Local industrial efforts are set to receive a boost with the re-launch of the National Industrial and Development Agency.
The re-launch follows a review of strategy and structure of the agency to align it to government’s framework as well as develop the emerging industrial sector.
In the agency’s new approach, officials say that they have adopted a hands-on approach to technology support as they engage local enterprises and industries to drive growth.
According to NIRDA director general, Kampeta Sayinzoga, the agency could serve a great deal towards producing over $1.5 billion worth of exports by 2020, as well as creating over 200,000 off-farm jobs annually.
The agency will henceforth take three approaches, including open calls programme, applied research and development, as well as knowledge management.
Open calls programme involves introducing firm level innovation across specific value chains aiming at increased productivity, exports and employment creation.
So far, the agency has made open calls in banana-wine and garment value chains to increase competitiveness of the sector as well as production volumes.
Kampeta said that they targeted the sectors after assessment of the value chain potential impact in terms of productivity and employment among other factors.
The initiative takes into account aspects such as technology audits, surveys, viability for exports.
On selection, firms will receive support in the form of technology provision, equipment, capacity building as well as training. NIRDA also connects them to financiers with Sayinzoga revealing that they are keen on bringing in venture capitalists to work with firms in the space.
The open calls programme is done via an online platform development by a local software company, Hexakomb.
Sayinzoga said that, going forward, they were considering the viability of other value chains to consider in the next open programme, including horticulture and wood given the size and impact of the industries.
The agency is also introducing research within the local industrial sector geared towards the local industrial context.
It will offer incubation for production ideas conception, scaling as well as commercialisation with a broad aim of creating a generation of industrial innovators.
The research and development component will also avail testing facilities for private industries, provide a collaborative space for young innovators and also act as a link between academia and industry.
The agency also will roll out a knowledge management system on priority subsectors and value chains which are relevant to the national economic growth.
The information will serve multiple purposes, including informing investments and innovations, industrial priorities among others.
The agency has been working closely with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA.