By Samuel Sanya
The Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) is setting up a $2m (sh5.2b) plant to produce and export ready ceramic and porcelain assorted products.
When complete, the plant will also be used as a demonstration and training facility for the development of both small cottage family factories and larger ceramic and porcelain factories.
China is the largest trader of ceramics in the world, with total trade of $8.5b (sh22trillion) in 2008 followed closely by Italy, US and Germany.
The US is also the largest importer; buying tiles, cups, plates and other products worth $5.4b (sh14trillion) in 2008. UIRI also has plans of setting up an iron ore enrichment facility.
UIRI has a plant in Kasese that exports Irish potatoes to Europe. A separate facility produces button mushrooms for export. The government body also makes poultry vaccines and is soon making livestock vaccines.
“Our budgetary allocation should be raised from sh13b to sh20b for us to achieve our short term goals,” Dick Kamugasha, a director at UIRI pointed out during a tour of the facilities.
UIRI currently has a budgetary allocation of sh13b to develop Uganda’s industrial sector. Budget estimates for the financial year 2014/15 indicate that the budgetary allocations to the government entity will be cut to sh8b.
Dr.Vinand Nantulya, a clinical medicine researcher noted that cottage factories have the potential to usher Uganda into first world status.
“Large economies like Switzerland depend on small family cottage factories; it is not about the mega industries. We need to change our education system and teach more practical vocational skills to create jobs and export more to support the economy,” he noted.
Allen Kagina, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) boss pointed out that higher funding to UIRI and the growth of cottage factories will increase income tax collections in the medium term.