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UIA enters $70 billion development deal with Malaysian firm

Jolly Kaguhangire

Uganda Investment Authority has entered a multi-billion deal with a Malaysian firm with an aim of transforming the country into a green economy by 2040 through a series of four integrated green projects led by bio-fuels.

The $70bn project will be implemented by Bionas East Africa Group Limited, a subsidiary of Bionas Agropolitan Technology Corridor (BATC) Development Berhad.

The implementation will be through a public-private partnership on a build-operate-transfer model. According to a memorandum of understanding signed by the UIA executive director Jolly Kaguhangire with Bionas on February 23, 2018, after 25 years, the investors will leave and everything will go back to the government.

BATC has already secured $15.4 billion of private debt investment and equity.

In a press briefing this morning, Kaguhangire said the four projects will include Jatropha Agropolitan Business Corridor Clusters Development, a program that will serve as a vehicle to operationalize the Uganda Biofuel Act of 2016. Jatropha are trees used for the production of biofuel, biodiesel and glycerol, for industrial, energy and transport applications.

The other project will involve development of green townships and at least 1.4 million pre-engineered affordable housing units.

The entire project is going to be sub-divided into 240 blocks (centres of excellence) in 120 districts which will eventually transform Uganda into the bio-fuel-based economy. At least 1.8 million jobs will be created in the process.

The BATC international construction consortium will bring in 100 per cent investment for all the projects. It will also provide a certified regime of the best technologies of Jatropha Curcas seeds, nursery and plantations systems, press mill, bio-addictives and biofuels production.

It will further provide expertise to train local technical team, provide guidance on project implementation and deliverables, ensure technology collaboration and transfer model and conduct train the trainers program in selected centres of excellence.

At today’s press briefing, officials from Bionas East Africa said each block will measure ten square kilometers and accommodate at least 1,000 farmers.

Every participating district will have at least two blocks, which will be created in phases. After every 15 blocks created, there will be a three months’ break.

UIA has initiated discussions with the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development as well as that of local government for land allocation.

Kaguhangire, however, urged Ugandans to collaborate and provide land for the project to run in their areas because the development is people-centred.

At every block, there will be schools, hospitals and other business uncommon in rural areas. Above all, rural electrification is one of the main objectives of this project.

As a strategy for climate change mitigation, a total of 4.12 billion Jatropha trees will be planted within the 240 blocks.

“The rural areas are going to be turned in to mini-cities and that is in line with Uganda’s Vision 2040 and the National development plan II, she said.

This is not the first time this is happening in Africa. The Bionas team has already started work in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad and Sudan.

According to Bionas, the project will be implemented by a consortium of 21 Malaysian and six Chinese companies with various required expertise.
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