By Ronad Angarukamu
The move by the Government to hold investment summits in the different regions of the country is not only timely but also a direct indicator of our readiness as a country to consolidate and harness the opportunities and strength of the local talent and innovators in National development.
Previously, it has been fashionable that every serious industrial production must be supported and facilitated to operate from the Central region and in the surrounding areas, most notably Jinja and Kampala regional industrial areas.
Changing times facilitated by technology, human needs and emerging opportunities are rapidly tilting this school of thought. Essentially, an industry is best located where it can easily source raw materials and cheaper labor.
With the government’s strategic decision to mobilise land and develop industrial parks across the country, where a total of 25 Industrial Parks are planned for development, according to the Uganda Investment Authority, it’s important that our investors look beyond the comfort of Kampala and tap into opportunities in the upcountry.
There are a wide range of incentives available for domestic investments, including free land in the industrial parks, tax incentives and most importantly, business facilitation and aftercare services such as B2B and Market linkages, according to Mr. Robert Mukiza, the Director General at Uganda Investment Authority, the country’s lead agency in attracting and facilitating investments in the country.
The immediate and direct available opportunities in the upcountry are raw materials, local market that includes cross boarder trading now that the East African Community is more consolidated than before. For example, someone operating an industry in Kisoro or Kasese will be assured of both Market from Uganda and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Another most important opportunity is access to labor. We have lots of skilled and educated young people all over the country that have found it fashionable to migrate to Kampala and other urban centres in search of greener pastures. With growing domestic investments in the upcountry, these young people will easily find meaningful job opportunities and be more productive to both themselves and to their home districts.
Globally, successful development models show that domestic innovations and production have been key to transforming societies and rapidly bring economic development. These, supported by Foreign Direct Investments tap into global technological developments and skill sets, with Uganda more open to all these developments.
As noted by several scholars and development analysts, our societies continue to lag behind in production, largely owing to the high cost of capital, limited technology and skills. It’s important that the government continues to address these development ills through strategic direct involvement. The good news is that through several government agencies, skills development initiatives and industrial hubs development by the State House Presidential Industrial Hubs program will continue to bridge these gaps.
Through holding the regional investment summits, the local population and investors will get more involved and facilitated to identify and harness business opportunities in the regions.
As highlighted by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development at this month’s West Nile Investment Summit, we must grow industrial sector contribution to GDP from the current 27.4%. Uganda is the right place and this is the right time for investments.
Ronad Angarukamu is an Industrial Professional and an Independent Project Management Consultant.