Is govt’s plan to build industrial parks, create more jobs on track?
What you need to know:
- The government’s strategy is to spread out industries and factories across the different regions of the country.
The government through the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) in 2007 announced plans to set up about 20 industrial parks spread across the country for job creation and to add value to the locally available materials.
Through the parks, the government would attract investors who would offer employment to Ugandans in promotion of its industrialisation strategy to stir development. But is the strategy on track?
What was planned?
The government planned to establish the Kampala Industrial and Business Park (IBP) located in Namanve that would see industrial clusters and large projects set-up. In Soroti IPB, five acres of land were allocated to Teso Fruit Farmers Association to tap into the large fruit potential in the region.
In Kasese IBP lies 217 acres intended to stimulate agricultural products’ value addition and mineral development in Rwenzori Sub-region, while in Mbarara, a 12-acre SME park to cater for small-scale enterprises in Ankole Sub-region is in the offing.
Also there are plans to reactivate the 182-acre industrial park in Jinja City, while in Moroto, 417 acres of land have been identified for acquisition with a view to setting up a park.
Elsewhere, negotiations to acquire 500 acres of land to establish the Gulu IBP have been initiated, while about 150 acres have been identified for the establishment of an IBP in Kabarole and Kyenjojo districts and an oil park spanning 500 acres in the Masindi/Hoima area.
To kick-start these projects, the government in September launched the construction of the Kigezi Industrial and Business Park on the 620-acre Kibaya public land in Kisoro District that was donated by Kisoro District Local Government.
At the launch, State Minister for Investment and Privatisation Evelyn Anite said the government, together with its partners shall have finished a feasibility study in a period of two months before the actual construction of Kibaya Industrial Park starts.
She said: “After the feasibility studies, the process of allocating pieces of land to the investors shall begin thereafter.”
What has been achieved so far?
In Gulu, negotiations to acquire 500 acres of land to establish the Gulu IBP were initiated and completed last year. However, currently, only 20 acres of the land have been put to use, with a youth skilling centre sitting on it.
Last month, Mr Christopher Opiyo Ateker, the Gulu District chairperson, told this publication that all the landowners have been compensated and that any time soon, the projects promised to them by the government will commence.
“So far, we have secured land for Gulu youth skilling centre; formally, it was meant for Gulu IBP and I am happy that the Office of the President took it up and has fully compensated the landowners,” he said.
“They have constructed a functional youth skilling centre with 220 students being skilled in various areas and they are being accommodated within the facility. We have fully compensated the land owners in Oding parish Okomker Village, Onyama Sub-county,” Mr Opiyo said.
He, however, said the rest of the land remains redundant.
In April 2022, while touring the park, Ms Jane Barekye, the State House comptroller, urged leaders in Acholi Sub-region to take interest and support the zonal industrial hub since it will positively impact the lives of the people in the region, particularly the youth.
“We also have programmes that will enable farmers to add value to their products like maize milling, depending on what is majorly produced in each region,” she said.
Ms Barekye explained that maize farmers can process their maize, sell the product and as well get livestock and poultry feed. She added that even metal fabricators will be able to use the machinery at the hub free-of-charge.
Ms Barekye further told leaders of Acholi Sub-region that a four-acre model farm will be established and crops that do well will be grown for farmers to learn how to utilise a small piece of land by practicing intensive modern and calculated agriculture for wealth creation.
She revealed that 300 learners would be trained every six months across two semesters each year.
In Nebbi, the district leadership has secured a land title for the 500 acres of land that the community of Omvuro offered to UIA to set up an industrial park to spur development in the area.
Mr Emmanuel Urombi, the district chairperson, said UIA will undertake the feasibility study for the park, develop a masterplan and provide all the utilities, including electricity, water and communication lines, for the investors.
Earlier this year, Ms Anite said the investment hub will attract business from DR Congo and South Sudan.
Mr Alex Gidaga, the district chairperson for Angal-Nyaravur Town Council, said: “We are mobilising local farmers to immediately start identifying some of potential targeted crops to suit the demand for factories since markets will be available.”
The clan leader of Omvoru community, Mr Ceaser Ocakere, urged the government to establish vocational institutions for the community who offered land for investment and also uplift the standards of the existing primary school to prepare the young ones to benefit from the industrial park.
In Masaka City, construction of the industrial hub located in Kiyimbwe Village, Nyendo/Mukungwe Municipality, is in the final stages, according to the Resident City Commissioner, Mr Ronald Katende. He said: “The civil works are at almost 90 percent and they are hopeful that before the end of the year, the structures will be ready for commissioning.”
According to him, the hub will offer six-month hands-on training to the youth in the Masaka Sub-region and they will be leaving the institution well-equipped with several vocational skills that will help them to become self-employed. “The institution will be offering 13 free courses and everything will be offered at the school for free for the entire six months of the training, fully sponsored by the government,” he said.
“We expect the institution will help in equipping the youth in the sub-region with necessary skills, but we still have to do much to ensure that the area gets more factories and industries which will help in raising more revenue for the city,” he added.
However, another 1.5 square mile site at Mazigo in Bukakkata Sub-county, which was gazzetted as an industrial park six years ago, has since remained idle and is used as a cattle grazing ground.
This publication has learnt that local leaders failed to agree with Chinese investors who had earlier expressed interest in redeveloping the agro processing industrial park, with Mr Katende explaining that UIA is still looking for new prospective investors to develop the industrial park.
In other areas such as Mubende and Kayunga, where industrial hubs have been established, the projects are moving on smoothly and recently had their first intake, admitting students who are offering courses in catering, bakery, weaving, tailoring, carpentry, welding, shoe making, stone cutting and ceramics.
In Jinja City, the construction of Kiira Motors factory in Kagogwa Village is taking course as a government priority.
Mr Elijah Madoi, the Jinja Resident District Commissioner, said prior to its start, the government had dreams for job creation, which have already commenced.
“I can confirm that people are already working at the construction site of Kiira Motors factory, which is an achievement as earlier planned because the purpose of setting up factories in different areas is for jobs creation,” Mr Madoi said.
He added that at the moment, about 300 people have been employed as porters and supervisors.
Compiled by Philip Wafula, Abubaker Kirunda, Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Malik Fahad Jjingo, Patrick Okaba, Teddy Dokotho, Robert Muhereza & Leonard Mbishinzimana