Local products gain popularity as Uganda’s manufacturing sector expands

Mr. Paul Zhang, Chairman of Tian Tang Group, Mr. Luke Wang, CEO of Uhome, and officials from China come together to celebrate Uhome’s commitment to exceptional customer service and cutting-edge electronics (PHOTO/UG Standard)

KAMPALA – Uganda is becoming a manufacturing hub unlike before when it used to import everything as though it was a supermarket of the world,” Ms Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment and Privatisation posted on her X, formerly Twitter earlier this week.

Through industrialization and import substitution, the government embarked on a campaign to increase the consumption and production of locally manufactured products. This is also aimed at encouraging economic transformation.

Moving around Kampala, many Ugandans say they have, of late picked up interest in local products, and shopkeepers admit an increase in demand for homegrown products as well.

President Museveni and Minister of State for Investment Evelyn Anite

At Arena Mall, UHome Uganda, it is always a busy place as smiling salespeople welcome customers coming in while others are seen moving out after buying goods.

UHome has been selling locally manufactured and assembled products from Sino-Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park for some time and to those using the Nsambya route, it is the preferred shopping destination for goods such as pillows, home appliances, and electronics among others.

One of the salespeople revealed that there is an increase in the demand for local products and this is attributed to good quality and affordability.

In a bid to encourage the consumption of locally produced goods and spur economic growth, the government introduced the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy in 2014 to give prominence to domestically manufactured products.

One of the key players in promoting the BUBU policy is the industrial parks, which aim to advance Uganda’s industrialisation, catalyze import substitution, and promote exports.

Col. Edith Nakalema head of State House Investor Protection Unit addressing local investors and policy makers during a meeting at her offices in Kampala on Wednesday. PHOTO/PPU

In 2018, President Museveni launched the Sino-Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park which is one of the facilities that the government is banking on to drive its industrial agenda as stipulated in the NRM’s manifesto.

Currently, the industrial park has 28 operational factories out of the 48 planned factories, five are under construction and 12 are assembling plants and machinery.

The industrial park actively responded to the government’s BUBU policy call and made every effort to purchase raw materials locally as well as add value addition.

Mr Paul Zhang, Chairman of Tian Tang Group, said the Industrial Park’s Printing and Dyeing factory plans to achieve 100 percent localisation of raw materials in 3-5 years, and by the end of 2028 at the latest, the printing and dyeing factory will be using Ugandan local cotton for its textile factory which also manufacturers jeans.

Local industrialization makes it easier for companies to manufacture products in bulk. By making goods more readily available, industrialization makes them more affordable. When the demand for a product is high, local companies have the responsibility of keeping up with it by producing an adequate supply. With fewer products on the market, exporting companies charge more so they can earn more profits.

Mr. Paul Zhang (2nd left) and his entourage, meet President Yoweri Kagura Museveni 3rd left) in September 2019.

Some of the products produced and needed by Ugandans at the industrial park include steel, televisions, mobile phones, electric meters, small appliances, diapers, jeans, mattresses, and home textile products among others.

Since these goods are produced locally, they are affordable on the market. This has made Uganda’s cost of living low because the products are accessible and sold cheaply compared to the imported ones.

The introduction of a large number of strong and technologically advanced factories from China has greatly enhanced Uganda’s industrial manufacturing strength and increased government tax revenue.

The increased use of machinery in manufacturing facilities creates an increased demand for labour. Currently, the industrial park has provided jobs to many Ugandans in different capacities.

The industrial park directly provides more than 5,000 jobs and indirectly drives employment of 30,000 people. In the future, the industrial park will provide more than 20,000 jobs hence improving on the welfare of many Ugandan workers.

In 2023, President Museveni inaugurated 16 new factories at the Sino Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park, highlighting the significance of new textile facilities.

President Museveni inaugurated 16 new factories at the Sino Uganda-Mbale Industrial Park, highlighting the significance of new textile facilities.

He stressed the need to stop importing second-hand clothes and support domestic industries instead.

“Industrialisation is the pathway to a modern society,” President Museveni said, noting that the new factories would produce items such as electric cables, meters, clothes, and LED lights, reducing imports and creating jobs.

Ms Anite emphasized the role of industrialisation in decreasing Uganda’s reliance on imports and increasing exports.


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