KAMPALA, UGANDA: President Museveni has promised to create two million jobs in five years from 25 industrial parks to be established in various parts of the country.
For every one job in the formal sector, there are about 50 jobless people struggling for it. Such is the youth unemployment situation in Uganda.
The Covid-19 situation has worsened the country’s unemployment situation with some labour experts putting the number of unemployed people jostling for a single job to 100.
In respect to the presidential directive, a joint team from the ministries of Industry, Investment and Local Government, with officials from Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is looking for 12, 500 acres of land to construct industrial parks across the country.
The team comprised of the State Minister for Industry, also Ndorwa County West MP, Mr David Bahati, State Minister for Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, and State Minister for Local Government, Mr Victoria Rusoke, is on a fact-finding mission in Western Uganda to assess the readiness for the establishment of the industrial parks.
Yesterday, the ministers secured 620 acres of land in Kisoro District where they explored the linkage between industry and tourism. The land located at Kibaya.
However, this is higher than the target of 500 acres per district earmarked to host an industrial park.
“We have been instructed to create 2,000,000 jobs in five years and boost household incomes. Industrialisation is the pathway to job and wealth creation, a catalyst for production and improved household income and a sure route to middle-income status,” Mr Bahati said.
“We are pleased with the enthusiasm and interest the district leadership in the places we have been, have shown to the matter of identifying land for the establishment of Industrial Parks. This industrial park alone will create a total of 2,000 jobs for our people,” he added.
The completion of Kisoro project will bring the number of industrial parks to 32.
Currently, there are eight business parks across the country, including Namanve, Bweyogerere, Luzira, Kasese, Mbarara, Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, and Karamoja.
However, UIA also supports five private industrial parks in Kapeeka, Lugazi, Buikwe, and Mukono District.
The creation of two million jobs would mean each of the 25 industrial parks will employ at least 80, 000 people per year. This is 20 percent of the UIA target to create 400,000 jobs a year through industrial parks development.
Investment minister Anite told the Kisoro District leadership that the industrial parks will be for both domestic and foreign investors.
She said the focus will be on the equitable and regional distribution of industrial parks.
“Benefits of industrial parks development include employment creation, revenue generation, promotion of import substitution and exports, transfer of knowledge and skills, industrial efficiencies, and enjoying economies of scale,” Ms Anite said.
She added: “Industrialisation would translate into much-needed jobs, especially for young people, value addition to local raw materials, increased government revenues, and sustainable economic development.”
“In establishing the industrial parks, UIA ensures that critical infrastructures like roads, industrial power and water, ICT and waste management facilities are in place to ease the setup of investment projects.”
Minister Bahati revealed that the tour was to help identify the land in the western region.
“The strategic location of the region bordering three countries, Rwanda, Tanzania and DR Congo makes industrialisation here a key driver for promoting regional integration, peace, and stability,” Mr Bahati said.
In Mbarara, Mr Robert Mukiza, the director-general of UIA, said the team that met political and business leaders was shown an area that has been earmarked for establishing the park.
Mr Mukiza said they handed over the industrial park for small-medium enterprises to Getsby investors.
In Kabale, Mr Mukiza indicated that district leaders informed the team that with high population density in the region, industries will be a game-changer for the area’s development.
“This project government has undertaken in equal distribution of industries across the country as it is attached to the parish development plan. It also helps the locals to sell their merchandise in terms of raw materials in addition to job creation. It creates that forward and backward chain link,” he said.
The President also encouraged the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), the business arm of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to partner with UIA.
This, according to officials, is an implementation of the National Development Plan III (NDPIII) whose theme for the strategic plan 2020 to 2025 is “Accelerating Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment for Sustainable Industrialisation.”
The government through the UIA returned the 12 acres of land in Mbarara Industrial Park to Gatsby Club, a consortium of small scale and medium-enterprise entrepreneurs in Mbarara city.
This was on Tuesday during a ceremony attended by Ms Anite and various leaders.
The land in question had been taken over by the East African Development Bank, when the owners (Gatsby Club) defaulted a Shs2.5b loan.
But in 2019, UIA intervened and cleared the bank loan.
Ms Anite said the government intervention was in the spirit of uplifting the activities of small scale and medium enterprises in Mbarara.
“The government came in to save and support the small scale and medium enterprises, and to above all add value to locally produced goods,” she said.
UIA, however retained the land title of the park and set new for the entrepreneurs to fulfill including value addition and job creation.
During the last general elections, the entrepreneurs appealed to President Museveni to have the land returned to them.
Mr Mukiza said: “UIA has appreciated the interests of Gatsby and we associate with them. We are ready to do what it takes to make them realise their entrepreneurial dreams.”
Distribution of industrial parks
Western: Kisoro, Mbarara, Kasese, Rukungiri, Bushenyi and Kabaale,
Central: Masaka, Mubende, Nakaseke, Luwero, Nakasongola and Kyankwanzi
Eastern: Tororo, Soroti, Mbale, Moroto, Iganga, Jinja and Kamuli
North: Arua, Gulu, Pakwach, Koboko, Lira and Moroto