Southern Range Nyanza, also known as Nytil, despite inheriting a dysfunctional plant 20 years ago, the story of the country's oldest textile factory seems to have taken a turn for the better as it still active in the textile manufacturing business.
Nytil general manager, Vinay Kumar, said that they employ nearly 1,500 people, most of whom are women. They have three shifts and produce 18,000 T-shirts per day and they are the major suppliers of uniforms of armed forces in the region, among other whole range of products.
When it was taken by the new investor, about $31m (Shs103b) was injected into the revival of the plant. About $5m (Shs16.7b) has been invested in the operation and processes of the factory, with about $2m (Shs6.6b) of that being used in purchasing modern facilities before the close of the year.
Although strange, Uganda imports armed forces uniform from Asia yet Nytil has the facilities and capacity to do that.
Nytil was taken over by the present owners in March 1996. According to the corporate affairs director, Mr Richard Mubiru, the textile plant that started operating shortly before Uganda got independence, was as good as dead when it exchanged hands then.
For example, by the time of the takeover, the people who were on the previous payroll were 6,800. Today they are less than that number but in terms of contributing to the turnover growth, they are 10 times better than the 6,800.
The total investment that has so far been injected in the last few years is in excess of Shs60b. And this is so because they are here for a long haul and want to fully modernize the plant to the required level.
Before Nytil was not doing garment. It was doing the traditional Khaki and Jinja (cotton clothes). When they took over, modern tailoring machines were put and even started manufacturing T-Shirts, all these range of products are the new effort that has come in, Mr Mubiru said.
In addition to the 18,000 T-shirts made per day, the factory also processes 100,000 metres of fabrics as well as giving it colour of different shades and finishing.
The plant has a spinning capacity of eight tonnes per day while weaving is at nearly 100,000 metres per day.
And of the 150,000 bales produced, only 15,000 is consumed locally, something the industry player wants changed by implementing policies that will see Ugandans give preference to locally manufactured products as opposed to craving for imported textiles, most of which, are second hand used clothes.
They also want used or second- hand clothes banned for it has an impact on consumption of locally- made textile products, which directly threatens survival of textile manufacturers such as Nytil.
Industry reports indicate that about 80 per cent of textiles, particularly clothes, are imported.
If this is not dealt with, it will not take long for the livelihood of about 2.5 million people engaged in the sector to deteriorate further than it is the case now.
According to Mr Mubiru, energy consumes the most cost in the textile business. Whereas in Asia it is far cheaper, in Uganda, he said that the cost is prohibitive.
The private sector leadership, particularly the Uganda Manufacturers Association, have on numerous occasions, said the high cost of power is responsible for their meek competitiveness, giving way to Asian-based products, thanks to cheaper production costs, to flood the local market.
To minimise the shock, the industry players want government to start by stopping the importation of armed forces uniform for the locally manufactured ones - after all, the capacity to do that is already available.
Founded in 1954, Nytil is Uganda's largest integrated textile industry, with a modernised plant. In Nytil, the country has one of the largest integrated mills in the East African region, which performs all technical processes on a textile, right from fibre preparatory processes, including spinning to garment construction with the state-of-the-art equipment.
Nytil targets a $50m (Shs167b) turnover this year up from $40m (about Shs133b).
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