The construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will boost investments in the Bukedi Sub region, which is endowed with fertile soils and minerals, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has stated in its latest profile of the region.
UIA, the lead agency charged with the promotion of investments, has profiled the region that borders south western Kenya at the key border towns of Busia and Malaba, through which Uganda exports and imports its goods.
In the profile code-named ‘Bukedi Investment Profile 2017’, the UIA says: “Coupled with this is the expected development of offshoot industries and services which will project Bukedi region in the right direction to boost employment and incomes of the locals.”
The region comprises the districts of Tororo, Busia, Pallisa Butaleja, Budaka, and Kibuku, all with high potential for the development of commercial agriculture and agri-business, tourism as well as quarrying and mining.
According to UIA, the region and particularly Tororo district, is going to be the hub of the SGR where the eastern and northern routes from Kenya will be divided. The eastern route will run from Tororo to Kampala through Iganga and Jinja (261km) while the northern route will run through Gulu to Nimule (476km) with a spur to Pakwach (117km).
The region currently is served by a network of tarmac and feeder roads including the Mombasa-Kampala highway in the northern corridor.
Bukedi sub region is synonymous with cotton growing and ginning although there are few farmers engaged in robusta coffee farming. The region also has potential investment opportunities in improved fruit such as mangoes, oranges, pineapples.
The UIA profile shows that agri-businesses can also invest in food crops such as rice, cassava, beans, maize, onions, sunflower, millet as well as livestock farming.
Further, the UIA indicates that the sub region has proven deposits of gold at Tira and Amonikakine in Busia, while magnetic iron ore and 45 million tonnes of phosphate exist at Sukulu. Other minerals include titanium and rare earth elements.
The region already hosts industries such as Tororo Cement which mines limestone and Uganda Clays which manufactures building materials such as tiles and blocks.
The fact that Bukedi strides the border of Uganda and Kenya, the location offers numerous cross border trade opportunities in produce rice, fish, beans, coffee, maize which have lucrative market in Kenya. UIA says Bugisu sub region, with Mbale town, is also a good market for Bukedi’s products.
However, UIA says the region faces challenges like low prices of produce, inadequate storage facilities, inadequate skills and low urbanization which is characterised by low presence of banks, internet booths and shopping malls.
But the challenges, UIA says can be turned into opportunities by the investors.