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What lower middle income status means to local Ugandans

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Added 16th December 2016 11:30 AM

The World Bank classifies countries according to Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.

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The World Bank classifies countries according to Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.

By Irene Birungi Mugisha

Uganda’s transition to middle income status by 2020 is a policy is matter of national development transform Uganda’s economy and not a gamble.

As we move towards attaining the lower middle income status by 2020, it is important understand what it means to country and the local citizen.

The World Bank classifies countries according to Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The per capita income is the average income by each person within a given economy at any time usually one year.

To understand this better, the World Bank classification of countries by income status are as follows: Low Income $1,025 or less, Lower Middle Income $1,026-4,035, Upper Middle income $4,036-12,475 and the High Income $12,476 or more.     

Progress towards achieving the middle income status shows that Uganda has already attained the vulnerability requirements and a review of Uganda major development phases reveals that the goal to achieve lower middle income status is feasible.

Currently, per capita income $764, should have been higher if the exchange rate was favourable, and population growth managed.

What lower middle income status means for a common Ugandan are on average, each individual in a households should earn or produce an equivalent of sh290,000 per month or sh3.5m per annum , every individual in a households should afford at least two meals a day (equivalent to at least 1,500 kilo calories of food per day, on average, each member of the household should be able to complete ordinary level education (attain 11 years of schooling).

The other things it means to Ugandans are: At least 2.2 million (from the current 103 million) out of 7.3 million households should have access to electricity by 2020, all urban households and at least 4.8 million (80%) of the six million rural households should access to safe water.

While the national debate about the achievement of the lower middle income target has been, the National Planning Authority explains that good planning and strategic direction is the first step to deliver Uganda to the middle income status.

The NPA further explains that with excellent strategic direction provided by the National Development Plan two and Vision 2040 as indicated, additional effort will require fast track the achievement of a middle income status. The NPA further stresses that effort to achieve lower middle income will require doing business unusual on the part of all stakeholders particularly the implementing sectors, Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Local Governments (LGs) under the political leadership of respective sector ministries.

Overall, attaining middle income status requires success at three levels of policy making, planning and implementation. Currently, the country is performing better with policy formulation improvement have been registered in planning but significant challenge remains at implementation.

“As such, to fast track the move towards middle income status we need to identify key performance and results points both in the private and government sector. These should be focused, supported, monitored and strengthened to fast track the move towards middle income,” says NPA.

The political commitment, ideology and accountability towards attaining the middle income are important. This as evidenced from international lessons is the foundation upon which a sustained development drive is based on. This is because the process of transformation to middle income requires scarifies and accountability towards the goal.

The NPA says: “This can only be achieved by strong political commitment to drive the country towards the goal.”

To fully commit ourselves, H.E the president strongly guided the new cabinet with 23 strategic directives that are in line with the second National Development Plan that if we achieve deliver us to this target.  

The NRM government is determined to bring more homesteads into the money economy (which currently stands only 32 per cent of the homesteads).

The Government is working on converting the 68% of homesteads from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Government is embarking on the programme of distributing coffee, fruits and/or tea seedlings to all the homesteads with land of two acres and above.

In regards to coffee, a tissue culture laboratory is going to be built at Kituuza to enable multiplication of high quality disease-free seedlings industrially and quickly.

With Uganda promoting inclusive growth, attaining the middle income status 2020 is achievable. At an average above 5.5% per year, Uganda’s growth rate is impressive by all standards. Poverty levels have declined significantly, not only in urban areas, but also to some extent within the rural areas.

 In addition, all crops and products that are not consumed fresh must be processed to enable us earn more money and also create jobs.   

The writer is a journalist          


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