Tag Archives: Uganda

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

Financial Literacy crucial for Children

I will never forget the time when still in primary school my elder brother told dad that he wanted to wash the cars of the neighbors as a way of earning some money. To say that Dad’s response was negative is an understatement. These were the early 80s and in most families, the notion was that exposure to money would spoil a child. All a child had to do was to read hard, pass and start earning money after university. Huh!!!

Then came the time we finished school and had to fend for ourselves. I am sure even you reading this has done some really nasty mistakes with your finances when you begun earning. Mistakes that make you suspect that you were probably facing a moment of temporary insanity. Things that should be simple like budgeting and saving sound like Greek to many adults out there. The problem boils down to Financial illiteracy/literacy.

Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. (Wikipedia)

The habits of children around money are set by 7 years of age according to Researchers David Whitebread and Sue Bingham of the University of Cambridge. What does this mean? Parents have to get an early start teaching the children concepts like thriftiness (carefulness, restraint, caution) and delayed gratification.

To avoid a repeat of what we went through trying to become financially literate, we need to put alot of effort in the young children we are raising. Below, I share with you some of the foundational skills they need, you could add onto these;

Responsibility. A child should be able to take on certain duties in the home like mopping their bedroom, washing clothes, cleaning the table, washing plates, clearing the compound among others. This has a linkage with the level of responsibility they are likely to show with their finances.

Spending Decisions. Allowing children to make simple decisions in this regard while scaling them up as they grow will reduce on your need to decide for them when grown up. Financial decisions are some of the most impactful decisions in our lives.

How to Spend. One of the first lessons I teach my children below 6 years is the identification of money. They should be able to identify currency as well as differentiate the denominations. This is followed by them understanding the meaning of Expensive and Cheap.

What is Money and How do we get it. We take things for granted that people must know what money is, however it is crucial that the children get to know what it is and it’s characteristics, top of which is that it is a finite resource. It will not always be there at your disposal. This goes hand in hand with helping them learn how we get money. There are various activities in the home that you could engage them in and pay for their labor in return. It could be washing the carpets of the car, looking after the chicken, compound sweeping or even engaging in a home business.

Delayed Gratification. This is the ability to postpone an immediate gain in favor of greater and later reward. Often times, parents make the mistake of dashing to meet the demands of their children just to make them happy. However, it is important for the children also to appreciate that good things come to those who wait.
When our son was in Primary Three, eight years old, he wanted we the parents to buy him a bicycle. Indeed it was a good thing to get it for him. While we could afford it, we sat him down and told him to consider buying it himself. After thinking through, he came up with the idea of saving his school break time money and that is when we gave him a target to raise at least 50% of the cost of the bicycle and we would top up the remainder. The young man got so determined that he saved and within three months was able to acquire his bicycle. Ever since, he never bothers to ask us for money when he wants to buy something.

Responsibility for Money. A child should be able to know how much money they have spent, earned, are planning to use for future needs among other things. This takes us back to the element of responsibility we talked about earlier. They basically learn how to be accountable.

Saving. This is one element that lacks in many African settings and is taking root in the developed world through the credit driven lifestyle being promoted. Saving money is a precursor to investment. The earlier a child gets to learn how to save implies that the earlier one can introduce them to the concept of multiplying their money (investment). There are times when my son lends me money and even asks for interest. He is so strict that he even keeps records.

Banking. The older they get, introduce them to banking. Help them get a bank account that they can manage and use to save and spend the money they own. This should be an upgrade from the use of the savings box at home.

Wants and Needs. Get them to understand the difference between Wants and Needs. A need is something that is very vital for your very existence or well being like a house, clothing, transport, school fees etc while a want is something that is unnecessary but desired like having Pay TV subscription, Purchasing sweets or ice cream among others. The clear list of needs and wants is determined by numerous factors among which social status and economic positioning come into play.

These are just some of the skills crucial for imparting in the young ones to help ready them for a whole life ahead dictated by finances and making financial decisions. What, do you add onto this list?

James Wire
Business and Technology Consultant
Blog: https://wirejames.com
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@wirejames/