GIFTED HANDS; How  Prof. Kwesiga transformed UIRI into center of excellence

By Moses Oketayot

 President Yoweri Museveni in January 2020 launched a modern ‘Uganda Industrials Skills Training and Production Center’ at Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve after its completion.

The groundbreaking for the construction of the center was done in 2018, implying that it took two years to complete the multi-billion skilling  project.

 

The 15-acre plot of land where the center sits was  allocated to Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in 2014 to construct the facility by Uganda Investments Authority.

 

The then Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda graced the groundbreaking ceremony on behalf of President Museveni. In his remarks, Rugunda said then that industrialization would enhance and fast track value addition to Uganda’s agricultural produce and contribute to improving household income.

 

Chinese Ambassador to Uganda at the time, Zheng Zhuqiang while speaking at the ground breaking ceremony then appreciated Uganda’s concerted efforts in making this project come true. He said that the project would equip Ugandan youth with key industrial skills using modern industrial technologies.

 

The centre is geared towards providing practical training to budding industrialists. UIRI conceived this project as a vehicle for steering the country’s economy towards knowledge and industrial led sustainable development.

 

The centre is also meant to provide a national platform for the production of agricultural implements, food and agricultural processing machinery, electrical devices and equipment and automotive parts and components.

 

“The purpose of the project is to introduce modern machining and manufacturing methods while at the same time providing integrated specialized skills training for Uganda’s technicians and engineers,” says UIA.

 

The center will have 17 facilities namely; machining and computer aided design facility, a production and training center, electronics production center, machinery processing workshop, woodwork and carpentry workshop, hardware processing, handcraft manufacturing workshop teaching buildings and staff accommodation facilities.

 

One person who cannot go without mention of the UIRI is Prof. Charles Kwesigwa who spearheaded the revamping of the Institute that was brought to its knees by those who were in charge in the beginning.

Prof. Kwesigwa while speaking to Daily Pepper on Thursday says he made very hard decisions by firing many incompetent staff, and re-launched UIRI on 1st March 2006 with 22 staff members.

He also recalls how it took a lot of convincing of President Museveni in 2012 to approve the proposal to construct the center of excellence in Namanve, with funding from the Chinese government after signing the loan agreement in 2014.

 

The industrial skills training and production center since its launch in 2020 continues to revolutionize vocational training in the East African country.

The center has five manufacturing workshops and an electrical and mechanical processing training building.

Up to 960 trainees can undertake training at the same time. The skills gained here will be used in the country’s industrialization process.

 

President Yoweri Museveni said at the launch of the facility that it will not only provide skills to locals but also manufacture mechanical parts using modern technology.

The state of the art facility is used by students, assessor from various Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions from across the country to gain hands-on skills much needed in the world of work today.

 

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