ÔÇ£I am glad that I supported this company and its vision from the beginning as Minister of Water and Environment and proud of how much it has achieved,ÔÇØ said Honourable Kahinda Otafiire as the chief guest at the commissioning of New Forests Poles’ first pole treatment plant in Mityana on Thursday, 15th April 2010.
The opening of this plant marks the beginning of UgandaÔÇÖs ability to produce its own transmission poles, significantly boosting the prospects of rural electrification across the country, independent of fluctuations in foreign exchange or the global timber market, a critical factor for development and industrialization.
ÔÇ£I believe strongly that in Africa this decade we have just started ÔÇô the decade of 2010 to 2020 ÔÇô will be defined in economic development terms as the decade of access to electricity ÔÇô just as the last decade 2000-2010 was defined as the decade of access to mobile telephony,ÔÇØ said Julian Ozanne, Chief Executive Officer of The New Forests Company. ÔÇ£UgandaÔÇÖs current demand for poles is around 80,000 per annum. This factory will have a capacity at full production of producing 120,000 poles annually, thus being able to fulfil not only UgandaÔÇÖs needs but also to earn export revenues for the country from sales to neighbouring countries, saving scarce foreign exchange currently spent on importing transmission poles from South Africa and as far away as South America.ÔÇØ
Tom Buringuriza, Deputy ED of the Uganda Investment Authority was the Master of Ceremony at the event which boasted numerous VIPs aside from Honourable Otafiire, including His Excellency the British High Commissioner, government officials from Mityana, Mubende and Kiboga, and representatives from the National Forestry Authority, Umeme, and other industry leaders. The opening of NFC’s value-addition, timber treatment factory – the first of four or five more factories to come in the next 5 years as NFC’s timber continues to mature on its plantations – provides significant high quality, locally produced construction timber and transmission poles for local and regional markets.
New Forests Poles is a wholly owned subsidiary of The New Forests Company which has been planting trees in Uganda since 2005 and is the largest private tree planter in the country. By the end of this current rainy season the company will have planted 20,000 acres of new forest (31 square miles) in Mubende, Kiboga and Bugiri districts. Since 2005, The New Forests Company has invested US$18m and plans to invest a further $29m over the next five years. NFC has created 1,400 jobs, 99% of which are in rural areas.
In addition NFC has an innovative social responsibility model, investing significantly in the communities surrounding their plantations, having built 8 primary school double classroom blocks, a high school and dozens of safe water sites, and launched voluntary counseling and testing for HIV. The company has given away more than two million tree seedlings to community members neighboring its plantation through its outgrowers scheme, encouraging sustainable natural resource management and establishing sound new revenue streams for locals. The company is currently involved in building three rural health clinics and a second high school.