The Observer (Kampala)

17 April 2013

Ugandans to Earn Sh25 Million a Year By 2040

Government to borrow to fund the plan Imagine a time when Kampala has high-speed trains, where the country has nuclear power plants, and where on average, each Ugandan earns Shs 25m per year. It might seem a distant dream, but it could happen within less than 30 years, if Uganda Vision 2040, which is to be launched tomorrow, becomes a reality. Indeed, Dr Abel Rwendeire, the deputy chairman of the National Planning Authority, insists this dream is more than achievable.

"What we are talking about is narrowing the gap between those who have and those who don't. We are trying to look at the constraints that impede the bottom people. We want to assist them so programmes and strategies must be in place," Rwendeire said this week.

He says that average GDP growth rate will stand at 8.2 per cent per annum translating into a total GDP of $580.5bn. The government wants 80 per cent of Uganda's population to have access to electricity. Currently only 11 per cent of Uganda is on the power grid. The government also expects that by 2040, at least 80 per cent of the roads will be paved.

Today only four per cent of the road network is paved. All Ugandans, rural or urban, must live in planned settlements according to the plan, drawn by the National Planning Authority. The 120-page plan joins several economic policies and programmes drawn by government over the years, without achieving particularly spectacular success. These include the Structural Adjustment Programmes, Economic Recovery Programme, Poverty Eradication Action Plan, the National Development Plan and Vision 2025.

"We didn't have the legal framework for the implementation of Vision 2025," Rwendeire said. "National Planning Authority was not there at the time... Vision 2025 did not talk about the oil and utilisation of oil revenue. It was deemed necessary that we review it. We upheld some of the programmes that were still relevant and we added the element of utilisation of the new resource like the potential with uranium."

Tourism:

By 2040 tourism will be bringing in some $12bn, up from $622m from tourists who come into the country for gorilla tracking, mountain climbing, and bird watching. There are plans to set up Uganda Tourism Authority, market Uganda better, and improve transport networks by increasing international airports from one to four, developing multilane paved roads, and building a standard railway network with high-speed trains, linking Uganda to Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti and Tanga ports.

Agriculture:

The government is also looking at agriculture as a key driver of the economy to transform Uganda. Agriculture employs 65 per cent of Uganda's population, contributing 21 per cent of Uganda's GDP. The sector is also responsible for 47 per cent of the total export earnings.

Here, plans revolve around commercialising Uganda's overly subsistence farming, investing in irrigation schemes, supporting research in improved varieties and availability of fertilisers. Other strategies are availing information to farmers, reversing land fragmentation, investing in value addition by availing credit to investors who want to process farm produce.

Oil:

The oil and gas sector, with reserves estimated at 3.5 billion barrels, is expected to be one of the main resources to spur economic growth and achieve vision 2040. The reports highlights plans to build an oil refinery and a pipeline and training Ugandan scientists, engineers and technicians to work in the sector.

Human resource:

To improve the labour force, government plans to equip young people with globally competitive skills, knowledge and positive attitudes. These will emerge from yet-to-be built centres of excellence in health, education and science. Companies like Shell and Exxon-Mobil will be encouraged to set up research and development centres in universities to carry out research.

Skills development programmes will be a major emphasis in tertiary institutions to develop a skilled labour force. The well-qualified graduates will work in the manufacturing and service sectors, creating a potential market for Uganda's locally produced goods. Uganda will develop a universal health insurance system through a public-private partnership, with international and national referral hospitals.

Multi-city country:

It is hoped that by 2040, greater Kampala will be one of the most attractive cities in the world offering Ugandans and visitors with rapid bus transport, and light passenger rail system. There will be four other regional cities in Gulu, Arua, Mbale and Mbarara.

Hoima will be an oil city, Nakasongola an industrial city, Fort Portal a tourism city, Moroto for mining and Jinja for industries - as it used to be in the immediate post-colonial period.

Financing for the vision will come from the government, civil society organisation, donor and private capital loans, and taxes.

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