Why We Need ‘Buy Local Products’ Campaign


ampoule geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>A ‘marketer’ is anyone who performs marketing functions within the marketplace. Readers are invited to participate in the debate.

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stuff geneva; color: #333333;”>Sometime back, Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and other stakeholders, organised a splendid Industrial and Trade Exhibition whose theme was “Buy Local”.

As I listened to and read through the local electronic and print media, I got interested but I was also baffled by the intriguing theme.

As a fastidious and lifelong student of Business Management, with a special bias in Marketing and, having done some detailed research on ‘Uganda’s Competitiveness in the Domestic, Regional and Global Markets’ which is on my shelf and with 32 years of managerial experience, 26 of which I was a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of various Public and Private Enterprises, in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, I was qualified enough to ‘participate’ in the ‘Buy Local Exhibition Debate’.

So I headed for Lugogo Show Grounds where I spent a day, visiting Exhibitors.

My academic and experiential hormones served me well.

I made sure that the day coincided with my fasting day so that I would not lose valuable time trying to have any meals.

I had an ineffable experience walking around the whole exhibition area, displaying a beautiful array of merchandise from every sector of Uganda’s economy.

There were small, medium and large Exhibitors. The throngs of people coming to buy, window shop, or, simply, pass time, were quite impressive, as they cris-crossed Lugogo Show Grounds.

Life was made more interesting by disco and other melodious music from various corners.

It was difficult to get tired because of the good music that vibrated energy and morale as I walked around.

I noticed people, especially the young, walking dance-fully, some even gyrating their biology to express their joy.

Some were even eating snacks like New Yorkers, as they walked along.

By the end of the day, I had visited many stalls – small, medium and big. I talked to many friendly Stall-Managers, mainly ladies who appeared better Managers and Marketers than their male counterparts.

Time and space will not allow me to discuss finer details of what I experienced that day but I shall, largely, discuss, generally, and draw up some humble but integrated conclusions about what I saw and experienced that memorable day.

Before I do that, I want to state, quite categorically, a strong and heart-felt disclaimer: Uganda’s Economy has done inordinately well under the NRA (UPDF)/NRM Regime.

There is no better witness than this Columnist who was Sales and Distribution Manager and, later, General Manager of the same defunct Foods & Beverages [RIP], General Manager of Uganda Baati ltd (Long Live) and the first Executive Secretary of Uganda Export Promotion Council (Predecessor of the present UEPB) [LL], all during the days of extreme scarcities of essential goods and services.

Today’s Ugandan Economy which is over flowing with goods and services, is enough testimony to silence Opposition Politicians and all critics whose cryptic agenda is known – abhorrence to carry out any gratuitous Public Relations campaigns for the very Government they starvingly wish to replace.

One may ask a poignant but rhetorical question– “What was the purpose of the ‘Buy Local Exhibition?’ Was it to sensitise Ugandans to, simply, behave like Ugandans?

Was it to persuade Foreigners to support local industry? After all, why are there many foreigners in Uganda if they cannot support our local economy? Don’t they come to support Ugandans through foreign direct investments (FDIs), expertise, evangelism, trade etc, as they enjoy her good climate and make profits from their investments?

If an American or Briton has come to serve or invest in Uganda, why should such good guests prefer to buy American or English cooking oil or soap to Mukwano equivalents?

The purpose of the UMA’s ‘Buy Local Exhibition Campaign’ was to promote demand and supply for local products as opposed to imports which are liberally flooding the local market from corners of the globe.

In marketing, we talk of the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) of the Marketing Mix.

These days the traditional 4Ps have increased to People, Purchasing Power, Policy, Process, Purchasing Power, Propensity to Purchase, Poverty, Political Power, Potential Probability…, suggesting that our Marketing Gurus were, after all, not so smart to declare the limited 4Ps while more keep showing up from the horizons.

In Part two, we shall see how the ‘Buy Local Campaign’ and ‘liberalisation, regionalisation and globalisation cannot be good bed-fellows for a long time.

In fact they cannot see eye to eye. To be continued.

Dr. Robert K. Rutaagi is a retired Public Sector Management Specialist, Writer & Freelance Journalist & Management Consultant with Pragma Consultants Ltd, Member of Senate & Adjunct Senior Lecturer of UTAMU.



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