KAMPALA — Human Capital International Uganda has tipped farmers and SMEs locally (Uganda) on how to take advantage of the free trade area in a bid to leverage on the opportunities presented for their businesses to thrive.
This was during the 3rd Strategic Leaders’ Summit 2021 that was themed ‘Agribusiness, SMEs & Digital Economy within AfCFTA that was held at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on Thursday.
Speaking at the event, the Country Manager, Human Capital International Uganda Ms Shenina Aheebwa, said that this group of people need to equip themselves with knowledge on the free trade area and what goods are exempted from tariffs in the participating countries.
She emphasized that there is a need for more sensitization by all the relevant players and nations to help farmers and SMEs attain their set goals and objectives.
“Aside from the sensitization, farmers need to go commercial if they want to benefit from the huge market from 54 participating countries. Farmers can’t also do without technology since it has become a reality in agribusiness,” she says.
According to her, the emerging technology improves yields and reduces losses in hard times, citing the recent impacts of COVID-19 to the sector.
Shenina further emphasized the need to maintain quality in order for Uganda’s local goods and services to compete favorably in other participating countries.
Malisa Nyakwera, the Head of the Head of Agri-Business at Stanbic Bank Uganda also cited challenges that the sector is likely to face as they struggle to compete in the Africa Free Trade Area.
She cited the limited access to funding, which will keep famers and SME’s struggling despite the large market available and urged government and financial institutions to develop policies for easy access to funds, allowing agribusiness to flourish.
Uganda’s agricultural sector employs 65% of the people, and Shs 1.16 is earned, contributing 23% to the GDP.
‘To me there I disconnect with these figures, it means that if we invest more in the sector we can do better’, Nyakwera said.
She added that they need to have proper data even when there are not many people in farming, they should be able to know how much they acreage and the out-put for those few that have.
Dr. Okaka Geofrey Owich, the Assistant Commissioner Uganda Revenue Authority, revealed that in the near future an African Customs Union will be developed, for proper management of the AfCFTA.
Currently the African Continental Free Trade Area, is the largest common market in the world, which everyone is looking forward to witnessing.
The Summit attracted business personalities from across Africa, some of whom participated virtually.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area, which came into effect on 1st January, 2021, has enormous opportunities awaiting farmers, and Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs).
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is a free trade area founded by African Union in 2018, in 54 countries of the 55 AU nations.
The continental free trade zone, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank is estimated at $ 3.4 trillion with potential to lift 30 million people from extreme poverty.