By Kaggwa- Kavuma
It is known that to develop a country you must economically empower the indigenous people
It is generally accepted that each generation of people impacts society by it does and that the future depends on what each generation does in the present.
I have full confidence in the economic future of this country. However, since President Yoweri Museveni launched the Uganda Vision 2040, a question has stood out in the minds of many Ugandans; what should Museveni do next for the country? I would like to outline some of the things Museveni could do.
Museveni should embark on a number of vigorous and aggressive economic development plans to develop the economy and the social living conditions of the people. He should build an economy controlled by indigenous people of Uganda.
It is generally known that to develop the economy of the country you must economically empower the indigenous people. No country has developed economically without first economically empowering its citizens. Even the “Asian economic tigers” which are praised now, first empowered their citizens. If we concentrate on building and strengthening our economy, we shall not be affected by the donors’ withdraw of their aid as they recently did.
As part of the economic revival, Museveni should now consider as top priority the revival of the coffee industry in Buganda. This will cut across many sectors of people in Buganda and elsewhere in Uganda. When the President on April 15 handed over the sites of the magambolola and saza and other Ebyaffe to the Buganda kingdom, he reiterated his 1996 campaigns message; that each home oin Buganda have at least an acre of clonal coffee, an acre of fruits, an acre of bananas and another of ebisagazi.
Many young men who have now swarmed Kampala will be attracted to go back to their lands in the villages to grow coffee. This should be followed by a government effective drive to get a bigger market for our coffee. The government should also take serious steps to completely eradicate the coffee wilt which attacked coffee in Buganda in 1988.
The bigger market for our coffee will be acquired by changing the trading agreements we made with rich countries which are trading with Uganda. All of them do not grow coffee.
These countries are first Japan, China, India, South Africa, U.K, Germany, U.S.A, European countries, countries in the Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, the Far East and Australia.
Consider Japan first. This country has dominated the motor vehicle industry in Uganda. I estimate that Japan has sold to Uganda almost two million (if not more) more vehicles.
All that means foreign currency. Whatever money a Ugandan makes goes to Japan. The question then is what does Uganda sell to Japan?? The answer is – nothing or very little, if any. Therefore President Museveni should seriously consider reviewing the trading policy with Japan so that we enter into a new trading agreement whereby Japan will buy 70 per cent of Uganda coffee annually. The Peoples’ Republic of China has poured their goods of all kinds here. I was shocked the other day when I entered some big supermarkets in Kampala and found the garlic onions from China have flooded the shelves as if we do not grow garlic here.
The Chinese market is the biggest in the world with almost one and a half billion people. What does Uganda sell to China? Nothing or very little, if any, therefore China should buy 70 per cent of Uganda coffee annually.
The third country is India with about one and half billion people. Like Japan and China, it also does not grow coffee. India has sold to Uganda millions of motor cycles called Bajaj Boxer and each one costs more than Shs3 million which is converted into foreign currency and goes to India. Human medicine manufactured in India is dominant everywhere in Uganda. What do we sell to India? Nothing or very little, if any. Therefore India should buy 70 per cent of Uganda coffee annually.
Germany has dominated the transport system in Uganda with long-haul Mercedes Benz lorries ferrying different types of goods from Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Congo and South Sudan.
If you stand somewhere on Jinja Road which is the main entry into Uganda, you will count more than 100 big Germany lorries moving daily to and from Mombasa. All of them are Uganda registered. Then you add the Executive Mercedes cars. All this means foreign currency going to Germany. What do we sell to Germany?? Nothing or very little, if any. Therefore Germany should buy 70 per cent of Uganda coffee annually.
The other country trading with Uganda in a big way, is South Africa. This country has many companies trading in Uganda, the biggest being MTN which has now registered more than ten million subscribers. All of these companies make good money every month and almost the whole of it is repatriated to South Africa every month through our liberalised monetary system. South Africa does not grow coffee and has a population of almost 60 million people.
MTN has refused to sell shares to Ugandans on the Kampala Stock Exchange in spite of it operating here for more than ten years. The Government should implement the law that compels all the mobile telephone companies to sell shares to Ugandans after operating here for two years. All the other countries trading with Uganda should buy 70 per cent of Uganda coffee annually. The other industry which must be boosted so as to make more money for the country is the Tourism Industry. This Ministry has an extremely able and competent Minister, Maria Mutagamba, and her team.
Museveni should vote enough money in the coming budget to run the ministry. The Ministry will be in a position to promote our tourism on an international level as it is in Kenya and South Africa.
During our time in the former East African Community (1965/1977) I was the Tourism Promotion Officer based in Nairobi. We did quite a lot to promote the tourism industry in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania to a very high level whereby the three countries were getting millions and millions of tourists every year from all over the World. Remember Uganda has more to offer to foreign tourists than the other countries in this region.
The Public Relations Department of this Ministry should now embark on establishing a good working relationship with all foreign airlines operating here to promote out tourism. They can work together and produce brochures and literature portraying our tourist attractions and distribute them overseas.
The Ministry should cooperate with the airlines, hotels and lodges and the local tour operators to organise educational tours for travel writers and tour coordinators from overseas in this tourism promotion campaign. The tourism attachés in our Embassies overseas are the ones to organise these educational tours, and these tours normally take one week.
The airlines give rebated tickets to the travel writers and coordinators, the hotels/lodges offer free accommodation and the tour operators offer free transport to the national parks and other tourist sites.
The Ministry of Tourism should contract a professional photographer to take pictures of all the tourist attractions in the North, West, East and Buganda for the booklet on tourism in Uganda. This 100-page booklet should be called “UGANDA, THE PEARL OF AFRICA” featuring all the magnificent physical features of Uganda without discrimination or business.
Here I am talking about the people, lakes, rivers, hills, mountains, valleys, forests, roads, houses, schools, universities, hospitals, birds, animals, plants, trees, palaces, ancestral places and places of worship and other historical places everywhere in the country. This booklet should be widely distributed all over the world by our diplomatic missions overseas and all airlines.
All travel agencies and all airlines in all towns in the country must display the booklet on tourism in Uganda. It is very shameful to drive all along Entebbe Road to Kampala and back to Entebbe without seeing any big billboard showing our prominent tourist attractions which are God-given. The Ministry must put them all along Entebbe Road, Jinja Road, and Gulu Road as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Tourism must participate in all international tourism trade fairs wherever they are staged. Enough money must be voted every year for this kind of promotion.
Finally, I remember in 1975 during our time in East African Airways we contracted two film makers, from Santa Monica, California, U.S.A and I took them round East Africa for two week filming all the tourist attractions.
We produced a film on tourism in East Africa called “KARIBU”- a Swahili word for WELCOME TO EAST AFRICA. We distributed it to foreign missions of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The film helped us a great deal in the promotion of tourism.
The current Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Information as well as Uganda Broadcasting Corporation should have copies of that film KARIBU. I know that the country has gone through a lot of turbulent changes since 1975 but there might be somebody somewhere in Uganda who has a copy of that film.
The current Ministry of Tourism should endeavor to produce a new film on tourism in Uganda. It will help a great deal to promote our Tourism Industry to a higher level whereby we can compete with other famous tourist destinations in the World.
KAVUMA-KAGGWA is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono District