The Honourable Members of Parliament on Budget Committee and the Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development applauded Uganda Free Zones Authority for the progress made on the construction of the first public Free Zone in Uganda, Entebbe International Airport Free Zone.
The MPs were briefed on the progress on implementation of the Free Zones scheme in Uganda and taken on a guided tour of the Public Free Zone within the precincts of Entebbe International Airport.
Uganda envisions a booming industrial sector responsible for creating jobs for the largely youthful population and correcting the balance of payments, which is currently tilted on account of an increasing import bill. Experts say the country’s hopes lie in the creation of a large network of Free Zones as has been witnessed regionally and globally. Regional statistics indicate that Kenya already has 1,200 acres of land under development at the Athi River Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and 61,000 jobs have been created. Tanzania, on the other hand, has more than 43,000 acres reserved for the same from which it saw 56,000 jobs created in 2019.
While addressing the Members of Parliament, the Executive Director of UFZA, Mr. Hez Kimoomi Alinda said “The statistics tell a story which is not pleasant for us and we must improve it. Imagine what our regional neighbours are getting in terms of jobs and forex. If we do not improve, we have a lot to lose.”
According to the World Free Zones Organisation, Africa has the least number of Free Zones in the world, yet the continent exports 82% of the world’s raw materials “Our share of global trade is estimated at 3%, meaning that we donate our raw materials to the developed world, while we remain in poverty,” Kimoomi noted.
Uganda currently has 32 licensed private Free Zones and one public Free Zone under construction in Entebbe. The facility at Entebbe International Airport will have 6 production units and an anchor project. It will also house all Government trade facilitation Agencies to speed up exports and guide on quality, to beat competition on the international market.
According to Parliament, there is need to urgently locate land for the development of Free Zones, in order to enhance Uganda’s competitive advantage within the region and beyond. “Our dedication to implement the Free Zones and export-led policies needs more strengthening. We need to improve industrial infrastructure to facilitate manufacturing for export” said Hon. Kefa Kiwanuka, Chairperson Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development.