Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ongoing campaigns and preparations for the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have given a boost to printing and graphics businesses in Kampala. Several traders operating along Nasser Road have secured numerous orders from DRC politicians in the run up to the election.
DRC will go to the polls on Sunday, December 30 2018, to determine a successor to incumbent President Joseph Kabila whose second and final term expired on December 20, 2016. The DRC will also be voting for parliamentary and local council candidates.
But while DRC nationals are going through the heated election period, Ugandan traders have to put in extra hours to handle the huge workload of printing campaign materials such as banners, flyers, stickers, T-shirts and posters.
Fred Ssekitoleko, a General Manager at Malusekabi Enterprises Limited, a printing firm in Kampala told URN that the Congo election was a major boost to their business. Sekitoleko says sometimes they have been forced to work in shifts, and longer hours to ensure that the job is done.
He says one of his contemporaries got an order to print one million posters for one of the presidential candidates. He did not divulge details of the candidate, but he said that majority of the prints have been banners for operators with four-color machines.
According to Ssekitoleko, most of the towns in Eastern DRC do not have the three-phase power lines to support high-powered machines, making it more expensive to print from Kinshasa than in Kampala. He observes that while Rwanda would be a likely competitor in the market, its restrictive laws together with high costs of printing limit businessmen who seek Kampala as an alternative.
Hamis Mohammed, a graphics designer at Mirembe Arcade said it was a big deal for them, especially having run throughout a year without business. Mohammed says for one month, Nasser road has been a bee hive of activity.
Muhammed says he has designed posters and banners for all levels of candidates in DR Congo. He appeals to the government to create an enabling environment with convenient taxes to enable the printing business to flourish with such opportunities.
Richard Lubega, a machine operator at Nasser road says has printed posters for close to 200 people from DRC.
Another graphic designer Ronnie Obwoya Einstein says that at some point they had to stop orders from Uganda because Congolese were offering relatively “good cash”.
Obwoya adds that they were doing poster production on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the DRC electoral commission is battling to deal with problems caused by a recent fire that destroyed 80 percent of the 7,000 touchscreen voting machines in the capital, Kinshasa. The commission said the fire was one of the reasons the poll, initially scheduled for December 23 was postponed to December 30.
Corneille Nangaa, the head of the electoral commission, said they were technically unable to hold the polls on the planned date because they need to get 5 million new ballots printed.
The delay threatens to aggravate an already tense situation in the country where voters suspect that the government intends to rig the poll in favour of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the former Minister of the Interior who was endorsed by Kabila’s party, The People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy.
The other candidates in the race include, among others, the joint opposition candidate Martin Fayulu and independent candidate Felix Tshisekedi.