Former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Senegalese American Musician / Businessman Akon might have been completely different people who lived in completely different worlds at completely different times and thus may mistakenly be thought of as having nothing at all in common until you realize they share the same eye for opportunity – economic opportunity. Following his trip to Uganda in 1907, Churchill popularized the nickname “Pearl of Africa” for the country he viewed as one with the greatest economic
potential of all he had toured on the African continent. Akon on the other hand recently chose the country as the first outside of his native Senegal to construct his futuristic “Akon
city” in, definitely for the same reasons as Churchill, albeit 114 years later.
It is definite that the economic and development potential of Uganda does not have time or any other limits to it and yet somehow this has not been fully harnessed to guarantee the country`s full prosperity. This article suggests interventions that if considered by the country`s policymakers, would fill the prevailing gaps and enable the country achieve its` full
economic and development potential.
A good education system that nourishes learners with both knowledge and skills that are responsive to the country`s needs of the day and enables them catch up with global trends is critical in the achievement of the desired end. While Ugandan learners still need to be equipped with adequate capacity to work in the traditional industries of Agriculture, Fishing, Mining, Manufacturing and Tourism among others, adequate competence also needs to be built for the newer sectors such as Information Computer Technology, Artificial Intelligence,
Renewable and Alternative Energy, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing and Virtual Reality among others in which there are still huge skills gaps.
Uganda`s financial sector also needs reform so banks can offer loans with low interest rates and also involve themselves in investment banking. This will make the financial atmosphere conducive enough for Ugandans to easily start businesses and then grow them and will also lower the currently high mortality rates of Ugandan start ups.
Affirmative action for Ugandan start ups in the form of tax waivers shall tremendously boost productivity (and thus revenue) in the long run for the country by reducing the stated high mortality rates.
The author is Bantebya Samuel, a Ugandan lawyer and development enthusiast.