Uganda Manufacturers applauded a promise by the country’s president Yoweri Museveni to lower electricity tariffs as a measure of boosting local production for export and create employment.
Speaking at the 24th International Trade Show organised by Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) in the capital Kampala, Museveni, who has been at the helm of the country’s affairs for the last 30 years said will engage technocrats to reduce tariffs from $11 cents to $5 cents.
“Power from Nalubale Power Station is $1 cent while Bujagali Power Station is $11 cents. I negotiated with Bujagali owners when I was in New York and they have agreed to bring it down to $7 cents. But through my own tricks, I will bring it down to $5 cents,” Museveni said.
He said the “…[reduced]tariff is only for manufactures and maybe people in the hotel industry and not for preachers at night, Nsenene (grasshoppers) hunters and dancers in night clubs,” he said, without setting timelines of the new tariffs.
Prudence Ukkonika, the managing director, K-Roma Ltd and other manufacturers hailed the initiative saying it will increase her productivity and lower the cost of doing business in the country.
“I am optimistic that if power [costs]go down, I will make a saving and invest it in expanding my business.” she said.
Ukkunika however said she was not happy with UMA management for not considering women exhibitors as the overall winners since the theme was on women.
Paresh Shukla, the managing director of Simba Automotives Ltd, said lowering power tariffs is one way to fast-track Uganda’s desire to achieve Middle Income status by 2020. “This is long overdue for the manufacturing sector,” he said.
Fred Ssegujja, the marketing manager, Alinile.com company said: “This is one of the incentives manufactures have been missing. After this we could look at enlarging the market.”
Earlier, the President told manufacturers to consider using power during off-peak hours because the costs are lower and favour them. “You (manufacturers), use power from 6pm to 10pm when Ugandans are still awake. Why don’t you work at night?”
Museveni’s offer came upon a request by UMA chairman Amos Nzeyi. He also requested government to buy local products. The President promised to ensure that these are request is implemented. He said the move would save about $2b spent on imports annually.
“Importers who bring in goods and later export it will not benefit from government guarantee. The government guarantee will only be for exporters of local products,” Museveni said, adding: “We restored security, there is peace, we have constructed roads and we will also buy your products. The only challenge remaining is corruption. Report those corrupt officials and see what will happen to them,” the President added.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde called for recapitalization of Uganda Development Bank and making women entrepreneurs a priority for loans.
Source: Daily Monitor