Journalist’s note | “Made in Africa” flapping its wings and ready to fly in the Central Umbarak Industrial Park

Entering a home appliance store in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, customers will be attracted by the spacious and bright space layout, as well as the modern and minimalist decoration style. The store is divided into two levels, covering an area of thousands of square meters, with everything from televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, to rice cookers, microwaves, juicers, and new home equipment such as intelligent sweeping robots. Customers shuttle between the shelves carefully selecting their desired items and occasionally consulting the store staff about product performance.

In this store called “UHome”, a poster on the wall of the TV exhibition area is particularly eye-catching. In addition to the Ugandan national bird Grey Crowned Crane, the poster also bears the words “BUBU”, which means “Buy Uganda.”, “Build Uganda” is the English abbreviation for “buy domestic goods, build a country”. This initiative was initiated by the Ugandan government with the aim of promoting domestic manufacturing development and promoting local consumption.

According to Abdul Sekabila, the sales manager of “UHome”, the vast majority of home appliances sold here are produced in the Mbale Industrial Park in China Uganda and directly transported to the stores. The self production and self sales operation model effectively shortens the chain from production to retail, greatly reducing costs. “With efficient supply chain management and affordable products, ‘UHome’ is highly favored by local customers.”

The Zhongwu Mbale Industrial Park is about 200 kilometers away from Kampala and is located near three national highways. The eastern Ugandan city of Mbale is a must pass inland transportation route from Uganda to neighboring Kenya’s Mombasa Port, with obvious geographical advantages. This Uganda National Industrial Park, like UHome, is invested and operated by Chinese private enterprise Tiantang Group. Since its launch in March 2018, it has attracted more than 40 enterprises to settle in and created over 5000 job opportunities in the local area.

Home appliances, daily chemicals, home textiles, building materials, pharmaceuticals, automobile manufacturing… Riding in a park covering thousands of acres, the reporter found that the industries gathered here are closely related to the lives of Ugandan people. “Our original intention in building industrial parks is to fill the gaps in these important production areas in Uganda, reduce the consumption cost of such products, drive local industrialization development through manufacturing, and improve employment and people’s livelihoods,” said Wang Wentong, General Manager of Tiantang Group.

The African economy has long relied on exports of primary products and has weak industrial production and processing capabilities. In recent years, the Ugandan government has vigorously promoted reforms and identified industrialization as an important way to achieve sustainable economic development. It has attracted foreign investment through preferential policies such as tax exemption and reduction, and established industrial cooperation parks.

“With the support of the local government, a ‘one-stop service center’ has been established in the Zhongwumbale Industrial Park, introducing functional departments such as customs, registration, and inspection to provide registration, inspection, visa, customs, taxation, logistics, financing and other supporting services for enterprises entering the park. Wang Wentong said that there is also a Luban Workshop Training Base in the park. After it is officially put into use this year, it is expected to provide local workers with vocational skills training in fitter technology, electrical automation technology, CNC processing technology, and other skills to meet the production needs of various enterprises.”.

Across the road from the Luban Workshop is the factory of Zhongqi Mingzhu Technology Co., Ltd. Mingzhu Technology is one of the earliest companies to settle in the industrial park, mainly producing lighting products. Entering the factory, rows of workbenches were lined with various tools, and hundreds of Ugandan employees dressed in orange work clothes were fully focused on welding operations. “In the past, Uganda’s LED lighting fixtures mainly relied on imports, which were expensive and there was no place to repair them if they broke down. Chinese companies have changed this situation. Now, our company produces about 3 million LED bulb lights and fluorescent lights annually and sells them to various parts of Uganda,” said local technician Joseph Otim.

As an “veteran” employee of Mingzhu Technology, Otim has witnessed the earth shattering changes in the Zhongwumbale Industrial Park and its surrounding environment: from a barren wasteland to the gradual improvement of water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure within the park, and then to the rise of surrounding supporting facilities such as supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels… “Working in China’s industrial park has become a proud thing for local young people,” he said.

Wang Wentong told reporters that multiple local brands of televisions and smartphones have been incubated in the park. In the future, plans are made to link projects such as “UHome” through the industrial park, and use online and offline channels to create a “smart home life” local digital industry ecological platform.

The development of the China Uzbekistan Industrial Park is a microcosm of the continuous deepening, expansion, and upgrading of China Africa industrial cooperation.

David Bahati, Minister of Industry of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperation of Uganda, said in an interview with reporters that Chinese enterprises and investors in industrial parks operated in Uganda utilize local resources to develop manufacturing, helping Africa China industrial cooperation to continuously reach new heights, which is in line with the goals of the African Union’s 2063 Agenda. “We look forward to these industrial parks nurturing more local African brands and bringing ‘Made in Africa’ to the world!”