A fertiliser plant in Kenya.

A fertiliser plant in Kenya. A new factory in Tororo, Uganda, has the potential to reach several other markets, including the Democratic Republic of Congo. PHOTO | NMG 

The recent commissioning of East Africa’s biggest fertiliser plant at Sukulu in Tororo, near the Uganda-Kenya border, has been hailed as a major step towards breaking East and Southern Africa’s overreliance on imported and synthetic fertiliser.

The plant is part of a Ush2.4 trillion ($630 million) industrial park in Tororo, once a bustling industrial town, which Kampala hopes will be revived with new investments.

Chinese firm Guangzou Dong Song has developed the plant to produce organic fertiliser.

The Sukulu plant will manufacture 100,000 tonnes of fertiliser per year.

Jane Guo, the chief executive officer of Guangzhou Dong Song Group Company, told The EastAfrican that the company will produce fertiliser at 75 per cent of the cost of imported fertiliser.

Since Tororo is being developed as a link to connect South Sudan to the Mombasa port, it has the potential to reach several other markets, including the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Speaking after the commissioning of the factory, Ms Guo said their fertiliser will be mixed with organic substances like biogas.

At 32 kilogrammes per hectare, Uganda’s Economic Policy Research Centre [report] says that Kenya is East Africa’s biggest fertiliser consumer. Rwanda, the second biggest user, has a rate of 29 kilogrammes per hectare; Tanzania uses six kilogrammes per hectare.

These rates are much higher than Uganda’s one kilogramme per hectare consumption.

However, Ms Guo said they hope Uganda will become the biggest consumer in the region. Half of this fertiliser will be sold in the country.

Ms Guo said that the phosphates mined will be mixed with iron ore. As a result the company has taken a decision to produce steel products.

To reduce pollution, the company will also use the iron ore residue to manufacture glass, using sand from Lake Victoria. Guangzhou Dong Song has been designated as a special economic zone, with tax incentives.

The company has also received six mining licences from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said the country will save $50 million in foreign exchange that is spent on the importation of fertiliser. Another $32 million will be saved, as Uganda won’t have to import glass.

About $307 million in foreign exchange will also be saved as Guangzhou Dong Song will also manufacture steel and iron.

Guangzhou Dong Song joins other companies that have set up cement manufacturing plants.

President Museveni launched Simba Cement this past August, and there are plans to launch Lafarge’s Hima Cement next week.

By Dicta Asiimwa, published by The East African October 27, 2018

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