President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reiterated his call to stop the exportation of raw materials, saying that Uganda loses a lot of money annually due to such an economic undertaking.
He instead advised Ugandans and foreign investors to work towards adding value to the country’s products to help the country achieve the much-desired socio-economic transformation agenda.
“We have been funding these efforts (of the private sector) but initially we were getting disturbances from the Ministry of Finance because it was not supporting them fully. For example, Dr. Muranga, I have been with her for a very long time but when you send her, they give her small money in portions. Why don’t you give her enough money since you are losing enough money each year in exporting? Why don’t you see that, that is a big loss. When you export unprocessed raw materials, you lose a lot of money. Then you have an Auditor General, why don’t you audit this lost value? Why have you never reported it?” the President expounded.
“When you export unprocessed coffee, you get 2.5 US Dollars per kilogram. That same kilo if you add value to it, you earn about 40 US Dollars and you are losing that every year. And that is no problem for the Auditor General or Committees of Parliament. Why don’t you see this loss and especially when an old man like me keeps on telling you and you have seen what other countries have done. A country like South Korea doesn’t have the resources that Uganda has but they are intelligent. They are mainly using intellectual labour. Therefore, I appeal to everybody concerned to wake up,” he added.
The President made the call today while officiating at the Presidential CEO Forum (PCF)’s two-day 4th Bi-Annual CEO Retreat held at the Kiira Vehicle plant in Jinja.
Running under the theme: “Uganda’s Industrialization Agenda: Positioning Uganda as a net source of E-Mobility Solution in Africa”, the high-level meeting was aimed at highlighting the private sector’s driving role in the country’s development.
President Museveni also cautioned politicians and civil servants who frustrate investors; willing to develop the country.
He said years back, he wanted to add value to Uganda’s milk but some uninformed group of people frustrated him and the foreign investor and by the end of the day, the businessman gave up on investing in Uganda.
“Many years ago, I had brought somebody from Thailand with Mzee Mulwana. Those days I was struggling with value addition to milk because we had persuaded your people in the cattle corridor to join the money economy by producing milk for sale and they had come up, but the processing capacity was small. There was a small processing factory called Uganda Dairy Corporation which was producing only 60,000 litres per day at Bugolobi. This man wanted to come and build a factory and take over the old factory, expand it and make it produce milk but also produce juice and so on. He had a very good plan, but my people went to parliament and started insulting him, so his board stopped him from coming Here,” President Museveni explained.
“He walked out because of being insulted by people who have no value addition to themselves but cannot allow those who can add value to do it. I had to struggle for other years until I got an Indian who came but we had lost time. He expanded that little factory at Bugolobi from 60,000 to 500,000 litres a day and that is how Uganda was able to have vertical integration in the milk sector. There we moved. We now produce 5.3 billion litres from 200 million litres in 1986 and much of it is processed into liquid milk, pasteurized, ultra-heated, powder milk, butter, and cheese, we are even producing protein from milk which we are selling to the USA. With that factory, Uganda’s reputation went up and now we have many factories.”
The President further called upon the political class especially the NRM supporters and civil servants to help Uganda attain its development goal.
“The civil servants and the confused politicians have sought to delay us but now we are determined, we have had discussions and we are going to move. I want this economy to jump from 55 billion US Dollars where we are now to 500 billion US Dollars and we can do it,” he assured.
But to achieve such a milestone, H.E Museveni said there are four economic dimensions which must be followed.
“Dimension number one is what we have already started, those in the non-money economy must be persuaded to join the money economy. When we involved the UPDF, we were able to move the 68 per cent who were outside the money economy, we are now remaining with 39 per cent. These are the ones we are struggling with now through the Parish Development Model and Emyooga. When all these join you are going to be able to get a lot of raw materials. You have seen with coffee, we have moved from 2 million bags to 8 million bags, and we are aiming at 20 million which we shall achieve,” he noted.
“The second dimension is value addition, followed by the expanding and deepening of the services sector like tourism, hotels and entertainment. Dimension number four is the knowledge economy where you use skills and innovation to produce products.”
President Museveni further pledged that the government will avail Kiira Motors Corporation with Shs40 billion to complete setting up the plant in Jinja and also assured that they will support the Corporation by buying buses for government institutions.
The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja thanked the President for creating a secure environment in Uganda that has enabled industrialization and e-mobility to prosper.
“You cannot talk about industrialization in Sudan now, you cannot talk about industrialization in Ukraine but here we are. Please join me to thank him for this secure environment,” Rt. Hon. Nabbanja stated.
“Your Excellency, the government has already implemented 18 out of the 19 key resolutions by the PCF. To me, this is a plus. I promise that as a government, these key recommendations from this retreat will also be implemented as we did for the last retreats.”
The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga also expressed gratitude to the government for setting up a powerful industry- Kiira Vehicle Plant in Jinja.
She also thanked the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero and her team for their decision to make Jinja City a pilot city for the mass transportation system in the country.
“Here in Jinja, we shall have the power centre for charging electric buses and motorcycles. It will also have a ticketing point. With that, Jinja City will be a model city in Africa for e-mobility. This will also create employment opportunities for our people,” Rt. Hon. Kadaga said.
On her part, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Musenero told the President that Uganda has made tremendous strides as far as the e-mobility industry is concerned.
She said apart from making the first ever electric vehicle in Africa, Uganda is now home to the biggest electric bus production plant in Africa- Kiira Vehicle Plant, which is going to be commissioned before the end of this calendar year.
“Your Excellency, two years ago, I invited you here and you came and laid a foundation stone for the facility and since then we have made very significant progress. I want to thank you and the Ministry of Finance who responded at that time and extended extra funding which has enabled us to push the work. I want to also thank the Prime Minister for the continuous support all the time,” Dr Musenero said.
“We made the first electric vehicle designed and built in Africa- the Kiira EV in 2011 is the first ever electric vehicle built in Africa. Your Excellency, the President became arguably the first-ever head of state recorded to be driven in an Electric vehicle. The first solar-powered designed and built in Africa is the Kayoola Solar bus in 2016 built here in Uganda. The first fully electric bus designed and built in Africa is the Kayoola EVS in 2019,” she added.
The Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi also lauded President Museveni for his consistent commitment and resolve in promoting industrialization.
“Your Excellency, Industrialization lies at the heart of your vision and guidance you have given us as government to promote it. The target in the next 10 years is 3-fold; to make manufacturing contribute at least a third of the GDP. Currently, it contributes 16 per cent. Secondly, it should employ at least 26 per cent of Ugandans, currently, it employs 9 per cent and thirdly, 50 per cent of the exports should be manufactured, currently, it’s 13 per cent,” said Mr Ggoobi who is also a Board Member of PCF.
“Your Excellency, all the developed nations transformed by industrializing and industry has always been the escalator sector. Industrial upgrading has never happened through market forces, the state must go beyond facilitation to incubate industries and we thank you for guiding us to do exactly that here at Kiira,” he added.
Mr. Ggoobi reaffirmed to the President that as PCF, they have been able to address most of the issues raised in the last 3 retreats (since 2021) by the private sector.
On the other hand, the PCF Chairperson-Board of Directors, Ms. Barbra Mulwana revealed that PCF was set up to create awareness and bind from the key players to drive His Excellency’s guidance on championing the e-mobility industry.
“I’m confident that the discussions and interactions here will pave the way for positive outcomes and invaluable insights for this sector as well as the way forward and backward linkages. On behalf of the PCF board, we would like to thank you, Your Excellency, for always having a special place for the private sector. Indeed you unreservedly promote the private sector in all engagements and even in your most recent engagements in Russia and Serbia you have championed the trade in African value-added products,” Ms Mulwana stressed.
The Vice Chairperson of PCF Board of Directors, Mr. Emmanuel Katongole commended President Museveni for walking the talk when it comes to promoting the country’s economy.
“During your recent travel to Russia and Serbia, we followed you in real-time, particularly watching you on UBC and NBS. In about 99 per cent of your speeches, you were talking about businesses and the economy. Thank you so much, Your Excellency. I was particularly touched by your meeting with President Putin. You spent time talking about this particular place, Kiira Motors on how we can develop our lithium into batteries, how we can develop our charging system, and how we could develop our coffee beans into a finished product. That is the leadership we have come to appreciate,” Mr Katongole asserted.
The CEO/ Coordinator of PCF, Irene Birungi Mugisha said, “Your Excellency, thank you for giving the private sector a platform to be in a position to exhibit the potential that they provide to the economic development of this country.”
The event was also attended by the Finance Minister, Hon. Matia Kasaija, Trade Minister, Hon. Francis Mwebesa, Works and Transport Minister, Gen. Katumba Wamala, Members of Parliament, State House Comptroller, Ms Jane Barekye, the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) Managing Director, Lt. Gen James Mugira, among other dignitaries.