ERITREAN leader Isaias Afwerki has hailed Uganda’s progress over the years, describing the changes since his last visit as “quite advanced”.
“It is quite advanced compared to what I saw a long time ago. We need to engage more. We would like to cooperate with you,” said Afwerki. He was touring Roofings factory in Lubowa during his three-day state visit to Uganda.
Afwerki said his country would consider procuring some of the products given their prices and the transport costs.
Roofings Group is targeting to produce a total of 350,000 tonnes of steel by 2013 once their expanded Namanve industrial park plant is at full production.
Welcoming the Afwerki, Oliver Lalani, a director at Roofings, said this would push the firm’s export earnings to $140m and a turnover of $350m.
“The export earnings are roughly 40% of turnover,” Lalani said.
Lalani said the firm faced challenges such as increasing product prices, which has slowed demand and Chinese and Indian products that have flooded the market.
“It is a very price sensitive market,” Lalani said.
But he pointed out that the Government’s tax breaks and a conducive investment environment had eased the pressure.
Afwerki had earlier asked whether the country had reserves of iron ore to supply the country’s steel demand. The steel sector is facing increasing demand following the expansion of the construction sector that has been one of the fastest growing in recent years.
But prices have shot up following the double digit inflation, as well as the high cost of fuel that observers say may ultimately slow the sector.