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More jobs, more prosperity for Ugandans – World Bank

By Joan Akello

The World Bank says there is need for more and better jobs   as a prerequisite for transforming Uganda’s economy while launching Uganda’s economic update.

While Uganda’s  economy has grown  rapidly over the  last decade and will continue  to do so into  the future,  a significant  proportion  of the country’s  population is  not benefiting  from this growth,” Philippe Dongier, World Bank’s  country director for Tanzania, Uganda and  Burundi said.

Amama Mbabazi agrees. He said   that despite the country’s positive economic outlook and performance, challenges such as large informal sector, high levels of youth unemployment, large trade deficit, low domestic savings and low agricultural productivity.

“in 2010, value added per worker  in Ugandan agriculture was only  US $ 200 per year, in contrast to  Brazil’s US $ 4, 183 per worker per year( in Uganda  it increased  by only 10 percent  over two decades compared to  an increase of 20 times  in Brazil ion the same period),” Amama said.

But there was a debate by participants whether it is the lack of jobs or the lack of skills behind the low production and productivity.

The report notes that the vast of Uganda’s labour force remains employed in low productivity activities, and that the government needs to focus infrastructure and skills to break this trend.  In addition, Dongier says  it is essential to    understand the  enterprises and the zones  that are  already  growing and that have  potential and remove  specific barriers  to further  accelerating  their growth.

Robin Kibuka, board chairman Standard Chartered  and a member of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda  said both. He said there is need for the government to allocate oil resources to   the agriculture sector to avoid the potential Dutch disease because the petrol oil revenues will reduce Uganda’s competitiveness in the export market.

It is estimated that with unemployment rate below 5 percent, with over 75 percent employed by the agriculture sector, and the rest employed in the formal and informal non agriculture sectors.

Maria Kiwanuka said, “The national Identification project is a must for employment creation. It will help government to incentivize for instance employers to take on apprentices, who without IDs will not be planned for.”

She added that the government is no longer an employer but a facilitator therefore urging development partners, the academia and the World Bank to help the government address youth unemployment and “handle the population question without stepping on individual’s personal liberties.”

The  update is produced by the World Bank Group and is a six monthly  series that handles two parts;  a general up date of the  economy of Uganda and  a more detailed discussion of a specific issue of critical importance to the Ugandan economy. This second edition focuses on the agenda of jobs, challenge of creating productive employment opportunities.

Dongier says the next update will focus on how Uganda can leverage   future oil revenues in line with the job agenda.

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