By Moses Watasa
In the hugely insightful book, “Sowing the Mustard Seed”, Second Edition, page 317, President Museveni opines that; “Many families are simply bystanders as far as modern living is concerned. They only produce food for eating. Yet their needs are food and non-food needs. It is this situation that contributes to the problem of poverty in the villages”.
True because, in spite of a steadily growing and healthy GDP now totaling to USD 29.5 Billion (Ushs109.7 Trillion), 68% of Uganda’s population is still outside the monetized economy. Thus, increasing household incomes remains high on the President’s agenda. In the just-concluded countrywide tour, his messaging has been anchored around 4 wealth creation pillars i.e. agriculture, industrialization, services, and ICT.
Agriculture is a key segment of our economy, accounting for 25% of Uganda’s GDP and employing 70% of the population. A sector employing most Ugandans but contributing a quarter of our GDP is ‘symptomatic’ of low production/ productivity and minimal value addition.
So, the government is investing in enhancing production capacity and value addition. In FY 2018/2017, 280 tractors were procured and distributed to farmers. Another 100 will be procured this FY. A re-capitalized UDB is supporting more farmers under concessional terms. Through OWC, YLP and UWEP farmers now access government support, just like they do through SACCOs.
Now, President Museveni has added Ushs 400 billion per annum, for wealth creation, including via agriculture. He has been advising against land fragmentation, a retrogressive practice which cripples production, as he promotes the 4-acre farming model to productivity.
For industrialization, Uganda’s investor-friendly policies, with heavy investment in electricity generation is paying off. Factories opening up, including those that process agricultural produce offer better prices to farmers than middlemen. Besides, many youths are directly employed in the 4,900+ industries across Uganda. This is a phenomenal increase, i.e. from 80 factories in 1986. The government continues to develop industrial parks in Kampala and upcountry. The progress is such that such parks in Kampala and upcountry centers like Kapeeka, Kabale, Mbarara, Soroti, and Kasese already employ 47,000 Ugandans.
In the case of services an over-all solid economy, rich flora and fauna, unique scenery, border-to-border security, are some of the enablers. Opportunities abound with hotels, transport, tourism, banking and insurance/ other professional services. In the case of tourism, for instance, Uganda registered 1.4 million arrivals in 2018, earning the country USD $1.45 billion. Tourism also employs over 230,000 people. The outlook is of massive growth potential with more wealth creation possibilities for travel agents, airlines, transporters, safari guides and suppliers of indigenous crafts/souvenirs.
Regarding ICT, the possibilities for wealth creation are immense. A fast-growing facet of Uganda’s economy, ICT already employs over 2 million people, across its expanded value chain. It encompasses computer hardware, electronic equipment, ICT solutions/software, E-services, including Business Process Outsourcing and mobile money enterprises, among others.
Here, the government’s friendly policy includes funding innovators of ICT solutions through the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance. 72 innovators have been supported thus far, with 6 ICT solutions already on the market. These have created over 120 jobs. Government’s move to raise local content for ICT solutions to 70% in 4 years’ time has huge wealth creation prospects for Ugandan innovators.
As he wound-up the latest anti-poverty drive, President Museveni stressed that; “The wealth creation drive I started in May is coming to a close this weekend with engagements in Rwenzori sub-region. The seed is sowed, I urge all Ugandans to water it so that we get a bumper harvest”. spot-on!
Commissioner, Information, and Communication
MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE