Friday August 11 2017

Land issues dominate investors gathering

State minister for Investment Evelyne Anite

State minister for Investment Evelyne Anite addresses investors at the Namanve Industrial park on Wednesday. Left is Uganda Investment Authority executive director Jolly Kaguhangire. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 

By Eronie Kamukama

Kampala. Investors in the Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) have asked government to sort the infrastructure and land issues that have derailed their progress.
Ms Prudence Ukkonika, the managing director of K-Roma Limited, has been manufacturing wine for close to 15 years.
She got her investment licence in 2008 and in 2011, applied for land in Namanve Industrial Park.
Despite qualifying for allocation, efforts to acquire land for expansion have been in vain.
“I ask who these investors are when I do not qualify to be an investor?”
Mr Nicholas Byengoma, of Nicontra Uganda Limited said he got interested in investing in the business park because he hoped he would get a serviced plot.
This meant the plot would get a road, electricity and waste management system.
However, he said during the scramble for plots, he unfortunately ended up with a wetland but has since failed to develop it because he needs up to Shs800m to fill up the swamp.

Land grabbing
Mr Guster Lule Ntake, who has been into food and agribusiness for 37 years, said he applied for land from UIA and successfully acquired 30 acres.
However, during the processing of the land title, he was told that he would only access up to 13 acres after using Shs1.2b to develop the place.
He said this is affecting his financial plans.
“I have a flour mill which I squeezed in Nalukolongo because I did not get the title but had to get the flour distributed in Uganda. I have my paperwork ready, the financiers are asking me where the title is and they pay off the machinery,” he says.
For Roofings Limited, exorbitant property rates threaten the company’s existence.
“The council came and gave us a bill for property rates, I don’t want to mention the amount because we do not even make that profit and it is an annual fee,” said Mr Stuart Mwesigwa, the business development manager Roofings Limited.
This and more complaints about slow infrastructural development, land conflict, cost of financing, insecurity within the industrial park, cost of developing land allocated to investors is what characterised the meeting among investors, Uganda Investment Authority and state minister for Investment Evelyne Anite.
The meeting held at the Namanve Industrial park on Wednesday was convened to discuss investors’ concerns.
Speaking to investors, Ms Anite acknowledged the funding gap but said government is fast-tracking plans to develop infrastructure within the park through loans.
“We have had India Exim bank come to Uganda, we have negotiated with them but we only had very little undoing, that is the feasibility study for this place,” she said.
She assured investors that contractors will commence their work in December once the feasibility study on the industrial park ends.
On investors acquiring loans using land allocated to them, Ms Anite told investors that government will try as much as possible to incentivise investment in industrial parks as long as it is within its policies.
“You want us to give you a letter of no objection to the banks. This is a policy issue and I want to make it very clear. As government we started from Cabinet, then to Parliament and we said we shall not give guarantees to any investors,” she said.
She added: “When we give you a letter of no objection, we are guaranteeing and standing as surety. If you fail to service the loan, they will come and grab government land.”
The ministry had hoped that by this time of the year, KIBP would have been complete but growth in the park is slow due to policy issues.
But Ms Anite believes the new Investment Bill will tackle this challenge since it will repeal the outdated investment policies and put in place policies that apply to the current investment environment.