President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged the Ugandan Diaspora to make use of the available opportunities and invest in Uganda.
The President made the call while closing the second annual edition of the 2023 Canada National Resistance Movement (NRM) Chapter Symposium in a virtual meeting held at State Lodge- Nakasero on Sunday, 13th August 2023.
The two-day symposium which took place in Toronto, Canada, ran under the theme: “Dialogue, Unity and a Prosperous Diaspora”.
“It would be good if you also participate by bringing either foreign friends to invest with us or even you if you can collect your small money and add it up and put it into some of these enterprises. By combining savings, we can do more work,” the President appealed.
President Museveni, who also serves as the National Chairman of the NRM, informed Ugandans living in Canada that currently, the government is focused on supporting and executing the knowledge-based economy, explaining that with investment sustained, the country will achieve more.
“Our people are highly educated and qualified, they have got a lot of knowledge but of course lack money. The government has been supporting them to start innovations like electric vehicles, you have heard of the Kiira electric vehicle, this is a car named after the Nile, we have got Kayoola, the electric mini-bus made by our scientists,” he informed the Ugandans living in Canada.
“These are already moving on the roads, and we are supporting them. By the end of this year, we shall be rolling out more electric buses for now. If we can get investors from Canada and you people as well, with the money that you have, you can co-invest and much of this work would move faster,” he added.
President Museveni also highlighted that with the electric vehicles in place, the government is now aiming at making the electric batteries from the available lithium to be able to support the electric car’s function, adding that electric motorcycles are also being made.
“Then we have the pathogenic economy, this is the economy from the diseases. The big problem of Africa is that we have been getting diseases, but foreigners have been making money from our diseases, they make vaccines, we buy them, they make therapeutics, they make diagnostics, equipment for medical use,” he cited.
However, on a good note, President Museveni said that Ugandan scientists have started making the vaccines and drugs within and the government is supporting them.
“We have already started with some of the factories like Quality Chemicals which has been making ARVs for AIDS and Anti-malarial drugs and so on. Therefore, this is one of our priority areas, the knowledge economy based on human knowledge,” President Museveni noted.
“Our people are involved in space science, we are going to launch our satellite our young people have already launched one satellite for the experiment, but we are going to make a bigger and more reliable satellite. All these scientists that I am talking about, it is the government that is giving them the money, but it would be good if each of the citizens were to provide small. I want you to know that your country is moving forward and that we have worked with our brothers here to form the African common market to buy our products,” he further assured the audience.
The President also used the opportunity to appeal to the Ugandan Diaspora to foster value addition to Ugandan products.
“If you know some groups in Canada that can help us to add value, they are most welcome. We are producing a lot of coffee now at 8 million bags, but we are getting only about $ 845 million from that big crop.
President Museveni mentioned that when a kilo of unprocessed coffee is exported, only $2.5 per kilogram is received but if value is added to this kilogram, it can go up to $40 plus an added advantage of job creation to the unemployed thus an emphasis on value addition by the government.
H.E Museveni also emphasized that there is a need for value addition in the whole spectrum of raw materials, further revealing that the country is so far doing well in milk, leather and oil palm when it comes to value addition.
“Service sector is the other priority area that we have identified. This includes tourism, hotels and entertainment. These bring in quite a bit of money. We used to get almost $ 2 billion before the Corona Pandemic,” he added.
“Those Ministers can tell you that we are now engaged in the struggle of four aspects. Number one is full monetization of the economy because, in the past, the people who were in the money economy were very few.”
By 1969, President Museveni said that only 4% of the population was engaged in money-making activities while the other 96% were working only for the stomach saying that this is one of the biggest problems in Africa.
“When you hear that there is poverty in Africa, part of the problem is this one. People have land, and resources, where you live in Canada, you know very well that many families do not have land, those that have it are not many but here many families have land but just leave it for working for the stomach and the pocket,” he expressed concern.
The President recalled that when the NRM came into power in 1986, the subsistence economy was still hard to reduce despite the efforts made and by 2013, only 32 % of the Ugandans were in the money economy while 68% were still in the subsistence economy.
“If you work only for the stomach, okay you get full, but how about money for building a better house, how about money for the clothes, for the family, how about some of the education which needs to be paid for, how about mobility, how do you buy yourself a car?” he questioned.
In 2013, H.E Museveni said he had to bring the army on board through Operation Wealth Creation to bring free coffee seedlings and other planting materials to the families to plant both food and cash crops to improve their income levels.
“The army did well, when we did the check recently, we found that now the people in the money economy are 61% of the population but 39% are still working for the stomach. We have now launched a new program called the Parish Development Model which I hope those ministers have informed you about,” he added.
“Therefore, our struggle now is the full monetization of the economy instead of having a monetary GDP of subsistence economy. The second one is value addition, where we need to add value to our coffee and iron ore. You live outside but if I was near you, I would have given you a long talk about what has been happening in Uganda so that you know how you can come in and you also make a contribution.”
By the time of Independence in 1962, President Museveni narrated to the NRM members that Uganda had a small modern economy which in those days called enclave economy, noting that this terminology meant that the economies of that time had small islands of modernity surrounded by a sea of under development.
“In the case of Uganda, that small economy was characterized as the economy of the 3Ts and the 3Cs. The 3Cs were cotton, coffee and copper and the 3Ts were Tobacco, Tourism and Tea. Fortunately, I was there, what you call history, I call current affairs, I can therefore tell you the whole story,” he said.
The President further stressed that the small economy was able to grow a bit between 1962 and 1970. Unfortunately, Iddi Amin came in and destroyed the small island of modernization and of the 3Cs, only coffee was still limping on.
“The other two had collapsed, copper and cotton had collapsed. Of the 3Ts, only one was still limping on and that was Tobacco, otherwise Tourism was zero and Tea production had declined from 23 million kgs in 1971 to 3 million kilograms by 1986, that is the situation we found.”
Therefore, since that time, the President said that NRM embarked on four dimensions which included achieving the minimum recovery of the small modern economy that had collapsed and bringing back the modernity that Iddi Amin had destroyed since 1971.
“That meant bringing back the cotton, the coffee, the tea and so on. As I speak, we have achieved much of that. For instance, in tea, the production in 1986 was 3 million kilograms, we were able to achieve the 1971 level of 23 million kilograms many years ago, we are now at 60 million kilograms of tea,” he added.
President Museveni said that the government did not only bring back the small island but focused on expanding it by producing more tea, coffee and cotton, noting that this is among the achievements made in the last 30 years.
“Number three, we also worked on diversification whereby we brought new products which were not of economic value and made them of economic value. That is why you find that now Uganda is a big exporter of maize and maize products,” he said.
He mentioned that between 1950 and 1970, Uganda used to import maize products from Kenya saying that there was no maize flour within the country.
“But now Uganda went from producing 500,000 tons a year, we are now producing more than 5 million tons of maize a year, and therefore maize became a cash crop. It was no longer just a food crop; it now became both a food and cash crop. Our bananas are now a big cash crop as well,” he said.
President Museveni also noted that Uganda is now one of the biggest producers of milk and its products in Africa saying that the country came from producing 200 million litres in 1986 and currently producing 5.4 billion litres of milk for both internal use and export.
“Therefore, minimum recovery, expansion and diversification; but then also adding value have been our achievements.”
The President explained that the reason why he banned the export of unprocessed raw materials is because he wants to promote value addition.
“But also, for other products like cotton, instead of exporting cotton, we export textiles. The shirt I am putting on here is a Ugandan-made shirt from cotton to cloth. So, processing milk products, timber products, beef products, leather among others, is one of the struggles we have been engaged in,” he informed the gathering.
The 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Rukia Isanga Nakadama hailed President Museveni for his dedication towards the NRM party and his extemporary leadership which enabled the symposium to take place.
“Thank you all for your contribution to this symposium, your participation has made this event highly engaging, informative and interactive. I also want to thank our NRM brothers and sisters living in Canada for raising the NRM flag high. This huge number has proved that the party is not only loved in Uganda but is also loved across the globe,” she said.
The symposium which attracted many Ugandans living in Canada was also attended by Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda, the Minister for Presidency, Hon. Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Her Excellency, Ruth Acheng, Uganda’s Ambassador to Canada, SPA/PA Amb. Abbey Walusimbi, among other dignitaries.