By Joel Ogwang
SINCE opting for the private sector-led growth strategy to spearhead the attainment of Uganda’s growth and development aspirations, the government has, beyond its traditional policy and regulatory role, invested sufficient resources in creating a conducive environment that attracts investments, both local and foreign.
Privatisation and liberalisation are some of the policies Uganda adopted through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) led Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) in the early 1980s but whose real implementation kicked-off in the mid1980s early 1990s.
With a fair share of criticism and successes, these policies have been central to the realisation of a 6.5% average real economic growth Uganda has enjoyed over the past decade or so, and will be further critical to transforming Uganda from a peasantry to a modern and prosperous country as enshrined in the Uganda Vision 2040, the country’s strong growth and development blue –print, but requiring raising annual economic growth rate to 8.2%.
And, through the Public- Private Partnership (PPP), the government has not ceded its duty of financing infrastructure development, especially roads and energy that are key baits for capital in-flow, whilst not just passing on the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance functions to private contractors, but also attracting investments in trade, agriculture, oil & gas, tourism and mining, to mention but a few.
To this end, the government has gazetted 23 industrial parks intended to decongest the overtly saturated Kampala city and major towns. However, just creating and not servicing them is not enough!
Through a partnership between its agencies, the Uganda Investments Authority (UIA) and the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), the government has undertaken the development of roads in the parks, starting with the Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) at Namanve.
Recently, works and transport minister, Eng. Abraham Byandaala commissioned the upgrading to class II paved standard of 4km access roads complete with a seven meter asphalt concrete carriageway flanked by a meter shoulders.
Contracted to Aurecon AMEI Ltd and Spencon-Stirling joint venture as the engineer and contractors, respectively, the sh6b road will, at completion, start from the Kampala- Jinja mainline via UIA offices and terminate at the Roofings Ltd plant.
Already, Roofings Ltd is using a railway line that government extended to the park for importation of its raw materials.
“This (road construction) goes a long way in showing government’s commitment to only this (KIBP) project, but to support the development of a vibrant private sector and industrialising the nation,” Byandaala said.
“This road will not only serve Roofings, but all other industries that are planned in the park. I now urge all the other investors to come and start developing their land. Government is committed to developing infrastructure in this (and other) industrial parks.”
To safeguard the investment, the minister noted that axle load control and gross vehicle weights would be improved to keep roads maintenance requirements within manageable limits.
“I was worried anything (shuffle) could happen to me before the road is constructed but, now that I have delivered the railway-line and I am now delivering the road, I am a freeman,” he said.
On-going works on access roads at the KIBP in Namanve. Photo by Joel Ogwang
Eng. Ben Ssebbugga Kimeze, the acting UNRA executive director, noted that UIA was developing a well-diversified portfolio of industrial parks which will enable manufacturers benefit from regional comparative advantages, with KIBP the first to be developed.
UNRA’s long-term strategy geared at supporting the industrial park would involve the construction of the Kampala- Jinja expressway currently under procurement but commences in 2017, he noted.
“It goes without saying that well developed transport links to these planned parks underscore the success of these parks,” Kimeze said.
“And, it is against this background that this project was sanctioned. UNRA has also completed the design for upgrading to paved standard for the entire road link from Jokas hotel to Seeta, totalling 14kms,” Kimeze said.
Dr. Gabriel Ajedra, the investments state minister, noted that UNRA and its parent works and transport ministry were answering a plea Sikander Lalani, the Roofings managing director, made to President Yoweri Museveni during the commission of the second phase of its plant in Namanve.
“We are going to invest in infrastructure in all the 23 industrial parks, starting with KIBP which is still our priority. There is already electricity because the President always says without power, we can’t industrialise and water, now there will be a tarmac road.”
At completion, UIA will move to develop the roads and other infrastructure in the remaining 22 industrial parks in a move geared at increasing private sector competitiveness in the East African Community (EAC) bloc.
“Transforming the manufacturing industry can’t be done without partnering with the government. When the road is constructed, our priority will be water and electricity.
Lalani noted that Roofings Ltd had expanded its production capacity, with half of its 1, 000 metric tons of steel products utilised locally while the remainder is exported.
“Our biggest challenge is the fluctuation in power supply. With the commissioning of the road works, we hope power shortages are also addressed so that we increase our output further.”