Empowering Women in Mbale Industrial Park

The Mbale Industrial Park in Uganda has emerged as a significant driver of economic growth and innovation, spanning 619 acres and hosting over 3,500 women employees. President Yoweri Museveni inaugurated the park in 2023, highlighting its role in job creation and local product manufacturing.

MBALE – “I have been a receptionist at the industrial park for three years now. Before joining, I was in a marriage that failed to work out and I came back home [Mbale],” Carol Kayegi, a single mother of three, says. She adds that life was extremely hard “for me and I started searching for jobs to take care of my children”. Luck was on her side when she submitted an application for a job to the industrial park management and received positive feedback immediately.

“I have been able to provide for my children and take them to school,” Kayegi says. Jackline Natuga, 32, who works as a field supervisor in administration and has been employed for one year at the industrial park, says she has benefitted from the favorable working environment at her workplace. “When I came here, I knew nobody. I just submitted my application, did the interview, and got the job,” she said.

The duo is among the over 3,500 women who have been employed at the Sino-Uganda Mbale Industrial Park. The Mbale city-based park was in August last year officially commissioned by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. “You may recall that this location was a bush a few years ago, but now we have a labour force of 2,000 and 36 factories here,” the President said at the time of launching the park. That labour force has since swelled providing much-needed work for both women and men.

In light of International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on March 8, 2024, Aisha Tabala, the park’s assistant administrator, says a lot has been accomplished, in ensuring gender equality and also that women are not overlooked for leadership positions at the facility.

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, which was observed on March 8, 2024, Aisha Tabala, the park’s assistant administrator, stated that much progress has been made in ensuring gender equality and that women are not overlooked for leadership roles at the institution.

“We have made significant efforts to guarantee that every woman is supported at work. As management, we have ensured that we rely more on women and that their jobs fit well with other aspects of their lives, followed by them enjoying their work and believing that their job allows them to make a difference,” says Tabala, who has worked at the facility for six years. She also states that they provide pay fairness, flexible work arrangements for women, and have anti-discrimination and harassment measures in place.

“We have established reasonable goals for each female employee and emphasized the value of positive life skills such as hard effort, perseverance, a positive attitude, and responsibility. “We’ve also been realistic about the challenges in the workplace,” she says.

Kayegi claims they have been given avenues to file complaints, ranging from sexual harassment to bullying on the premises.

Sharon Nashali, a field supervisor who has been with the facility since 2022, says, “All they asked me when I walked in to apply was if I had an identification card. I started as a casual and worked my way up the ranks.

According to Nashali, suggestion boxes located around the park’s many firms come in handy when someone has a serious issue but is hesitant to approach the authorities.

Shamim Birungi, another park supervisor, claims she began working as a casual while still a student.

However, Birungi has subsequently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics, propelling her to her current position.

Facts About Mbale Industrial Park

The Mbale Industrial Park, located in the Mbale District and spanning 619 acres, has emerged as a key hub for economic growth and innovation.

When President Museveni opened the facility, he stated: “The 16 factories I have just inaugurated, including those that are currently operational, will create commodities such as electric cables, electric meters, garments, LED lights, and a variety of other products. This project will save us from spending hundreds of millions of dollars on imports while also creating job possibilities.”

The park’s journey began in 2018, when the Uganda Investment Authority leased the area to M/S Tangshan. This collaborative alliance aims to supply serviced plots for investors looking to establish a presence in the industrial parks.

The industrial park features Uganda’s first mobile substation, which is linked to the Tororo-Soroti electricity line.

The mobile substation was installed as a temporary solution to power constraints at the industrial park while the government cleared the way for a permanent substation.
At full capacity, the park will employ over 200,000 people from the local community, up from approximately 6,000 now.

President Yoweri Museveni suggested 22 national-level industrial parks across the country to process locally generated materials for value addition.
The Chinese government has designated the Mbale Industrial Park as the industrial park with the greatest potential in Uganda due to its geographical position.

This park not only strengthens China’s international influence, but it also assists the country in transferring its economic capacity to the new “Belt and Road” condition, thereby creating new prospects for corporate development.

Mbale’s strategic location between Kampala and the Kenyan border allows for simple transportation of goods throughout the region.

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