Atiak Sugar Factory has made green fields out of battlefields, says CEO

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe, 'the woman who changed urban Uganda,' is now transforming rural Uganda with her latest investment project


Atiak Sugar Factory will produce 50,000 tonnes of sugar per day when it goes into operation in April 2020. But it will also create and sustain livelihoods for thousands of workers and farmers – in an area of northern Uganda that until recently was devastated by conflict. The project is being driven by Dr Amina Hersi Moghe, CEO of Horyal Investment; in this video she discusses the benefits of the factory, and why she decided it was so important to empower local women and give back to society.

European CEO: Dr Amina, tell me about the factory. What’s its business model, and what do you hope it will achieve?

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe: Atiak Sugar is an agri-business factory where we are doing value-addition from the sugar plantation into production of sugar.

This project is very good because it has three components: one, me as an investor; second, the government as a co-investor; and the people, the community are also part of it, because they’re the ones who are growing the cane.

And this is a very big thing in northern Uganda, because this is an area where there was war, for the last almost 20 years. People were hopeless. But now, this new project that I have has changed all the battlefields into green fields.

It has already given momentum. The women are the ones who are the biggest beneficiaries in my factory. So I think it is a very good thing for both the government and as ourselves.

European CEO: You’re working with the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association on this project; tell me about that partnership.

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe: So when this opportunity came, I realised this was a call from my creator that I should give back to the women. And I’m happy to say now that the chairperson and the owners of Atiak Outgrowers Association – which is the women who are the 3,000 working for me – come from the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association. So it was very, very good. And when I’m working with them, what they always tell me is that a woman who is wealthy, is a wealthy society. A wealthy society is a wealthy nation.

So I’m happy God has blessed me, in that I am giving back to society.

European CEO: Now you did experience some challenges with the surrounding infrastructure during development; tell me more.

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe: Well, when I went myself it was like a deserted place. There were no roads, I had to come in to do the opening of the roads. Water, we don’t have water – although we have rivers there, I had to get boreholes to go to the houses and all that. So the cost of doing the whole infrastructure was very, very, very high.

But I was already convinced from when I came, and I said, even if I lose everything, these people need help. Because I felt if a person like me, who has already been blessed in the country, cannot take this risk, I don’t think anybody else will ever take the risk, and change this place.

So I’m happy that the government, as they have partnered with me, are also helping me on the infrastructure. They have really helped to really transform this place.

European CEO: It’s been a long road to get here; as of time of filming we are mere weeks away from the factory going into production, currently scheduled for April 2020. What is the timeline for the coming year, and what does the future hold for Horyal Investment?

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe: We are going to start the factory by April this year, and we are looking at production in the year of about 60,000 tonnes.

I’m happy that we have already grown the cane, so to do that production will not be difficult. And we are thinking to immediately expand our capacity. So that also will add up into our GDP: money going to the people.

The other products we are looking at: we’re already going to produce 6 MW power, but immediately when we increase our capacity we will go to almost 18 MW.

We will also be able to produce ethanol, paper, a carbon dioxide distillery. So I am very, very happy, and I know Atiak Sugar is going to bring a lot of other blessings in the people.

European CEO: Dr Amina, thank you very much.

Dr Amina Hersi Moghe: Thank you.