Strategizing for growth in 2020: a private sector perspective.
As the year ended and 2020 curves in, I keep wondering how better our economy can be nourished to further grow enterprises and help job creation especially for the youth. For Uganda to achieve the targeted (sustained) growth of 6.2% and position itself on the path towards middle income, this growth must be inclusive with full participation of the youth and women. Additionally it will call for well sequenced business climate reforms that can attract more local and foreign capital. Uganda’s binding constraint to growth today, is not so much to do with the availability of budgetary resources, laws or policies. These are in plenty. Rather is to do with;
- How organized we are as a people are (or shall be) in politics and business
- How coordinated and efficient our institutions are – public and private
- Whether the laws we write are enforced for the betterment of society
- Whether every Ugandan is able to carefully account for resources, money and time at household, enterprise and public sector levels.
Until we wake up to these seemingly obvious realities, Uganda may not grow to the targeted levels. We will always have to rely on someone else to finance us and determine our development path. Ugandans must be more organized to attract wealth and partnerships.
Rich countries have carefully strategized to attract Foreign Direct Investments as these play a significant role as source of capital, provider of skills and technology learning as well as markets for our smaller businesses. Throughout this year Uganda must recommit to deliver an environment that continuously attract this such capital – the recent improved competitiveness ranking notwithstanding.
This year we envisage a lot of politics as we prepare for next year’s election. The fear of the private sector, as has been before, is that investments may be deterred and markets shrunk further, and that this might curtail growth and employment targets. Leaders at all levels are henceforth challenged to mitigate this fear. Many young people are beginning to get immersed into politics at the expense of business in spite of the huge potential we have in agriculture and agribusiness, tourism and hospitality, small manufacturing etc. Our call to leaders therefore is to encourage, support and nurture these youths into business and entrepreneurship. Uganda has an unmatched potential in the young people as they are wiser, faster, more effective, better educated and innovative. We can only invest more in them and unveil the wide range opportunities to them, including providing fiscal incentives for them to start and grow businesses. It is this that will provide the sure and more stable future for this very young country.
The goodness of politics should be in how well it organizes the citizens and resources towards a sustainable future. Short of this politics is simply a curse. No investment can manifest in a torn apart country particularly where politics is turbulent. FDIs are critical for Africa’s development, and until we attract and retain them in stable conditions of politics, macroeconomics and democracy, development in Uganda and Africa will remain farfetched.
To achieve this, the hindrances to businesses in Uganda (many of which are known) need to be addressed in a timely manner because poverty and joblessness which are the major causes of political instability can only be addressed by supporting business and entrepreneurship.
To attract investments, our Governments in Africa ought to put a lot of emphasis on boosting effective demand, efficiency of policy implementation, law enforcement, opening and consolidating markets, promotion of partnerships and continued reduction in cost of doing business. Any effort to improve the business climate should be centered on three aspects;
- Improving household incomes so we raise their purchasing power and reduce vulnerability,
- Promoting job creation through enterprise growth
- Improving the current account balance by promoting exports and substituting for unnecessary imports
Meanwhile, one of Governments major resolutions this year should be to become more efficient in service delivery and curb wasteful expenditures. Specifically the private sector wants to see less allocations to consumption spending and more allocations to development and wealthy creating sectors. These sectors must be well coordinated to have meaningful impact on the economy. Again we will need sufficient and focussed leadership in this regard to help free up resources for development spending as we save the tax payer.
By: Gideon Badagawa, Executive Director, PSFU