Before the NRM government coming to power in 1986, Ugandan’s economy was in ruins and had suffered greatly owing to devastating economic policies, mismanagement, political instability and civil war. The overall physical infrastructure was in very bad shape and human capital resource flight to the diaspora exacerbated the economic doldrums in Uganda.
In response to Uganda’s economic challenges, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) had embarked on the economic development policy as outlined in the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) for 1988-92 together with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Structural Arrangement Facility (SAF) and now the National Development Policy. The objective of this initiative was to achieve internal financial stability and lower the rate of inflation, reduce the unbalance in the external accounts, and promote growth amongst the priority areas.
Accordingly, the NRM government with time went a long way to liberalize the economy and adopted macroeconomic stabilization approach to address anomalies within the economy. Inflation which previously ran at 240% in 1987 and 42% in mid-1992 was reduced to less than 5.1% in 2003. In spite of all this, a slowdown in privatization, low interest in foreign direct investment, and sustained but limited growth dimmed the prospects for economic development.
As part of the government’s strategy to achieve a steady economic recovery in Uganda, the NRM government had in 2003 put in place a Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) with the intention of reducing poverty to less than 10% of the population by 2017.
To this end, the government has operationalized Universal Primary Education (UPE), Universal Secondary Education (USE), prosperity for all under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), improvement in health services, rehabilitation and construction of roads and revitalising the power sector as engines of development.
Currently Uganda is going through very interesting times both in the economy and politics. The economy has been growing between 6 and 10% for the last 15 years and will continue to grow now that we have oil and gas and despite the global downturn and regional instability. Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt.
In spite of government’s sustained macroeconomic efforts, there has been a recent increase in the general rate of inflation standing at 15% as of June 2011. The raise of inflation is mainly attributed to global commodity prices and the depreciation of the shilling as well as domestic trends including drought, crop diseases, urbanization, growing demand due to population growth and effects of regional integration. In view of this, the overall commodity prices and the price of transportation have been badly affected. However, looking at the month-on-month inflation, food inflation and oil prices have started to fall recently and it is now government priority as stipulated in the 2011-2012 financial budget to focus on improving productivity and storage facilities in the country.
Furthermore, the NRM government is vigorously pursuing macroeconomic objectives so as to attain economic growth of at least 7% per annum on average and reverting back to an inflation target of 5%. Other priority economic indicators being pursued by the government is to attain a stable, competitive exchange rate and prioritizing investment which will stimulate productive capacity in the economy with a view of creating employment opportunities.
Presidential, Parliamentary and local elections in Uganda are held every 5 years under the banner of multi-party politics since 2001. The last elections were recently concluded in February 2011 with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Chairman, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni winning by 68% followed by Kizza Besigye FDC 26%, Norbert Mao DP 1.95% and Olara Otunnu UPC 1.61% amongst other political parties.
To date, Uganda is very peaceful and the insurgency in the North and North-Eastern parts of the country is no more following the defeat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). There is considerable progress made through programmes like the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) 1 and II, Peace Recovery and Development Programme (PRDP). The rehabilitation of social infrastructure continues and the people have gone back to their homes.
The government welcomes and duly acknowledges all the support Ugandans in the Diaspora exhibited towards the prevailing peace and security in Uganda.
Furthermore, the Ugandan government fully recognizes the enormous contributions to the national economy in form of direct investment and remittances from Ugandans in the diaspora. According to a Bank of Uganda, the value of remittances from Ugandans in the Diaspora increased to US$ 778 million in 2009 from US$ 732 million in 2008 and projections show that remittances in 2010 amounted to over US$845 million which accounts for 9.3% of the GDP.
Uganda therefore looks at Ugandans in the Diaspora as partners in development. Using this opportunity of the Uganda-UK Convention 2011, we hope Ugandans in the Diaspora will benefit a great deal in terms of participation and sharing knowledge and personal experiences. Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Diaspora Services Department (DSD) was set up mainly to facilitate and coordinate Ugandans in the Diaspora with a view of enhancing your contribution to Uganda’s social, economic, technological, and political development.
With all good wishes for a very successful and memorable Convention. God Bless you all.
High Commission of the Republic of Uganda
58-59 Traafalgar Square London WC2N 5DX
Telephone: 020 7839 5783
Facsimile: 020 7839 8925