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34 RCeOsLoUuMrcNe SGl|obLainl dNaeCtwaloarbkrese Assembly and innovation
Assembling components or completely knocked down kits is not very common
in East Africa, a region with limited participation in global value chains. While labour is relatively cheap, transportation and utilities are so expensive and often unreliable that assembly is not always pro table. Drawing from the motorcycles example, even with a tax waiver motorbikes assembled in the region can be more expensive than imports.
How do manufacturers plan on surviving and growing in this environment? Some  rms try to introduce innovations that could make their product more popular in the domestic market. For example, Simba Automotives (a Ugandan  rm producing motorcycles called ‘UG Boss’) installed a phone charger on their bikes.
They also added reinforced protections
for hands and knees, to safely fend the
city tra c, and allowed for a GPS tracking system to locate the bike if stolen. All these improvements make the UG Boss a di erent product for which customers could be happy to pay a bit more.
Some of these companies also o er services tailored to the corporate market. These can include branding bikes, 24-hour assistance and repair, more favourable payment methods and even riding lessons. These strategies allow  rms to gain a share of
the domestic market and to increase their competitiveness vis-à-vis international competitors.
Why motorcycles?
Motorcycles are a very interesting product. Assembling them (especially from completely knocked down kits) is relatively easy,
but allows to develop new technical and managerial skills. They are not expensive, and therefore they can be successful on the domestic market. They can also contribute to


































































































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