President Museveni Friday commissioned Uganda’s first mobile phones and laptops assembly plant in Namanve Industrial Park, Mukono district. This comes into force after government signed an agreement with SIMI technologies to promote the manufacturing of ICT electronics in Uganda.
Built by Chinese Electronics firm, ENGO Holdings Limited, the factory was installed to produce 2,000 mobile phones, 1,500 Smart phones and 800 mini slim laptops when it starts operating at full capacity in 2021.
President Museveni hailed the Chinese as Africa’s development partners on the path for durable infrastructure development which are critical in the transformation of the economy.
“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,” Mr. Museveni said.
The three assembly lines employing 100 Ugandans and assembling 500 pieces of 2G Analog Phones fitted with blue tooth, Camera and a Low Emission Diode bulbs or torch are branded Made in Uganda.
The phone models with dual SIM slots and a Memory card will collectively be known as S300 powered 1,400mAh capacity battery. They are enabled with JAVA for playing MP3/MP4 Audio-Visual files. They receive telecommunications signal using 2GSM and GPRS operating on two bandwidths in the range of 850 -1900.
Ares Chow Yu Qing, the Executive Director of ENGO Holdings Limited says that the factory will in the future produce 2,000 chargers, 4,000 USB cables and 4,000 ear phones in the third phase of the development of the factory in October 2021.
Africa Tembelea understands that the Company intends to invest up to a tune of 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. Most of the parts currently being assembled were imported from China including mainboards, the 2.4 inch screen, touch panels, cameras, battrey, speaker receivers and vibrators.
Speaking earlier, Frank Tumwebaze, the Information, Communication and Technology Minister noted that one of the cost-push factors for internet is failure by people to afford 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,” Tumwebaze said.
“The domestic operation of the plant will revolutionize mobile phones connectivity in rural areas for their affordability and efficiency on power consumption and network reception and clarity, he added
Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Finance in charge of Privatization, says Uganda has been spending 140 Billion on the importation of phones from major electronic companies, Samsun, Itel, Huawei and Nokia among others.
According to her, the factory will in the long run reduce the import bill by producing cheap phones for the country.
On his part, James Ssaka, the Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority – NITA says that Uganda’s ICT Sector has dramatically grown over the last ten years with its annual budget swelling from 104 Billion in 2018 to 146 Billion in 2019. NITA records show that there are 22 Million mobile phone subscribers in Uganda and that the sector is growing at 27 per cent per annum.