Chi­nese su­per­mar­ket ex­pan­sion

East African Business Week - - LETTERS/PERSPECTIVE -

Ed­i­tor,

I have noth­ing against the Chi­nese, but I too would like to com­ment on the mush­room­ing su­per­mar­kets run by Chi­nese in and around Kampala.

Re­cently, Amelia Kyam­badde, the Uganda trade min­is­ter had talks with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Chi­nese business com­mu­nity and put across the con­cerns of lo­cals.

For many of us it is ab­surd to fly half­way across the world to open a mod­est su­per­mar­ket in Kampala.

Is this re­ally the kind of for­eign in­vest­ment that Uganda needs.

For one thing, you hit di­rectly at the neigh­bour­hood kaduka owner un­like the big­ger op­er­a­tors like Naku­matt who lo­cate their stores in high den­sity ar­eas.

These days you can find a Chi­nese run su­per­mar­ket in the most un­likely places.

One can counter that this is a lib­er­alised econ­omy, how­ever let us also con­sider the re­turns of a su­per­mar­ket for a Chi­nese in­vestor. Were talk­ing very samll mar­gins!

I think it has been ex­plained to the Chi­nese that their money should go into more pro­duc­tive sec­tors, like agro-pro­cess­ing. Here Uganda re­mains rel­a­tively weak and loss­ing out on value ad­di­tion.

I seem to re­call that some Chi­nese ac­cepted set­ting up fac­to­ries, but com­plained about taxes and so on. The point is let us have a pol­icy on it.

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