The Government of Uganda through the National Information Technology Association (NITA) Uganda on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with Engo Holdings Group to domestically manufacture and assemble its own computers and mobile phones.
The announcement was made at the ground breaking ceremony in Namanve Industrial Park where the plant will be built. The ceremony was attended by government officials including, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance; Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, State Minister for Investment & Privatization, Evelyne Anite, and NITA Uganda ED. James Saaka.
According to Anite, the plant will be the second manufacturing and assembling plant for mobile phones but first for computers and other electronics.
This collaboration seeks to promote and achieve; the manufacture of own computers & mobile phones in Uganda, create employment for the locals, and equipping/supplying business, institutions such as; schools, government MDAs with local made products other than procuring them from other countries.
NITA ED, Mr. James Saaka said, the government spends a lot of money in imported ICT goods .i.e. Hardware and Software products. In his remarks, he notes that the commencement of the plant will give Ugandans an opportunity to replace foreign hardware and software with local innovations thereby springing further economic development.
This partnership is an extension of the “Buy Uganda build Uganda” policy that looks to build local capacity as a way of promoting the local industry and the manufacture of ICT goods within the country.
Anite reaffirmed Government of Uganda’s commitment to attracting more investors into the country and creating employment opportunities for the youth through ICTS.
She urged SIMI technologies; a subsidiary of Engo Holdings to train and hire the locals to work within the plant.
“We expect you to hire and train local Ugandans to handle the various operations in the manufacture of these products as stipulated in your MoU with NITA-U,” said Anite.
In her closing remarks Anite said once the operations kick off, the production will reduce the country’s import bill and increase its export bill.
SIMI technologies CEO; Ares Zhou said their target production annually will be at least three million mobile phones and one million computers.
Tumwebaze said the country is moving in the right direction towards promoting home grown ICT solutions. And the government’s partnership with SIMI technologies will play a role in the sector’s growth.
The ICT Minister welcomed SIMI technologies, and in his remarks he said the company will be supplying local innovators with hardware products, that will be manufactured from Uganda.
He said innovators are still drown to making software compared to hardware. He also noted that the president has been calling on innovators to start developing hardware components.
In his defense, the ICT Minister said the Ministry believes that software is the starting point as it gives value to the hardware.
Tumwebaze called on the media to explore the talents of young innovators, and the transformation Uganda has gone through.
“People need to know that our own young innovators supported by the government through the Ministry of ICT produce software of different solutions,” he said.
He said we have supported enough the likes of Microsoft and other associates for a long time but it would be better if in the next five years we had our own built laptops running on own software.