Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and sister agency National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) have today registered a significant milestone – the breaking of the ground for construction of an ICT Assembling Factory at Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) at Namanve.
The ICT plant, which will manufacture and assemble mobile phones (Simi models), laptops, desktops and other ICT products, is the brainchild of Engo Holdings, a Chinese investor. UIA was instrumental in attracting the firm, which already has a plant in Ethiopia.
Speaking at the ceremony, James Saka, the Executive Director of NITA-U, said the plant will greatly reduce Uganda’s dependence on imported ICT products (including mobile phones), adding that the timing of the plant is right because it will propel more aggressive growth within the ICT sector. Saka said the ICT plant will boost economic growth and development and help in building local capacity through transfer of ICT knowledge, skills and expertise.
UIA Chair of the Board of Directors, Dr Emely Kugonza, accompanied by the Board members and top Managers, described the plant as a great milestone, recalling how UIA lured the investor and even visited their plant in Ethiopia to do due diligence. Dr Kugonza assured Engo Holdings of UIA’s strong support, adding that Namanve is now changing the industrial face of Uganda. Dr Kugonza applauded Investment Minister, Evelyne Anite, for doing a fantastic job in attracting investments, concluding that Uganda is the best investment destination in Africa.
The Executive Director of Engo Holdings (part of Simi Group), Ares, said the favourable government policy on ICT attracted them to Uganda, promising that they will transfer unique ICT knowledge and skills to Ugandans. Ares said their approach is to focus on technology which is useful and relevant to the Ugandan context, citing the solar-powered mobile phones as an example. He said they want Simi’s hi-tech products to be part of the Ugandan experience. Ares hailed Minister Anite for the strong support she has and continues to render to the company. He assured the country that they have great confidence that the ICT project will be successful.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Zheng Zhuqiang, in a statement read to the audience, said Uganda now ranks third in Africa in recipients of foreign direct investments (FDI). He said more and more Chinese investors are now setting shop in Uganda, citing the developers of Liao Shen Industrial Park in Kapeeka and Mbale Industrial Park as some of the examples.
Investment Minister Anite said she was very excited to have the first ICT plant set shop in Uganda, applauding President Yoweri Museveni for tirelessly ensuring that the environment is ripe for investors. Minister Anite applauded UIA and NITA-U for pulling this investment off, adding that it was great joy to have mobile phones and laptops produced in Uganda. The Minister said the plant will reduce Uganda’s import bill on ICT products and boost export earnings.
The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, thanked Engo Holdings for choosing Uganda. Minister Tumwebaze urged Simi Mobile to consider integrating locally developed software into their products. He said there is a need for the company to be supported especially through local procurement of their products.
Minister Tumwebaze congratulated UIA for, as he put it, “finally making Namanve Industrial Park functional and contributing to the economic and industrial transformation of Uganda”. He challenged the media to pick interest in the developments at Namanve, other industrial parks and other positive things taking place in Uganda.
Once the speeches were over, the Ministers and other dignitaries broke the ground, heralding a new chapter in Uganda’s ICT industrial development.