I have supported more than 200 people in research undertakings

Sunday March 15 2020

Going places. Richard Ssempala is an Economist,

Going places. Richard Ssempala is an Economist, working with Makerere University School of Public under SPEED project. His passion is to inspire young people. 

By Gabriel Buule

What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I don’t have a routine programme, but in most cases, I start with a prayer. There are times when I have papers to write, and I start by underling the ideas. But often I start with a prayer.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
Most of the times, especially on Mondays, I join my colleagues to fellowship. There are days when there is a lot to deliver and start with a meeting. For most days, the programme changes according to the needs.

What is the inspiration behind your love for economics and research?
When I was introduced to economics in high school. It was an area defined by precise rules and principles yet there was tremendous scope for self-expression in the form of interpretation and analysis. This facet of economics intrigued me to pursue further studies in the same subject at Bachelors and finally Masters level at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Further, the subject a person to rigorous skills in mathematics, econometrics, micro and macroeconomics which are so relevant in making logical economic conclusions and recommendations.

This has helped me to contribute to different learning and sharing of policy advice to different policymakers here in Uganda and abroad through various technical papers, consultancies, policy briefs, newspaper articles, symposiums and seminars on economy, health financing and generally improving the welfare of people.

In most cases each research question requires different approaches, this not only enriches the scope of my area of expertise but also helps me to consolidate knowledge and skills I have in addressing the problems in question. I am surely confident these areas will help me reach the aspiration of being an element of change, in my community and country at large.


What is your earliest childhood memory?
After I had completed baby class, my class teacher recommended that I skip middle class and join the Primary one. My grandmother who was also the owner of the school had objected. But I was promoted either way. At the end of the first term in Primary One, I emerged the best.

Who was your best friend?
I have had many friends at all levels. It is unfortunate that most of my primary school friends were not able to get to university.

And who is your childhood hero?
My grandmother was and remains my hero.

My first girlfriend
Haha, I must frankly say that I had no one given my background, I thought that girlfriend thing would interfere with my dreams. I did not have any until I completed my masters.

The first book you read?
Rich Dad, Poor Dad shaped the way I understand business. I bought it during my S. 4 vacation. I have also enjoyed other books such as King On the Throne by Katikiiro Charles Peter Mayiga. From that book you will understand where he gets the inspiration to serve the Kabaka.

Your best verse in the Bible verse
Psalms 34: 10” the young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but those that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

What was your first Job?
When I completed my Form Six, my former school had a policy of retaining the best students. I was privileged to be retained and taught for seven months, until I saw that I couldn’t balance teaching alongside my own studies.

First salary…
The school used to pay Shs150,000 per month.

What do you like about your current job?
Given my economics background, working with colleagues from the health background gives me an opportunity to learn something every day. I also share my economic skills with them.
I am also supervised by a team that wants to motivate young people.

Your current Job is?
Knowledge Management Officer- SPEED at Makerere University School of Public Health.

What do you dislike about your job?
Nothing, it’s a good place for young people to explore their potential and learning from experts in the field of health financing, systems strengthening and research.

Most memorable experience
Being published as one of the best candidates in Uganda. I remember I was from the garden, a lady who knew me, told me she had seen my name in the newspapers. I rushed to get a copy.

Best achievements in your career
I have supported more than 20 people in their research undertakings, motivated many young people in my village, been invited by a number of media houses to provide an expert opinion on topics around the economy. I have also been invited to present my work at global conferences.