Tag Archives: Economy

Who is Letting down Uganda?

One does not need to dig too deep before getting a very good sense of why this country is engaged in a development rat race. Let us look at just three things that can show you why.

In the early 80s we used to travel to distant locations from Kampala using the Train and public buses. One train ride from Kampala to Mbale would transport not less than 500 people and when Kayoola was introduced, the number must have increased to about 700 per ride.

Then came in the 1986 revolution that promised us heaven on earth. Before we knew it, the train services were dysfunctional apparently to pave way for private self seekers to set up bus services to transport people. To be honest, if the technocrats were foresighted, all we needed then was to improve on the rail system and we would be enjoying a much better public transport system today. The now elusive Standard Gauge Railway could probably have made it’s entry as far back as the year 2000. Why should one spend five hours (two hours between Kampala and Mukono) moving from Kampala to Mbale yet with a good rail system, that would be a mere 50 minutes?

The fuel crisis would be having a much less pinch on the layman because efficient public transport would be the way to go for most of us now.

We had numerous public schools at both primary and secondary level that were responsible for churning out good performing individuals. Schools like North Road Primary School in Mbale, Buganda Road / Nakasero / Kitante / Bat Valley Primary Schools in Kampala, Teso College, St. Joseph’s College Ombaci in West Nile, Tororo College, Kigezi College Butobere, Dr Obote College Boroboro, Bukedi College KachoŇča, Jinja College, Busoga College Mwiri among very many others. These schools were left to rot and one would not be wrong to believe that the move might have been intentional either at the technocrat or the political level or both. Had they continued receiving just the basic attention they used to get prior to 1986, they would be amazing today.

It is strongly believed that the selfish interests of some technocrats and/or politicians led this drive and today they run some of the most popular and expensive chains of private schools that seem to have the magic wand when it comes to making students pass with high grades.

When I heard the President complain about the high charges by schools, I was not very surprised because I think he seems to have lost touch with what is on the ground many years back. He talked like this problem started recently.

Your Excellency, you watched over successive teams of Government technocrats who systematically led us here either with your full or partial comprehension. What you cannot dodge is being part of the problem. You have always supported people who abuse resources for as long as they invest locally. These are some of the results. People who invest and want to get their returns within 5 years hence charging an arm and a leg as you look elsewhere.

One of the reasons I like President Kagame is that despite his shortcomings, he is a man that is decisive when it comes to getting things done. He reached Rwanda and realised that private schools were invogue, something which was skewing access to education. He went ahead to implement a few measures aimed at making Public Schools better. Today, Rwanda’s private schools are closing steadily while public schools are much more serious. Did he need Billions of dollars like they tend to insinuate here in Uganda? I doubt. It’s all about smart planning and ruthless execution.

Let us move to the food sector. Uganda is a country whose soils (all of them including Karamoja and Nakasongola) are good for the existence of different types of crops. When I see how the milk industry turned around from 1993 when the government took a conscious effort to address the milk value chain hence making us one of if not the biggest milk producer south of the Sahara 30 years later and attracting million dollar investments in processing facilities, I ask the powers that be;

Can’t you replicate the milk story in other food sectors like Rice, Coffee, Simsim, Sunflower, Maize, Fruits among others?

Is it intentional that these other products are ignored?

By simply addressing the value chain demands of some of the listed crops, the argument of Uganda being in Middle Income Status would be history.

I have always had this feeling that most people running economies in developing countries like Uganda are of suspect ability. They Present themselves with all these degrees and academic accomplishments usually gotten from countries that we have been led to admire like the USA, UK among others.

When you try to actually establish what they do for our countries, it is not rocket science. They are largely reactive and not proactive. They always wait for things to get sour then come up with all sorts of text book explanations on inflation, GDP, productivity, mindset change and many other silly terms aimed at confusing the minds of the lay man.

I challenge those of you in the various offices claiming to plan for this country to stop what the president calls Kukolera Kida (working for the stomach) and create a difference by planning for future generations beyond your immediate family.

What is wrong, Uganda? Is it the Politicians? Technocrats? Or Both?

James Wire
Business & Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames

Only the Senseless can abuse Kabushenga

Any one that has left the comfort of their urban dwellings and gone to their rural settings to effect any form of society betterment has always faced suspicion largely emanating from the established thinkers in the villages. They start off with rumor mills about how you want to stand for a Parliamentary position. Everywhere you pass, they make statements like; How can he come to spend money and time here without expecting anything from us? Before you know it, the established politicians start fighting imaginary wars with you and on and on.

Lately, Mr. Robert Kabushenga’s outbursts over the economic situation are being perceived with negativity by the very people who should be buoying him forward. You will forgive me but I might use some fairly strong language just to fully express my disgust.

The man came out to fight the planned Coffee Monopoly, he has been prominently sharing his challenges as he ventures into the business world, he is now also eloquently dissecting the awful economic situation we are in and all I read on Social Media are the usual I Know it All dimwits criticising him.

Despite claiming to be elite, how different are they from the rural folk I talked about at the start? A section of people seem to think they are the custodians of poverty, brokeness and the like and expect no one else to associate with it.

Some of the sentiments I have come across:

– How does he earn 37 Million per month for 14 years and he claims to be broke?
– Kabushenga wants to come out so Museveni can give him a job
– He used to be a very proud man while at the New Vision
– Is he really broke or he is just trying to talk for the poor?

At this juncture, I urge you to listen to the song BanaKampala Nga Boogera by Alex Mukulu. It is on Youtube just in case you don’t have it.

The fact that many are reacting to his outbursts clearly shows that the message he is putting across is sinking in effectively.

For long, many have talked about the downturn in the economic activity and as usual they were relegated to having interests in the country’s leadership. Now here comes someone whose experience in communication is worthy of global appeal, instead of latching onto him and using him as the voice for the voiceless, we want to use his background of privilege to gloss over his efforts. I would love to know the witchdoctor’s portion they drank.

I am very certain most of those trashing his effort have never even successfully run a roadside vegetable stall but they speak like they know it all.

Kabushenga earned good money. True!!! Did he waste it? As far as I know, NO!!!! He is not a fool, his upbringing was good enough to prepare him for the lean times. Many only got to know him when he reached the helm of The New Vision. I clearly recall him driving a Corsa at the time he was heading the media house and only much later, did I see him in a Prado. So, do not think he wasted money like the way some of you are doing thinking you will be employed forever. His coffee investment is testimony enough.

Being broke is relative but it still remains brokeness just like being rich is relative too. A person with 50 million Shillings will perceive himself as rich so is another of 5 Billion Shillings. The same applies to being broke. To one, being broke is failure to get food to eat, another, failure to pay rent or school fees, another, failure to travel by air to Nairobi, or even buy a bottle of Chivas Regal XV (don’t ask me how I know this one).

Then there are the claims of him wanting to appeal to the eye of the President. This too is nonsense. Does it waterdown his arguments about our plight? If he ends up being called closer to Entebbe so be it. He will have done his part already as far as highlighting what is making lives miserable at the bottom of the pyramid.

On Twitter, I came across a veiled message that even a 10 year old can tell who it was in reference to. This eminent Professor is someone I got to know and interact with since around 2005. I feel letdown by the way his reasoning seems to be degenerating progressively. To quote:
What goes around comes around. A CEO lived large & during COVID-19 cut salaries of other staff & was axed. Now is into growing tomatoes. She is now a champion of we are broke, we can’t afford life. Really? I have watched her on TV & read her posts on twitter. Come [calm] down, it will be well

Without doubt, this eminent professor was referring to Kabushenga. Why choose to dwell on someone’s job as opposed to the issue at hand?

People are broke. Does he want to only see people in tattered clothes complaining about the hard times? By the way, serious brains can sense trouble from far off. People like Kabushenga are not going to wait for the inevitable to happen before they make an effort to take corrective action.

There was a time when a rich person was called Khashoggi and it was from the fact that the richest man at that time of the 70s was Adnan Khashoggi (Sorry for those of you who were sperms at that time, modern day lifestyles have made you very ignorant of many things). When he divorced his wife Soraya Khashoggi, she walked away with loads of cash and I mean mind boggling sums. Today, a woman that had access to 17 mansions she called home, lives in a 400 pound dingy residence somewhere in London.

I now ask, do you want Kabushenga to get to that point before he can be deemed fit to fight for the cause of impoverishment?

For you that is pointing that finger at Kabushenga, remember the three fingers pointing back at you are reminding you that you are destined where he is.

The crux of the matter is that the Government needs to do something to address the economic hardships that have come up. The rate of return on investment is very low for those into legit business and I mean, paying all relevant taxes, meeting salary expectations of workers among other things. Operating on a bank loan is currently suicidal and without access to such capital, company growth slows down naturally.

This brother of ours in case you did not know used most of his 37 Million Shs monthly income to set up a now Multi Billion coffee farm that still needs more to get where he wants it to be. A slow economy is only going to kill his plans.

Once I was with a colleague that runs a Recruitment firm. A call came through and the person on the other end was someone who had lost their job in a well publicised corporate battle. The boss took the day. However, this person was sounding so desperate yet the salary bracket they enjoyed was phenomenal. This individual went ahead to mention three other colleagues (all high profile) that were in the same boat.

What does this mean, Kabushenga is not in a unique spot. What he is going through or has gone through is a baptism of fire that many forced to leave the corporate world go through.

You too, it’s a matter of time before you get to know the cost of newspapers, airtime, data, fuel or medical treatment. You’re being pampered like a teletubby perhaps but as sure as night follows day, you will cross to the other side of the river and start singing a new song.

Allow the learned man, Counsel Robert Kabushenga to be.

James Wire
Twitter @wirejames