IMF representative speaks on Uganda economy and EA integration

While addressing NRM members of parliament at Kyankwanzi National Leadership Institute, Dr. Thomas Richardson, senior IMF representative to Uganda observed that Uganda has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Uganda’s future economic growth was recently lowered to about 5 percent because of the difficulties being experienced in the country.

Five percent growth rate falls far short of the 8-9 percent growth rates required as minimum to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Countries like South Korea that transformed their economies and graduated to developed country status grew at 9 percent for many decades. Dr. Richardson observed correctly that agriculture has played a small part in Uganda’s economic growth. Given that some 90 percent of Ugandans earn their livelihood in agriculture, the sector should receive top priority attention.

The government with external support has focused on services and industry which are located mostly in the Kampala area and are capital-intensive, creating virtually no jobs. It’s no wonder that some 70 percent of Uganda’s GDP is generated in the Kampala area.

When we talk about industry we need to specify whether we are talking about manufacturing industries or industries in general like tourism industry. Uganda needs manufacturing industries to contribute to structural transformation and transition to a middle income nation.

If you think Museveni picked up a gun to save Uganda, you are mistaken

If you think Museveni picked up a gun while still a student at Dar es Salaam University in the 1960s to remove Amin (who had not yet become president) you are mistaken. Amin became president in 1971 after Museveni had left the university in 1970.

If you think Museveni abandoned his family and waged a very destructive five year guerrilla war in Luwero because of the rigged 1980 elections you are again mistaken. Museveni had begun recruiting fighters well before the 1980 elections. He had some 10,000 fighters (Communication from the Chair April 23 1985) – not 27 as he claims – when he launched the guerrilla war in 1981.

If you think Museveni adopted shock therapy structural adjustment to end the suffering of the people of Uganda quickly you are even more mistaken. He was already aware of its devastation in Chile and Ghana. He was also aware (because he had a good source of information) that even World Bank officials had expressed alarm at the negative impact on the African people. For example, in 1984 Ernest Stern senior vice-president at the World Bank was candid when he observed that structural adjustment had failed the Africa region. He continued “We … have failed in Africa along with everybody else … we have not always designed our projects to fit the … conditions in Africa”. Julian Samboma amplified that “… with their usual arrogance, the IMF/World Bank continued to force these self-same policies down Africa’s throat”(New African February 1993). Some African countries like Tanzania and Ghana protested but not Uganda.