KAMPALA. Manufacturers have welcomed President Museveni’s promise to lower electricity tariffs to boost local production for export and create employment.
While opening the 24th International Trade Show at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) showground in Lugogo, Kampala yesterday, President Museveni promised to lower electricity tariffs from $11 cents to $5 cents.
“Power from Nalubale Power Station is $1 cent while Bujagali Power Station is $11 cents. I negotiated with Bujagali owners when I was in New York and they have agreed to bring it down to $7 cents. But through my own tricks, I will bring it down to $5 cents,” the President said.
Mr Museveni, however, warned that “this tariff is only for manufactures and maybe people in the hotel industry and not for preachers at night, Nsenene (grasshoppers) hunters and dancers in night clubs.”
He didn’t set timelines on when the new tariffs would take effect.
Ms Prudence Ukkonika, the managing director, K-Roma Ltd and other manufacturers hailed President Museveni’s initiative saying it will increase her productivity and lower the cost of doing business in the country.
“I am optimistic that if power [costs] go down, I will make a saving and invest it in expanding my business.” Ms Ukkunika said, adding that “This means more production and creating more jobs for Ugandans.”
Ms Ukkunika, however, was not happy with UMA management for not considering women exhibitors as the overall winners since the theme was on women.
Mr Paresh Shukla, the managing director of Simba Automotives Ltd, said lowering power tariffs is one way to fast-track Uganda’s desire to achieve Middle Income status by 2020. “This is long overdue for the manufacturing sector,” he said.
Fred Ssegujja, the marketing manager, Alinile.com company said: “This is one of the incentives manufactures have been missing. After this we could look at enlarging the market.”
Earlier, the President told manufacturers to consider using power during off-peak hours because the costs are lower and favour them. “You (manufacturers), use power from 6pm to 10pm when Ugandans are still awake. Why don’t you work at night?”
President Museveni’s offer came upon a request by UMA chairman Amos Nzeyi. He also requested government to buy local products. The President promised to ensure that these are request is implemented. He said the move would save about $2b spent on imports annually.
“Importers who bring in goods and later export it will not benefit from government guarantee. The government guarantee will only be for exporters of local products,” Mr Museveni said, adding: “We restored security, there is peace, we have constructed roads and we will also buy your products. The only challenge remaining is corruption. Report those corrupt officials and see what will happen to them,” the President added.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde called for recapitalisation of Uganda Development Bank and making women entrepreneurs a priority for loans.