By Moses Byaruhanga
The Buganda Conference kicked off yesterday at Hotel Africana under the theme Promoting Investment in Buganda and Uganda; Opportunities and Challenges.
This is another good opportunity to discuss what to do in Buganda and Uganda at large. Investment creates to the investor, jobs to the public and through jobs, incomes to homesteads. On the other hand, depending on the form of investment, some investments generate taxes to the economy.
Take, for instance, the sugar industry in Uganda and some sugarcane is grown and processed in Buganda. The industry last financial year contributed sh410b in taxes to the Government, paid sh65b in form of wages and salaries to the 20,000 people the industry employs.
Buganda’s location offers a good opportunity to invest in services like hotels, processing factories, crops and animal husbandry. This is because the districts of Buganda surround the capital city where over three million people reside and where the international airport and the Government offices are located.
For instance a person with cows near Kampala sells a litre of milk at sh800, while the one in Kiruhura sells at sh300. The same advantage is for any other crop.
On real estate, rent for a flat near the city is higher compared to elsewhere in the country. The same will go for office space.
The above, therefore, calls for a good planning in order to take advantage of investments in Buganda. Today, a lot of real estate is developing within a radius of 30km from Kampala. Most of the land with that radius now costs over sh30m per acre.
Many real estate companies have bought land in the said locations and subdivided it into plots for sale and indeed banks are offering mortgages.
The challenge is that most of these developments are not planned in line with the development of the Kampala Capital City. When an attempt was made to expand Kampala Capital City to include some parts of Wakiso, Mukono and Mpigi, it was resisted by some sections of our society under the pretext that the Government was taking away Buganda land as the present Kampala is not in Buganda.
Any investment must be located on land.Here in Buganda there is a challenge on land due to dual ownership between the title owner and the Kibanja holder.
No investor would want to buy land from a title owner only to be told that he has to deal with the Kibanja holder. Some people wanted it to be easy to chase away the bibanja holders from the land as landlords sold out to developers.
Government came with a bill to entrench the rights of the bibanja holders and this too was resisted by some sections of our society, who said ettaka ligenda (that land was being grabbed).
Government maintained its position and the law was passed to protect the interests of the bonafide occupants of land and nobody’s land has been taken away by the passing of the said law.
Any investment in Buganda or elsewhere needs a cordial relationship between the investor and the local people. If one goes and chases people away from land just because he has the title and the others are bibanja holders, such an investor will not have peace with the locals and that is not good for investment. So to promote investments in Buganda, we must respect the legal rights of bibanja holders in Buganda.
Similarly, we must respect the fact that we need common planning if investment is to be promoted in industry and real estate in the areas surrounding Kampala. Nobody in the Government wants to take land in Buganda as some people have wrongly stated. What the Government wants is a well-planned development strategy.
In agriculture, Buganda is well-located and also well endowed. Buganda has lakes like Victoria, Kyoga, Wamala, Kakyera and big rivers like Sezibwa, Nile, Katonga, Mayanja, and Kafu. There are also numerous streams that feed into these rivers let alone the swamps.
These water sources are not being taken advantage of to produce for the market. I know Isingiro districts to be one of the driest districts in Uganda without rivers like they are in Buganda. However, Isingiro feeds Kampala with matooke and other crops. Kiruhura has no single river, stream or lake, only one sub-county of Burunga borders of River Katonga. There are also no swamps there.
However, it feeds Kampala with milk and as you know cows require a lot of water. So why don’t we take advantage of the good climate in Buganda to produce for the market? May be the Buganda conference will address this subject. It is easy to fight poverty in Buganda, if we mobilise the people to produce for the market with all the endowment in Buganda.
On the contrary, some leaders have been mobilising people in Buganda to riot because food prices are high. High food prices are an opportunity for the people in Buganda to produce for the market.
How best should Buganda reap from her strategic location?
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Buganda gifted but lacks planning