The Nsambya Carpenters’ chairman, Sadam Moses Muleke, is concerned at how the Chinese are failing the market for locally-made furniture.
“We know the biggest challenge in the market and who doesn’t first look or consult us the local carpenters, but sells furniture at a very low price which is very difficult to compete with. Ugandans always don’t respect their own makes but respect things from outside, much more, however much they are fake, as compared to ours,” Muleke complained.
Muleke said that the rate at which furniture from Chinese carpentry items sell is very fast. He added that it is only foreigners, like the Somalis, who buy Ugandan-made furniture, yet Uganda furniture is first-class compared to that being imported from China.
Nevertheless, he admitted that the imported furniture from China has a better finishing compared to the locally-finished furniture. Also, Muleke accepted that Uganda’s furniture cannot be repaired once it breaks down, compared to the locally-made furniture.
Abdul Ssemyalo, a carpenter working along Gayaza Road said. “We are very sorry for our small carpentry setups because we cannot run a race with the Chinese. They import directly from their homes, and when they come here, they are given tax holidays. Yet, we local people, have to pay for all what it takes to see that the business stands. There is a lot of confusion in this sector and in this confusion the Chinese have managed to bring poor and fake quality furniture which damages the market.”
Since Uganda’s 1993 liberalization of economy, the so-called briefcase investors have been contributing to the economy leaving no space for local merchants. “The most dangerous thing is that Ugandan needs cheap things, yet no cheap thing is good. This is not only for carpenters but these so-called investors are now everywhere; in supermarkets, photo studios, crockery shops, and the like. They have also started employing their own people for manual labour which Ugandan used to do. I think we need Government to regulate this,” Ssemyalo said.
A local buyer resident at Kalerwe, Adrian Buule, however disputed this. He said that the Chinese furniture is cheap, has of a good finish and is compatible. “Our local carpenters are not co-operative; they lie a lot. If you make an order its takes a long time for you to get your furniture finished; they don’t respect the seller-buyer relationships,” he said. “Though Chinese furniture is not good, it’s almost the same. In their sofas, we find papers, so if it’s all about being, fake even theirs is,” he added, referring to the local carpenters.
Build Buy Uganda Campaign
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, while launching the policy of; Buy Uganda Build Uganda, as a vision of developing a competitive private sector, which will transform local products through the value chain to meet the required standards said, “If we buy our locally-made products, we create employment opportunities for our fellow Ugandans. Our first choice is to first support our domestic market.”
According to research, Ugandan furniture still needs quality advancement; that is why State House has sponsored Nsambya Carpenters’ chairman, Muleke, to go for a tour in China to know how Chinese do their furniture finishing.