16 November 2012

Uganda: Kamuganga Beat the World's Best

AS he walks down to where we are seated, waiting to hear his tale of success, a gentlemanly gait punctuates his strides.

The soft voice and flickering smile on his clean-shaven face, comes with the fragrance of his recent achievement; Dr. Dick Nuwamanya Kamuganga was recognised as a young African scholar for the best research paper at the 2012 African economic conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

The paper, according to Kamuganga, is one of the three research papers he wrote for his doctorate degree in international economics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland.

His paper was selected out of the 500 submissions from around the world because of its outstanding policy relevance to Africa's sustainable economic growth problems. The paper shows the impact of regional integration on Africa's export survival in the international market.

Born in February 1976 in Kiruhura district, Kamuganga attended Rwanyangwe Primary School, Masheruka SSS, for O'level, and studied A'level at Ntare School. He later joined the then Institute of Teachers' Education, Kyambogo.

In 2001, he graduated with a bachelor of science in agriculture economics degree from Makerere University and later, a master of science in agriculture economics.

In 2007, Kamuganga obtained a master of science in international economics degree, with research from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He obtained a PhD in June this year.

In the paper, which won him the accolade, Kamuganga argues that for international trade to be complete, three key dimensions - the exporter, the importer and the subsequent relationship between the two - come into play.

However, he observes that the seller-buyer relationship comes with costs (search costs), searching for potential buyers abroad at exhibitions to identify with the buyers. Apart from the search costs, the paper observes that transport costs in international trade are still high.

To reduce the costs, the paper calls for regional integration because it increases the chances of connection between potential sellers and buyers in regional markets for regionally produced goods.

"So, if through regional integration trade barriers are removed, people connect and the ability to find a buyer or seller increases. This is important for the survival of export trade," he argues, adding: "With a good relationship between the buyer and the seller, uncertainty reduces and the trust grows, which is vital for export growth."

Kamuganga states that a lot of bureaucracy in deeper groupings has reduced uncertainty on the side of buyers and sellers due to efficient service delivery.

He explains when goods take long to be cleared at the borders, the seller-buyer or exporter-importer relations become more strained because this delays products from reaching the market on schedule.

Kamuganga, argues that the deeper the integration, the lower the costs of doing business. Countries in a monetary union have long-lasting export relations with their trading partners followed by those in the common market, then customs union and the preferential trade area, he adds.

"Each level of integration comes with increased efficiency and reduced bureaucracy," Kamuganga explains.

"The deeper you are in the integration process, the more sustainable export growth is, especially for new exporters since they are more likely to survive in a more developed and bigger integration than in a shallow one."

With eased information flow, he argues, there will be subsequent regional collection of talents of all business-related engagements, including civil engineers and other service providers, making the chain of production and exportation complete.

Uganda's problem

Lack of required talent and people to do certain things, according to Kamuganga, is what is holding back Uganda's strides towards economic growth and development.

"We do not, for example, have people who can ably adapt, modify and utilise new technology in line with our needs as a country as is the case in China," he says.

To attain its currents global status, Kamuganga says, China has gone through progression stages, for example, from exporting primary commodities to exporting manufactured goods.

Kamuganga will present his third paper, an exploration of regional integration on export diversification, next month at the African Economic Research Consortium in Arusha.

Kamuganga's first paper, which was on the impact of regional conflicts on export growth in Africa, was presented at Oxford University in March. The young scholar is currently researching on the impact of import exposure on infant industries in East Africa.

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