Tempers rose in down town Kampala on Wednesday 19th where traders protested the influx of Chinese traders flooding the Ugandan market with cheap retail products. They argue that such traders pose a threat to local businesses in Kampala.
A number of arcades, along Nakasero, Sikh Street, Market square and Dastur Street in Kampala were closed off. The area has a high concentration of Chinese and Indian nationals running retail outlets.
Ugandan traders stood by the roadside displaying placards against Chinese dominance of retail businesses urging that the Chinese traders are running ventures that contravene the restrictions of their visas. The businessmen are calling for government intervention to kick Chinese investors out of petty trade.
“We are concerned that some of these people come as investors, they are given tax holidays but they are running the same businesses like Ugandans. We are continuing to strike until government intervenes,” one of the traders told this publication.
Although there is no official record on the number of Chinese traders in Kampala, it is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 50,000 small time Chinese traders who have traveled thousands of miles from China in search for greener pastures in Uganda.
In November, 2016, members of the Trade Committee of Parliament issued a three months ultimatum to foreigners in retail businesses to either invest in bigger projects or voluntarily return to their countries. The decision followed a petition submitted to parliament by Uganda traders under the umbrella Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA).
Committee members then observed that although foreigners come to Uganda as investors, a number of them have flooded traditional Uganda outlets like Kikuubo where they are running retail outlets.
However, the ultimatum elapsed without action against the traders.