagame.

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Ugandan traders are slowly turning to other markets in the region to sell their goods as the border standoff between Kigali and Kampala continues into the third month with no solution in sight.

Rwanda closed all its common border posts with Uganda including; Katuna, Kagitumba, Mirama Hills and Cyanika towards the end of February accusing Uganda of harbouring Rwandan dissidents.

However, Uganda has Uganda has strongly denied these accusations. But as the behind-the-curtains-efforts to re-open the borders continue, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde early last month advised traders to opt for other markets within the East African Community region and beyond in order to survive. It appears the traders listened to the minister’s counsel.

The Independent investigations reveal that companies such as Hima Cement, Mukwano and Roofing Rolling Mills that have been exporting a substantial amount of goods to Kigali are now re-focusing their energy into the internal market as well as Congolese, South Sudanese, Kenyan and Tanzanian markets.

“We are now focusing on increasing our market share locally as well as exports to South Sudan, Tanzania and DR Congo,” a source from one of the companies that has been exporting to Rwanda told The Independent in an interview.

Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda told The Independent on April 24 that exporters are now increasing their reliance on other neighbouring countries in the region for trade as they await Rwanda’s next decision.

“We still have open borders to the north (South Sudan), open borders to the west (DR Congo), and open borders to the east (Kenya),” he said.

Contract breach

Badagawa, however, said though traders have an alternative market in the region “most of our members have contracts to supply Rwanda (and) for as long as the borders remain closed, these businesses are shrinking.”

He said opening up borders is critical for trade and investment across the region.

Issa Ssekito, the spokesperson of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) told The Independent that they are compiling losses from individual traders and will share the details at an appropriate time.

He said all goods destined from Uganda to Rwanda or those that are branded ‘Made in Uganda’ continue to be rejected by Rwandan authorities. Only those goods from Tanzania and Kenya could enter Rwanda.

“If Rwandan authorities discover that goods are coming from Uganda they will order them back or destroy them,” he said, “It is that bad.”

As a result, Ssekito said that some traders are currently buying goods made and branded in other East African countries and selling them in Rwanda.

Interestingly, some of the KACITA members are Rwandan nationals who own shops both in down town Kampala and Kigali.

“You cannot separate who owns what because of the cordial relationship the two countries have been having,” he said.


  1. Bulanga Bukenke Mukendi

    This is a poorly written article full errors and misinformation. Easy to consider this fake news. The article has no statistics, does not provide any source from some of the allegations. Basically, this is a one sided piece of information, it is biased and can easily be considered NRM propaganda. Where is your so-called independence? Do you even have proof readers? Refrain from posting such fake news!!!! It doesn’t help in the already deteriorating relations between Rwanda and Uganda, you’re just adding salt to injury. Do you even care???

  2. Not only is it shabby, shoddy writing, it’s also kind insulting the intelligence of readers…. So you would want us to believe that Uganda’ exports to Rwanda (3rd main importer of consumer Uganda exports) Can be switched with a flick of fingers!! Time to eat humble pie!

  3. It is important for posterity and the general gullible public that blame(like credit) be placed squarely where it belongs. Museveni is the cause of all this because:
    1. He wanted to control Rwanda allegedly because he helped liberate; as though all Rwandese were brought up in Uganda which isn’t so.
    2. When he failed, he tried his monkey tricks of undermining Rwanda regime by accomodating all and every opposer of Rwanda so as to create a thorn in the backyard.
    3. When their propaganda failed, he opted to introduce clandestine assistance to shooters who engage Rwanda militarily.
    4. When this miscarried he sent an expeditionary force into Nyungwe forest which was wiped out.
    5. Rwanda started the clandestine offensive to wake him up so he could stop that mischief by half-closing borders a a gesture to show him how they could hurt him too.
    6. Because he is insensitive to the plight of his people he did not relent but chose to satanically(relentless pursuit of evil even when it is counterproductive) deny it rain or shine…
    7. Then Ugandan businesses started dying slowly.
    8. So the ball is in Ugandans’ court. No country on earth does business with enemy (apparent or clandestine)
    9. But it is upon Ugandans to prove(practically) that Museveni is not Uganda but he is just a watchman over the country though they swear he steals most of what he guards…… and fire him.
    10. Thereafter, good and cordial natural relations will resume and everyone will be happy (except a certain white-man country which is instigating all this).

  4. Saddened Ugandan

    I think most Ugandans have completely lost interest in this random inconsequential drama. Close borders, open them, whatever… life goes on, most of us haven’t even noticed any difference and probably won’t. We are just tired of inflammatory rhetoric and conjectural allegations. It’s really sad and unfortunate especially considering the mutual greatness that could be realised from better relations and the millions who would benefit, but the world won’t end just because Rwanda has closed its borders. We have our own priorities to address and really couldn’t be bothered by Rwanda’s rotating transient issues with each of its neighbours in which Rwanda never seems willing to take any responsibility, yet the common denominator in each “misunderstanding” remains the same. Always quarrelling for nothing while pointing fingers north, east, south, west… we are tired. May Rwanda fix its things and leave us alone. Next story please.

    • Haha! Brilliantly put!

      and all the rwandese ‘bots’ busy doing hatchet jobs online can now say amen!

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