Agriculture thrives on the fertile soils, abundant water sources, and reliable rainfall. Other industries are metal processing, leather and paper processing, grain milling, sugar, some organic fruits, and coffee growing for export, and brewing for local sale. There is some local and export fishing on Lake Victoria. British-American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) closed its Jinja tobacco-processing factory in 2005, due to high taxes. The biggest local employer is currently the Kakira Sugar Works, a member of the Madhvani Group of companies. Kakira Sugar Works is one of the largest sugar factories in East Africa, employing over 75,000. The factory burns bagasse byproducts from sugar manufacturing to generate 20 MW of electricity for internal use. The excess electricity is sold to the national grid.

The headquarters of Nile Breweries Limited can also be found in Njeru, a suburb of Jinja, near the Source of the Nile, from which the brewery has been drawing its water for the past fifty years. Building of the brewery commenced in 1952 but was only completed four years later. Bottles of Nile Beer (now Nile Special Lager and still the company’s flagship brand) were first enjoyed by consumers back in 1956. In 2001, Nile Breweries Limited was fully acquired by South African Breweries Ltd. (SAB). A year later, in May 2002, SAB acquired Miller Brewing Company in the United States, thus forming SABMiller Plc.

In recent years, Nile Breweries’ investment in its people, brands and physical assets have given rich reward, both in performance and recognition. Volume growth and profitability have steadily risen, along with significant debt reduction that threatened the company’s ability to trade during the early part of the decade. This has encouraged further capital project investment.

Compared to other urban areas, Jinja’s economic recovery has been rather sluggish. Uganda’s economic boom that started in 1990s saw rapid expansion in Uganda’s capitalKampala, which is only 87 kilometres (54 mi) west of Jinja. However, recently 2010, the economy of Jinja has picked up steadily and many investors are now setting shop

In the past, factories chose Jinja as their base due to the proximity of the electric power station at the Owen Falls Dam. However, in recent years, it has become more convenient to locate businesses in Kampala due to the latter’s more vibrant economy. Furthermore, a significant number of the Busoga ‘elite’ have moved to Kampala to benefit from the social and economic advantages it has over Jinja. Another controversial reason is the improvement of the road infrastructure between Kampala and the coast at Mombasa inKenya which is Uganda’s only route to the Indian Ocean and the country’s main trade route. The poor maintenance of this route during the 1970s and 1980s meant that most trucks carrying goods to and from the coast were diverted into the heart of Jinja on their way to and from Kampala. This supported a significant part of Jinja’s economy. Once the main road was repaired, these trucks started to by-pass Jinja.

The International oil refining company called Bidco, maintains an oil refinery factory in the city. The palm oil fruits come from Bidco’s 6,500 hectares (16,000 acres) plantation on Bugala Island in the Ssese Islands Archipelago, Kalangala District, in Lake Victoria. The factory in the islands crushes the fruit and the crude palm oil is transported to Jinja for refining into edible oil and other products.

Hared Petroleum a petroleum company has also contributed to the growth of Jinja. It has a fuel depot and several fuel stations in the city. Excel construction company and Salini Construrori are also based in Jinja. These are some of the largest construction companies in Uganda. Salini Construrori is currently constructing the multi-billion dollar Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Dam project in Jinja on Bujagali falls, expected to be completed in 2012

Other industries in Jinja include the following:

  • Nile Agro Industries Ltd.
  • Mayuge Sugar Ind Ltd.
  • G.M. Sugar Ind Ltd.
  • Pramukh Steel Ltd.
  • Pramukh Polybag Ltd.
  • Royal Techno Projects Ltd.
  • Nile Surgicot Ltd.
  • Nile Aluminium Ltd.
  • Nile Derivatives Ltd.
  • Nile Plywood Limited
  • White Nile Dairy Limited.
  • Nile Agroprocessors Limited
  • Engano Grain Millers Limited
  • Kengrow Industries Limited
  • Sky Fat Limited
  • Jinja Leather Tannery Limited
  • Uganda Steel Rolling Mills Limited – US$13 million plant under construction, with capacity to produce 150 metric tonnes of steel daily.
  • Alam Sugar Factory
  • Alam Thermal Power Station – A 20MW thermal power station, using baggase to generate electricity.
  • Azania Water

For more information on businesses, please visit the online business directory for Jinja