OPINION | ECONOMY
By Richard Ssempala
Every October 9, Uganda celebrates its independence and for this year, the country celebrated its 55th independence day since it got its autonomy from the British colonists.
A lot has been achieved in terms of infrastructures, schools hospitals and every one should be proud. However many things Are not set right. From political, social to the economic sphere.
Uganda got her independence when its population was 7.24 million, economy’s per capita income was $62.02 and few schools and hospitals had been built.
Since independence, the country has experienced an array of leadership ranging from the dectoratorial governments to current “democratic regime”. However, a number of areas/ sectors need an overhaul changes e.g. health, distribution of productive resource, infrastructural development and in particular inclusive growth.
An empirical research by three German professors, Robert Kappel, Jann Lay, and Susan Steiner, in middle 2000s titled “Uganda: No more pro-poor growth?” also found that the poor in Uganda were no longer benefiting from the continued growth of the economy. Any flash back (lower growth) in key sectors like agriculture impose a detrimental effect on poverty and vise verse. The reported growth is going to very few people who are already rich.
This is again backed by the recent Oxfam International report released in march this year that revealed that in the past couple of decades the richest 10% of Ugandans have seen their incomes grow by 20% (making them own 36% of the country’s wealth) while the poorest 10% take only 2.5% of the national pie. In short, in Uganda, despite the progress in reducing ‘headcount’ poverty, the rich have become richer while the poor are becoming poorer.
Also, although the literate rates have been increasing currently at 74%, more than half (51%) of the population aged 6 to 24 years have never attended school. All the above trends clearly demonstrates that there are some crucial issues which are not yet addressed.
Therefore, as we strive to reach lower middle income in the three years to come, there is a need to address some key issues. For instance a fundamental policy to address the problem of poor transport system in urban centers. This will act to reduce productivity loss for workers brought in terms of wasted time in traffic jam, fuel loss in jam among others.
Also, although the supply of electricity has increased over the years due to construction of more dams, still the cost of power is still high and its supply is unreliable This impend the growth of industries and especially Small and Medium Enterprises yet they at are key drives of growth. By addressing these, Uganda in the next 55 years will be a transformed country.
The writer is a research associate with the Uganda Debt Network.