Roofings offers lessons for government
Posted Friday, October 4 2013 at 01:00
Wednesday was a big day for Roofings Group. A company that began in a humble way in 1994 witnessed a landmark when President Museveni commissioned its new plant in Namanve Industrial Park. The new plant is worth Shs320 billion and brings Roofings Group’s total worth to Shs782 billion.
With the new plant, the factory will now be able to produce 480,000 metric tonnes of assorted steel tubes annually and create about 1,500 new permanent jobs. In terms of forex earning, the plant will generate Shs260 billion but most importantly, Uganda can now pride itself in being home to the largest steel factory in the region.
As a newspaper, we congratulate Roofings Group and its proprietor, Mr Sikander Lalani, on this milestone. Theirs has been a journey of sacrifice, planning and wise investment.
Of course, the government must take some credit. The likes of Lalani have been able to put their money in Uganda because of the conducive investment atmosphere. For example, the Namanve land was largely parcelled out to investors by government at a song.
However, even as we celebrate this milestone, the government must reflect more about our ability to attract and support both local and foreign investors. President Museveni has for ages complained about the government red tape and bureaucracy that discourages investors but one gets the feeling that beyond whining not much is being done to address this anomaly.
Countries like Rwanda have made their processes so easy and fast that one needs not spend days in government offices just to get a work permit.
Besides obvious concerns like corruption, the government criteria on incentives for investors still remains foggy. Who qualifies to get free prime land and who does not? What criterion is used to bail one individual with Shs160 billion while other traders struggle?
And last is the question of energy. The new Roofings Group will need 43MW of power. Can Uganda sustain 100 such companies? President Museveni should now know why, for example, the graft claims around the Karuma Dam deal should never happen again if we are going to create the perfect environment for investment.