Members of Parliament have tasked government to come up with a comprehensive plan on industrialisation for the country.
The prod follows presentation of a ministerial policy statement by the Minister of State for Trade, Hon David Bahati, on the commemoration of the Africa industrialisation Day and other matters related to the industrialisation agenda during plenary on Thursday, 18 November 2021.
The day is observed annually on 20 November to mobilise commitment of the international community to the industrialisation of Africa. This year’s celebration will be held on Friday, 19 November 2021 under the theme, “Promotion of Inclusive and Sustainable Local Manufacturing to Bolster Uganda’s Industrial Sector”.
Minister Bahati said industrialisation is the sure way to develop Uganda from a peasantry economy to a modern one.
The development strategy, he added, would unlock the potential of Africa by adding value to the abundant raw materials the continent is endowed with; and in turn create jobs, wealth and help the country to banish the demons of poverty that have belittled Africans for ages by putting money in the pockets of Ugandans.
The minister revealed that Cabinet approved the National Industrialisation Policy which will increase the manufacturing value added to gross domestic product from 8.3 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030.
However, MPs asked the Minister and government to ensure that industrialisation does not simply focus on foreign investors but also the locals.
Hon Geofrey Kayemba Ssolo (NUP, Bukomansimbi South County) said that whilst several foreign investors were exempted from paying taxes, they still underpay and exploit their workers, with some not even paying taxes.
“This does not favour local investors and Ugandans because they are over taxed and they run out of business. Government should favour local investors and give them incentives because they help Ugandans,” Kayemba said.
Hon Ibrahim Ssemujju, the Kiira Municipality MP, said that although the goal of the Industrialisation Day is to raise awareness on the strides made, the state of the roads are bad and not favourable for industrialisation.
“There are no roads in Namanve and that is supposed to be the main industrial park in the country, people have put up factories but all the roads are dusty”, Semujju said.
Rose Obigah (NRM, Terego) said government needs to zone the country based on what they produce as it promotes industrialisation.
“We need to zone this country; West Nile has been growing tobacco but we have now moved to growing soya beans and following a surplus production, the prices went down and the farmers made losses. We need to do a lot more for the people,” she said.
Aisa Agaba, the Bugangaizi East County MP, says that there is still a problem of lack of electricity and water in the country. “You are thinking of improving industrialisation but you are only in one place which is the Central, what will be done for the other regions,” Agaba questioned.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, asked the minister to address the challenges of roads, storage and electricity among others for Ugandans to benefit from industrialisation.
Hon Bahati pledged to return to the House with a comprehensive solution for the industrialisation of the country.