The Chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Export and Industrial promotion, Odrek Rwabwogo says the ongoing Uganda-DRC business summit that kick-started today in Kinsasha, is an opportunity to create trade linkages between the two countries and their people.

“The biggest strategic intent for our being here, is that this generation rebuilds intra trade linkages and that we strength our countries, we strength the businesses of young people and we help to speak to each other directly not through Chinese, Europeans and American intermediaries,” Rwabwogo said on Monday while speaking at the Summit in Kinsasha organized by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).

The Summit taking place in Kinshasa from today May 30 to June 3 and Goma from June 5 to June 8 under the theme “Boosting Trade and Investment between Uganda and the DRC,” has seen more than 200 companies and business people from both countries take part.

It is seen as one of the mechanisms to strengthen trade relations, bring closer business communities between the two countries and tap into the opportunities that the recent admission of DRC into the East African Community (EAC) offers.

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Rwabwogo who was one of the speakers on the opening day said that the Summit will create ground to drive the necessary platform to end poverty and bring prosperity to each of the homesteads in Congo and in Uganda.

“Every generation adds a brick. In the last 500 years, every generation has been adding a brick. Our leaders have added a new brick now – they have put an important plan to help us cross he river, they have put a bridge called the East African Community. This is a huge strategic breakthrough – that seven countries have one trading area with similar groups and processes to trade,” he noted.

“Now, for us, we should be concerned with building intra East African Community corporate entities that will supply the domestic market and lesses the dependency on the west,” he adds.

This, he says, will help to strike strong partnerships between companies of the two countries and improve productivity in Congo, Uganda and in other parts of East Africa leading to the creation of jobs for young people.

“For example, I am a diary processor, I produce milk at our farm. Our diary plant is located 180 km from the Uganda-DRC border and I will be happy to expand production by partnering with colleagues from here so that we can produce in Congo – that we have a subsidiary plant in Eastern Congo,” Rwabwogo said.

He argued that the Congolese will not necessarily have to import milk from Uganda but instead the processing will be jointly done by businesspeople in both countries.

“If we produce milk from Eastern DR Congo, it is a game changer. Why? Because we have been suffering with Nezline. They produce all sorts of dairy products and dump them on our market and we can’t respond because we are not cooperating yet if we worked together, we would end this 100 year domination in the our food industry both here and other parts of Africa,” Rwabwogo explained.

This will really have to speak the same language and see the same dashboard so that our EAC market especially the DRC and Uganda do not become permanently a supermarket of products of the West.

Odrek Rwabwogo, Monday May 30 in Kinsasha.

“This is the only way to scale our businesses, if a business does not scale, it can’t create value. If we scale our businesses by partnering with each other, we can supply this market,” he added.

He explained that the construction of new roads like Kasindi-Beni-Butembo, Nebbi-Goli-Bunia, Buni-Bogoro-Kasenyi and Rwebisengo-Budiba-Buguma-Nyiyapandam as well as the Budiaba Bridge across River Semuliki will make the cross trade easier.

Rwabwogo further revealed that the Ugandan delegation is in DR Congo to find a way of strengthening cooperation between the trade associations of the two countries.

“There are trade associations in Uganda say the sugar associations, cereals and grains, poultry etcetera. If such associations partner with related associations in DRC, we will be able to standardize product quality, and deal with vital sanitary systems that stop us from competing with Europeans,” he said.

He noted if there were self regulatory standards by associations on both sides on the border, foreign markets will not be a big deal for products produced in East Africa.

“We will not need say the Dubai market, we can enjoy our market in the region and it is enough”.

“This will really have to speak the same language and see the same dashboard so that our EAC market especially the DRC and Uganda do not become permanently a supermarket of products of the West,” he added.

Rwabwogo said that his-led committee (Uganda Presidential Advisory Committee on external trade) insists on bringing the private and public sector together so we can speak one language and seeks strategic partnership on 12 products that the two countries consume most.

The products include coffee, cement, still, beef, dairy, poultry, fruits and vegetables, bananas, tourism, sugar, etcetera.

“We seek strategic partnership in terms of distributorship on both sides,” he said.

Available figures show that Uganda’s trade with DRC has progressed over the years, with Ugandan exports to DRC amounting to $338m.

In March this year, the Heads of State from the East African Community (EAC) officially admitted DRC into the regional bloc, bringing the number of member states to seven – Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and DRC.

The admission of DRC into the regional bloc pushed the population of the community to about 300 million people; a number that trade experts say directly boosts the regional market.

Last year, President Yoweri Museveni and his DRC counterpart, Felix Tshisekedi met at Mpondwe border point and commissioned the construction of 223kms of roads to connect the two countries

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Uganda exports mostly animal, vegetable fats and oils and cleavage products to DR Congo. Other exports are sunflower seed, cotton-seed oil, fast consumer goods and smoked fish, especially to eastern DR Congo, accounting for $267.19 million in 2021.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He...

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