KAMPALA - The Government is set to upgrade major markets across the country to modern standards, for increased job opportunities for Ugandans in the informal sector.
A few years ago, the government acquired $84.2m (about Shs250b) for the construction of 11 new modern markets in Bunia, Tororo, Soroti, Arua, Kasese, Mbarara, Kitgum, Masaka, Moroto, Lugazi, and Entebbe districts.
According to Geoffrey Ettedu, the national Coordinator Market and Agricultural Trade Improvement Program (MATIP) construction works of the markets is on course, before works to upgrade other markets can continue.
“We are going to redevelop all markets in major towns across the country so as to enhance the income of markets vendors and also improve local revenue collection for improved service delivery,” Ettedu said.
He was speaking during celebrations for the 3rd National Market symposium organized by the Institute for Social Transformation (IST) in collaboration with UN women among other stakeholders.
The Symposium was held under the theme: Celebrating the power and resilience of women in markets, during which market vendors especially women shared ideas and challenges they face in markets.
Ettedu noted that the building of different markets across the country is aimed at providing space, where Ugandans can work, fight poverty and also empower themselves economically.
“When all these markets are upgraded, they will be able to provide employment to everybody in that area, because the jobs in the private and public sector are not enough,” Ettedu said.
During the symposium, IST launched a five-year strategic plan which will see market vendors get easy access to their clients through digital marketing.
According to Regina Akullo, the Program officer IST, they have developed a mobile application, where market vendors will vendor their products online.
“The market garden app has enrolled 200 women; these women are going to start using the market app within Uganda, to link them directly to their customers,” Akullo said.
She noted that currently, farmers and market vendors have been having challenges with middlemen who cheat them with little pay.
The Mobile app is currently being piloted in Kampala before it can be extended to other selected districts.
Partnering with other organizations, IST also plans to establish market hubs for women vendors, where they can relax and also seek health services while in the markets.
The symposium was attended by over 300 women market vendors from different markets across the market.
Women were trained in different areas such as leadership and management, during the one-day symposium.
“We want to see many women in leadership because when women are in lead, everything is sorted,” Joyce Namirimu Tamale, the Board chair IST Uganda said.
At the symposium, women market vendors shared their experiences and challenges they face while at work.
The women listed sexual harassment by their male counterparts, as one of the major challenges affecting them in the markets.
They also highlighted a few achievements as market vendors over the years, which they implored fellow women especially housewives to start up small businesses in the markets in their respective districts and major towns.
Christine Abbel, operating from Gulu's main market, shared that the market had helped her raise tuition fees for her daughter and also money for home necessities.
”My second born is graduating at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). He did a degree of science in education. This is what training market women does. It impacts our lives and the lives of people around us” Abbel said.
Sharing her story, Abbel said she got married to a caring husband in January 1991 but unfortunately he passed away in 2003, leaving her with two children.
To inspire market women, IST awarded the best women vendors and markets for exemplary services and good work.
Namata Justin from Kalerwe Freedom market said she Managed to startup businesses in markets and made good use of financial literacy skills acquired from the institute.