Great Work Done, But More Efforts Still Needed!

By Ofwono Opondo

Sept, 30, 15              
This October, Uganda will be marking the 53rd Independence anniversary under the theme, “Striving towards a prosperous people and country; The true meaning of independence,” twenty-nine years of which have been under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and President Yoweri Museveni. The main celebrations will be held in Gulu district and NRM’s clarion message to all Ugandans across the aisle is to pull in the same direction to cause transformation, unfortunately, the phony opposition believes otherwise. It is critical that every able bodied citizen realizes that they must put individual efforts especially at home and community levels to make the national socio-economic transformation a reality.  
Indeed twenty-nine years ago, NRM which is now a political party promulgated the now almost forgotten “Ten-Point Programme,” as the basis to resuscitate Uganda as a viable nation state because the state had completely collapsed and could no longer guarantee basic needs of the citizens.
Unlike some other African countries that shed blood, Uganda got her independence through negotiations, and expectations were that we would hit the road running and move forward. However, the colonialists by design handed over power to a UPC-KY political alliance that was ideologically divorced which is partly responsible for the civil unrest and maladministration that has dogged Uganda for the better part of the past 53 years.
Twenty nine years under the NRM led by President Museveni have seen the rebirth of Uganda, and great achievements in security, stability, politics and socio-economic transformation as currently underway. The trust that the people have put in our leadership must never be put to waste again, and there ought to no lame excuses anymore.
As a country we appear to be getting our acts together and as a result Uganda is on a rapid, visible, and hopefully sustainable socio-economic transformation under a constitutional and democratic rule.
The 1988 book, “Uganda Now; Between Decay and Development,” edited by Bernt Hansen and Michael Twaddle gives a better illustration of where Uganda was then, which when compared by the naked eyes today tell us how much journey the country has travelled, so we can appreciate. However, we must continue to work for and vigorously demand transparency and the highest standards of accountability from all citizens, our leaders and government.
Almost 30 years ago when NRM took power, the government started to focus on restructuring the economy through pro-market reforms, liberalization and privatization, and improving the legitimacy of public institutions through democratization.
However, a civil war waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda left thousands dead and millions displaced, dampening economic activity and deepening poverty in the region. The LRA was pushed out of Uganda in 2005, and there have been no major security threat in this part of Uganda. Economic activities have resumed in Northern Uganda, and all formerly internally displaced persons have returned to their homes.

On the economic front, Uganda was among the first Sub-Saharan African countries to embark on liberalization and pro-market policies. As a result, real GDP growth averaged 7% per year in the 1990s and the 2000s. New evidence from the 2014 national census shows that the Ugandan economy has grown 20% larger than had previously calculated. The economy is forecast to grow at a rate of 6.6% in FY14/15, and could maintain an upward trajectory into the near future as oil investments and the on-going large infrastructure projects boost construction activities.
The agricultural sector, which employs the majority, is being supported through provision of improved inputs and infrastructure across the country to enhance productivity, processing, industralisation and marketing.
Uganda has made important progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially with respect to reduction in poverty, disease, child and maternal mortality, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. There is need to re-invigorate efforts in immunization among children, and the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatment.
During the last two decades of strong economic growth poverty reduced from 56% in 1992-93 to 19.7% by 2012-13, surpassing the 2015 MDG target of halving the poverty rate. However, Uganda remains a poor country in spite of the declining poverty rates because of high population growth doubling since 1990. Moreover, the poverty line is low and many remain vulnerable to poverty. Inequality is high which could undermine the achievements in growth and poverty reduction. A key challenge to accelerating progress towards middle income status and promote shared prosperity is to raise productivity in sectors where most people are employed or move people from low to higher productivity activities by giving them the requisite skills. Government must also set, adequately fund and strictly implement critical priority areas within agreed time frame.
This being an election year, we strongly urge all Ugandans to take interest and vigorously get involved in a peaceful way in the on-going political processes of choosing able, credible, and dependable leaders that Uganda deserves to take our great country forward. Happy Celebrations!!