Monday, May 16, 2011


President Yoweri Museveni was sworn in last week for another five year term.

His speech after the occasion did an adequate job – I thought,of laying down his government’s priorities in the coming years.

The target is to be a middle income country by 2016.

A middle income country by World Bank standards has a per capita income of between $1,000 and $12,000.

Currently per capita income in Uganda comes in at $460. So the president is saying that over the next five years we are going to more than double the size of the economy, this would mean an annual economic growth rate of just under 15%.

That is an ambitious goal – even for China. But I am not complaining. I like that such an ambitious goal has been set, I think we wallow below mediocrity because we have low goals as a country, chest thumping at lifting a few more people out of the a-dollar-a-day bracket, for instance.

There is the sticky issue of population growth, which at current rates means our population will be up by a fifth in five years, but that is a discussion for another day.

But let us take the president at his word, what would we need to do to double our economy over the next five years?

I like that his government is going to focus harder on physical infrastructure – roads, railway and other transport communication and power generation. There will also be more resources shoveled at education and health services.

But I wills tick with physical infrastructure. To understate the obvious, energy is critical if we are to have half a chance of matching the president’s lofty goal. To paraphrase from physics, a country will descend into disorder, chaos or back to its natural state without an injection of power.

Museveni sees us increasing our power generation capacity sevenfold when Bujagali, Karuma and several other power projects come on line within the next five years.

But at 500 kwh per person in five years we would still badly lag middle income countries on the continent Algeria currently at 820, Namibia at 1,336 or South Africa at 4,380.

Yes, we will have to gird our loins if we are to have half a chance at middle income countryhood in the next few years.

In America where business competition is cut throat and managers cannot afford to blink under pressure, the study of management and leadership is very advanced.

At the beginning of the last decade the buzz word in US companies was execution or getting the job done. The movement came during a time when American industry was taking a hiding from Japan Inc and forced America to rethink the notion that to solve problems you need to throw more and more money at them.

Literature abounds on the subject but the basic formula for getting the job done comes from the efficient interplay of strategy, operational processes and human resource.

Obviously Museveni has a sense of this pointing out that “To achieve these goals we need discipline and the rule of law”.

We need to streamline our public sector, dare I say, cut it down to a third of its current size and the savings be invested in making the remaining workforce more productive and responsive the business community.

We need to cut out corruption, maybe paint all corrupt officials pink making them a laughing stock – whatever high priced suit they wear.

And we need to get our act together yesterday because the oil bonanza is around the corner. You know what they say about money, it does not make you a better or worse person it just magnifies your current attributes. So one shudders when one thinks about what we did with CHOGM money and what will happen when the really big monies come around.

Doubling our economy in five years is not impossible, especially since we are starting from a low base. We have issue of wealth disparity which urgently be addressed but to have a good chance of redistributing wealth we need to create more of it.

Let us look back five years from now, the record will show that whether we met the target or not will have been determined by our level execution or lack of thereof.

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