Once regarded as the industrial heartbeat of Uganda, Jinja could have a new lease of life with the emergence of MM Integrated Steel Uganda Limited, one of the leading manufacturers of steel in the region.
The $47 million (Shs122 billion) plant is set to produce 50,000 metric tonnes of steel products a year including iron bars, iron sheets and storage tanks and directly employ 1,800 people.
The company has projected to invest $600 million in the next five years.
“The factory is no ordinary establishment. It’s large in all measure. It consumes 5 megawatts of power at over Shs210 million per month, tapped from the Madhvani feed to the national greed.
The three-Kilometre line was non-existent so MMI had to connect it. They use Shs10 million worth of water from National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and are currently employing 220 workers,” said the company CEO Mr Jain Narendra, at the tour of the plant recently. He appealed to government to reduce taxes and place a ban on the importation of steel products to lessen competition for the market.
“High power tariffs also affect the final product price yet we want to sell at a relatively cheaper price. 60 per cent of the manufactured products will be sold on the Ugandan market,” Narendra said.
The Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, who toured the factory, hailed the management of the company for rejuvenating economic activity in the area and the country `s development as a whole. “I would like to commend the proprietors of this steel mill for the contribution towards the economic development of our country and I hope that we as Ugandans shall gain more in terms of revenue collection and employment,” said the minister, adding that her ministry was in plans of drafting policies through the stake holder’s consultations to help local industries grow.
Ms Kyambadde admitted that growth of local industry was still very low at 3.4 per cent which is not healthy due to the high cost of utilities. She also promised to look into the issue of tax waivers and having a ban on the importation of steel products.
Coordinator for MMI in Uganda and presidential aide on media Farouk Kirunda, said access to iron sheets and other building materials will be readily accessible at cheaper prices upon the completion of the steel plant.
“Residents will access them in multiple colours and at factory price. People will come from as far as Western Kenyan because there is also no factory of this kind,” he said.