Activists call out govt to enable environment for Industrialization to thrive

Kampala, (UG):- Government has been challenged to make concerted efforts to create an enabling environment if Uganda’s economy is to soar through industrialisation, value addition and manufacturing. This is according to Mr Yunus Masaba, a Ugandan Serial business Entrepreneur and Investor, Diplomat, Founder and CEO of Mas Group Africa.

Masaba posting through his Facebook page noted that for Uganda’s economy to soar, a strategic focus on industrialization, value addition, and manufacturing is imperative. “Embracing the policy of import substitution will be pivotal in attracting both foreign and local investments into the manufacturing sector,” he said.

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“However, to realize this vision, concerted efforts must be made to create an enabling environment. This includes ensuring a stable power supply and implementing a credit system with attractive interest rates. A reliable power supply with affordable tariffs will lure investors, while favorable interest rates will facilitate easy access to capital”, he added.

On the issue of implementing a credit system with attractive interest rates, President Yoweri Museveni yesterday, June 6, 2024, while delivering the State of the Nation address to Parliament at Kololo Independence Grounds as per Article 101 (1) of Uganda’s Constitution said, “The situation of the inexperienced, careerist minded leaders who do not listen to the advice of the NRM, is further complicated by the blood thirsty parasites in the form of the unregulated money lenders who charge extortionate interest rates from these desperate political actors when they come to borrow money for unuseful expenditures”.

He added, “I have already directed the Minister of Finance to cap the interest rates chargeable by money lenders. The inflation rate in Uganda is 3%. Why should the commercial Banks charge 20% interest? How about the money lenders charging 36% or more? This is pure extortion. The PDM and Emyooga funds are going to become the poor people’s banks, able to lend at 12% or less after 24 months. I have already directed the attorney–general to guide the Minister of Finance as to how he can criminalize this extortion”.

In his post, Masaba says industrialization and value addition not only create employment opportunities but also contribute to narrowing trade deficits. “It’s essential to encourage foreign investors to engage in local partnerships to build capacity. A nation solely reliant on foreign investment without local involvement risks heavy profit repatriation, hindering meaningful development”.

The President also in his speech highlighted the three historical missions of their movement as: prosperity for the African people including the people of Uganda; strategic security for the African people; and taking advantage of the brotherhood of the African people, to achieve the first two missions said, “How was the prosperity of the African people to be achieved? Could it be achieved through begging for foreign aid as some were emphasizing? The answer is: “NO”. Our conclusion was that, prosperity could only come from each adult person engaging in producing a good or a service, sustainably and selling it”.

“If he or she does so with ekibaro (maximizing profits), he or she will be prosperous. Since individuals cannot effectively work alone, the different zones of the country are always encouraged to specialize in given clusters of products or services. It is this realization, that led us to distil our first NRM principle – Patriotism – love Uganda”, he added.

According to Mr Museveni, “Why love Uganda? It is because you need it for your prosperity in the form of the market. When you produce a good or service, the next question is: “Who will buy the good or service and in sufficient quantities to guarantee the prosperity of the wealth creator?” One of the factors we realized, was that, normally, people of the same tribe or same locality, produce similar products. Hence, they do not easily buy from one another. It is the people from other parts of the country, that produce different products that buy the wealth creators’ products. Therefore, the opportunists that promote sectarianism and parochialism, are enemies of the wealth creators, starting with their relatives. They are pseudo-prophets (ba nabi b’ebishuba)”.

The President further elaborated that, “The historical mission of prosperity, pushed us to discover the second NRM ideological principle – that of Pan-Africanism. Love East Africa, Love Africa. Why? It is because you need them for your prosperity, other issues aside. When wealth creators get serious with production, when they increase the production of goods and services, the internal market is no longer enough. We need the East African market, we need the African market and we need the global market”.

“Since the recovery of the economy of Uganda, we have seen this. Our production of sugar is now 600,000 metric tonnes. However, the internal market is only 380,000 metric tonnes. Who is to buy the surplus sugar of 220,000 metric tonnes? The milk production is now 5.3billion litres. Who is to buy the extra – 4.5 billion litres since the internal demand is only 800million litres? The cement production is now 6.4 million metric tonnes and yet the internal demand is 2.4 million tonnes, he continued”.

Emphasing African Unity Museveni says, “Who is buying the surplus? How about the steel products? The internal demand is 1.5 million metric tonnes, yet annual production of steel products (mitayimbwa etc.), although still at 610,000 metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 890,000 metric tonnes, it will soon be about 3 million metric tonnes with the new vertically integrated steel industries, using the high-grade obutare (iron ore) of Muko in the Rubaanda area. Who will buy that surplus steel?

The products of the new vertically integrated factories will completely wipe out the need for importing high quality steel for hydro-power dams, the railway, high-rise buildings, etc., that need very strong steel different from the steel of the recycled steel products from scrap metal.”

“Even now, we also import steel ingots and add value. Some of this steel is re-exported to the region. The answer for all these questions is that, it is, mainly, East and Central Africa that are buying the surplus. The COMESA area is buying goods and services worth USD 2.157 billion from Uganda”.

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