6 August 2012

Uganda: Policy Makers Ask State to Intervene in Private Sector

Key policy makers have called for increased intervention by the state in the private sector and for the fast-tracking of the East African integration for the country to attain sustainable development.

"There is need for a strong and proactive state. We cannot leave agriculture, a sector marked with market failures, to the private sector.

The state should deliver public goods, regulate and form partnerships with the private sector," said Sarah Ssewanyana of the Makerere University Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).

This was during the launch of a book titled "The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa," edited by Dr. Louis Kasekende, the deputy governor of Bank of Uganda (BOU) at the Makerere University College of Business and Management Sciences conference hall.

The book is a compilation of work from 100 researchers and four Nobel Prize winners with detailed analysis of 48 African countries. Ssewanyana explained that there is need to empower smallholder farmers through increased access to modern inputs to provide a solid foundation for growth in the agricultural sector.

She noted that occurrence of large farms and the land tenure system need to be closely looked at, especially as the population continues to grow rapidly, increasing pressure on the fixed land resources.

Kasekende pointed out that Africa spent the first 30 years after independence under tight state control and that the latter 20 years have seen renewed emphasis on achieving free markets through private sector-led investment.

He added that the book discusses why smaller landlocked countries stand a better chance in achieving their development objectives through regional integration.

"The authors are sharing with us various stories of failure and success of particular countries in Africa. It touches on the different areas of development like diversification of exports, markets, trade and developments in manufacturing."

Kasekende explained that the book can be regarded as the African Economics Bible for policy makers and researchers as it contains views on what works best on the continent through a detailed analysis of various countries.

Vision Group chief Robert Kabushenga chaired the discussion.

Speakers included BOU governor Prof. Tumusiime Mutebile and the National Planning Authority boss Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa.

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