I hear you Mr President, but are we all on the same page?

Author, Alexander Kyokwijuka.PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Alexander Kyokwijuka says: I appreciate  your verbal commitment to ensuring that the peasantry class is eliminated...

Mr President, 

I thank you for fulfilling your Constitutional obligation under Article 101 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, to deliver the State of the Nation Address, 2021. I congratulate you heartily.

In your address, you reminded us how we have been able to recover from being a small enclave modern economy of 1971, and how your leadership has expanded this economy from $1.3 billion in 1986 to now $40 billion, and I agree with you that we have a number of points that we need to concentrate on in order to transform Uganda into a Middle income country.

I appreciate your verbal commitment to ensuring that the peasantry class is eliminated in Uganda but I am not sure I agree with you on the means by which we shall get there. 

To achieve this dream, you rightly put it that the appeal is for everybody to join the money economy and get out of subsistence production. I entirely appreciate this but I think we have been singing this song for so long and I am not sure that Ugandans have picked interest in singing along.

The figures you shared about the global demand and supply for milk, coffee, maize, and the like, may make sense to a few elite Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) around but will still sound like Arabic to the common humble citizen in Kigarama, where I come from. 

There is no doubt that you are big on global, continental, and regional market advocacy, but I am afraid we may need to first get almost everyone on the same page by empowering the local person to exploit the local market. 

As for now, I would like to interest you to find out how many Ugandans are actually exporting to those markets, as opposed to how much product is exported. You would then know that we still have a long way to go, to appreciate the big dream of eliminating the peasant class in Uganda.

From your address, you strongly urged Ugandans to join the four sectors of commercial agriculture, industries, services and ICT.  And you rightly mentioned that the delivery/implementation mechanism is the parish model. I personally love the parish model but I am not sure that there is capacity and political will to implement it.

You also promised continue dealing with the issue of costs of manufacturing in Uganda such as the cost of money-interest rates of the exploitative commercial banks, the cost of transport, and the cost of electricity. You mentioned the other cost which would be the cost of labour but you think that is still low. 

Whereas you are right, I believe that we have for long ignored the would be great triggers to this particular sector. When you mentioned that you are continuing to fund the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) so that it can give loans for manufacturing, agriculture, some services, to curb the cost of money, I knew we were getting into usual charismatic rhetoric, and the corrupt Ugandans in those positions were getting yet another good killing from this financial year’s budget.

About the services sector, which is equally big but has been hit severely by the Covid-19, you are solely relying on the mercy that Covid-19 goes, and we keep on moving at the same pace. But I think that you have not appreciated the need for us to aggressively market our services sector to the rest of the world. 

As I conclude Mr President, I urge you to ensure that Ugandans access affordable financing from UDB, regulate the banking sector so that commercial banks stop over exploiting Ugandans, extend the same tax holidays to Ugandans who wish to invest with reasonable capital just like the same is done to foreigners. 

Alexander Kyokwijuka, humble citizen from Kigarama, in Ndorwa East, Kabale District.


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