By Patrick Kagenda
Morrison Rwakakamba is the Secretary General Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI). The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda spoke to him.
How can new business be established in countries like Uganda where corruption is high?
Corruption is a serious issue that should be handled with a fierce sense of urgency. Impacts of corruption are devastating for both private and public sectors. It’s disheartening when citizens lose six business hours per day because of potholes only explained by corruption somewhere in Kampala City Council. I think two of the core solutions to corruption are to reinforce moral value systems and to urgently build a conscious citizen agency determined to demand accountability and responsibility. At UNCCI we are working to democratise the way business is done in this country through sensitising our members on bidding processes, advocating for transparent procurement processes, equity in taxation systems, and administration and transparent tendering processes.
Most private sector entrepreneurs in Uganda lack information, how can this be overcome for them to go into public private partnerships?
UNCCI has reinforcing networks all over the country through its branches. We are developing an integrated communication system that will allow feed-forward and feedback delivery of business information. Our efforts will tap into synergies of other private and public agencies engaged in brokerage of business information like the Uganda Export promotion board and its District Information Centers program.
Is Uganda’s labour skilled enough to compete in the region?
Before we look at the region, the focus should be on creating a critical mass of skilled labour necessary to transform our country. Skilled labour or human capital is key software for a country to develop and sustain development. The issue of skilled labour is historical and has to be resolved through dramatic and revolutionary options. Uganda has an urgent need to prioritise free vocational, skills and business education. Uganda must also urgently create a scheme to create non-formal yet skilled operators like garage operators, spanner boys, saloon operators and, metal fabricators e.tc. This action will restore their confidence and allow their mobility in the expansive labour market provided by the Common Market.
With a population growing at 3.2 percent and 68 percent of the population engaged in subsistence farming, how can Uganda move to commercial farming?
Over the last 10 years, agriculture productivity has been dwindling from 7 percent to now 1.3 percent growth! As such the agriculture sector contribution to GDP is 21 percent. This is happening at a time when the country is experiencing unprecedented population with a high fertility rate. Where food production fails to match or exceed population growth you have chronic food insecurity as a result.
Though the overall poverty rate in Uganda has fallen in recent years, about four million households, half of them classed as €œsubsistence€ remain chronically poor, reflecting the weak state of the agriculture sector.
Large and small scale commercial farming will only be possible if as a country and as a people we focus on building competent producer organisations, increase financing for the sector and execute implementation strategies like NAADS with precision. We must also invest in restoration of our environmental and ecological integrity, resolve the issue of land policy to guarantee ownership and user rights of land by farmers. Runaway corruption reported in the NAADS program must be arrested with immediacy.
Agriculture in Uganda lies in a strategic investment focus along all nodes of value chain, from right inputs to correct production systems, value addition/processing and marketing.
How will the population increase affect food security?
Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates and one of the fastest growing populations in Africa. The current population growth rate is 3.2 percent compared to the world’s average of 1.2 percent. At UNCCI, we think that the size of the population per se should not cause discomfort.
What should concern us is the quality of the population. For instance having a skilled and inspired population in farming would have an indelible positive impact on the agriculture sector and transformation in real terms of our country. This is true for other sectors of the economy.
However, the rapid growth of low quality population in such a short time can have serious implications for Uganda’s aspiration to evolve as a middle income economy over the next 25 years.
Climate change is bound to be a challenge to businesses. What measures does UNCCI have in respect to power supply?
Uganda like the rest of the world is grappling with adjuncts of climate change; unprecedented droughts, floods, landslides, diseases, and deepening water crisis. Uganda is yet to come up with a policy to guide mitigation and adaptation to climate change adjuncts. At UNCCI we believe that clean and green growth is a major answer to both our climate and economic problems. By turning Uganda into an oasis or tropical garden of Africa, business, investments and tourism will dawn on Uganda. To buttress the green program, UNCCI has prioritised interventions in its ten year strategic plan that include; Awareness campaigns on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, Green Computing/ Mobile Technologies, Green Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Water and Sanitation and Sustainable Urbanization and Eco-Cities.