East Africa opened a new chapter in its integration process with pomp and celebration in the picturesque Tanzanian city of Arusha, with the launch of The East African Industrialisation Decade.
At the stroke of mid-day on Sunday, December 7, all the five East African Community (EAC) heads of state pulled together a string unveiling a model of a concept saloon car, named Uhuru, to be assembled in Kenya with other components fabricated in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
With the first unit to be off-lined in June 2015, the Uhuru is conceived along India’s Nano and post-war Germany’s WV Beetle, to serve the ordinary consumer market segment, now dominated by Japanese used cars.
The added beauty of this venture is that the four-seater, five-door sedan will be powered by solar engines. The initial batch of these will be imported but, according to the project directors, plans are in aanced stages to have them locally manufactured, with ‘refill’ stations along all highways.
“…we have the sun 247, so very soon, we shall replace these fuel stations with ‘battery-change stations….you bring the de-charged battery, install a full one and proceed. Currently, those produced can run 250km before the next replacement…being late developers, we are taking aantage of technology at its highest…no need to start with the wheel and steam engine…”, said Ndirangu Kinyanjui, the project’s technical director.
Marathon of events
The Uhuru unveiling function was a culmination of a marathon of events over the previous two weeks, the final phase of marathon meetings and summits targeting to fast-track the integration process. “Over the last 13 years, we have been piecing together what had been torn apart when the EAC collapsed in 1977….and now we are ready for a take-off to prosperity,” remarked President Museveni.
Over the previous two weeks, the heads of state had traversed all the five EAC countries, presiding over the launching of seed projects in key areas vital to the success of the regional integration. These are projects initiated and bankrolled by the regional governments, in partnership with local industrialists, citizens through their respective social security funds, local banks, cultural and religious institutions and the East African Diaspora.
The projects launched as part of the celebrations include:
The COTEBU Textile Plant in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. Prior to the 13-year senseless civil war, this plant produced the best cotton fabric in the region, using locally grown cotton and silk.
“This is a major milestone in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Burundi, as we learn bitter lessons from our past,” said president Nkurunziza of Burundi, amid applause from the audience, with wild cheers from the ‘Tambourinaires’, the sacred drummers and dancers.
The plant, when fully operational, has capacity to supply 60 per cent of EAC’s textile needs, while employing more than two million people along the value chain. A sprawling cotton estate and ginnery at Cibitoke, towards the old capital Gitega, is among the nucleus plantations across the country that will feed the COTEBU plant in Bujumbura. Ginneries and farmers from across the region will also supply the plant with raw materials.
In Rwanda, the celebrations were marked by the opening of an ultra-modern fruit processing plant at Nyirangarama, in western province. This modern complex has grown out of a humble cottage-level factory, an initiative of a local investor, supported by technology and expertise from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, the country’s research and innovation centre.
“When Rwanda joined the EAC, we saw an opportunity…so we expanded the plant, using locally fabricated machinery supplemented by components from India…we now have capacity to absorb 40 per cent of all the tropical fruits grown in EAC, and can supply 30 per cent of the region’s fresh juice market.
Already, we have a supply contract with farmers’ cooperatives in Nyakitunda and Masha, in Uganda, to supply us with passion fruits and pineapples. Away with fake fruit concentrates dominating our market….This venture will employ more than one million people directly and indirectly…we are excited about the future of our region,” concluded Damacene Iyamuremye, the CEO of the complex, as the heads of state gave him a standing ovation.
Leather products plant
At Ngara, in north western Tanzania, the heads of state opened an ultra-modern leather products plant that produces a wide range of leather products from the region’s hides and skins.
Spearheaded by a team of professors and students from Mzumbe University’s Leather Technology department, the complex has capacity to produce 70 per cent of the region’s needs, with a smaller one ear-marked in Taita Taveta, on the Kenya-Tanzania border, to serve both countries more closely.
As part of the Ngara celebrations, a mountain of mitumba, plastic shoes and textiles, collected from all the region’s markets of Owino (St Balikuddembe), Gikombaa, Kariakoo, Nyabugogo and Nyakabiga, was set ablaze, as a sign of banning and burning all fake and rejected textiles and footwear from the region.
In the course of their two week sojourn in the region, the presidents made part of their journey in the newly launched Nairobi-Kampala Raha passenger train service.
“…hii ni mali yetu, na tumeamua itabaki hapa, hapa…” said president Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya as the presidents waved to wananchi during a stopover at the Nakuru station.
The passenger service is the first fruit of the repossessed East African Railways, now owned by the five EAC states with local investors.
At the Nairobi Finale, as a sign of economic patriotism, all the heads of state wore Kenyan made suits from the Nanyuki-based Nytex Industries, while their silk neckties, in EAC flag colours, were from Rwanda’s Utexrwa, with shirts from Uganda’s Phenix Logistics, while the shoes were from the new Ngara Leather Works in Tanzania.
‘…This is a strong foundation we are now laying for our economic integration…some detractors had wanted us just to focus on trade…customs, common tariffs, etc. You can’t build a regional economic bloc on mere trade…exchange, minus production…the EU, its strength lies in its industrial base….Unilever, Shell, Airbus, Euro-tunnel, …all these are regional ventures,” President Museveni waved as he ended the day’s closing speech. The birth of an era.
CELEBRATIONS IN UGANDA
Celebrations in Uganda were marked by the launching of Adekokwok Hydro-power Scheme, in Lira District. The scheme, a prototype of the new approach to power generation, produces eight megawatts, enough to supply Lira and the neigbouring districts.
Built at a cost of Shs12 billion, it is the first project in the local generation scheme, an approach where small power stations are constructed on streams and rivulets, to serve localities.
The Lira project was built concurrently with the Kayoora Power Station, in Bumbaire Sub-county, Bushenyi, and Asamuk Power Scheme in Amuria District. ‘…….this innovation will be replicated throughout the entire East Africa. It is our own initiative…with our own funds, you know our energy fund here, …and it saves us from all this noise of the donors for the so-called mega, eeh, mega power dams, where it takes a whole decade in feasibility studies, then technical studies, then assessment studies, then sijui ….
eeh….eeh… stakeholder voices, …then the begging for funds… all this nonsense we had with Bujagali…Lukyamuzi..eeh, eeh’..’, remarked a beaming Museveni as he led fellow heads of state to switch on the power.
A brain child of Rwanda’s energy ministry, the concept has been found cheaper to finance locally, faster and more feasible and flexible than huge power stations. It enables electrification of rural areas, leaving the bigger stations to serve urban and industrial needs.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor