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Rugunda warns on huge import bill

Kiira Motors Corporation has been moved to Science, Technology and Innovation  moved to ministry of

Kiira Motors Corporation has been moved to Science, Technology and Innovation moved to ministry of

Officially, Kiira Motors Corporation has moved from the ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to the ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda presided as Amelia Kyambadde, the minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, handed over the ownership instruments of Kiira Motors to the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, on July 24.

Speaking at the handover in his Kampala office, Rugunda said the symbolic handover speaks to the cordial working relations among government ministries aimed at fostering economic growth and transformation of the country to middle-income status.

He said Uganda needs to scale down its import bill and balance its trade with the outside world. Uganda imports far more goods compared to what it exports, a situation the premier said must change.

He said Kiira Motors Corporation, the flagship for Mission Vehicles made in Uganda, is a very important national program of strategic importance that should be supported all the way, to deliver quality and affordable vehicles for the domestic, regional and international markets.

He said Uganda should leverage the newly created African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) by supplying high-quality affordable products. AFCFTA was created on the coat-tails of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. It is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

Rugunda observed that with a huge available market for cars, where 630,000 units are expected to be bought in the East African region annually by 2032, there is need to streamline Uganda’s automotive industry across the entire value chain so that Ugandans can be encouraged to make car parts and supply them to the Kiira Vehicle Plant in Jinja.

Asked in a separate interview why KMC has switched ministries, Rugunda said the transfer is an administrative change. He said KMC is better off under MOSTI, which has technical people to superintend the completion of negotiations with China.

“This is an objective transfer every Ugandan more so supporter of the government will benefit from with employment opportunities,” Ruganda said.

Amelia Kyambadde said; “Under my ministry, it was an overload but KMC managed to register major milestones that included the construction and installation of a 3.7km-long 33kV medium-voltage electricity line connecting the Kiira Vehicle Plant to the national electricity grid and installation of a 5.4km long 6- inch pipeline connecting the plant site to the Jinja municipal water supply system among others.”

Kyambadde said Kiira Motors Corporation’s (KMC) equity partners are Government of the Republic of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation holding 96% of the initial stock and Makerere University holding 4%.

Elioda Tumwesigye, who is now superintending over KMC, thanked President Yoweri Museveni for setting up the ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation because it has given hope to Ugandan innovators who hitherto had no known home.

He said apart from setting up MOSTI, government has gone ahead to provide an Innovation Fund of Shs 10bn for the financial year 2019/20 to support local innovators. The fund is expected to grow to a tune of Shs 500bn.

KMC CEO Paul Isaac Musasizi said that 324 Ugandans are employed at the Kiira Vehicle Plant construction site in Jinja. He said construction of key access roads and the start-up assembly Building are underway, with the latter at substructure level.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd