By Spy Uganda
Uganda’s richest man, Sudhir Ruparelia is advocating a ban on the import of luxury goods into Africa to help it ride out the gathering world economic storm.
From his base in Kampala, the businessman who built his mega Ruparelia Group Empire brick by brick looks on at the war between Russia and Ukraine with growing concern. He sees it going on for another year creating even more economic chaos and uncertainty for the world.
“The next level of cost increase in Europe is going to be interest rates. When interest goes up you are going to see Europe and America getting into very heavy recession,” Sudhir says.
It is likely to be rough for Africa, he warns. “It is just getting crazy. Whoever wanted the war in Europe, they will find it is backfiring on the whole world, ” he says.
“Lockdown in China is not helping, contributing to rising building costs. They’ve gone up 20 to 40 percent worldwide. Largest manufacturers in the world in air conditioning to furniture. We have a huge shortage because they have broken the supply chain… I saw the depression in England, in 1972, during the time of Mr. Heath. I think we are getting there.”
For years the nations of the West preached to Africa not to print money and weaken their economies, Zimbabwe-style.
“This is common preaching among the countries of Africa telling them not to print money. The minute COVID and the lockdown hit Europe, in March 2020, and the way they were paying people to keep at home and the businesses floating, I knew this is the beginning of inflation and after two years they are going to raise so many taxes, on everything, the short leave honeymoon is becoming a hard one to live with,” he says.
“I see recession is not only looming – it is right at your back door!”
What can we do? Ruparelia believes the rich and powerful of Africa need to respond with austerity and self-denial in the interests of all.
“I think where luxury items are concerned countries should ban them. You need to have austerity measures. I don’t think one should actually bring in these luxury items- we should ban them! I am talking about your beautiful rugs your perfumes I think those you can do without. Electronics for leisure purposes, I think they need to be controlled.”
Asked whether he would practice what he preaches, Sudhir says, “I would definitely be willing to sacrifice luxury. I am actually a very simple guy, you know, I don’t have much luxury I use for myself,” he adds; “All these people have so much stock anyway, so for six months, or 12 months they are not going to miss it.”
The war in Ukraine and the economic turmoil that goes with it has caused havoc with fuel prices, supply chains, and supermarkets. Ruparelia is facing a loss of up to $5 million from his flower business, alone because rising prices in the supermarkets cut back demand.
Uganda, according to Ruparelia, is weathering this storm with its fertile soil producing 300 tonnes of food a month – enough to export to hungry shoppers in Dubai, Europe, and Britain.