Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye praises SMEs as he lays out government plan for them

Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye praises SMEs as he lays out government plan for them

The Minister of Science and Technology Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye has praised Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies for the great work they are doing. Speaking at the companies Gala Dinner at Hotel Africana on Friday, Hon. Elioda assured companies of commitment to help them. Ms CityCide Investments took home this year’s Top 100 Awards Pinnacle Award.

The Top 100 Mid-Sized companies is an initiative of Daily Monitor, dfcu Bank, KPMG and The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation was among the sponsors of this year’s gala.

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Below is the Minister’s full speech;

It gives me great pressure to join the rest of you in celebrating hard work, persistence, creativity and transformation of ideas into reality. I am here to celebrate the achievements of the Top 100 Mid-Sized companies; congratulations to all of you the winners and those who didn’t win, there is always room for improvement.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is mandated to provide overall policy guidance and coordination for scientific research, technology development and innovation in the entire national innovation eco-system.

This is being done through creating an enabling environment that will increase businesses competitiveness to spur industrialization and generate the much-needed to radically scale up their efforts.

The theme for this year’s Survey,” SMEs shaping the future business landscape,” is consistent with the Ministry’s efforts to strengthen technology research, development, uptake, transfer, adoption, collaboration and commercialization by both the private and public sector.

The Ministry is interested in SMEs because they are the engine of national industrial transformation and therefore, for them to leapfrog their current growth bottlenecks, they must rapidly integrate new innovative approaches and bring forth technology intensive products and services. To this end, the Ministry is willing to pattern with you to work with innovators and researchers to create new innovative products and services which will increase your companies competitiveness.

The Ministry and its core agencies are implementing several interventions to accelerate industrialization and growth of Mid-Sized companies, which include:

*The Machining and Manufacturing Industrial Skills Training Centre* is under development in Namanve by the Ministry’s core agency, Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI). This will lead to advanced training in industrial automation and production of consumer and industrial machine parts. Therefore, the overhead costs on SMEs in retooling industrial workers will be reduced.

* National Science, Technology and Engineering Skills Enhancement Centre (NSTESEC)- Sanga, and Technology Innovation and Business Incubation Centre (TIBIC)- Namanve*, spearheaded by core agency, Uganda National Council for Science and Technology to strengthen technical vocational skills, product development and incubation.

*Science and Technology Park (STP)*
The facility will contain business incubators, Technology transfer offices, Science promotion centres, research institutes. This facility will provide improved technologies, shared user support services, skills training, comprehensive support to product development and industrial product commercialization for innovators and SMEs.

*National Innovation Fund*
To bring new competitive industrial products onto the market, there is a need to increase investment in research and development by the private sector through symbiosis with public sector research institutes, innovators and universities. The Ministry has established an Innovation Fund to mobilize public financing to facilitate commercialization of innovative ideas and start-ups. But this can only be achieved through a symbiosis with private sector specifically the Mid-Sized companies which are in urgent need for new growth products and services. The private sector could bring onboard their facilities, complementary funding and their robust production and distribution systems.

*National Space Programme*
The Ministry through international and bilateral technical cooperation and programmes with Russia, Isreal, and Japan is developing the National space programme with the objective of launching a satellite by the end of 2022. The space programme will support the SMEs and other companies in data and information mining and storage which is crucial for business growth and expansion.

*How The Top 100 Mid-Sized companies can address Uganda’s large import bill through innovation, technology development, transfer and collaboration*
Here are some highlights of a few potential areas

1. Industrial Investment in pharmaceuticals ( Annual average imports US$260m)

Through a partnership with our Innovators based at NARO who have developed Pharmaceutical Grade starch from cassava and partnering with large pharmaceutical companies in Uganda, Mid-Sized companies could produce the non-active ingredients and binders for Medicaments and medical packages. This would increase the production of medicines locally reducing import volume and increasing regional export.

2. Industrial investment in Veterinary drugs-Tick Vaccine

Our innovators at NARO have made a breakthrough in Tick vaccine using advanced biotechnology and this product needs to be commercialized as industrial scale, another entry point point for Mid-Sized companies to build a partnership with researchers.

3. Palm oil and its Derivatives (Average annual Import US$230m)
The palm oil industry of Malaysia is valued at more than US$30billion with more than 30 industrial products.

Bidco Uganda Ltd which operates the Kalangala Oil Palm project at projected 80,000 hectares including out-growers, is already transforming livelihood of out-growers, yet can not satisfy the market demand for palm oil fractions. Through a partnership between Mid-Sized companies, Bidco and our University researchers/innovators, new oil by-products could be brought into the market and rapidly expand Palm oil production to reduce the import volumes.

4. Industrial Investment in Silk-Clothing line
The Ministry is mobilizing large scale national production of silk under the Silkworm Project where families can easily grow Mulberry and start earning within 6 months. The will require industrial investments to produce silk garments, Cot-silk garments ( a combination of silk and cotton) which Mid-Sized companies can, to scale up production of blankets, clothing and household linen. This will reduce Uganda’s current annual clothing import bill of US$72m.

In his conclusion, Hon. Elioda said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the entire government, in general, is willing and committed to providing you all the necessary support to see your businesses grow bigger and contribute to the national economic growth and development of our country. Congratulations to the winners once again.

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