With the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over two decades ago, Uganda’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have found a golden opportunity to tap into the expansive American market. This legislation has granted around 6,500 goods from sub-Saharan African countries, including Uganda, preferential access to the US market, duty-free.
However, the clock is ticking, as AGOA is set to expire in September 2025. There’s a growing call to extend this legislation beyond 2025 to at least 2035. Ms. Susan Muhwezi, an influential figure in AGOA matters in Uganda, sees the extension as a logical step, considering the recent success it has achieved.
Over the past three years, Uganda’s AGOA exports have demonstrated impressive growth, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coffee, crafts, vanilla, chocolate, tea, textiles, and dried fruits have been making their mark in the US market. In 2018/19, Uganda’s exports were valued at $1 million; by 2021, they rose to $5.1 million.
While AGOA has proven to be a fantastic avenue, challenges persist. Currently, only about 50 companies are directly exporting under AGOA, leaving room for expansion. Industry insiders stress the importance of quality certification and value addition to maximize success. AGOA’s potential remains promising, yet efforts must focus on both standards and mindset shifts.
As the government and sector players rally for AGOA’s renewal, there’s a consensus that quality consciousness, collaboration, and comprehensive skilling initiatives will be key to unlocking its true potential. The journey ahead entails bridging gaps, addressing challenges, and educating MSMEs on the vast range of opportunities under AGOA.
Ms. Muhwezi’s assessment of AGOA’s success rates it at five out of ten, showcasing both accomplishments and room for growth. The road to success lies in proactive measures, strategic marketing, and cultivating a culture of quality and innovation. As Uganda positions itself on the global stage, the extension of AGOA holds the promise of a brighter economic future.
📊 Share your thoughts! How do you perceive the impact of AGOA on Uganda’s economic landscape? Comment below! 👇🏽