By Matsiko Kahunga
The Executive Director of the Uganda Manufacturers' Association (UMA), Sebaggala M. Kigozi, is reported urging the Government to take graduates to Kyankwanzi to teach them how to start their own jobs.
Kigozi heads the vanguard of the private sector in Uganda, and we would appreciate if he advocated for policies and initiatives by the Government to protect and promote domestic infant industries. This is where jobs are created.
The chairman of the Sameer Group, Naushad Merali, has repeatedly been quotes saying 'East Africa will be saved by factories not shopping malls... like Dubai...which has only three million people who can be absorbed in the malls...'
UMA has done great things for Uganda and can still achieve even greater milestones. Uganda's unemployment has one simple explanation: an importer-consumer economy. And this can only be reversed by the private sector advocating for domestic industry protection.
UMA may want to compile statistics of how many Ugandan firms are born annually and how many die annually, and the cure to this mortality rate, lies in pro-active promotion of indigenous investments.
Estimates show that we only need cottage-level industries employing 10-20 each spread across the country for unemployment to be eliminated.
These cottage industries cannot compete with multinationals that flood our domestic market with cheap goods, including fake ones.
The primary stage of industrialisation, resource-based industrialisation fits well with Uganda's agricultural might, the sector in which we have chosen to engage as an instinct (peasants), a hobby (elite) and a laboratory experiment (academicians). It is here that UMA needs to take the lead.
The argument of a free liberal economy often advanced only serves to let us off the hook of doing our part: WTO agreements and rules have enough provisions that we can use to argue our case for protection. We can even begin with used textiles, leather and related goods, which stifle local production. Fakes and counterfeits are not protected by WTO.
This is how jobs are created. Kyankwanzi per se is no panacea. It can come as part of a structured national service programme, where the 'siasa' component comes within a practical apprenticeship curriculum for high school graduates on government farms, factories and plantations.