In exercise of his constitutional mandate, President Yoweri Museveni on June 6, 2018, delivered his state of the nation address and also opened the 3rd session of the 10th parliament. By and large, it was a glamorous afternoon at the Serena International conference center in Kampala.
It was a history lesson, tangled up with a few statistics. It was a fashion showcase and a military fete for the initiated. But besides the glamour and glitz, these 10 things struck my eye and I’m almost sure you missed them.
After a long history, the president took Ugandans for a ride when he said that all the districts in the country save for Buvuma and Kaabong have been connected to the national power grid. If this is accurate, why does a simple google search reveal that only 26.7% of the 40 million Ugandans actually have access to electricity? There is a difference between electricity wires, poles and actual power current.
Museveni also did not acknowledge that for places that actually have current in the wires and poles, ordinary Ugandans are too poor to afford to connect their households to electricity, later on, pay the heavy tariffs UMEME is currently administering at over shs650 per unit for domestic use.
The other lie that president Museveni told was that Uganda will be generating 2,216 megawatts once the construction of Karuma and Isimba power dams is complete. This is a good dream but we need to wake up from it ASAP. Let’s do the maths.
At the end of 2017, Uganda was generating 927.4MW. Karuma, when complete, will give us an additional 600MW and Isimba, another 183 MW. This translates into 1710MW by simple addition. These are statistics from the Electricity Regulatory Authority. Where is the president get his?
The empty promises
It is in the DNA of every politician to make promises to their electorate. This also includes those they either won’t fulfill or have no plans of fulfilling in the first place. The president had a handsome share of these too.
Growing at 5.7%, Uganda’s economy is the fastest growing in the region but a look at the facts on the ground make one question this growth. The Ugandan shilling, for example, has performed poorly since the year started currently trading at against the dollar at Shs3,805 and counting. Poverty levels are despicable, fuel prices are going through the roof to mention but a few.
But without offering no explanation at all, Museveni says the economy will grow at 7% the next financial year. Every the daily social media tax cannot give you such a projection.
Youths have also suffered
The president also vowed to boost local production so as to reduce on the importation of almost everything that as he rightly notes, takes billions of shillings from the economy. It is how he plans to go about this that amuses me. Giving money to youths and women does not create wealth. This is the only lesson I hoped everyone should have learned from failed projects like the Youth Fund, NAADS, Wealth Creation and what not.
What the youth in Uganda need is an enabling environment that encourages innovation, let’s start-ups thrive without choking on taxes, gives them mentorship for better incubation, gives them protection from unfair competition and most importantly supports entrepreneurship. This is the thing the NRM government has successfully failed to do. That’s why Uganda, despite being the most entrepreneurial country in the world, also has high youth unemployment rates. Start-ups in Uganda are at the same as risk as newly born babies – dying before their first birthday. A man who promises to go about this problem the same way as last year is not to be trusted.
I won’t even talk about the new Anti-Corruption Unit he created. That one, even a P.3 dropout will tell you that it won’t bring anything new to the table except take from it. Do you know how many anti-corruption related organs we have in Uganda? Let’s start with the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, then there’s the IGG’s office. We have an Auditor General, an Anti-Corruption Court and still, government officials found guilty of defrauding not just the government but the taxpayer too, are sitting at a fancy hotel reading Matooke Republic.
Maybe if the new unit is placed under the UPDF. Don’t laugh alone; share this joke to 1,000 others.