World Bank urges focus on key growth areas

What you need to know:

Economists suggest that more Ugandans should be involved in the country’s growth.

Government should prioritise agriculture, human capital, economic geography and urbanisation, if Uganda is to attain inclusive growth, a new World bank report suggests.

This means that more Ugandans equally participate and benefit from the country’s growth as opposed to targetting a few.

This comes at the back of a widening gap of growth inequalities with in Uganda. While the majority of the population is still poor, a small group of Ugandans enjoy good standards of living. In the past two decades, the economy has had an average growth between four to five per cent per year. But, this is not reflected in the social and economic welfare of Ugandans.

Statistics from the World Bank’s “Promoting Inclusive Growth in Uganda 2012,” report show that Uganda’s urbanisation is at 13 per cent, 94 per cent of the national growth takes place from urban areas, yet 84 per cent of Ugandans live in rural areas. In urban areas alone, only a few enjoy the high growth rates- 85 per cent of urban residents live in slums while 70 per cent of urban workers walk to work every day.

World Bank country manager, Mr Moustapha Ndiaye, explained that this report is intended to show how best Uganda can sustain its growth while broadening its reach.

“The country economic report focuses on what Uganda will require to promote inclusive growth. This area of focus, while acknowledging the past achievements in growth reminds us of the task ahead of sustaining and surpassing the past growth rates while making the process more inclusive,” Mr Ndiaye said, adding;

“Accelerating growth while ensuring that it remains inclusive will face some challenges. Persistent and increasing inequality in incomes and overall welfare may constrain the impact on poverty reduction.”

Finance minister, Ms Maria Kiwanuka, noted that government acknowledges the challenges presented by the report and is working to achieve broader enjoyment of the current growth.

“The country has now reached another crucial point, where we all have to think harder on how to take the country to next level of growth. The next task requires that broader segments of the population participate and benefit from sustained growth. We have an agenda of improving the welfare of all Ugandans through inclusion.”

Develop agriculture fully
However, Prof Kisamba Mugerwa, the executive chairperson of the National Planning Authority, said even though the World Bank report highlights agriculture transformation, its concentration on fertilisers is misleading as agriculture requires more than fertilisers to develop.

“75 of Ugandans are employed under agriculture but this sector continues to sink. Agriculture transformation requires a full package that includes fertilisers, water, seeds, research and advisory services.”

Mr Godber Tumushabe, Executive Director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), said that these statistics should awaken the government.

“We need to be impatient as a country. Our human capital is in a bad state. This report shows that our labour force will be worse off than that of Ghana, Malaysia and South Korea by 2030. We can change this around in a short time through refocusing investments to educate children and investing in serious centers of excellence. However, it is only our leadership that can take us there. Let us be technical not political.”