Prof Tom Davis Wasswa, the Managing Director (Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation-UPPC)
Beginning March, Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) will take over the services of printing and issuing driving permits and passports from South Africa’s Face Technologies once their contract expires on February 28-2021.
QN: In the next few days, you will be taking over the printing and issuance of driving permits from Face Technologies. Give us the background of the partnership.
UPPC executed a Joint Venture Agreement on October 4, 2018 with Veridos GmbH and Giesecke + Devrient GmbH, a consortium individually represented by Veridos GmbH; a company incorporated under the Laws of Germany. The Joint Venture Company is called Uganda Security Printing Company Limited (USPC) and UPPC which represents the interests of the government owns 51 per cent of its shareholding while Veridos GmbH owns 49 per cent. The Joint Venture Company executes the security printing mandate of UPPC. Progress of the implementation of the JVA and benefits arising from it is promising.
QN: Why the take over?
The key thing is when we take over, Uganda will save the foreign exchange; more Ugandans will get employment because this time, we shall be in charge. If we take over, many countries in the region will come to us for printing services. Germans are very efficient people and they are bringing latest technologies and experience which Ugandans will tap. It will be the biggest printery in East Africa.
QN: Why do people doubt the government doing business?
Ugandans don’t believe in their own things but since it is a joint venture, we expect efficiency and quality work from the new team. The new venture is driven by Germany technology.
QN: How prepared are you?
Everything is ready and tested.
QN: Apart from this new assignment, what other things does UPPC do?
There is a general public misconception that UPPC prints and publishes for only government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Contrary to this, the UPPC law spells out the broad function and mandate of the Corporation “To provide printing and publishing facilities to ministries, departments, parastatal bodies and to private individuals and organisations”. We do print and publish all government legislation and documents. We publish the Uganda Gazette which is the official government newspaper.
UPPC act as an in-service school to train its own and other organisations’ apprentice printers, chief advisor to the government on all printing and publishing matters, provide printing services to parastatal, private organisations and individuals.
Provide stationery, such as envelopes, desk calendars, letter-heads, visiting cards, file folders, car stickers among others for office use, publications which enhance the culture, welfare and unity of Uganda. We also print both text books and exercise books or any other books for general reading or use, carry out binding services on books, magazines or other documents.
QN: Are you paid by government or you offer free printing services especially for government agencies?
UPPC is a public enterprise that is fully owned by the government. It was established in 1992 by the UPPC of the UPPC Act provides that the corporation shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue or be sued in its corporate name.
UPPC operates on commercial principles like any other commercial entity as it does not get any funding from the government. All services are therefore paid for at market rates as this enables the Corporation to sustain its business operations.
Although UPPC is fully owned by the government, all government agencies pay for the printing services, as the corporation is operating on commercial principles.
QN: There is a lot of competition in the printing industry. How do you ensure you remain relevant?
We do have experience of over 100 years of printing business and we are very competitive in terms of quality, delivery and prices. On many occasions, we compete and win competitive bids.
We are very customer-centric and respond to our customer’s needs. We have highly trained personnel and customer-oriented processes that ensure good quality services and products. Additionally, our prices are driven by market forces.
QN: Do you have any strategy of going into the local market to source for clients other than waiting for government business?
The law spells out that it is the mandate of the Corporation to provide printing and publishing facilities to government ministries, departments, parastatal bodies and to private individuals and organisations. We have a strong marketing team headed by the sales and marketing manager who source for commercial printing services from different private parastatals such as Non-Government Organsations (NGOs), Universities, schools, hospitals among others.
QN:Tell us about your venture into security printing, how prepared are you?
To deliver and accomplish our vision of being the market leader in security printing and publishing, we have embarked on strengthening the capacity of our staff through training and the outcome is expected to build their competencies in security printing.
UPPC has established and strengthened networking and partnership building with strategic stakeholders which gives us significant opportunity to improve on our Organisation’s business prospects.
QN: What are your future plans?
We are planning to establish a modern commercial office in Kampala, introduce new products in the gazette like tenders and open more distribution centres in different districts of the country to take our services closer to the market.
There are plans to digitise the National database of all Laws, Gazettes, Bills, Acts and Regulations which will offer more access for laws to the public (E-publishing).
We are also planning to expand the market in the EAC (East African Community) by establishing member country liaison offices; establish strong partnerships with manufacturers of raw materials like ink, paper and machines.
There are also plans to increase our product profile including expansion of the publishing activities and starting a printing school and museum.
QN: Any challenges?
UPPC faces challenges like increasing prices of printing materials such as paper, ink, and the ever changing printing technologies.
Competition from the informal printing sector, high capital intensity of the printing industry and lengthy procurement processes are other challenges.
The broad function of UPPC places critical public and government information like security documents, the Uganda Gazette and all government legislation in its custody. Therefore, we cannot do away with Information Technology.
UPPC strives to be up to date with printing technology and plans to update its ICT infrastructure. We are moving from the old printing technologies to the latest printing technologies that support security printing.
Joint Venture Registration.
Details from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) show that USPC was registered on October 12, 2018, as a joint venture between the government-owned Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) and German firm Veridos.
This is the same company that was contracted in 2016 as Veridos Identity Solutions GMBH to be in charge of security printing on behalf of government.