By Herbert Kamoga.
About 36 years old in 1981, Yoweri Museveni the current president of the republic of Uganda had ambitions of leading Uganda. He couldn’t realize his dream through a democratic process because he had trailed in the
1980 presidential elections.
With a strong conviction that the person declared winner, Dr. Apolo Milton Obote had rigged the elections, Museveni opted to go to bush as the only way to challenge the election results.
The present day Nakaseke district was the ideal area for Museveni’s plans to manifest. Kapeeka specifically is much remembered for it was a battlefield between Obote’s government forces and Musevenis rebels. The place was left torn into pieces.
To those who last visited Kapeeka 10 years ago, the image they have is of bad roads, poverty-stricken people and generally broken down infrastructure.
Retired Lt. John Sekanjako, a resident of Kapeeka, reminiscences that after the National Resistance Army (NRA) liberation war, Kapeeka and Nakaseke at large remained underdeveloped due to the effects of the war.
The youth in the area only used to wake up in the morning and go to the trading centre to play cards or ludo all day, because of lack of jobs, hence gambling was the only way to occupy them. However, today, Kapeeka
is a town that many would love to live in because of the various developments taking place, thanks to Chinese investments in the area.
Located about 55kms from Uganda’s Capital Kampala and about 41kms off the busy Kampala- Gulu Highway, Kapeeka is home to Liao Shen Industrial Park locally known as Namunkekeera Industrial Park, managed by China’s Zhong Da Group and Zhang’s Group.
The park that was started in June 2015 stretches to four out of the five parishes of Kapeeka Sub-county and covers more than two square miles (about 640-acre piece of land). Farmers now have steady market. While the 2014 National Housing and Population Census puts the population of Kapeeka Sub County at 40,117, authorities estimate the population to have shot to about 45,000 as a result of continued influx of workers at the factories.
Figures from the 2014 national census showed that 58 per cent of the population in the productive age bracket of between 14 and 64 years, about 10.4 million people, is unemployed. While a 2017 Sauti wa Wananchi by Twaweza, a non-governmental organization, shows that 78 per cent of Ugandans felt government was not doing well in creating jobs. Which is why, having an industrial park like this, employing hundreds of youths is a good answer to this unemployment challenge.
According to Harriet Namara, the industrial park guide, some of the industries in the park include Yahe International Investment Company, a maize factory that buys maize from farmers at Kampala’s market price.
The factory has the capacity to handle 7,000 tonnes per day, so farmers are never worried about lack of market or production.
Colonel John Byuma, the coordinator Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) in Nakaseke District says through OWC the government of Uganda has been supplying fathers with agricultural inputs especially seeds and livestock to help in facilitating wealth creation in their homes. He says farmers were growing fruits but lacked a processing plant, hence many ended up making losses.
Today, thanks to Ho and Mu food Factory Technology, another Chinese investment, this challenge has been addressed.
Marjorine Mugenyi, the factory manager, Ho and Mu, the fruit factory provides technical support, marketing and product development to different farmers involved in commercial agriculture.
Teddy Nakabugo, a mango farmer, says she had lost hope because there was no market. She, however, says the fruit-processing factory has greatly boosted her farming from small-scale to commercial agriculture. “At the factory, we get an opportunity to receive training in growing the right varieties of mangoes,” she notes. Mugenyi says 80% of the workers at the fruit factory are residents of Nakaseke.
Goodwill (U) Ceramic Company, a factory that sits on 26 acres of land was also opened and commissioned on September 30, 2018 by President Yoweri Museveni. The company, which was established in 2017 with an investment capital of $30m, commenced production in April 2018 with an output capacity of
40,000 square metres of tiles per day and about 200 different tile designs.
With the new factory, Uganda now saves $35m that would have been lost to importing tiles. The factory employs 2,000 skilled and non-skilled employees. As Uganda is now on the campaign dubbed BUBU (Buy Uganda Build Uganda) the ceramic company is viewed as a great addition to Ugandan made treasured products.
Edward Kayongo, the LC1 chairperson for Kapeeka, said all the youth who were wasting time on gambling are now working in the factories. “The demand for food, accommodation and transport, among others, is high.
People now grow food knowing they are going to feed factory workers,” he notes.
Other facilities at the park include a 100MW power sub-station, the Farm Science Centre, ICD Container Depot for URA, Gaga Foods factory, Lurtex Textile factory, Electronics factory and Oshta Ug Fishnet manufacturing factory.
The park also accommodates Liao Shen administration offices, Nana Shoes factory and the Dragon and Phoenix factory. According to Namara, the industrial park is expected to host 49 diversified industries, including a car assembling plant and many others with a total investment of over $600m.
More than 33,000V high voltage power line has been installed to run the park. Ms Namara adds that the park is also expected to offer close to 20,000 jobs to the Ugandan people directly and indirectly.
Other factories in the area are manufacturing concrete products, agricultural products, food items, electrical appliances, shoes and fishnets among others.