President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture to find land to facilitate the growing of rubber which is an essential raw material for production of medical supplies.
“The Minister of Industry should be in touch with Agriculture about the growing of rubber. Because, this is the linkage – the rubber which is agriculture, links up with the oil industry, the factory links up with the health sector etc,” Museveni said.
Mr Museveni was speaking on Saturday after the official commissioning of the East African Medical Vitals (EAMV), a local Ugandan company that manufactures high quality, latex, powder-free medical gloves (examination and surgical), vital medical consumables in health facilities.
President Museveni said rubber growing would save a lot of money that has been going out in importation of medical supplies and also raw materials. He congratulated East African Medical Vitals for the initiative.
“This is an effort of import substitution. Stop buying from others what you can make yourself, “he added.
The state-of-the-art manufacturing plant located in Namanve Industrial Park has the capacity to produce over 10,000 pieces per hour and about 95 million gloves annually, ready to supply the East Africa and COMESA markets.
According to the Executive Director East African Medical Vitals, Mr. Ben Kavuya, they import latex-the raw materials used in the manufacture of surgical gloves and condoms- from Malaysia, adding that in future, the country needs to tap into the sector by introducing rubber growing, which he said would have a ready market and provide employment to many Ugandans.
The Minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Ms. Evelyn Anite, said took a swipe at Uganda Development Bank (UDB) which she said is not living up to the task of saving local manufacturers even after government injecting one trillion Uganda shillings whose purpose was to support production, processing and manufacturing of essential items for the country to be resilient amidst the supply chain disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We summoned the board and management of Uganda Development Bank to come and explain to us and, Your Excellency, if they don’t give a clear explanation, we will ask you to let them leave, because they are not living up to their task,“ Anite said, attracting cheers from the audience.
This followed Kavuya’s complaint about the bureaucracy involved in getting capital from UDB which is not conducive for the fast pace that a growing business requires to be competitive.
“When we made an application for funding to UDB in early 2019, our application was not honored and there was never a response from UDB. On account of no response from UDB, we reached out to the East African Development Bank (EADB) and took on a loan facility of US$6.3million at an interest rate of 8%. This is similar to what commercial banks offer. We had no choice but to take on this expensive loan. We had to start and be part of the solution to Uganda’s health challenges,“ he said.
Earlier, President Museveni and dignitaries toured the factory and witnessed, first hand, the production and packaging of the medical gloves. He pledged to sort out the issue of intermittent power supply to the industries and to improve the road network in the industrial park.
“We have got surplus electricity, more electricity than the consumers. The only thing we are struggling to do is to make it cheap by cutting out UMEME. UMEME should be out because they are making the cost expensive for nothing,“ Museveni said.
The Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr. David Bahati, officials from Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), Ministry of Health, National Drug Authority (NDA), National Medical Stores (NMS) and the business community attended the ceremony.