BEN SSEBUGUZI: 5 Cents Electricity is good for Uganda’s Quest for Industrialisation

The world has gone through various stages of evolution of man from tree-dwellers and hunter-gatherers to cave dwellers due to the invention of fire. Society has also transformed from using stones and spears to using guns. The society also faced another facelift from hunter-gathers to the domestication of crops and animals.

In the 18 century of the industrial revolution where there was invention of steam engine, electricity and rail, we have experienced new changes like automation and unfolding of the 4th industrial revolution in form of artificial intelligence.

The world has changed from producing only quantity but also quality. Currently, Uganda under Uganda coffee Development Authority, have a plan of exporting 21million bags of coffee from the 7million bags, but it might not be sustainable because we might export more bags but earn less value in terms of money simply because we have not emphasized adding value and export processed coffee to fetch higher revenue and returns. Its a big joke if our biggest exports are still agricultural commodities in form of raw materials instead of exporting industrial agricultural value-added products that not only fetch more money but also create jobs in various stages of value addition. When we export coffee beans it is said that we loose more than 80% of value which includes donating our jobs abroad.

Uganda mostly exports agricultural products (80 percent of total exports). The most important exports is coffee (22 percent of total exports) followed by tea, cotton, copper, oil and fish. Uganda’s main export partners are Sudan (15 percent), Kenya (10 percent), DR Congo, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and UAE.With reduction of power tariffs from 11 cents to 5 cents as per government’s deliberate plan to attract more agri based industries,we are more likely to cause massive transformation which even changes structural and economic landscape.

Uganda’s quest for industrialisation is highlighted in Vision 2040 and the third National Development Plan (NDP III), which are Uganda’s medium and longer-term plans that prioritise industrialization as a key driver for Uganda’s prosperity. The overriding theme of NDP III is, “Sustainable Industrialisation for Inclusive Growth, Employment and Sustainable Wealth Creation.” So industry is a pivot which is a must in helping us achieve our set targets in NDP 3.

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World over,it is industry which has the capacity to create middle class and working class because it has forward and backward linkages which are very crucial in expansion of the economy which also creates many more opportunities for youths in terms of jobs compared to only agriculture. With industry, people are able to leave the rural settings to urban areas for jobs and better services (urbanisation) hence creating more spaces for agriculture but also reduce environment effects like deforestation.

Through the development of industrial sector, other sectors like services like insurance, banking, stocks, social security, pension funds, etc and IT services like telecoms, fintechs, etc which take centre stage and accommodate more Ugandans in terms of earnings.

Lastly, because the industry is able to remove feudal classes where the haves are too few while the have nots are swimming in abject poverty, with industry,it brings many more people in the income blanket where government is able to levy more taxes and provide social services like roads, hospitals, etc to it’s citizens. It is also proven that in industrial countries, even tax administration and mobilisation is easy and cheap which helps our country be able to serve our citizens.

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I, therefore, thank President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and other technical people and policy makers for breaking all red tape and barriers painfully to make our country proud.

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The wirter; Ben Ssebuguzi is an economist, entrepreneur and Secretary General of Uganda poor youth movement.


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