BY BESI NDEREYA
At the end of 1986, David Lamb published his book “The Africans”. In this book, Lamb noted that 60% of the 270 million sub-Saharan Africans were malnourished; 150 million of them were facing mass-starvation in the 1980s, the per capita income was only US dollars 365 per annum – at the time the lowest in the world.
At the turn of Independence in 1962, Uganda’s government inherited economic distortions characteristic of colonial economies. These were: reliance on a few export crop (Coffee, Cotton, tobacco) which suffered from the in-durable problem of an unexpanding demand on global stage. These were moreover exported in raw form to factories in Britain. Uganda also lacked industry of a basic type such as iron and steel, chemical and medical industry, etc.
In 1962, most of our population in Uganda and Africa was illiterate with a high infant mortality rate, a low income per person, low life expectancy as well as a low per capita calorie and protein intake. To add to this unhealthy cauldron, in the case of Uganda, the British had made the Indian a captain of what little trade and industry was available. The Ugandan was relegated to farming, being a house help and if fortunate enough, a teacher at a rural school.
These facts led to a long period of political instability – first was Obote and Mutesa’s 1966 stand-off, Amin’s disastrous reign from 1971-1978, Obote II and his murderous UNLA brigades. No wonder Lamb predicted: “that by the year 2000 one out of every two Africans will be eating imported food.”
Then came the National Resistance Movement of Yoweri Museveni in 1986. The NRM did not just have a correct diagnosis of Uganda’s challenges. The NRM went ahead, with the guidance of president Museveni, to prescribe a cure. This cure was the famous NRM 10 point program. To my knowledge, this set of 10 strategic interventions is the best political and economic manifesto to emerge out of Africa from the 1980’s.
Among the 10 points were: Restoration of democracy, Security of persons and their property, Consolidation of National security and elimination of all forms of sectarianism, Defending and consolidating National Independence and Building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy.
It is these five points, especially, “Building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy – that are critical to understanding the revival of the East African community with president Museveni at the helm as well as Government of Uganda’s embrace of the “Buy Uganda Build Uganda- BUBU” campaign.
This BUBU campaign was launched in 2017. It is a strategic campaign, incorporating the original grand design to transform Uganda’s economy with new challenges – unemployment among a highly educated youth work force and the effect of “Disruptive Tech e.g. AI” on Industry.
Whereas critics may be tempted to point out issues of “standards”, “quality”, “regional integration” et al, I think this is the next critical stage to Restoration and improvement of Social services and the rehabilitation of the war ravaged areas, Elimination of corruption and misuse of power, Redressing errors that have resulted in the dislocation of sections of the population and improvement of others, Co-operation with other African countries in defending human and democratic rights of our brothers in other parts of Africa and Following an economic strategy of mixed economy. These five are the completion of the NRM’s 10 point manifesto.
Launching the #BUBUExpo2019, the Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade and Industry quoted figures in support of BUBU. Among these was purchase of locally manufactured furniture for government offices across the country. As an example, opening the new URA Tower at Nakawa last month, President Museveni noted thus: “This 22-storeyed building is a truly Ugandan project. It was fully financed by the government, constructed by a Ugandan firm and is furnished by a Ugandan-owned furniture mart.”
BUBU is a strategic decision in which government uses its leverage to shift the bulk of the population from Agriculture into manufacturing. Even for those still in Agriculture, interventions such as Operation Wealth Creation and Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) – serve as catalysts for exploiting the incredible power of Agro Processing. Working with UIRI, a group of farmers have been able to come up with “Mega Milk”.
Donald Trump, has changed the way in which America trades with China, India and the European Union. India always maintained 100% tariffs on imports were there are local alternates. The point here is this, Uganda continues to emerge from a dark past and into a prosperous one. To secure and safe guard this future, and working within existing local and international legal and trade frameworks presents a unique opportunity.
GDP from Manufacturing in Uganda increased to 1184.62 UGX Billion in the third quarter of 2018 from 1117.50 UGX Billion in the second quarter of 2018. GDP From Manufacturing in Uganda averaged 983.48 UGX Billion from 2008 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 1184.62 UGX Billion in the third quarter of 2018 and a record low of 787.93 UGX Billion in the second quarter of 2008.
“This is not a mere change of guards, BUT a fundamental change” – BUBU is part of a process of “Steady Progress”.
Besi Ndereya is a Communication Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.