The new Minister of Trade, Mr Francis Mwebesa, has pledged to strengthen the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce as the advocate and framer of private sector-led policies.

Mwebesa, a Mbarara-based industrialist and a founding member of the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association (UMA), said the lack of a strong chamber of commerce in Uganda has led to ill-informed policies and decisions passed to the detriment of the private sector.

He made the remarks while formally assuming office from his predecessor, Amelia Kyambadde, on Friday, June 25, 2021.

The role of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry includes lobbying on behalf of the business community, offering advisory services, arbitration, supporting young entrepreneurs and facilitating inward and outward trade, among others. However, there have been concerns that the institution is struggling to remain relevant in fixing key issues in the economy.

Uganda’s business environment has several associations that represent their interests in terms of lobbying and networking – almost duplicating UNCCI’s role. The Uganda Manufacturers Association represents interests of Ugandan manufacturers, Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) represents traders within Kampala and the Kikuubo Traders Association is meant for the traders within Kikuubo.

During last Friday’s function, Mwebesa also pledged to focus on building the capacity of local industries and strengthen the private sector during his tenure.

“I shall encourage the growth of the Ugandan Entrepreneur in the Trade Arena. It is important that we protect the Ugandan Trader and grow many Uganda industrialists,” he said.

Others appointed to the ministry include David Bahati as the state minister for industry and Harriet Ntabaazi as the state minister for trade. 

In the same announcement, President Yoweri Museveni reappointed Frederick Ngobi Gume as the minister of state for cooperatives.