Industrial parks: A key driver for our economy

Morrison Rwakakamba

What you need to know:

The target of $500 billion, which will swing Uganda effectively into a first world country, will mean full exploitation of economic potential in the following areas according to available simulations and datasets.

The optimism around super power potential for Uganda is ripe and our leaders and communities at all levels are immersed in debate and actions on how to achieve geometric economic growth and become a first world country in our lifetime. Those late to the party need to show up.

In nominal terms, Uganda’s ambition to grow her economy 10-fold translates into an average annual growth rate of 17 percent per annum over a 14-year period (2024/25-2037/38) as opposed to a 10-year period. Put simply, Uganda has to double the size of her GDP every 5 years for it to reach US$500 billion before 2040.This is a data driven consensus across Uganda’s economists and public policy  professionals.

Over the past decade, Uganda’s economic growth has averaged 4.7 percent per annum, which is lower than the average growth of 7.3 percent in the previous decade.

From where I seat now, the economic growth view is panoramic. The minimum base for catapult of the economy is very solid and concrete. There are clear and present opportunities that have potential and agility to grow Uganda’s economy to 17 percent annually at least for 14 years,  generate billions,  jobs and deliver inclusive prosperity.

Uganda, through a correct and deliberate industrial policy has built an investment land bank of 75 square miles across the Country to establish fully serviced industrial parks (Industrial electricity, water, roads, fibre optics and industrial waste facilities)  presenting a competitive and huge infrastructure base to add value to agriculture products (boosted by Parish Development Model), minerals, forestry products – and produce knowledge products like electronics, phones, computers, medicines, petro-chemicals, establishment of data and logistics centres and other diverse products with an estimated 2.5 million rewarding jobs in the medium and long term. The industrial parks will also bolster and harness new sources of growth like industrial scale skills formation, emerging technologies and consolidation of markets in the region, Africa and beyond.

To put the foregoing into perspective  - on technology and innovations, real action is already self-evident in functional industrial parks. For example, the development of a single HIV pill by Quality Chemicals Ltd, Anti-malarial paint by Plascon Uganda Limited, Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) transformers by Orion Electricals and Transformers Ltd,  Roofings Rebar plant with reinforced high tensile steel, Fei Long Investment Ltd recycling of plastic into fabric and East African Medical Vitals producing the first powder free surgical gloves. Fridges and Generators are now manufactured locally by Afford Agencies Ltd, Orion Electricals, Transformers Ltd and Steema Transformers and Electricals Ltd USD.

The target of $500 billion, which will swing Uganda effectively into a first world country, will mean full exploitation of economic potential in the following areas according to available simulations and datasets. Agro-industry will have to achieve a target of $20 billion from the current $1.08 billion per annum. Mineral based industries will have to deliver a target of $20 billion from current $1.5 billion. Tourism is another low hanging sector that will have to deliver a target of  $50 billion from current $2 billion revenue (The current value of global tourism is at $9.5 trillion). Relevant government agencies and private sector actors will need to urgently combine efforts to map and execute the journey to achieve the targets.

To seamlessly hit the targets – there are perquisites and constants that government will have to remain focussed on: Investments in economic and social infrastructure (energy, urban roads, trunk roads, community access roads, tourism roads, standard gauge railway,  marine transport and internet), research, science, technology and human capacitation through robust education investments, skilling and health.

Finally the adaptive work of consolidating the prerequisites; i.e. national security, macro-economic stability, rule of law and order, effective public sector accountability, supportive policies to private sector and deepening of democracy must continue. It’s embedded.

Mr Morrison Rwakakamba, is a farmer, businessman and Chairman of Uganda Investment Authority.