Katwe Small Scale Industry group, the umbrella body of local artisans has complained of unfair competition from cheap imported products from China and India. The artisans, who are mainly involved in metal fabrication, fear that unless government puts in place measures to protect their interests, they will be pushed out of business.
They claim that most property developers in the city have abandoned they steel products and rushing for cheap aluminum products. The developers allegedly claim aluminum products looks more attractive despite the fact that steel is more durable. Bila Bbosa, the chairperson Katwe Small Scale Industries Development Association says the problem is hitting them hard.
He says before the cheap Chinese and Indian products flooded the market they used to make huge sums of money from private developers who would buy their products. He faults government for failing to come up with a policy to protect local products from foreign competition, saying Katwe group would benefit from such programme.
He wants the government to set policies to protect the group, which he claims employs thousands of youths and contributes a lot of money to the economy. Jimmy Turinawe, the Chairperson Uganda Small Scale Industries agrees with his Katwe counterpart. Turinawe says government must introduce a deliberate effort to protect the industry. He says most of the products government imports, particularly the agro processing machines can easily be produced by the Katwe group.
He wonders why government continues to import them when the ones produced locally at Katwe are more durable and cheap. Government has not yet responded to the pleas of the group. Officials of the trade ministry were reported in a meeting when our reporter went there.