TRIDI’s Masiga tells Dr Musenero to be proactive as shs43b silk fund is delayed
Last Updated on: 20th October 2022, 01:45 pm
TRIDI continues to wait for shs43b appropriated by the government for the commercialization of sericulture in Uganda.
Mukono – October 20, 2022: The commercialization of sericulture technologies and innovation projects for household wealth creation and employment generation in Uganda is gaining momentum amid potential sabotage from a senior government official.
The project, being implemented by the Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI) is supposed to receive funding from the government who is the biggest funder.
Sericulture, the silk industry, and the silk by-products industry are contributing to the implementation of NDP III programmes. Read more here.
TRIDI is implementing the project in line with the National Resistance Movement [NRM] party manifesto of 2021-2026, page 184.
With successes to count, challenges to address, and the future in focus, TND News Milton Emmy Akwam had an exclusive interview with Clet Wandui Masiga, the Executive Director and Sericulture Project Principal Investigator at TRIDI.
Read the full exchanges below:
With the kind of frustrations you are having, what happens if the government says they will take over the project from your hands?
Clet: If the government is interested in taking over, we can negotiate and by the way, it happens globally. When you have the knowledge and you are not going to use it, you sell the copyrights. So, in this case, we will negotiate how much that knowledge government can pay me. We can also enter into a partnership. Then for the rest of the investments, we also know how much the government has put into it because they were supporting innovators.
The government has generally been supporting the private sector to create opportunities in the country. The same was it [government] supported Covidex. The government does not have shares there but they supported it. Covidex is saving Ugandans.
What benefits is the government making from this project?
Clet: We have estimated the government will be making shs50b in taxes and if the government makes shs50b in taxes for the next 30 years, it is huge. Out of what we expect, this is a total of shs800b.
The other way the government is [will be] making money is that they will tax ourselves and we are sure they will tax not less than 20 per cent of that money and our approximation is that they will be making not less than shs300b every year.
We also have many Ugandans who are employed indirectly and not less than shs200b every year. So, the government will still be benefiting.
Why do you think it is taking the Minister [Dr. Monica Musenero] too long to understand this project?
Clet: Well. We just don’t know but I think [maybe I can understand]. You know, she came on board; she has got to get new workers, staff to work with. We have invited her to come to the field so we can explain to her the project, but she has not made that time available – neither has she given us time to explain. We have given reports. I don’t know whether the reports have been contextualized.
So, we don’t have a clear idea why. Otherwise, for us in the field, anyone can come anytime and see what is going on.
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What would be your message to her?
I think the Minister needs to be proactive. The most important thing is to have the money released [shs43b was appropriated by Parliament] while she understands the process because parliament appropriated it after visiting the field and they were able to understand where we are coming from and why we need that money.
It will be nice if she doesn’t have the time to allow the work to go on while she understands the process.
What is the level of success regarding the installation of machines in Sheema?
Clet: We completed the factory in Kween [installations]. We have just got to modify the shelter because we constructed the factory when we did not have the money. So we rushed to put up some structures. We are to modify what is left and train the people who are going to operate them.
In Sheema, we are missing the power line. The transformer which we have there is 30KV; we need a 100KV transformer to be able to operate that factory. So, even the installations will have to hold until we get the 100KV transformer.
Two, we need to extend water to both sites because the process requires a lot of water. However, the engineers are ready; we are [actually] paying them even when they are in their home country [China] because we committed them to be in the country running those machines [until we train Ugandans to operate them].
Because of the delay to release the fund, it can’t happen but we must pay because we committed them for the time.
Have you started utilizing the land you acquired in Lira?
Clet: We got the land but again due to the same challenges, the mulberry is grown there, the buildings can’t be established and we are making losses because the leaves are falling.
The weeds are now encroaching on the plantation because we cannot pay the casual workers. They are working but they are not doing the job well. If the cash was there, they would be doing the job so well and we would get the maximum benefits out of the investments. We had agreed with Lira to have a factory there for Northern Uganda and we have placed an order for the factory.
How much have you paid for the Lira factory?
Clet: We paid each factory shs1.6b.
Is there a timeline within which you know Lira can have their factory running?
Clet: For us, it should have been now because basically, everything required is there. It should have been now. But now that the money is suspended, we are waiting with no clear plan. We don’t know. And one of the challenges we are facing is the Minister saying ‘Stop Investments in those areas with no reason and we are saying ‘Why should we stop’. The government has given the money to create that for Northern Uganda, create that for Lira [Lango sub-region], and one for Acholi, Buganda and Ankole. So far we have a factory in Ankole. We have a factory in Sebei. As a region, you also needed to get a factory.
Who is your biggest funder?
Clet: It has been the government of Uganda because they committed to supporting private scientists, commercializing innovations and creating jobs for Ugandans, create wealth for Uganda which was a good policy by the government.