President Yoweri Museveni has urged investors in Uganda to encourage the aspect of using locally made raw materials and promote the vertical integration from raw materials to production in the country.
“We can have raw materials here instead of importing pulp from Kenya. We can encourage farmers to grow fruits including mangoes, its’ not a problem. Just tell us the type. We have good seeds which mature in a few months,” he said.
The President said this on Tuesday while commissioning a US$26million Century Bottlers Petline and the upgraded bottling plant at the Coca Cola factory in Namanve, Kampala. Coca Cola has over the last 12 years invested over Shs 431billion in Uganda with US$4million invested in small scale local fruit farmers to produce mangoes and passion fruits to sustainable supply the juice business with raw materials.
“Those who sell mangoes can get an income and in turn buy coca cola. There should be a vertical integration from raw materials to production,” he said.
The President urged workers and Ugandans at large to have a positive attitude towards investments by foreigners saying these are Ugandan factories because Ugandans are the main beneficiaries of such investments.
“Like I told you when we were laying a foundation stone for this factory, don’t change your attitudes (Temwekuba ndobo). Don’t say these factories are for Bazungu or Indians. Those peoples factories are in India and Europe. These are our factories and we are only using the investors to build our country,” he said adding that while the company makes a profit of about US$100million annually, some of that money is retained in Uganda through paying salaries, paying for water and electricity and now promoting local farmers.
“We are squeezing money from these people so that we can build our country. They are now getting pulp from Kenya but am going to stop that as well. We have mangoes in Arua, Kasese, Luwero etc. we promote that so that we block them from taking money to Kenya,” he said.
The President urged the workers to jealously guard the factory and commended them for being hard working and making the investors happy, adding that private sector led growth is the country using entrepreneurs to create wealth when there is nothing. He hailed Century Bottling Company for having faith in investing in Uganda and helping to repair the industrial sector which had got into problems during Amin’s time.
On the issue excise duty levied on the company’s production as raised by the Managing Director Norton Kingwill, the president promised to look into the issue adding the possibility of taxing consumption as opposed to production may be considered as an alternative.
The President for Coca Cola Central and West Africa Kelvin Balogun said the company plans to double its investment in Africa and has already invested over US$6 billion in the past decade and plans to invest another 12 billion dollars by 2020. He commended government for providing an investment friendly environment that has made them grow and expand their investment.
The Chairman at Coca-Cola Sabco (PTY) Ltd Philipp Hugo Gutsche hailed the President for his support to Uganda’s economic growth and praised him for maintain peace in Uganda to allow for industrial development.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of State for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives Hon. David Wakikona, State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Ronald Kibuule, State Minister for Industry Dr. James Mutende and the State Minister of Finance (Investment) Eng. Dr. Gabriel Ajedra.