Chief Guest, as a recap of the 5th Economic Forum’s resolutions, I would like to highlight a few of our recommendations that were considered by the government when formulating policies during the recent budget pronouncements:
In bid to promote the development of more infrastructure, we recommended development of a long term plan for infrastructure development, building local capacity in infrastructure development, and revision of procurement laws to remove delays. We further recommend that:
- More capitalization of Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to finance infrastructure projects such as SGR.
- Coordination, collaboration as well as harmonisation of the various agencies in the infrastructure value chain.
- Revival of the National Airline as a national infrastructure and not a profitable venture
We take note of the GoU priorities in the 2018/19 National Budget. The Works and Transport sector received this year’s lion’s share of the national budget sector allocation of Shs 4.8 Trillion. We further appreciate the Government’s plans as communicated in the National budget of:
- Ensuring road maintenance, in order to preserve key investments already made;
- Construction of 600km of Oil roads, and upgrading to tarmac of another 400 km of roads, and rehabilitation of 200km of existing roads and construction of 15 Bridges
- Timely planning for acquisition of additional land on the Eastern route to facilitate the Standard Gauge Railway right of way.
- The planned revival of the National Airline. As noted in our recommendations this revival will not only improve air transport but will also create multiple linkages particularly for the tourism and import – export trade.
Our Chief Guest and distinguished members, we cannot under play the role of Agriculture to the economic growth and development of our Country. Agriculture is a major:
- Source of Employment;
- Contributor to Raw material
- Source of Food for the growing population
- Contributor to the import– export trade. Export earnings rose by 9.6% to US$ 3.93 billion in the period July 2017 to March 2018 from USD 3.59 billion a year earlier and this increase was mainly on account of a rise in the export volumes of beans, coffee, tea and maize.
At our previous Forum, we recommended that if this Country is to benefit from the Agriculture sector; there is need to revive cooperative societies to develop agriculture and collective effort.
We wish to note the Government’s efforts towards modernizing agriculture. The 2018/19 national budget is actually anchored on a budget strategy whose key outcome among others is the Commercialization of Agriculture. Whereas we await for even increased funding for the sector; we applaud the planned efforts in the financial year 2018/19, of Organizing farmers into producer cooperatives or groups linked to nucleus commercial farmers who will be encouraged to add value to farmers’ produce, put up efficient storage and minimize post-harvest losses;
Information and Communication Technology
In regard to ICT, the participants noted the unstoppable speed at which ICT is evolving. With innovations cropping out at impressive speed for example taking the – the case of “SafeBoda”; “Fezah”; “Yoza”; “UGUnLocked” applications. We heighted some of the opportunities being created by the ICT revolution including
- Social Media Marketing,
- mobile applications and responsive websites,
- mobile wallets and other cashless solutions,
- remote workforce, data driven business decisions, and cloud computing.
We then recommended for full Government support for innovations in ICT by young people and for Government to put in place support mechanisms to enable take off and diffusion of such innovations.
We wish to thank the Government for its allocation of over Shs 149 billion for the ICT sector and the plans around developing regional ICT innovation hubs to stimulate incubation of ICT innovations and transform them into usable products – especially those required by industries but also use ICT Innovation hubs as business process outsourcing (BPO) centres;
In regard to the Country’s education system, participants were dismayed by the results of the 2014 survey conducted by the Inter-University Council for East Africa which found out that Uganda’s graduates lacked employability skills – technical mastery and basic work-related capabilities. That 63% of graduates in Uganda were unfit for jobs i.e. lacked job market skills (compared to Rwanda (52%) and Kenya (51%). The members at our 5th Economic Forum recommended that Public policy makers get as interested in the quality of education as they are with other issues, such as politics and that there is a need to reform the curriculum and mode of assessment currently used by education institutions from a national examinations results based mode to a more skills based mode of assessment.
We take cognisance of the Government’s efforts to enhance skills among Ugandans. The 2018/19 National Budget highlights such measures to include:
- The Accreditation of 6 Technical Colleges and Technical Institutes at Arua, Buhimba, Mubende, Kiryandongo, Nyamitanga and Iganga to international standards; and continue civil works at Technical College Centers of Excellence at Elgon, Lira, Bushenyi and Bukalasa Agricultural College;
- Completion of construction works at Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba and Uganda Technical College Kichwamba .
- Procurement of an oil rig under Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba in order to enhance practical skills acquisition in the oil and gas subsector;
- Finalize civil works for workshops, incubation centers, teaching facilities and laboratories in 8 beneficiary universities at Kyambogo, Gulu, Busitema, Makerere, Muni, Mbarara, Makerere University Business School and Uganda Management Institute;
These measures if religiously implemented we believe should cause a tremendous impact in skilling the country’s population.
These and many more recommendations were adopted by the government.