By Max Patrick Ocaido
Uganda will no longer have to import salt from Kenya after the establishment of Chinese-Ugandan consortium to re-develop Katwe Salt Project on Lake Katwe in Kasese district.
The consortium-Rwenzori Shining Star Limited was established following an investment agreement signed in April 22, 2018 between Chinese company Shining Star Group and Uganda’s Rwenzori Salt Industries with a shareholding of 51% and 49% respectively.
According to Capt Mike Mukula, one of the directors, this investment project worth $750m (over Shs2.7trillion) will come in four phrases, making it one of the largest private sector and foreign direct investment with several direct and indirect investments.
The project will also provide many jobs to people of Kasese and Uganda in general and also supply salt to the entire East African region and Africa at large. Construction works are expected to commence at the end of 2019 with Deloitte and Touche Company contracted to do comprehensive studies. Environmental impact assessment is ongoing, while deep analysis for survey exploration has been completed.
“We have had President Museveni on several occasions and recently signed an agreement in China. We are now inviting Uganda Development Corporation to join us. This will be a major game-changer in Uganda because we shall no longer be importing salt,” Mukula said.
The multibillion investment salt project which is renewable to perpetuity will use brine as raw material to set up a plant to produce refined salt of 50,000-100,000 tons per year as well as other byproducts. The plant will also produce industrial salt for processing of oil, produce phosphate which is one of the ingredients of fertilizers and as a secondary industry, the plant will also manufacture glass, paper, and batteries. It will also produce Chorine for water treatment for all National Water and Sewerage Corporation plants.
On November 27, 2018, government granted Rwenzori Shining Star Limited a 3year exploration license to prospect for salt in L.Katwe. Mukula added that despite the progress, the investment is faced by poor railway system for bulk transport and constant electricity supply. In a bid to resolve electricity supply, the consortium intends to develop a mini-hydro electric power station.
Located at Katwe Kabatoro Town Council, Kasese district, Lake Katwe is the biggest producer of salt in Uganda. The lake which is about 9km wide and shallow was formed as a result of volcanic eruption about 10,000 years ago. For several years, salt mining has been the main activity around L.Katwe and the industry has played a significant role in social and economic transformation before its collapse.
After its collapse, Uganda now spends billions of shillings on salt imported from neighboring Kenya. Katwe Salt Industry suffered its biggest downfall during Amin’s regime and efforts to recapitalize it through Uganda Development Corporation have been futile.
Upon completion of this project, Rwenzori sub-region is poised to be one of the biggest industrial hubs in the country following the establishment of several other investments in Kasese district. Among them include; vehicle assembling plant, Hima Cement Industries, Queen Elizabeth Park, Kilembe Mines, the country’s major producers of Cobalt and Copper