Museveni writes to youth on jobs, wealth


President Yoweri Museveni has penned an article on Jobs and Wealth Creation for the Youth.


Greetings to the youth of Uganda.

St. Paul had an efficient system of communicating with the early Christian communities in the form of the Epistles to the respective groups. The word “epistles” comes from a Greek word “epistole” and means a formal or written communication. However, my understanding is that the word epistle means a letter in the language of today.

I would, therefore, like to use the same method to communicate my views to the youth regarding the problems they face and opportunities that are available to them today in Uganda.

Let us start with the problems first:

  1. The most pressing problem the youth face, today, are jobs. In 1969, the Universities of East Africa combined, were graduating 476 numbers of students per year.

In 1970, when Makerere University became independent, they were graduating 854 numbers of students. Even at that time, it was beginning to be difficult for the university graduates, with general degrees, to find jobs quickly in the public service.

By that time, the phase of “Africanizing the public service” jobs was over. Today, the universities in Uganda alone, are graduating 40,000 numbers of students per annum. The numbers, therefore, are much more than in the 1970s. Yet, the public service jobs have not and could not have expanded correspondingly.

Except for the teaching service, the armed forces, the police and prisons services, the rest of the public services have expanded only marginally. These sectors cannot, therefore, take on many graduates.

Yet, the medical services, the engineering sectors, the teaching of science subjects in schools and some of the other science ─ oriented professional sectors, still have alot of unmanned jobs even in the public service, not to mention the private sector or jobs that are manned by foreigners.

With the population of 35 million people, bearing in mind the World Health Organization (WHO) population: doctor ratio of 500 population for one doctor, Uganda needs 70,000 doctors.

We only, however, have 2,813 registered doctors (both in government and private health centres) i.e. 1,055 in government, 882 in private and the rest are self- employed in the various clinics.

The global ratio of engineer to population as recommended by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is 1 engineer for at most 2,000 people in a country.

However, in some countries like Israel it is 1:74; USA 1:118; Kenya 1:6,328; Uganda 1:90,000. In Uganda we only have about 5,300-6,000 registered engineers.

This is inspite of the increased tempo of training both doctors and engineers, by building new universities ─ government and private.

By 1986, we were graduating only 79 doctors per year at Makerere University. We are now graduating 343 doctors plus 10 dental surgeons per annum in both government and private universities in Uganda.

We were graduating 38 engineers by 1986. We are now graduating 934 engineers every year, with Kyambogo University alone producing 439. Yet, we still have the gap as pointed out above in manning the job opportunities available.

In the social sciences sector, on the other hand, there is big over-subscription of the new graduates who find difficulty in getting jobs in both the government and private sectors.

When it comes to the question of jobs, therefore, this is the paradox that we need to deal with: on the one hand, a large number of unmanned science oriented professional jobs and, on the other hand, a large number of unemployed graduates mainly with degrees of social sciences.

The answers to this paradox have been the following:

(i) putting pressure on the Ministry of Education to give career guidance to all of our children in secondary schools on the jobs available in the economy of Uganda and the world at large;

(ii) expanding science education by insisting that 70% of government sponsorship should go to science courses;

(iii) helping the youth, through soft loans, to start any livelihood enterprises that may be different from the courses they studied at the university in the four sectors of the economy; these sectors are: agriculture, industry, services and ICT.

(iv) innovation fund for the science graduates who may have any projects they want to implement;

(v) recruitment into the army, prisons and police where general education is useful in enhancing the trainability and the general understanding of the officers and militants;

(vi) encouraging the graduates, most of whom speak good English, to join the Business Processes Outsourcing (BPO) in the form of ICT call centres and outsourced services such as auditing, accounting, etc.

This is where customers, in distant places like USA and Canada, outsource these services from our youth based here in Uganda but using the internet services that have been enhanced with the new ICT backbone on land and the undersea cable from Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam;

(vii) re-tooling of our graduates that may have done social science courses but would now be willing to do technical courses that are more needed in the job market; and

(viii) the proliferating of science and computer labs in all primary and secondary schools, in order to give them a more sound science knowledge base at an early age.

I recently, for instance, advised one youth to do a secretarial service diploma in addition to the degree that would make her much more employable. This can be extended to other fields of technical knowledge.

In the NRM Manifesto, I intend to propose that this re-tooling of graduates be done at government cost. This is some support, a type of compensation, for the families that would have sponsored their children privately through university education, only to end up with unemployed graduates.

  1. Above, we have talked at length about university graduates. We have laid out the paradox that is found in many developing countries, that are beginning to move forward, of a large number of unemployed social science graduates, on the one hand, as well as a large number of unmanned science oriented jobs in both the public and the private sectors, on the other hand.

Yet, it is not only the graduate jobs that are unmanned. Even technical jobs that require diplomas and certificates may be unmanned or manned by foreigners or are manned by unqualified people.

When it comes, for instance, to machine operators in factories or road equipment, you may find either foreigners or untrained Ugandans manning those units.

When launching the Lwampanga-Namasale ferry, I got very uncomfortable when I discovered that the operators of the ferry had been trained on the job by the suppliers of the ferry from Denmark. I, immediately, ordered for the starting of marine technical courses at Namasagali University College, which is a branch of Busitema University.

We are, therefore, planning to build a technical school in every district first and, eventually, in each constituency. Some of the technical schools will cover the broad spectrum of skills e.g. machine operators, building, carpentry, motor-mechanics, metal work, ceramics, etc.

Others will be more specialized such as the Kigumba Petroleum Institute which is specializing in petroleum and gas or Namasagali University which should specialize in Marine courses (boat drivers, ferry technicians, water navigators etc).

This is not to forget the science teacher colleges, the medical auxiliaries’ colleges, etc. We had intended to build a vocational school in each sub-county. It, however, turned out to be very expensive. Therefore, the present target of a technical school per constituency is more realizable.

We already have 57 Technical Institutes for S.4 leavers of the different categories, 4 Tourism Institutes, 5 Technical Colleges and 42 Technical Institutes and Community Polytechnics for P7 leavers (Vocational schools).

  1. The reader of this letter would have noticed that the heading of the document: “Building the Foundation in order to create more Jobs and Wealth for the Ugandan families”.

This is because you cannot easily do what I have laid down above, if you have not created the necessary foundation. The necessary foundation includes the following:

  • adequate and affordable electricity;
  • good roads that lower the transport costs;
  • the railway and water transport that further lower –transport costs more than the roads;
  • universal primary and secondary education that improve the literacy and numeracy of the population;
  • the market integration in the East Africa and the African region that is providing markets for the products of our agriculture, industry, services and ICT as well as other skills;
  • universal immunization and other health programs that keep the population healthy and saves the families from spending too much money and time caring for the sick members of the family as well as being able to work without excessive absentism on account of poor health for the individuals concerned;
  • security and peace in the whole country so that producers of wealth and services are not impeded in their pursuits; and
  • a corruption-free public service that would facilitate rather than impede the efforts of Ugandans and foreigners that would be pursuing any of the gainful efforts I have outlined above.

If we do not have the above as a foundation, you cannot sustainably execute this vision of job and wealth creation. Hence, the THREE PILLARS OF PROSPERITY FOR ALL. The three pillars are: the foundation, wealth creation and job creation. All these nevertheless, need funding.

In order to see the linkage among the three pillars, let us take the example of electricity and transport bottlenecks. After many years and efforts of trying to get a coffee processor and a high quality textile factory, we, finally, succeeded in getting two companies.

One called Vinci, will roast, grind, package and brand our coffee so that Uganda can supply coffee consumers in the world directly without going through other middle men.

Similarly, we also got a textile manufacturer ─ Fine Spinner ─ who will use Ugandan cotton to produce high quality products. Both of them, however, pointed out that electricity that costs more than 5 US cents per unit will render the two enterprises unprofitable.

Yet, once Vinci is implemented, it will create 287 jobs and earn 120 million dollars, on the average, in foreign exchange, per annum. Fine Spinners has already created 800 jobs in Kampala alone; 6,000 small holder farms for cotton in Kasese and, by 2017, it will be earning 23 million dollars foreign exchange per annum.

Therefore, if we did not solve the problem of electricity, not only availability but affordability, we would lose that amount of money and that number of jobs. On the issue of roads and transport in general, the best examples are the new roads we have just constructed.

Recently, I addressed a rally in the Isingiro area. One of the speakers told me that the price of banana bunches has gone up. When I inquired what the cause was, I was told that, on account of the brand new road in the area, many transporters were bringing their vehicles to that area because the road was no longer costly to operate on and, therefore, the demand for bananas had gone up and, hence, the price of bananas has gone up.

When you look at the railway from Mombasa, it now takes 21 days to bring a container from Mombasa to Kampala and it costs US dollars 2,100. When the new standard gauge railway is finished, it will take 24 hours (one day) for the same container to move from Mombasa to Kampala and will cost US dollars 1,650.

In terms of comparative cost per unit, the present railway cost is US$ 2,100 and the future one will be US dollars 1,650, which means we shall be saving US dollars 450 per container. The same container transported by road today costs 3200 dollars and takes 7-11 days.

Some time ago, we worked on the Sembabule piped water supply and I was satisfied that the people of Sembabule town would be having piped water in their homes, restaurants, hotels.

However, recently, when I went there, I was told the pump was not being used. In other words, the people of Sembabule were without clean piped water and yet the water system was already operational. What was the cause? Lack of grid electricity and depending on diesel for pumping which was expensive and not affordable.

Therefore, creating a foundation that is adequate and affordable is unavoidable in the battle for job creation and wealth creation. Some of the manufacturers are forced to generate their own electricity so as to avoid the expensive electricity supplied by the grid. The sugar mills use this method by generating electricity from the bagasse of their sugar-canes.

Fortunately, the new dams we are building at Karuma and Isimba will produce a unit of electricity at either US 5 cents per unit or less. We are also studying ways of how we can re-finance Bujagali by compensating the developers who used expensive money in building that dam so that their price comes down in order to make it affordable to the consumers, especially, the manufacturers.

High costs of doing business in an economy drive away investors. Low costs of doing business in an economy attract investors.

Therefore, if you hear somebody talking about wealth or job creating but without talking about the foundation, you should, then, know that he/she is not serious or he/she is not honest.

  1. Most of what we have talked about above requires government expenditure. However, the government does not spend money that it does not have. Therefore, tax collection becomes very critical. Nevertheless, you cannot collect taxes if you don’t have enterprise operators that you are taxing.

On account of the collapse of the economy between 1970 and1986, the tax base of Uganda was very narrow. That is why in 1986 we collected only 5 billion shillings in a year. Today, we are collecting 12,000 billion shillings per year. Why are we collecting more money now than in 1986? It is because we have got more businesses to tax and more consumers to tax.

Therefore, expanding the tax base is also a precursor to job and wealth creation. That, however, is not all; not only do we need to widen the tax base as a precursor to solve the above problems, it is also crucial that we prioritize the way we spend this money.

If we want to be everywhere at the same time, we shall end up being nowhere. If we want to hit in all directions with our fist, we shall end up knocking down nothing.

The Banyankore say that: “Owabinga ibiri imutsiga”. This means that when you are hunting, you should not target more than one animal at one time. Target one animal, successfully shoot it and, then, go to another animal.

The NRM, by prioritizing expenditure on the roads, electricity, education for all, immunization, security and ICT backbone, we have laid a foundation of wealth and job creation. How? Making it easy for entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Uganda, do so in a secure atmosphere and where they can make profits, are very critical preconditions for dealing with the issue of wealth and jobs.

  1. There is also another foundation issue. This is the strategic question of somebody buying what you produce ─ whether a good or a service. If you produce a good or a service and nobody buys it or a few people buy it, your business will go bankrupt.

Therefore, apart from the internal market of Uganda, we need the regional market as well as access to the international markets. Accordingly, right from 1986, we started working with our partners in East Africa to revive the East African common market.

I salute Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Mzee Arap Moi who helped me revive this market in the community. I also salute President Paul Kagame and President Nkurunziza, who, later, joined the community. This has now created a market for the East African producers of goods and services, the Ugandans included.

We have not only created market for our goods and services in East Africa but, also, we have negotiated with the Americans, the European Union, the Chinese, the Indians and many others on the access to their markets.

Therefore, the Ugandan innovators and producers along with all other East Africans cannot say they don’t have the market to sell their products to.

These are some of the few issues that are linked with the efforts for wealth and job creation.

I thank you very much. We shall discuss more.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni


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