Business, Finance & Economics

Uganda News: Kampala traders protest interest hike


This photo shows vendors in Owino market in Kampala on Nov. 10, 2011. Uganda's overall inflation has been rising to its highest level in almost two decades, as year-on-year inflation on food topped 45 percent, leading to a steep price on the cost of food and other essentials that has seen the standards of living for most Ugandans plummet. Protests rocked Kampala last April when opposition chief Kizza Besigye launched demonstrations against high living costs, sparking violent police crack down that killed at least 10 people and placed Besigye house arrest.


Max Delany

BOSTON — Many shops in Uganda's capital Kampala closed because of a three-day strike against soaring interest rates.

Business owners in Kampala began this strike Wednesday over high interest rates (up to 27 percent) that are destroying their businesses.

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The Ugandan central bank raised rates last year when inflation hit more than 20 percent, according to the BBC.

Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) planned the three-day strike, saying the hike in commercial bank interest rates was making it impossible to pay off their existing loans. 

The trade organization asked its 45,000 members to withdraw their deposits from banks, said KACITA Deputy Spokesman Mubarak Ntale in a phone interview with Bloomberg.

According to the BBC, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said striking may exacerbate the problem of repaying loans:

"I don't think striking will save [traders'] property; I don't think striking will save your business." ...

"In fact, striking will hurt you and hurt all of us as a country."

Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut said the Ugandan cabinet is currently meeting and will release a statement later today on the strike, Bloomberg reported.

The three-day strike will proceed as planned if “nothing tangible” is offered by the government, Ntale said.

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