Kampala — UGANDA's labour productivity is very low compared to neighbouring East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania, according to the State of Uganda's Population Report released yesterday.
The report, which analyses the labour productivity of Ugandans, says six Ugandans are employed to do a job that can be done by one Kenyan. Also, one Tanzanian national can do a job that is done by four Ugandans.
It cited unemployment, underemployment, the lack of skills, a poor culture towards work, gender relations, inadequate and poor state of economic infrastructure as some of the factors which contribute to the low productivity level in Uganda.
Other factors include lack of traditional cultures and systems, lack of modern and appropriate technologies, lack of land and other factors of production.
It says Tanzania's labour productivity is 28% higher than that of Uganda. Also, it adds that in spite of Uganda's economic recovery from the downturn of the 1970s and 80s, the country's size and per capita income are still very low, compared to other economies in Africa and Asia.
"While Uganda's economic performance was at par with that of countries such as Kenya, Ghana, South Korea and Malaysia in the early 1970s, these economies have since improved significantly over Uganda's economy," the report adds.
Quoting the World Bank's World Development Indicators Database for 2008, and comparing with Asian economies, the report says the value added by every Ugandan worker is 68% lower than that in India and 96% lower than that in China.
The report also revealed that Uganda's population structure, which is comprised of mainly dependant youth, will remain unproductive for the next 15 years.
It recommends that the Government invests in its youthful and unproductive population if the country is to develop its human capital.
The report titled, "Population and Sustainable Development: Emerging Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects," was launched by micro-finance state minister Ruth Nankabirwa at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
It also noted that Uganda adds 1.2 million people every year to its population with the current annual population growth rate of 3.2%. This means that the country's population could hit 61 million in the next 22 years.
The report cites low labour force participation, high unemployment, underemployment, low incomes, low productivity levels, high growth of unskilled labour, low female education levels and rising income inequality as challenges of a high population growth rate.
It says the country has a large number of potential child-bearers, which has created a momentum that will accelerate population growth, even if the fertility rate drops to about two children per woman.
"More births today make the task of slowing population growth difficult. The emphasis, therefore, should not only be to curtail the population growth, but also to exploit the population bonus in a sustainable manner," the report says.
Also launched yesterday was the State of the World Population report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The report titled, "From conflict and crisis to renewal: generations of change," examines recovery efforts in post-conflict Uganda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia and Timor-Leste.
The release of the UNFPA report coincided with the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325, a Security Council's move against the abuse of women in conflict areas and their marginalisation in peace-building.
Women, youth and unemployment
The report points out women are excluded from contributing to profitable production and development. Women earn less than men, with over 50% employed in the lowest paying sectors which do not require highly-skilled labour.
Women dominate food production and provide nearly 70% of labour in agriculture.
They account for 80% of food production, yet most of them do not own land. They also rely on labour-intensive tools such as hoes.
Youths, especially females, are the most unproductive group, with about 70% being engaged in unpaid family work. The highest unemployed population is in the urban areas. A greater proportion of the unproductive population is located in the northern part of Uganda.
The number of Ugandans in subsistence agriculture has increased due to failure to get non-agricultural work. Agriculture accounts for over 75% of Uganda's labour force. However, there is low agricultural productivity, land degradation and soil fertility depletion, which is affecting crop yields.
Despite the large and fast-growing youthful labour force and the Government's introduction of universal primary and secondary education, Uganda has a shortage of skilled human power. The report blames this on poor quality in the education system which does not respond to the skills requirements of the job market.
The health sector is hard-hit with a low number of health workers, which is affecting delivery of health services.
The report recommends well-targeted youth policies for employment, public spending directed at young people, projects to tackle rural unemployment and creation of job centres.
Nankabirwa appealed to men to get involved in family planning.
"The more children a mother bears, the higher the risk of maternal and infant mortality," she said.