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Museveni’s state of nation speech

Why, in spite of our continued poverty, there is good reason to celebrate our gains as we plan ahead

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, President Yoweri Museveni gave his State of the Nation (SOTN) speech. He gave interesting facts about Uganda’s economy, which many of our “intellectuals” deny. Between 1986 and 2015 (when I have reliable data), Uganda’s economy grew at an annual average rate of 6.92%. Given that population growth has been 3.3% over the same period, per capita output has grown at an average annual rate of 3.62%. This is an excellent performance by both contemporary and historical standards.

Some Ugandans have argued that this rate of growth is below our country’s potential. One economist has even wondered why we should be celebrating 6.92% growth when that is considered slow-down in China. But surely, should every good runner be judged by the standards of Usain Bolt? Should we consider Mo Salah a poor player because he has not reached the heights of Messi and Ronaldo? In any case, what is in Uganda’s potential that would have made our country perform better than China in economic growth rates?

Nearly all the rich countries of today are rich not because they grew fast but because they grew slowly and steadily over a very long period of time, lasting generations. For instance, the USA has one of the highest per capita GDP in the world. But its annual average rate growth rate between 1900 and 2000 was only 2%. Between 1913 and 2012 (a whole 100 years), average annual GPD per capita growth of Europe was 1.6%.  Ugandans are asking their country to perform miracles. It is good for us to aspire to have per capita income growth of 10% over 100 years. But such aspiration in very unrealistic since no country has ever performed such a feat. The lesson is simple but fundamental: there are no shortcuts to development.

The best measure for Uganda is to look at its position in global and regional rankings; both historical and contemporary. Between 1986 and 2015, Uganda was the 17th fastest growing economy in the world, 4th in Africa. If we exclude mineral rich countries from the sample (for the simple reason that they are enjoying God’s or nature’s bounty), it is 11th globally, first in Africa. Without having to repeat Museveni’s speech, the geographical context of Uganda in a troubled region makes this achievement remarkable.

Historically, few countries have sustained the GDP and per capita GDP growth that Uganda has enjoyed over 30 years. Only West Germany after World War Two did an average of 3.8% in per capita income growth over 30 years. Uganda is beaten by the Asian economies, which averaged 5.6% between 1960 and 1990. But this is largely on account of our exceptionally high rates of population growth. If we had averaged 2% population growth rates as Asian nations did, our per capita growth would have been 5%.

Yet in spite of her impressive performance, Uganda is still extremely poor. With a per capita GDP of $724, we are among the bottom poorest countries in the world, 176th out of 187 countries in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rankings in nominal dollars. However, when measured using Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which Museveni wrongly called a “shortcut” during SOTN, our per capita output is $2,500 and our rank is 159th out of 187 countries.

In fact, using nominal dollars to calculate a nation’s income is lazy. Just imagine a person earning $1,000 in Kampala and another earning the same amount in New York. On the face value of the dollar bills (which economists call “nominal”), the two earn the same income. But when it comes to the basket of goods and services the same dollars can buy in Kampala and in New York, it is different.

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13 comments

  1. So Andrew, what is new? These things have been said by you for what I consider time immemorial. You wont be able to hammer them into the naysayers beliefs. However, something stood out. why do you have only reliable information up to 2016? Do you have reason to doubt 2017 plus? Please come forward. Also, in a template format, what should a normal or star rated SOTN look like, without being to literal and also ensuring coherence with the later budget reading.

  2. We have persuaded,cajoled,maligned,hit-back-in-anger at most of Mwenda’s statistics where he tries to prove to the street urchin,the roadside maizer roaster,the destitute parent,the tuiion fees lacking drop-out etc……….. that the econmy is doing well and that things are better than what they were blahh blahh blahh.
    I for one will never respond to Mwenda in anger again for the simple reason that I have now discovered that he will never know the real good times Uganda had long before and shortly after he was born. Mwenda was born when I was in Nyakasura having bread and margarine for breakfast(let alone other delicacies we were served) when fees were 625 UGX per year. The Uganda government paid for those services from graduated and other taxes.
    Long before Uganda’s economy was sabotaged(it is forbidden history to say who) trains and buses shuttled 24/7 unfailingly and so were other services. Life is always life and education has always been education. How come we were in same class with Dr John Babiiha’s son and President Amin’s children were in Kabale preparatory? Were those two too poor to take their own kids abroad for school?
    One day a TV footage wil be aired from archives when President Amin was being operated on under anesthesia on the neck in Mulago or Obote being stitched when he was shot in that same Mulago.
    In 1972, during presidential campaigns in US, George McGovern (Democratic nominee) said, “If you elect me, I will stop the Vietnam war in 72 hours and to show you that it is a treasury hemorrhage, I will give every American (babies included) 1,000 USD in the following week”.
    Mwenda would also do well not to go into figures (because statistics are the best lies and are tools of the best liars)
    I will be very happy to one day read a headline in the INDEPENDENT that goes: “An oil drilling investor has come with money my fellow countrymen, consequently, every Munyoro has been given a kilo of sugar” or ” Countrymen, Bunyoro has started selling oil so Kabalega,Duhaga and Bulindi will no longer pay tuition fees but will instead be given pocket money to buy essentials”. Even if the oil comes out of the ground refined, can such an opportunity be availed to the people?
    The greed such as is displayed in the little things available implies that “EVEN IF GOD RAINS HAILSTONES OF DIAMOND NUGGETS, NO PERSON CAN GET ANYTHING, THEY WOULD GET EVICTION AT BEST OR DEATH AT WORST” To the greedy, even the whole world is not enough.
    I wasn’t in Tororo College (1970) alone and neither am I the only one still alive but I can bet my life here that the ‘nile perch’ we were served in the refectory; that it cannot be so grilled in the Serena or any other 5 star in Kampala now. Let a person who tasted both and has proof challenge me here. These people are running things down and paying some people to praise them and beguile the gullibles.

  3. My heartfelt condolences Andrew. Just learnt of your beloved mother’s death. We believers don’t doubt that she is safer than ever was.

  4. ejakait engoraton

    “Even with high import content, such investment can appreciate the value of the shilling to $2,700 to the dollar. Hence even without changing anything on the ground, our per capita GPD in Uganda would rise from the current $724 to $1,018 i.e. we would achieve the proverbial “middle income status.”

    THIS shows the dreamer that M9 is; this can not happen when you have the government ie M7 printing money and putting it in the economy.

    THIS money , big quantities, is chasing a limited number of dollars, in high demand by companies and individuals wanting to move their funds(some of it earned illicitly) to safer havens.

    SO even when the oil investment money comes in, due to the very high rates of corruption(artificial leakages), and also the fact that we have failed to go into any meaningful production, meaning that we import most of what we consume, and even most of what we use in the few industries , and on the other hand we do not produce enough for export, then the demand on the dollar will always remain high, and any fluctuations downwards will always be due to the weakening of the dollar, rather that the strengthening of the shilling.

    AS they say, it is not the amount of water that you get from the WELL that matters, it is what you ultimately DELIVER .

    • If a thief steals and goes, the nation will heal itself. If a thief steals and stays, the cancer remains; rendering the nation incurably incapacitated.
      Uganda has so much natural potential that there is no pit it cannot resurrect from…… 1980 proved that.
      So, it is time for people to sober up and look who is, selfless,brave,clean nd capable; then elect him. If the incumbent rigs the people to take to the streets and remove him. Soldiers and police to be cautioned that they will be personally liable for any and all crimes when things normalise.
      Gen Mugisha Muntu is respected by everyone except those who cal him a failure mbu because he did not steal. The army respect and love him. MM is capable and is never known to be tribalistic.
      Need Ugandans look any further? Abduct him and enthrone him……….what are elections for?

  5. ejakait engoraton

    MR ANDREW MWENDA , this is to convey my most sincere condolences to you, your family and relatives upon the passing of your beloved mother.

    May the Good LORD give you strength at this difficult moment and pray and hope all goes well and you are able to lay her to rest with the dignity that she deserves.

    We thank the Good Lord for her life and all that she has been able to accomplish during her time in this world.

    May her soul rest in eternal peace.

  6. Andrew my deepest condolences. My the Almighty Allah accept her good deeds and my He forgive her bad. You will be fine.

  7. ejakait engoraton

    IT seems the government listened to the old man M9; I remember in one of his vintage articles , he said those who were shouting about the government not making the citizens rich fast enough or not doing enough to take them out of poverty, this was the old mans advise ” if the government wanted to make everyone one rich, it would just print money and give it to everyone”.

    SO if this is the man who carries serious messages between two warring heads of state ( from Kagame to M7 as he claimed), I have no doubt he would use that opportunity to pass on such advise to M 7.

  8. ejakait engoraton

    “The standard of living of a nation depends more on its output per person than on the money received as income for producing that output. Otherwise the government could make everyone rich by just printing money.”

    This is the grand old mans statement as extracted from his article of December 17, 2018; but knowing M 9 the intellectual, he will conveniently forget that he ever wrote any such thing or he will come up with another set of statistics showing what he REALLY meant.

    ME, severally I have called this “selective stupidity.”

    • This is not the ‘right’ time to tango with Mwenda ejakait; knowing he is down in mourning. Wealth is production not hand-outs true. How the truth is hidden in your words!!! There is a time Allan Tacca(that satirical angry man) suggested they put a money printer in statehouse basement. You remember when Kasaija and Tumusiime were at each other’s throats when that fellow of finance badly wanted the printer (I think a seller was heating them with a good commission) and Tumusiime (who really does not need any more money)was against the idea because too many rich people cause a jam in hotels and in shes who the rich love to change like shirts………..’kicking away the ladder’ you called it one time.
      So these guys had an idea and put it in practice………….who can blame them? I wish I had the opportunity. I would rebuild Nyangole from the main gate to the convent and staff houses while during the reconditioning, I would shift the school to Rock Hotel closer to their sisters….TGS….then colonise Manjasi to annex it to TC. A good bribe to a PS can do it………..he can conduct a seminar of the BsOGs of both schools for 4 days, giving them a per diem of 1m each daily with accomodation, alcohol for those indulgent and the next thing you know, they are petitioning Visionary for a Union of both schools…… who knows if in 3 years t wouldn’t produce Bukedi University………..to replace,rival and saddle Makerere for ever after……………..an old dreaming you say I know Ejakait. You know only hard earned money……..free money does miracles.

  9. The death of Andrew’s Dear mother has really dampened our spirits we pray that she rests well. We thank her for bringing up upright children. up to now we did not know the meaning of being blessed not until we met Andrew.

    I heard M7’s critics say he always says the same thing during SOTN addresses .All leaders discuss trade,politics and war.

    When you hear the likes of Rajab and Ejakait discuss and interpret aspects of development of a nation with such ease then you know there is a problem with their IQ.

    Uganda is one of the few nations that has made tremendous economic achievements with a just a few key resources like tourism and agricultural products just imagine how much we will achieve when we begin exporting oil,electricity and Gold.

  10. Andrew listening to Museveni’s address, it has all signs of your hand I have to say. You must have provided 75% input. So I were you , I would not dare comment. Andrew Ugandans ain’t stupid!

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