The Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) yesterday started construction of the security printing factory in Entebbe.
USPC was established on October 4, 2018 as a joint venture between the Ugandan government and a German consortium Veridos.
The partnership aims to revamp the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) by redesigning, developing, constructing, testing and commissioning an electronic passport and identity factory; and also to provide the Government with all the security documents and the corresponding computer systems.
The state owns 51% of the Special Purpose Vehicle while the rest is owned by the latter.
According to USPC Director General George Mugerwa, the construction and installation of the plant will cost up to 107 billion shillings.
“The cost of the civil works amounts to 41 billion and will be financed by the resources generated internally by the USPC. This component is expected to be completed within 18 months and this contract has been awarded to the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) Consortium and Technology Associates,” Mugerwa said.
“The equipment component is expected to cost 66 billion shillings and this will be funded by a loan which we have not yet secured,” he added.
By localizing the production of all government security documents, Mugerwa says he hopes to reduce currency haemorrhage and create job opportunities
The USPC currently produces passports, national identity (ID) cards, electronic driver’s licenses, and birth and death certificates.
Once the project is complete and fully functional, Mugerwa said they hope to explore other areas.
“Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urbanism with regard to Land Titles, Ministry of Education with regard to Academic Certificates, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Planning with regard to Financial Instruments, Department of Agriculture with respect to the certificates issued for vaccination of animals and also the Department of Health I’m pretty sure that if we get business from these entities it will not only help USPC leverage its revenue base, but it will also help the government,” Mugerwa added.
Apart from producing documents, Minister for the Presidency Milly Babirye Babalanda and Secretary for the Minister for the Presidency Hajj Yunus Kakande revealed that the facility could help reduce the outsourcing of foreign exchange production.
“There are also plans to print Ugandan currency in the long term. This should take place after a thorough feasibility study has been undertaken to determine the viability of this project,” Babalanda said.
According to DW, at least 40 African countries print their currency in the UK, France and Germany – decades after independence, raising questions about self-sufficiency.
The Minister further implored the USPC to liaise with the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) for funds needed for the equipment component.
“On that note, I also wish to add my voice to that of the Right Honorable Prime Minister who advised USPC to consider borrowing from the Uganda Development Bank (UDC) rather than commercial banks which lend to very high interest rates. UDB, as a government development bank, is more user-friendly and should be given first priority. »
In addition, Babalanda cautioned procurement officers against short-term ratepayer changes.
“You have to make sure that the machines purchased meet the current and future safety document requirements in the country. You should not acquire machines that cannot cope with the huge printing demands of both government entities and the private sector. In my letter, I was advising you not to get inferior equipment. This position still stands and any attempt to violate this position will result in severe penalties,” she roared.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the German Ambassador to Uganda, HE Mathias Schauer hinted that the establishment of this plant will go a long way in cementing Uganda’s sovereignty and democracy.
“By acquiring this special printing technology for passports, Uganda is at the same time taking a big step towards your national sovereignty…. Is there any document strongly associated with an independent sovereign country other than its passport? I can’t think of one,” Schauer noted.