14 April 2017

Uganda: 'Industrial Parks to Be Functional in Four Years'

Kampala — With only one week in office, Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) executive director Jolly Kaguhangire has said the current state of affairs at UIA must change within her first 100 days.

"Our targets are so high for the end of the five years, according to the national development plan which is in line with our strategies. We cannot do things the same way," she said.

While speaking to journalists in a press conference at UIA headquarters in Kampala on Tuesday, Ms Kaguhangire cited target areas that will see Uganda transform into a top investment destination.

She said part of her strategy was to look into interests of Uganda, the needs of investors and look at UIA's internal capacity to take on a different approach to grow investment.

Top on her agenda is to ensure that industrial parks are functional. "Functional industrial parks covering four regions of the country will be developed by the end of four years, beginning with the completion of Kampala Industrial Business Park (KIBP) Namanve, Nakasongola and others," she said.

Boost in numbers

Uganda has nine industrial parks that are yet to be fully developed. However, Ms Kaguhangire said UIA's five-year plan is to have 22 operational industrial parks.

Talking to Daily Monitor last year, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) executive director Gideon Badagawa wondered why the industrial parks project that has ability to transform the fortunes of this economy is still dragging years after it was proposed.

He also said investors did not want to do business where the burden and cost of fixing social services are on their shoulders.

"We thought the industrial and business park where everything - power, water and railway lines, among other facilities, would be readily available. But this does not seem to be the case," he said.

At the time, UIA inspector of works Paul Echatu said only about four per cent of KIBP access roads were tarmacked. There was only one railway line. Power supply was not only irregular but also insufficient for the few businesses there. UIA data shows only 30 per cent have been connected, this being done on case by case basis.

Like power, only 30 per cent is connected to water. Concerning waste disposal facilities, the situation is even worse, considering that the cost of investments needed to fix it is more than the UIA annual budget.

Inadequate funding

Ms Kaguhangire explained that UIA's budget of up to Shs7.9b is limited to only covering UIA's operational costs. UIA would need up to Shs2 trillion, a budget that would ensure development of the industrial parks.

She wants to look into external forms of funding besides engaging ministry of finance to increase the budget.

Ms Kaguhangire says she intends to build investor confidence and strengthen processes at UIA. "Investor confidence cannot be built when you have poor services, delays in processes, we have to have professionalism in what we are doing," she said.

UIA is in the last stages of operationalising the one stop centre which should be functional at the end of June, according to Ms Kaguhangire. The move will boost ease of doing business by minimising delays suffered by investors.

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