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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 06:59 GMT
Steel parts sent to help Ugandans
View of Mbale
The town is in the foothills of Mount Elgon in Uganda
A steelworks in Newport is helping a local charity set up a machine shop business in Uganda.

Machinery and computers have been sent by Orb Electrical Steels to the town of Mbale - where Pontypridd-based charity PONT works to relieve poverty.

The University of Glamorgan and members of the public have also donated tools to help people in the east African country become self-sufficient.

Any profits from the workshop will fund the charity's work in the region.

Howard Smith, who is project engineer for the company and volunteers with PONT, came up with the idea to donate the equipment, which was no longer needed after the 109-year-old steelworks updated.

No such business is in the area so it's really going to fill a gap
Howard Smith

"The whole thing is [about] sustainability and building capacity in Uganda for the people of Mbale, which is what we're all about with our charity so they can do things for themselves and not rely in the long-term upon us," he said.

He said that all sorts of equipment was being donated, such as milling and grinding machines, fuse boxes and computers.

"No such business is in the area so it's really going to fill a gap and allow them to do some things that they can't do at all or are very slow [at doing] at the moment," he added.

First customer

The donated equipment, which was shipped on Thursday, is expected to arrive in Mbale soon and it is planned the business will be up and running within a few months.

The first customer is already lined up - the workshop will be repairing mechanical equipment and facilities at Mbale General Hospital.

PONT - which stands for Partnerships Overseas Networking Trust - was originally set up to link Pontypridd with Mbale by linking professionals and organizations in the two countries with the aim of helping the Ugandan town to develop.

As part of this, Mr Smith has been to Mbale with a team for a week each autumn for the last three years.

Mark Cichuta, Orb Electrical Steels' general manager, agreed to donate the machines to PONT and is covering the costs of shipping them to Mbale.

The charity has also arranged for training to be given to the Ugandan people to help them operate the machinery.

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