Museveni: We shall not turn back to a chaotic Country that NRM inherited in 1986- three growth & investment corridors that will transform Uganda

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By president Museveni

Uganda’s economy has transformed to a level where the Country will be self-sufficient and achieve sustainable economic growth and job creation.

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Point five (5) of the NRM 10-Point Programme is “Building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy”. We have built a firm foundation to achieve this objective.
The agricultural sector has been transformed to a level where it will be a major source of wealth creation for all hardworking Ugandans. The rate at which the manufacturing base is expanding is unprecedented. 168 manufacturing industries and factories were built in the last Financial Year that ended in June, 2020.

The value of new investments in the last year were at 1,191,230 US$ million. This will create sustainable jobs for all Ugandans especially for the youth and women. As a result of diversification of our economy and expanding our export base, our economy has been able to withstand the potential negative impact of COVID-19.
Our economy, last Financial Year, grew by 3.2 percent per annum, compared to negative growth rates in many other countries in Africa and around the world. If COVID-19 had not disrupted our economic activities, our economy would have achieved a growth rate of about 7% per annum last Financial Year.
This resilience of our economy is by no means accidental. It has been a deliberate focused effort by the NRM Government to build an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy, that is able to feed its people, generate the resources it needs, both human and financial, provide security to its people and their property and develop a prosperous nation.

We have made very important strides along this path and we shall not turn back to a chaotic Country that we inherited in 1986.
With the development of industrial parks and free economic zones, the number of new investments will increase exponentially, creating huge employment opportunities.
The three growth and investment corridors which will guide public investment in the Country include: the Eastern growth corridor which will follow the current Single Meter Gauge Railway that runs from Bukedi-Bugisu-Teso-Lango-Acholi Sub-regions;

The Albertine growth corridor which is composed of the Kigezi-Toro-Bunyoro Sub- regions;
And the Northern growth corridor which encompasses areas of Kampala Metropolitan areas including Wakiso and Mukono, Greater Buganda and Ankole.
Public investments to be undertaken in this regard include: (i) electricity power sub-stations; (ii) extending industrial power lines; (iii) extending water for industrial use; and (iv) building road and ICT infrastructure.
The immediate focus will be the Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) at Namanve, Mbale, Kapeeka, Bweyogerere, Kasese, Soroti, Luzira, Jinja and Mbarara. We shall expand to other areas as we collect more revenue.

External Inflows
The demand for our export goods remained strong even when there were disruptions in trade supply chains globally. This is because we have a very diversified export base. We recorded $3,823m in export of goods in the Financial Year ending June, 2020; export of mineral products were worth $1,221m while coffee fetched us $497.4m. Fish was $180m, Maize was $123m.
Domestic Manufacturing Production of manufactured goods increased as follows: Sugar production is at 540,000 Metric Tonnes, with consumption at 380,000 Metric Tonnes and surplus at 190,000 Metric Tonnes; Cement has reached 8m Metric Tonnes. Steel production recorded 289,183 metric Tonnes in 2018 but was slightly lower in 2019 at 219,194 metric Tonnes. Beer and soft drinks recorded slightly lower production mainly due to under-declaration.

Science, Technology and Innovation

Government has prioritized investment in science and innovation as part of our strategy for self-reliance and modernization. Under the Kiira Motor Corporation project, two electric buses have so far been developed and the construction of the vehicle assembly plant in Jinja is currently on-going.
This is expected to be completed by June, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped us to, once again, demonstrate the economic capacity and opportunity that our country has.
The measures undertaken to prevent the further spread of the disease have helped those who could not see the opportunities and comparative advantages of Uganda to now see them clearly especially, in the areas of local production, import replacement to enable us use our foreign currency for more strategic issues, increase exports and creation of jobs.

Import Substitution Opportunities

The guiding principle in Uganda’s import substitution and export promotion strategy, is creating production efficiency using locally available resources (including human resources), minimizing costs and maximizing profitability while increasing production and productivity of enterprises. It also means producing high quality products at low cost.
This will result in high demand locally, regionally and globally for our products.
Unfortunately, we import items which we can and have capacity to produce here locally. For example, in 2019, we imported live animals and animal products worth $ 24m etc
We are simply sleeping on the huge wealth potential that we have. Joint ventures are good to attract the necessary technologies that we do not have and to acquire skills in highly specialized areas.

I am glad that some manufacturers have responded positively in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic to produce the essential items that we need, including hand sanitizers, masks, increased production of pharmaceutical products, etc.
We now have the opportunity to forcefully harness our comparative advantages in agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, mineral development, oil and gas, scientific research, innovation, etc. by employing our youth and using our local raw materials to produce goods and services for local consumption, as input into local manufacturing and for export.
There is almost unlimited potential in agriculture as a base for agro-industrialization which we must harness. For example, Uganda produces 5 million tonnes of maize annually. From maize we can obtain animal feeds for livestock and poultry, bakery and confectionery, ethanol, starch for pharmaceuticals on which the country currently spends US$ 20 million per year.
Another case is cassava which the Country also annually produces 4.1 million tonnes. Apart from addressing the Country’s food needs, many by-products can come from cassava. I am told that out of cassava, there are 39 industrial products.

Export Opportunities

There are areas where opportunities have opened up to increase our exports. For example, the demand for Uganda’s horticulture and coffee exports to Europe has gone up, and so have pharmaceutical products in the EAC region, which we must take advantage of.

Between February and March, 2020, coffee prices rose on account of rising global demand with processors front loading orders to avoid logistical constraints of COVID-19.
The demand for Uganda’s flowers has equally gone up with more orders coming in as production elsewhere has drastically declined due to the COVID- 19 shut down in those Countries.
Therefore, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for some items will remain high both in the domestic and external markets.

I have already mentioned Coffee and Horticultural exports but there are also: Foods including, fruits and vegetables; Pharmaceutical and sanitary supplies; ICT solutions and services for businesses cutting labour costs; Intermediate goods in construction, especially in the low cost housing segment; and Low cost clothing and foot-ware made out of our cotton and leather.
Finally, with this potential, therefore, the long term impact of COVID -19 on our Country is to strengthen our resolve to be self-reliant by producing sufficient amount of goods and services to meet our local demand and to increase our exports.

Editor’s note: a slightly edited Speech by president Museveni at the 58th independence anniversary theme: celebrating Uganda’s steady progress towards economic take-off and self-reliant economic growth State House – Entebbe

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