Industrial parks: Uganda's economic engine for growth and prosperity

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Industrial parks: Uganda's economic engine for growth and prosperity
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In April this year, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) launched a campaign focused on investment facilitation and protection for both local and foreign investors.

This initiative aligns with President Museveni's directive to establish at least 25 fully operational industrial parks by 2026, aimed at advancing Uganda’s industrialisation, catalyzing import substitution, and promoting exports.

The UIA emphasizes that industrial parks are essential for driving Uganda’s economic growth.

The Mbale Industrial Park, launched by President Museveni in 2018, exemplifies this strategy. It aims to boost the economy and improve living standards.

Mr Paul Zhang, Chairman of Tian Tang Group, projected the park would create over 15,000 local jobs upon completion.

Currently, the industrial park directly employs over 5,000 people and indirectly supports the employment of 30,000.

Out of the planned 48 factories, 28 are operational, five are under construction, and 12 are assembling plants and machinery.

Uganda's favorable governance has attracted significant Chinese investment. Zhang stated that they aim to make Mbale a manufacturing hub for Uganda, with products exported across Africa and globally.

During the industrial park's launch, Ms Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment and Privatisation, described it as a strategic move to develop Uganda's manufacturing sector. The park produces a variety of essential products, including steel, electronics, appliances, and textiles.

A notable advantage of the park is its ability to combine the strengths of both China and Uganda for local manufacturing.

For instance, the United Steel Plant, once complete, will produce 500,000 tons of high-quality steel annually, and the Linmu Paper Industry Paper Mill will become East Africa’s largest paper mill, covering over 53,000 square meters.

The factories utilize the advanced technology to produce high-quality goods for local consumption and export.

In 2023, President Museveni inaugurated 16 new factories at the Sino Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park, highlighting the significance of new textile facilities.

He stressed the need to stop importing second-hand clothes and support domestic industries instead.

“Industrialisation is the pathway to a modern society,” President Museveni said, noting that the new factories would produce items such as electric cables, meters, clothes, and LED lights, reducing imports and creating jobs.

Minister Anite emphasized the role of these factories in decreasing Uganda’s reliance on imports and increasing exports.

Research from the Uganda Revenue Authority indicated that domestic production of electricity cables alone would save over Shs 137 billion and more than shs17 billion on sock imports.

Anite stated that the Mbale Industrial Park is part of the government's broader plan to develop 25 industrial parks, fostering job creation and equitable economic transformation.

Protecting investors

To protect investors and create a favorable investment climate, President Museveni established the State House Investors Protection Unit (SHIPU) on May 1, 2023, led by Col. Edith Nakalema.

This unit collaborates with the Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Registration Services Bureau, and the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration to safeguard investors from corruption and bureaucratic delays.

The development of Uganda’s Electronic Investors Protection Portal (EIPP) has further enhanced investor confidence by streamlining processes and reducing opportunities for corruption.

SHIPU's Col Edith Nakalema

Since its inception, SHIPU has made significant progress in safeguarding investor interests.

Col Edith Nakalema highlighted that the SHIPU continues to coordinate with all stakeholders in Uganda’s investment chain to ensure a smooth and efficient investment process, thereby boosting investor confidence and fostering economic growth.

“ The SHIPU continues to coordinate with all stakeholders in Uganda’s investment chain to ensure that investors are not delayed by unnecessary bureaucracies,” Col Nakalema said.

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