Uganda at 52: Achievements gained and challenges to tackle

Uganda at 52: Achievements gained and challenges to tackle

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On Thursday 9th October Uganda celebrated it’s 52nd Independence anniversary at Kololo Airstrip. Granted independence in 1962, Uganda as a country has not had a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the other. On separate accounts Uganda has been plunged into violence and civil war because of bad leadership.

Back in 1979 with the help of the Tanzanian Peoples Defence forces several Ugandan exiled forces captured Kampala and Amin was ousted from power. In 1981 a group of patriotic men and women who were dissatisfied with the 1980 election results launched a protracted armed struggle and toppled Obote’s second government. On all these accounts separate accounts several lives were lost and the economy was shattered.

President Museveni who took power as President on 26th January 1986 has so far been Uganda’s longest serving president of all the presidents since Uganda was granted Independence.

President Museveni inherited a state that had been torn apart by ethnic and religious conflicts and an economy shattered by years of civil war, political instability and physical insecurity. Severe macroeconomic imbalances fuelled inflation and contributed to foreign exchange scarcity. Revenues had dropped to 7.4 per cent of GDP, industrial enterprises lay abandoned and even the remarkably resilient agricultural sector lay abandoned as farmers fled their farms in search of refuge.

Several economic and political reforms were undertaken and this saw Uganda adopt a private sector led economy through liberalization of the economy. Several state parastatals and enterprises were divested and among these were Uganda Airlines, Uganda commercial bank, Uganda Electricity Board, Uganda posts and Telecommunication Corporation and many others.

Through these economic reforms Uganda has been able to attract foreign investors who have invested in several sectors of the economy. Notable sectors that have grown rapidly include the telecommunication sector and the construction sector that have witnessed rapid growth. Uganda today boasts of a very vibrant telecommunication sector with over six players namely Airtel, MTN, Orange, K2 (owned by Buganda Kingdom), Smart Telecom, Smile Telecom and UTL. This has increased competition and resulted in the provision of quality services to the Ugandan People.

Apart from providing voice call services, Telecommunication companies have invested heavily in the provision of data (internet) and mobile money services and through their investments they contribute to Uganda’s GDP through payment of taxes. Today MTN is ranked among Uganda’s top tax payers and employers.

The construction sector has also grown rapidly. The boom in Uganda’s construction sector is attributed to the availability of local construction materials and in-puts. To construct a house in Uganda one doesn’t need to import sand, cement, timber, iron sheets and bricks. These building materials are available locally.

 

Uganda has also registered tremendous growth in the media industry with several radio stations, print media, and online news websites that are present today. Uganda’s Education sector has also grown rapidly. Uganda now boasts of several private universities, primary and secondary schools. This has helped to spur literacy levels.

The aviation industry has also registered a sharp rise in passenger and Airline traffic with Emirates, Doha based Qatar Airlines, Turkish Airlines contributing handsomely to Uganda’s revenues. Other Airlines that have taken root at Entebbe International Airport include Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, British Airways, KLM and recently Etihad Airways, Fastjet and fly dubai recently launched their flights to Entebbe International Airport all paying revenue and create jobs.

Uganda’s banking sector has also grown rapidly and now the Ugandan public has a variety of banks to choose from where they can save their money.

But most importantly there has been growth of large, small and medium term enterprises (SME’s). Notable of these are in agro-processing.

Uganda now boasts of local manufacturers who are engaged in fruit, tea and coffee processing. Processed juice from fruits like mangoes, Orange, berries, apples, pineapple and passion fruits can now be found in several supermarkets and shops in Uganda and all these positive achievements are as a result of sustained political stability.

Why must we buy imported coffee and other beverages when we have our local manufacturers engaged in the processing of tea, coffee and other beverages? Why must we buy imported Vaseline and body lotion when we have Samona? I myself stopped buying imported products like Jellies (Vaseline) and beverages like Nescafe.

Supporting our local manufacturers means buying and consuming their products this creates market for their products and as a result the profits earned are invested back into the economy other than being repatriated.

At the back of these achievements is the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) an army that President Museveni built from scratch from 1986 when the NRA took power. Hearing stories from our parents who have witnessed turmoil in Uganda from the 1970’s to 1980’s majority will agree that Uganda under the NRM regime is stable.

But with all these positive achievements Uganda has over the years retrogressed in areas of service delivery. Education, health and Agriculture are some of the sectors that continue to limp.

Uganda’s public hospitals and institutions are equally limping too.  These two sectors continue to witness severe brain drain with most doctors, teachers, and university lecturers leaving Uganda for greener pastures. Poor remuneration is the biggest cause of brain drain in Uganda.

Even with a rising a middle class, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and widen.

Unemployment continues to grow rapidly among the youth who continue to graduate in their thousands from the several universities.

The country is now more divided on ethnic grounds. Many people from the east, north and central Uganda have a general perception that every westerner especially those who hail from southwestern Uganda are either supporters or spies of President Museveni.

So many countries across Africa have credited Uganda for formulating the best policies, laws and institutions to fight corruption and steer the country to a middle income country. But according to some analysts and observers Uganda’s biggest challenge is implementation of the policies and this is largely attributed to the lack of political will from top leadership.

Uganda is yet to fully benefit from the commercial oil deposits that were discovered in Bunyoro Albertine region and Ugandans aren’t sure whether the discovery of oil will not lead to an oil curse.

Uganda under the NRM regime collects more revenue in taxes and has received countless funds in form of foreign aid from the World Bank, IMF, developed countries like the United Kingdom (UK) United States of America (USA), Ireland, Sweden, Norway and many more other countries. Many of the donor partners have on several occasions suspended their Aid to Uganda largely due to the high levels of corruption.

Even with all the funds poured into the rehabilitation of the Agriculture sector there are no tangible results. Several programs have been initiated such as the Plan for modernization (PMA), Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), NAADS, and Prosperity for All but all these programs haven’t yielded any tangible benefits. And now President Museveni has decided to deploy soldiers in the management and supervision of the NAADS program.

As a country we spend more and yet we produce less. Uganda’s public Administration expenditure has grown over the years largely due to the patronage system of the NRM government. Uganda now has one over the largest parliament, cabinet, presidential advisors, RDC’s and their deputies, GISO’s and DISO’s in East Africa and Africa.

Uganda’s imports outweigh the exports. Fish and flowers constitute Uganda’s main exports at the airport. In the region the market is still limited to Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda. I have met some local entrepreneurs who are engaged in the production of wine and some of the challenges they face is the lack of market for their wine.

In 2016 President Museveni who will have been in power for 30 years has failed to realize the power of sports in developing, promoting and uniting a nation. Uganda’s sports fraternity has been on ‘drip’ right from the time Museveni came to power. Uganda has amazing sports talent in athletics, football, basketball, Rugby and other sports but many of the sports men and women struggle on their own. Even after retiring from sports many have no incomes to survive on.

Uganda is a country with enormous potential with a population that is hospitable. If our leaders desire to see Uganda become a middle income country then there must be willingness to learn from countries like Singapore, China and Rwanda that have been transformed from poor and underdeveloped into prosperous nations and are success stories.

On Thursday 9th October Uganda celebrated it’s 52nd Independence anniversary at Kololo Airstrip. Granted independence in 1962, Uganda as a country has not had a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the other. On separate accounts Uganda has been plunged into violence and civil war because of bad leadership.

Back in 1979 with the help of the Tanzanian Peoples Defence forces several Ugandan exiled forces captured Kampala and Amin was ousted from power. In 1981 a group of patriotic men and women who were dissatisfied with the 1980 election results launched a protracted armed struggle and toppled Obote’s second government. On all these accounts separate accounts several lives were lost and the economy was shattered.

President Museveni who took power as President on 26th January 1986 has so far been Uganda’s longest serving president of all the presidents since Uganda was granted Independence.

President Museveni inherited a state that had been torn apart by ethnic and religious conflicts and an economy shattered by years of civil war, political instability and physical insecurity. Severe macroeconomic imbalances fuelled inflation and contributed to foreign exchange scarcity. Revenues had dropped to 7.4 per cent of GDP, industrial enterprises lay abandoned and even the remarkably resilient agricultural sector lay abandoned as farmers fled their farms in search of refuge.

Several economic and political reforms were undertaken and this saw Uganda adopt a private sector led economy through liberalization of the economy. Several state parastatals and enterprises were divested and among these were Uganda Airlines, Uganda commercial bank, Uganda Electricity Board, Uganda posts and Telecommunication Corporation and many others.

Through these economic reforms Uganda has been able to attract foreign investors who have invested in several sectors of the economy. Notable sectors that have grown rapidly include the telecommunication sector and the construction sector that have witnessed rapid growth. Uganda today boasts of a very vibrant telecommunication sector with over six players namely Airtel, MTN, Orange, K2 (owned by Buganda Kingdom), Smart Telecom, Smile Telecom and UTL. This has increased competition and resulted in the provision of quality services to the Ugandan People.

Apart from providing voice call services, Telecommunication companies have invested heavily in the provision of data (internet) and mobile money services and through their investments they contribute to Uganda’s GDP through payment of taxes. Today MTN is ranked among Uganda’s top tax payers and employers.

The construction sector has also grown rapidly. The boom in Uganda’s construction sector is attributed to the availability of local construction materials and in-puts. To construct a house in Uganda one doesn’t need to import sand, cement, timber, iron sheets and bricks. These building materials are available locally.

 

Uganda has also registered tremendous growth in the media industry with several radio stations, print media, and online news websites that are present today. Uganda’s Education sector has also grown rapidly. Uganda now boasts of several private universities, primary and secondary schools. This has helped to spur literacy levels.

The aviation industry has also registered a sharp rise in passenger and Airline traffic with Emirates, Doha based Qatar Airlines, Turkish Airlines contributing handsomely to Uganda’s revenues. Other Airlines that have taken root at Entebbe International Airport include Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, British Airways, KLM and recently Etihad Airways, Fastjet and fly dubai recently launched their flights to Entebbe International Airport all paying revenue and create jobs.

Uganda’s banking sector has also grown rapidly and now the Ugandan public has a variety of banks to choose from where they can save their money.

But most importantly there has been growth of large, small and medium term enterprises (SME’s). Notable of these are in agro-processing.

Uganda now boasts of local manufacturers who are engaged in fruit, tea and coffee processing. Processed juice from fruits like mangoes, Orange, berries, apples, pineapple and passion fruits can now be found in several supermarkets and shops in Uganda and all these positive achievements are as a result of sustained political stability.

Why must we buy imported coffee and other beverages when we have our local manufacturers engaged in the processing of tea, coffee and other beverages? Why must we buy imported Vaseline and body lotion when we have Samona? I myself stopped buying imported products like Jellies (Vaseline) and beverages like Nescafe.

Supporting our local manufacturers means buying and consuming their products this creates market for their products and as a result the profits earned are invested back into the economy other than being repatriated.

At the back of these achievements is the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) an army that President Museveni built from scratch from 1986 when the NRA took power. Hearing stories from our parents who have witnessed turmoil in Uganda from the 1970’s to 1980’s majority will agree that Uganda under the NRM regime is stable.

But with all these positive achievements Uganda has over the years retrogressed in areas of service delivery. Education, health and Agriculture are some of the sectors that continue to limp.

Uganda’s public hospitals and institutions are equally limping too.  These two sectors continue to witness severe brain drain with most doctors, teachers, and university lecturers leaving Uganda for greener pastures. Poor remuneration is the biggest cause of brain drain in Uganda.

Even with a rising a middle class, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and widen.

Unemployment continues to grow rapidly among the youth who continue to graduate in their thousands from the several universities.

The country is now more divided on ethnic grounds. Many people from the east, north and central Uganda have a general perception that every westerner especially those who hail from southwestern Uganda are either supporters or spies of President Museveni.

So many countries across Africa have credited Uganda for formulating the best policies, laws and institutions to fight corruption and steer the country to a middle income country. But according to some analysts and observers Uganda’s biggest challenge is implementation of the policies and this is largely attributed to the lack of political will from top leadership.

Uganda is yet to fully benefit from the commercial oil deposits that were discovered in Bunyoro Albertine region and Ugandans aren’t sure whether the discovery of oil will not lead to an oil curse.

Uganda under the NRM regime collects more revenue in taxes and has received countless funds in form of foreign aid from the World Bank, IMF, developed countries like the United Kingdom (UK) United States of America (USA), Ireland, Sweden, Norway and many more other countries. Many of the donor partners have on several occasions suspended their Aid to Uganda largely due to the high levels of corruption.

Even with all the funds poured into the rehabilitation of the Agriculture sector there are no tangible results. Several programs have been initiated such as the Plan for modernization (PMA), Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), NAADS, and Prosperity for All but all these programs haven’t yielded any tangible benefits. And now President Museveni has decided to deploy soldiers in the management and supervision of the NAADS program.

As a country we spend more and yet we produce less. Uganda’s public Administration expenditure has grown over the years largely due to the patronage system of the NRM government. Uganda now has one over the largest parliament, cabinet, presidential advisors, RDC’s and their deputies, GISO’s and DISO’s in East Africa and Africa.

Uganda’s imports outweigh the exports. Fish and flowers constitute Uganda’s main exports at the airport. In the region the market is still limited to Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda. I have met some local entrepreneurs who are engaged in the production of wine and some of the challenges they face is the lack of market for their wine.

In 2016 President Museveni who will have been in power for 30 years has failed to realize the power of sports in developing, promoting and uniting a nation. Uganda’s sports fraternity has been on ‘drip’ right from the time Museveni came to power. Uganda has amazing sports talent in athletics, football, basketball, Rugby and other sports but many of the sports men and women struggle on their own. Even after retiring from sports many have no incomes to survive on.

Uganda is a country with enormous potential with a population that is hospitable. If our leaders desire to see Uganda become a middle income country then there must be willingness to learn from countries like Singapore, China and Rwanda that have been transformed from poor and underdeveloped into prosperous nations and are success stories.

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