• Home
  • Opinion
  • How Labs Approach can unlock the potential of priority sectors of the economy

How Labs Approach can unlock the potential of priority sectors of the economy

By Admin

Added 7th May 2018 04:28 PM

The lab participants develop fresh ideas and translate high level strategies into detailed and costed ‘3 feet’ (realistic) implementation plans.

Apollomunghinda 703x422

The lab participants develop fresh ideas and translate high level strategies into detailed and costed ‘3 feet’ (realistic) implementation plans.



By  Apollo Munghinda

In the recent past, many countries across the globe including Uganda, have embraced deliverology- a science of delivering on goals and promises made by governments. 

This science has evolved with a new cadre of practitioners called deliveroligists who are at the centre of the service delivery chain.

The deliverologists are tasked with the mandate of driving performance improvements in critical service delivery areas by catalysing bold changes in public service delivery process and also supporting ministries in the delivery planning process.

This repeatable methodology of achieving real impact in government is a brainchild of Sir Michael Barber who served under former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair as head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) between (2001-2005).

Delivery units employ in their methodology, the Lab or Laboratory approach to drive the delivery process. It is an intensive problem solving environment that brings together about 30-40 key government officials from the priority sector and relevant sectors, including stakeholders in the private sector across the delivery chain in a single room for six weeks.

The lab participants develop fresh ideas and translate high level strategies into detailed and costed ‘3 feet’ (realistic) implementation plans.

Ideally, governments have a duty to prioritise a small number of key areas where they want to achieve break through results. This helps governments to focus attention and resources on issues that matter most. In the case of Uganda, the priority sectors include: Health, Education, Infrastructure, Jobs and Incomes.

The labs approach, was first introduced by the head of the Performance Management Unit (PEMANDU) in Malaysia, Idris Jala in 2009, and it leverages on producing implementation programmes with clear key performance indicators for the relevant stakeholders. 

The labs bring private sector rigor in public service delivery, and also bust the rampant silo mentality by bringing business on the same table.

Cognizant of the potential of coffee as a transformative commodity, President Yoweri Museveni had in 2014, prioritised coffee and issued a directive on increasing Uganda’s coffee production from 3.5 million to 20 million bags by 2020. This has since been realistically revised to 2025.

The President, accordingly, directed Prof.Ezra Suruma, the head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU), to oversee this directive on coffee, working closely with Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) the lead agency.

This was perhaps, the very first assignment given to PMDU, which was established in 2015, in the Prime Minister’s Office following the adoption of the NDP II recommendation by Cabinet to set up a unit for the purpose of driving the delivery of services to the people of Uganda.

Based on this premise, PMDU organised a ‘Coffee Lab’ in March 2017 in partnership with McKinsey, a global management consulting firm with strong expertise in agriculture value chain transformations and commercialization. 

The Coffee Lab was an innovative initiative to accelerate both exports and production of coffee by articulating realistic but ambitious goals for the coffee sector, identifying roadblocks that must be removed and coming up with a tangible action plan to revamp the coffee sector.

The five-day concentration of industry expert knowledge in the Coffee Lab produced a clear and costed implementation plan called the “Coffee Roadmap”

 The roadmap was launched by H.E. the President on 13th April 2017, and it consists of 9 initiatives which must be pursued to achieve the 20 million coffee bags by 2025. The initiatives focus on three areas of; building structured demand and value addition; enhancing production and also the enablers such as affordable coffee financing for farmers.

UCDA is now with great success taking lead in implementing the coffee roadmap in collaboration with key stakeholders including District Local Governments, Uganda Cooperative Alliance and Uganda Prisons services to promote coffee farming.

UCDA is working closely with Uganda Development Bank (UDB) on a coffee financing programme that offers credit to eligible coffee enterprises. UCDA is also fast-tracking the improvement of seeds through research and multiplication of improved varieties, access to extension services and inputs.

For the first time in the history of Uganda, Coffee exports have crossed the 4 million bags mark. According to UCDA, coffee exports for 12 months (March 2017 to February 2018 totalled to 4.77 million (60kg) bags worth US$ 542 million compared to 3.74 million (60kg) bags worth US$ 412 million in the previous year.  

Annual coffee production had over the last five decades stagnated between 2.5 to 3.5 million bags. This stagnation in coffee production volumes had not only inhibited foreign exchange inflows and escalated balance of payment deficit but had also denied the farming households the potential of direct incomes from the world’s second highest traded commodity after oil.

If the Coffee roadmap is properly followed, Uganda which is Africa’s largest coffee producer after Ethiopia, has the opportunity to leap forward and increase coffee exports through increased production, value addition and expansion of the global market share gain especially in Western Europe, Asia and North Africa. 

This level of engagement in the coffee sector can indeed be replicated in other priority sectors of government such as Education, Health, Tourism and Textiles to drive performance improvements with the Delivery Unit playing its catalytic role. 

The writer is a senior communications officer at the Office of the Prime Minister


More From The Author

Related articles