Uganda’s textile industry has been on a downhill slide, owing to the inordinate delay in execution of its textile policy, resulting in the industry incurring annual losses to the tune of Ush500 billion ($149.4 million), mostly from exports of unprocessed cotton.
Currently, 90 per cent of the country’s cotton produce that is exported is in its primary form, ie, lint. Owing to the inordinate delay in implementing the National Textile Policy, the industry has been unable to move to value addition to its products. The policy was formulated in 2009, debated and passed. However, it is yet to see the light of day.
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According to Samuel Ssenkungu, director in charge of the department of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives at the Ministry of Trade, lack of funds has been the main roadblock to the policy’s implementation.
“The policy, for example, requires all government primary schools to buy uniforms produced in the country. But this has not happened,” said Ssenkungu, adding that the biggest challenge is to “transfer the policy recommendations to respective ministries during budgetary formulation process”.
Around 10 years ago, the country used to produce 254,000 bales of cotton annually, each weighing 185 kg. About 10 per cent of Uganda’s annual cotton output is processed locally and 90 per cent is exported. The country has more than 38 cotton lint exporters, with some ginning. And the lack of value addition translates to the country earning far less than it otherwise should. A kg of exported cotton fetches approximately $1, a two-fold piece of cloth made from the same quantity of lint can fetch at least $8. This is apart from other benefits that the industry would get like job creation.