CAPE TOWN: A State agency has reported that Uganda plans to target east African markets for its export drive over the next five years. Executive director of the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), Elly Twineyo Kamugisha, said the country’s exports to the EAC were their single highest compared to other markets overseas. “Regional markets are getting bigger by the day,” Mr Kamugisha told a media briefing in Kampala. He continued: “Before, European markets used to be the biggest but we are seeing a shift in that. There is now over a $1 billion export market in the region and it is easy to promote our products within the region because we have similar lifestyles.”
According to UEPB data, Uganda’s total merchandise exports in 2014 was $2.6 billion and by close of last year, it had hit $2.7 billion. Statistics further indicated that last year, the regional market is Uganda’s top export destination, with $1 billion worth of exports shipped from Uganda to the neighbouring countries. This means that 54 per cent of Uganda’s exports are consumed regionally. The European Union comes second, consuming $502 million worth of the country’s exports.
Explaining the disparity, Mr Kamugisha said: “Market familiarity, proximity, growing demand, less stringent standard requirements and adding value to our products explains why the regional markets consume more of our products than elsewhere.” Last year, products such as fish, maize, beans, sugar, bananas, sorghum and industrial products exported informally to neighbouring countries such as Kenya, DR Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania were worth Ush790 billion, according to UEPB statistics.