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Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), Uganda's budding indigenous mobility enterprise has presented a Shs 524 billion proposed business investment budget for the FY 2024/25 to the parliament's presidential affairs committee. 

“We are counting on guidance and support from the government to explore sustainable, timely and innovative funding for the corporation," Paul Isaac Musasizi, KMC chief executive officer told the committee on Friday. 

Operationalized in 2018, the government fully owns KMC, and Makerere University with a shareholding of 96 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. The entity’s core business objective is to develop, make and sell sustainable mobility solutions (motor vehicles, parts, systems and services) in Africa.

Musasizi explained that KMC seeks to extend the value chain of material, harness the potential of innovative young people, substitute the importation of mobility solutions, and make the country a net source of e-mobility solutions.

The corporation’s five-year business plan already approved by the National Planning Authority (NPA) spans from 2023 to 2028 to progress the entity to cash flow positive status. Among the key cost drivers in the five-year plan include the construction, tooling and furnishing Kiira vehicle plant (KVP); parts and materials for plant commissioning; master store, human capital and capacity development, business development, and operating expenses.

Denis Onekalit Amere, Kitgum municipality Kiira Motors stands as Uganda’s premier and substantive entity with practical skilling capabilities for the present and future automotive industry workforce which legislators must support through adequate appropriation.

Committee chairperson Jesca Ababiku, also the Adjumani District Woman representative observed that building a native motor vehicle industry is consistent with Uganda’s aspirations and pathways to Vision 2040 outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP III).

In the current FY 2023/24, the corporation requires Shs 80 billion to operationalize the vehicle plant start-up facilities in Jinja and parts and materials to produce 30 buses to consolidate the production skills of the team on the newly installed production line and enhance consumer confidence.

But ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development appropriated Shs 32.5 billion leaving a funding gap of Shs 99.5 billion. Currently, the overall funding gap for the corporation stands at Shs 134.14 billion. The government has so far capitalized the corporation to the tune of Shs 335 billion for the period between 2018 and 2023.

The entity with an ambitious target of producing 150,000 vehicles annually by 2030 currently employs 168 staff directly in the engineering, production, finance, administration, marketing and sales and will rise to 600 once the KVP is commissioned.

As of March 2024, construction of the vehicle plant start-up facilities is at 86 per cent completion and is projected to be ready for commissioning by October. Since its establishment, Kiira Motors has produced 16 buses at National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) Luweero Industries in Nakasongola which are on the road while 23 are on the production line. - URN/The Observer

 

Tanzanian sugar regulators are embroiled in a feud with producers as they seek to enforce price caps on the commodity, amid a nationwide shortage.

Retail sugar prices have gone up twofold from an average of Tsh2,300 ($0.91) in November to between Tsh4,000 ($1.58) and Tsh6,000 ($2.37) per kilogramme, with fingers being pointed at factory owners, importers and traders for the artificial shortage.

Across the EAC, sugar prices average about $1.30 per kilo in Kenya, despite a government waiver on import duty from January last year; $1.35 in Uganda, $0.44 in Rwanda, $0.83 in Burundi, $1.92 in DR Congo, $2.36 in South Sudan and $3.14 in Somalia.

In response to a public outcry over the rising prices, the Sugar Board of Tanzania last month announced shop price caps of between Tsh2,700 ($1.07) and Tsh3,200 ($1.27), depending on point of sale within the country, which were to become effective on January 23 and remain until June 30.

Industry players responded by saying the prices were too low and would render their businesses unprofitable. Tanzania’s seven main sugar factories have since halted or slowed down production, exacerbating the shortage in retail shops while prices have remained high.

This comes at a particularly bad time for the Islamic community as Ramadhan approaches, a period when demand for sugar is highest.

Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe has warned sugar producers and traders to desist from trying to force a reversal of the price cap by lobbying government officials and ruling CCM party politicians “behind the scenes”. He asserted that such methods would be fruitless as “this is not a matter that can be resolved politically.”

“In this country, there are only four people who can summon and question me about the price caps: the President, the Vice-President, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister,” Mr Bashe said. “There is no one else who can cancel that decision.”

Earlier, in a January 24 post on his X account, Mr Bashe invited industry stakeholders aggrieved with the sugar board’s move on price cap to his office for consultations and “stop looking for short-cuts.”

The seven major sugar factories in Tanzania currently produce an average of 1,000 tonnes per day against national requirements of 1,500 tonnes per day and 490,000 tonnes annually, with the gap covered by imports.

The government’s target for this year was 500,000 tonnes before the latest disruptions caused by rains.

Mr Bashe said on January 21 that the government would issue permits to local producers and traders to import 100,000 tonnes of sugar immediately but warned against abusing the permits by hoarding supplies to inflate prices.

“If the factory owners and wholesalers continue to hoard supplies in order to push prices up, the government will revoke its protection for them against sugar imports. We cannot protect factories at the expense of consumers,” he said.

According to Mr Bashe, sugar prices in the local market are expected to stabilise by mid-February and the total import allocation to have arrived in the country by the end of February.

“The ministry will also continue to assess the rain situation and damage caused to sugarcane farms since we don’t want to import amounts of sugar that could kill local production altogether,” he said. - BOB KARASHANI, The EastAfrican

 

NAIROBI, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Kenya said Thursday that it would make the final interest payment of its 2 billion U.S. dollars Eurobond alongside the principal amount in the last week of June 2024.

Njuguna Ndung'u, the cabinet secretary for National Treasury and Economic Planning, said in a statement released in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that the country would not default on repaying the debt as it has a comprehensive plan for debt service payments.

He said the Kenyan government recently paid 68.7 million dollars in interest for the Eurobond that falls due in June 2024.

"The timely settlement of interest payments on the Eurobond has not only sent a positive signal to investors but also resulted in reduction in yields on Kenya's Eurobonds in the global financial markets," Ndung'u noted.

He said that the country expects substantial external inflows from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other development finance institutions between January and March 2024.

"These inflows are poised to significantly bolster foreign exchange reserves," Ndung'u observed.

He added that Kenya maintains a robust economic outlook supported by policy reforms and collaborations with multilateral and bilateral development partners.

According to Ndungu, an ongoing fiscal consolidation program, coupled with an increase in revenue generation would help curtail borrowing, and reduce debt levels over the medium term.

Kenya's current public debt stands at 63.6 billion dollars and there have been fears of debt distress and default. - Xinhua

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