President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has attributed the successful industrial sector of Uganda to the prudent policy decisions implemented by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.
“In many of our tribes, we say wisdom is stronger than strength. When we look at these Industrial Parks, we can see the importance of a correct policy. Today we commissioned 16 factories and then we made a groundbreaking for another 9, so that is 25 and you remember this site here was a bush some years ago but now we have a labour force of 2,000 with 36 factories here. All this is because of policy decisions but policy decisions using our resources because the stimulus which brings investors here is the market,” President Museveni noted.
The President delivered these remarks during the inauguration of 16 factories and the symbolic start of construction for 9 others at Sino Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park in Mbale City.
Presently, the Sino Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park boasts a total of 36 factories, including 20 that are operational, one that suffered fire damage, 5 under construction, and 12 in the process of assembling equipment.
The President highlighted the conducive environment created by the government that has enabled investors to confidently engage in the nation’s growth. He also assured investors of a stable market for their products.
“These investors have spectacles that enable them to detect where there’s money. It’s upon us to provide a conducive environment that enables whoever wants to invest to come. That is our role. With a proper policy, everything does itself, that is why a person you least know about approaches you that they want to set up a textile factory. They do this because they know Ugandans must dress up and they have the required raw materials here needed to produce clothes. Then that’s how government comes in to catalyse the process by providing electricity, peace, roads and other needed infrastructure,” he added.
“Many people don’t know that having a market is wealth. We have a market for Ugandans of 46 million and on that, we add the East African market of 130 million people as well as the African market of 1.5 billion people. All those people have needs which should be got using money from their pockets.”
The President thanked the NRM members who have aligned with the party’s vision and strategy, which have borne fruit. He also lauded the collaborative efforts between Uganda and its allies, particularly China, who have been nurturing mutual understanding and cooperation since 1949.
“They started working with our elders like Mzee Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah and others because we are on the same side, we are against imperialism; we are for freedom. In the past, we were working together politically in the United Nations and other bodies but now I’m very glad the Chinese government is encouraging Chinese companies; government and private; to go out and invest in Africa. I thank them so much,” he asserted.
“If you may recall there were some misunderstandings when we permitted Indians to come back to Uganda. We had some less focused people who never wanted them to come back but I insisted that the Indians must be given back their property that was confiscated by the Idi Amin government because you cannot annoy the pioneer investor and you think that the new one will trust you.”
Mr Museveni criticized certain countries’ efforts to restrict the market access of Ugandan goods. He asserted that these attempts are unlikely to succeed due to the high quality and competitive pricing of Ugandan products.
He also assured industrialists that the electricity challenge will soon be overcome as the government is actively working on solutions.
“Otherwise, electricity is enough and we are building more dams. We are also going to construct a water channel to deal with the problem of floods that affected us last time. We are also producing more fire brigade machinery for this industrial park and helping the industrial park with the infrastructure.
Turning his attention to unpatriotic government bodies, particularly in the power generation sector, who favour foreign machinery over local offerings, the President issued a directive.
“Therefore, I have ordered all government bodies to buy all these meters from Uganda starting from 1st September. The Ministry of Energy is here. The cables and the meters must be bought from our factories here and the ones in Kampala. Anybody who does not will have to go and look after his goats at home,” he ordered.
The President also discouraged Ugandans from purchasing second-hand clothing.
“They are for dead people. When a white person dies, they gather their clothes and send them to Africa. We should stop wearing them. We have people here who produce new clothes but they cannot infiltrate the market because the second-hand clothes are already all over.”
Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, expressed satisfaction with Uganda’s progress toward industrialization.
“When you appointed me as Minister of Finance, you told me that I should spearhead Industrialisation and I’m happy to note that although the journey is still long, we have managed to achieve some success,” Hon. Kasaija said.
“Due to my passion for creating jobs, I sometimes spend sleepless nights thinking of how we can create jobs more than the youth whom we are offloading into the labour market. This project is helping us to create jobs for our youth. If we could get more enterprises similar to this, then my worry about having a job for every youth who comes on the job market would be history, Kasaija concluded.”
In line with her commitment to job creation, she expressed her dedication to providing more opportunities for youth, underscoring the potential of projects like the Mbale Industrial Park.
Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, praised President Museveni for his instrumental role in Uganda’s development through industrialization.
“I want to add my voice as well. You have been the chief sower by sowing the mustard seed. When I look at the infrastructure in Uganda like the roads and electricity; indeed, I see the mustard seed. Like the Bible says everything has its own time, I think it’s time for harvesting but sowing and harvesting go together especially where the soils are fertile. Uganda is fertile in as far as investment is concerned because you, together with the gallant sons of Uganda; fought for peace and peace is a prerequisite for development. We are here celebrating because you chose to take that route to pacify this country. We are now seeing Industrial parks booming all over the country because we have peace,” Hon. Nankabirwa said.
She also assured residents that efforts were underway to resolve electricity challenges, including the introduction of a mobile station to enhance power supply.
“Your Excellency, I’m aware of the challenges of electricity here. I assure the residents that we are working hard to solve the problem. We shall have a mobile station to improve the supply of power.”
The Minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Hon. Evelyn Anite, praised President Museveni’s commitment to transformation.
“Your Excellency, a country that you inherited with a collapsed economy, you have built it to the extent that currently as Uganda we are talking about manufacturing with 500,000 factories in the country,” she noted.
“The Industrial Park in Mbale has created 2000 jobs for the youth. I want to thank you for being very energetic, very visionary to attract investors to come to Uganda and encouraging Ugandans to join the money economy and add value to our God-given resources.”
China’s Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Zhang Lizhong, celebrated the robust relationship between China and Uganda and their collaborative efforts in implementing development programs.
Zhang Zhigang, Chairperson of Sino-Uganda Industrial Park Mbale, thanked President Museveni for his unwavering support in realizing their shared dream. He also acknowledged the vital contribution of the local leadership and community.
The event witnessed the attendance of several dignitaries, including Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa, Minister of State in the same Ministry Hon. David Bahati, and Ms. Lidya Wanyoto, Chairperson of NRM Women’s League, among others.
The Mbale Industrial Park has emerged as a hub for diverse products, including glass, textiles, household detergents, mobile phones, smart televisions, baby diapers, clothes, LED bulbs, tubes, electric meters, and stockings.