Uganda’s first smartphone and laptops manufacturing and assembly plant was launched on Friday 22nd November 2019 by President Museveni. At full capacity, the factory will produce 2000 feature phones, 1500 smartphones, 800 laptops, 2000 chargers, 4000 USB cables and 4000 sets of earphones. It will also provide 400 direct employment. The plant is located in Kampala and is by Chinese firm Engo and the products will be branded SIMI.
The president praised the Chinese for their business ventures in Uganda and Africa which according to him has improved Uganda’s GDP growth. The president further highlighted his intentions for the country saying that electricity is now being adequately provided and he is working on reducing transport costs and improving the ICT of the country all of which will help in ease of doing business.
According to the State Minister for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite, the country will save foreign exchange and reduce import bills by manufacturing the phones locally. She further urged Ugandans to patronize their own locally produced phones to improve the country’s economic development. The ICT Minister Mr Frank Tumwebaze said that the smartphones produced locally will be affordable making it easier for Ugandans to go online.
Uganda follows Rwanda in Smartphone manufacturing
Last month, Rwanda launched Africa’s first smartphone manufacturing plant. Uganda has now followed in the footsteps of Rwanda. This is a positive step in the right direction. With the setting up of a local smartphone and laptop manufacturing plant, Uganda will gain a lot. Firstly, local competencies and skills transfer will be enhanced. Ugandans will ow learn the manufacturing process that goes in the production of laptop and mobile phones. This is very important as spin-offs companies can be created that could specialize in the manufacturing of separate components. Furthermore, the technology ecosystem of the country will be improved by having this manufacturing plant. Secondly, the economy of Uganda will benefit a lot. The company will employ more than 400 people. In addition, the government gains revenue through the taxes paid by the company. The entire value chain involved in setting up a high-tech manufacturing plant will provide lots of indirect employment too.
China-Africa relations going another step up
Chinese companies are now setting up high tech companies in Africa. Last month, Nigeria started constructing West Africa’s first rail wagon manufacturing plant with the help of the Chinese. China’s mobile phone company Tecno also has an assembly plant in Ethiopia.
African governments should now make sure that local content in the manufacturing contracts with Chinese companies go up. This would further develop local competencies and skills transfer. In addition, by using more local content in manufacturing, the economy grows significantly at the same time providing massive employment.
Indeed this manufacturing plant is a step in the right direction, kudos to President Museveni.
Should other African countries follow in this step? Share your thoughts below.