Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has commissioned Uganda’s first ever mobile phone and computer assembly plant, SIMI Mobile in Nanamve Industrial Park, Mukono District. The remarkable development comes on the backdrop of the government’s efforts to promote ICT manufacturing in Uganda.
The factory was built by ENGO Holdings Limited, which is Chinese owned. It is the one that owns SIMI Mobile. The factory will start operating at full capacity in 2021. At this optimum level, it is expected to produce 2,000 mobile phones, 1,500 Smart phones and 800 mini slim laptops per day. This will also include 4000 USB cables and 4000 sets of earphones. All this will entail directly employing more than 400 staff.
President Museveni commissioned 3 assembly lines which will employ 100 Ugandans, and also assembling 500 pieces of 2G Analog Phones fitted with blue tooth, Camera and a Low Emission Diode bulbs or torch and branded “Made in Uganda”.
Mr. Museveni said, “I am very happy with the Chinese solidarity with Uganda and Africa. Uganda is moving very well, the economy has grown to $35 billion using the normal method of calculating GDP.” Museveni said that the only concern will be on corrupt officials. “We don’t have any other problem. We now have electricity, we are going to solve the problem of transport costs. We have also started solving the problem of ICT,” he said.
The phone models have features that include dual sim slots, a 1,400mAh capacity battery, JAVA for playing MP3/MP4 Audio-Visual files and can receive telecommunications signal using 2GSM and GPRS operating on two bandwidths in the range of 850 -1900.
The State Minister for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite, , said that manufacturing the phones locally will reduce the country’s import bill.
“A phone will cost only Shs20, 000. We are going to have a reduction in the importation of phones. The message I want to send to Ugandans today is to buy the products made in Uganda for the growth, development and betterment of our country,” she remarked.
The company expressed the desire invest significantly in Uganda, saying that it is investing USD 15 million (55.6 Billion Shillings) in phases over a period of five years to achieve optimal output from the initial one million electronic gadgets a year. The majority of the parts being currently assembled were imported from China, and that includes the mainboards, the 2.4 Inch screen, touch panels, battery, Cameras, speaker receivers and vibrators.
ICT Minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze said that one of the reasons why the internet is inaccessible to many people is that they cannot afford the devices that are able to connect to the internet.
“The phones we saw cannot connect to the internet but they are going to make smart phones. A plan is underway to connect all industrial Parks to the National Backbone infrastructure. Investors will not have to incur high costs of internet connectivity which in this day & age is an essential component of any industrial operation.”