President Yoweri Museveni said the launch of Atiak Sugar Factory, apart from helping stabilize the prices of sugar in Uganda and boosting export stock, comes with a lot of spillover effects.
The president on Thursday evening commissioned the Amuru district-based factory, which is owned by the entrepreneur Amina Moghe Hersi and the government, which holds 41% stake through the Uganda Development Corporation.
According to Museveni, the factory employs 2,000 workers and impacts more than 20,000 people and their families.
“The neighbors who have sim sim, malakwang, potatoes and other things have got market for their goods from the factory workers,” he said.
“Therefore, when you get a factory like this, please support it. Even if it does not directly employ you, there are many spill-over benefits. The nearby shops, schools, and other facilities will all benefit.”
Museveni said local leaders are obsessed with the ownership of factories as opposed to boosting production in the region, an attitude he says works to frustrate development.
“When you hear Ugandans talk about factories of the Indians, that is total confusion; If I go to India and build a factory, that factory belongs to India,” he said.
“You local politicians wasted a lot of time-fighting development; people are fighting development; somebody brings what you do not have and you say that you do not want it.”
President Museveni noted that the sugarcane used in the factory will be grown by people near it.
“Each of these families will have five acres ploughed and planted for them by the factory. The families will look after the cane and will each earn Shs18 million after 18 months,” he said.
He said the government will build a bridge on River Aswa to reduce the distance people move to bring sugar to the factory from 175km to 36km.
“The bridge will be built so that the part of the project which is on the Lamwo side will be directly linked with the one on Atiak side. This will save the money of the farmers in transport,” he said.
Located in Atiak near the Uganda-South Sudan border, the factory seeks to use its proximity to the vast South Sudan market and also wade into the DR Congo.
According to the ministry of trade, the sugar industry produces 510,000 metric tons and local consumption is 360,000 metric tons per annum.
However, Uganda has recently encountered challenges with some of the key buyers of sugar like Tanzania, which has lowered its appetite, taking in only 20,000 metric tonnes annually and Kenya which limited sugar moving into its country to support local manufacturers.
The factory will also produce ethanol, animal feeds and other by-products.