Ahead of the new year, 2018, President Yoweri Museveni has said that government will focus on empowering the youths through skills training to stop the export of wealth and employment.
Museveni said that while more Ugandans have amassed wealth under the stewardship of the NRM government, this wealth is being “used badly”.
“Ugandans are very rich and there is proof to that. We are importing things worth USD 7 billion from the Chinese every year. But we are not only giving them money, we are also giving them jobs,” he said on Sunday during his New Year’s message to the nation.
The President urged for a reversal in the current trend where Uganda’s import bill is high but the country exports much of unprocessed goods like timber, coffee, maize, hides and skin, which deprives the Uganda the much needed jobs.
“We are donating jobs and money, and that’s why we need to organize our urban youths to stop this hemorrhage,” he said.
He revealed plans to intensify skills programs which have so far been piloted in Wandegeya, Kampala and decentralizing them to other divisions within the city.
“The ultimate goal should be to turn evey Ugandan into a commercial farmer, owner of a small industry, service unit or ICT business, or else a worker in any of these. We have to get rid of idleness,” Museveni said.
Still related to the economy, the President dwelt on the fishing sub sector which he said is lucrative but requires emphasis on better fishing methods. He warned those involved in “bad fishing” as well as politicians who abetting the vice saying government will continue to crack the whip.
“Those who blame the army should be reminded that the original mistake was bad fishing. What is contemptible are the criminals trying to politicize their crime,” Museveni noted. He said government will jail the criminals and proposed that politicians who side with them lose their political positions.
A recent study conducted by National Fisheries Research Institute (NaFRI) on the fish stocks in Lake Victoria reported a spike in the varieties of Nile Perch. This was partly attributed to the efforts made by the army on the Ugandan and Tanzanian sides to enforce good fishing methods.
Agriculture being the source of income for most Ugandans, the President reiterated his appeal for households to properly utilize their small portions of land to create wealth. He highlighted mushrooms, onions, piggery and chicken as some of the projects that low income households can undertake to eradicate poverty.
Museveni said that Uganda’s economy is on the right trajectory, which he attributed to his deliberate move back in the year 2006 to prioritize budgetary allocation to road infrastructure and energy.
“There’s a Harvard Centre for International Development study that projected that by 2025, Uganda will be the fastest growing country after Dubai. I knew this was bound to happen,” he said.
“Having solved our strategic bottlenecks, transformation was unstoppable,” he added.
The study by Harvard states that Uganda’s GDP will grow at 7.73% in the next eight years. In 2016/17, the economy grew by 4.5% down from an earlier projected 5% largely due to a long drought.
The President’s address also touched on issues of security both internally and the foreign terror threats, particularly the ADF rebels.
He alluded to the infamous spate of murders that targeted women in parts of Nansana and Entebbe mid 2017 which he said were aided by laxity in policing and criminal elements that infiltrated the police. Museveni promised that government will endeavor to weed out such elements that are unpatriotic.
“I want to assure Ugandans of security,” he said.
On the recent strikes by the UPDF on 8 Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel camps in Eastern DRC, the President said “any ADF who tries to enter Uganda in force will remain here in a horizontal state”.
“The recent attack should have shown the ADF that Eastern Congo is reachable. If the Great Lakes Region decides, Eastern DRC can be pacified using combined efforts,” Museveni said.
While players in the public health sector have recently decried the poor state in which the sector is, the President maintains that a lot has been achieved. He said that contrary to the pre 1986 statusquo, today Ugandans are dying from non communicable diseases.
According to Museveni, 43% of the deaths registered today are as a result of non communicable diseases (diseases that are non infectious from one person to another) while malaria deaths have gone down to 26%.
“Ugandans are nolonger dying of diseases of backwardness like malnutrition, diarrhoea, plague, malaria, worms as was the case when this government took over power. Now people die of eating too much and excessive sitting,” he said.
If health workers place emphasis on prevention, improved nutrition and lifestyle, he said, a lot more will be achieved.