2021 is fast approaching and it’s election season right now and the politics of promises seems to be the main thing. I will promote economic development, I will do that, I will get you this and a lot of other weird things. But let’s look at it this way, Uganda is such a huge country and it would really make sense if government stopped micro-managing projects.
Despite the encouraging economic development enjoyed by many urban communities during the last decade, their rural counterparts are still wallowing in widespread poverty and inequality. Health and education outcomes are among the lowest in the world and the population in these rural areas has insufficient access to sanitation and safe drinking water.
Weak policies make it difficult, especially in fragile communities, to deal with calamities such as the recent Corona virus outbreak and it’s after effects that is impacting nearly every household.
Unemployment and underemployment of youth and women endanger social cohesion and inclusive development. These coupled with the mixed effects of limited access to quality education, health, nutrition, technology and innovation are impediments to accelerating rural growth and entry into higher value-added areas of production and competitiveness. Failure to tackle these issues could deprive a whole generation of Ugandans the opportunities to develop their potential, escape poverty and support the country’s trajectory toward inclusive growth and transformation and eventual economic development.
The objective of this priority is to ensure that Uganda’s demographic growth yields significant economic dividends and contributes to inclusive growth. This could be done through a catalytic approach where the government through community leaders would continue investing in infrastructure and in improving access to basic services such as water and sanitation.
The government could also continue its work in promoting and enabling human development policy environment as well as strengthening institutions that deliver basic services, particularly in health systems in communities most vulnerable to disease outbreaks such as lakeshore communities among others.
Central to this can be an emphasis on job creation, for which the government has to prepare a working job creation strategy. The strategy can be designed to increase direct and indirect employment, resulting in reduced poverty, inequality, economic and conflict driven migration, and increased social cohesion and political stability. To accomplish these, the strategy would aim at increasing inclusive employment and entrepreneurship, strengthen human capital, and create durable labor market linkages by making use of three strategic levers: Innovation, Investment, and Integration.
Through Innovation, the government could create new flagship programs in agriculture, industrialization and ICT as well as an innovations lab that will test, assess, and scale promising solutions to accelerate job creation in Uganda. Through Investments, the government could undertake interventions to catalyze private sector investment by expanding access to capital through direct and indirect debt and equity investments and reducing risks by providing guarantees and first-loss provisions for lending to SMEs, especially those owned or managed by youth. This could well speed up the economic development process.
Through Integration, the government would equip itself and community leaders to become engines for job creation. Local projects, staff, and systems could be reoriented to address youth employment and the government could provide financial support to enable community leaders pursue policies and regulatory actions favorable to youth employment and entrepreneurship.