By Moses Walubiri
KENYAN president Uhuru Kenyatta used his tour of Quality Chemicals yesterday to root for industrialization in the budding East African Community (EAC) bloc as a sure means of hauling majority of people from poverty.
Kenyatta who arrived in Uganda on Saturday for a three-day state visit toured the pharmaceutical industry located in Luzira – a Kampala suburb – in the company of trade minister, Ameria Kyambadde, health minister, Dr. Richard Nduhura and Uganda's ambassador to Kenya, Angelina Wapakhabulo.
"You have all our support. For us, industrialization, not only of Kenya, but the entire EAC – Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania – is high on our agenda," Uhuru told Quality Chemical's top brass led by its executive chairman, Emanuel Katongole.
Uhuru said indigenous manufacturer like Quality Chemicals should endeavor to produce quality products in order to favorably compete with imported products in the market.
Earlier, Uhuru had commended Quality Chemicals for producing cheaper antiretroviral and malaria drugs that have become accessible to individuals that would ordinarily not have afforded them.
"I believe that production at a larger scale can create economies of scale and ultimately reduce the cost of production. Otherwise, congratulations to Quality Chemicals," Uhuru said.
The chairman Quality Chemicals, Emmanuel Katongole talks to the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta after he toured the factory in Luzira. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba
In his earlier remarks, Katongole had asked Uhuru to help Quality Chemicals secure a sizeable market in Kenya through buying its drugs.
Underscoring the importance of the budding regional bloc in terms of fostering trade, Katongole extolled Uhuru for supporting "intra-Africa trade."
Katongole reeled off a number of milestones achieved by Quality Chemicals since its inception, picking out its integral role in reducing malaria related mortality rate.
"Before Quality Chemicals came on the scene, Uganda used to lose an estimated 400 people every day from malaria. That is no longer the case," Katongole said.
Established in 2007, Quality Chemicals Limited (QCL) is among the very few pharmaceutical companies in Africa that manufacture triple-combination antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
The factory initially was a joint venture between QCL, the government of Uganda, and the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla. In 2009, TLG Capital invested an undisclosed amount of money in the project.
Later, Capital works Investment Partners, a private equity firm based in South Africa, also became a shareholder in the pharmaceutical plant.
Although in 2010, government of Uganda divested itself from QCL by selling its shares, the pharmaceutical company has become a lifeline to millions of HIV positive people in Uganda and the surrounding countries in need of antiretroviral drugs.
Meanwhile, Uhuru will this morning address the Ugandan parliament. Uhuru will become the first foreign dignitary since Queen Elizabeth of England addressed the eighth parliament in 2007 during the commonwealth heads of government meeting in Kampala.