This week Ugandans are commemorating 33 years under the leadership of the NRM government. The NRM generation or people who were born after January 26, 1986 has come of age.
According to the 2014 Uganda Census, the under 33 ‘NRM generation’ constitutes the bulk of Uganda’s population representing about 73 percent of the total population.
The fortunate thing about this population is that they are mostly healthy, educated and peaceful. The less fortunate bit about the NRM generation is that majority are not skilled and have been condemned to the low-paying subsistence agriculture.
During the last 33 years, the government has concentrated billions of tax payers money on infrastructure development, and creating an enabling economic environment for investors.
There are signs however that the government’s economic policies, have not yielded the desired economic transformation that was pledged by the government for most of the years.
Evidence of this failure is seen from the persistently high levels of unemployment, most of which is prevalent in rural areas. The continuing importation of low-value products from China and other development countries is another indictment on the government’s failure to translate its stable macro-economic policies into tangible products by pursuing a pro-active import substitution strategy to replace imported goods.
Economists nearly agree that Agriculture is the sector where Uganda must focus its resources and energies. The government’s drive to industrialise the economy needs to start by re-organizing the agricultural sector by supporting and equipping cooperatives in a big way;
*Giving incentives to cooperatives that excel in their lines of business.
*Protecting Ugandan farmers against unnecessary competition from abroad through a carrot and stick policy that provides incentives for industries that source inputs locally.
*Put strong emphasis on storage of food and other agro-bassed products so as to cushion farmers against post-harvest losses.
*Reduce the size of government and hence its borrowing that is sucking up most of the scarce resources in repaying loans.
*Ensure that policies are participatory and that young people are consulted in the process of making the budgets and policies targeting them.
Signs of disquiet as witnessed in the People power movement are signals that if not handled urgently and wisely, young people have the potential to derail the achievements that we have recorded over the past 33 years.
By implementing those suggested reforms, we are confident that the government can put the economy back on track and re-assure the millions of young people and therefore the future of the country.