Your Excellency the Vice President;
Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament;
Your Lordship the Chief Justice;
Rt. Honourable Deputy Speaker of Parliament;
Rt. Honourable Prime Minister;
Rt. Honourable Deputy Prime Ministers;
The Religious Leaders;
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
All the workers and Employers present;
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I join the workers in Uganda and the rest of the world to celebrate International Labour Day. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all the workers and employers for their contribution towards the growth of our economy.
I am pleased that we are celebrating the International Labour Day here at Patongo in Agago District. As you know, a few years ago, we would not have been able to hold this function here because of insecurity that was caused by Kony and his group. I, therefore, would like to thank the gallant officers and men of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces who fought relentlessly to ensure that the wrong elements are defeated and peace is restored in this area and all other parts of Uganda.
The victory against the wrong elements would not have been possible without the support of the local people throughout northern region. I, therefore, wish to take this opportunity to thank all civilians in northern Uganda who supported the UPDF’s fight against Kony and his wrong elements. Defeating Kony was not an end in itself but a means of giving the people the opportunity to pursue a livelihood in an atmosphere of peace and stability. I am, therefore, very pleased that the people of Acholi and Lango and northern Uganda generally have taken advantage of the return of peace and are actively engaged in productive economic activities like farming and trade.
However, I wish to emphasise that production for consumption only will not give our people the wealth necessary for transforming Uganda. I, therefore, want to urge all Ugandans to engage in commercial farming and where possible in value addition. For example the farmers here in Agago who grow groundnuts should not sell the groundnuts seeds. They should instead make groundnuts paste commonly known as Odi. I am told a kilo of groundnuts seeds costs Shs 5000 and that of Odi costs Shs. 7,000 in Kampala. Therefore, with value addition, a farmer would add Shs 200,000 from 100 kgs of groundnuts.
It should be noted that the people of the areas formerly affected by the senseless Kony war are not only contributing to the economy as producers but are also supporting production in other areas as consumers. Northern Uganda is a leading supplier of simsism, ground nuts, rice and honey to other parts of the country as far as Mbarara and Kabale. At the same time, this region buys products like milk, matooke and Irish potatoes from areas like Mbarara and Kabale. This kind of mutually reinforcing economic relationship between the different parts of Uganda is the reason I have been fighting for peace and stability in Uganda.
However, not all people understand the dividends of peace and stability in a country. For example, in 2004, our proposal to defer expenditure in other sectors so that we can raise enough resources was opposed by politicians. I remained steadfast and because we mobilised resources and deployed them well, we were able to defeat Kony and consequently give our people here a chance to rebuild themselves.
Although bringing about peace was the priority a few years ago, the NRM Government simultaneously addressed other issues that are critical for economic progress. One of these was improving the quality of the labour force. A sickly and physically unfit population cannot be relied on for the development of a country. Therefore, despite the war raging on for many years, we ensured that all children were immunised against all killer diseases. That is why for example, the last cases of polio recorded in Uganda were in 2010; and these were just four. The other thing that we did in improving the quality of our labour force was to ensure every child goes to school by introducing Universal Primary Education and, later, Universal Secondary Education. As a result of our interventions, primary school enrolment had increased to 8.8 million children in 2017 from to 7.2 million children in 2005. On the side of secondary education, enrolment stood at 1,371,000 students in 2017 compared to 728,000 children in 2005.
After putting in place national systems for securing the physical health and education of our people, the next thing that we had to do was to make sure we unlock the full potential of the economy to produce goods and services. This is because without unlocking the economic potential of the country, we cannot create jobs through industrialisation.
I identified the poor road network and low electricity generation as the next constraints to deal with in our quest for economic development. Therefore, in 2006, I persuaded Cabinet to ensure government expenditure prioritises construction of electricity and roads infrastructure.
As a result we have been able to upgrade the following roads from murram to tarmac:
i. Karuma-Olwiyo-Pakwach-Nebbi-Arua (214 km)
ii. Vurra-Arua-Koboko-Oraba (92 km);
iii. Gulu-Atiak-Nimule (105 km);
iv. Soroti-Dokolo-Lira (124 km);
v. Kasangati–Zirobwe (34 km);
vi. Kabale-Kisoro-Bunagana-Cyanika (100 km);
vii. Fort-Portal-Bundibugyo-Lamia (105 km);
viii. Kigumba–Masindi–Hoima–Kabwoya (135 km);
ix. Kyenjojo–Kabwoya (103 km):
x. Nyakahita-Kazo-Kamwenge-Fort Portal (208 km);
xi. Rwenkunye–Apac-Lira-Acholibur-Misingo (350km)
xii. Kampala – Entebbe Expressway/Munyonyo (51km)
xiii. Mpigi-Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa Maria (175kms)
xiv. Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi/Nyenga (74km)
xv. Olwiyo-Gulu (70.3km)
xvi. Acholibur-Kitgum-Musingo (87.4km)
xvii. Musita-Lumino/Busia-Majanji (104km)
xviii. Bulima – Kabwoya (66 km)
xix. Kyenjojo – Kabwoya (100 km)
xx. Mubende – Kakumiro – Kagadi road (107km)
xxi. Masaka-Bukakata road (41km)
xxii. Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha/Kanungu(78.5 km)
xxiii. Bumbobi-Lwakhakha (44.5 km
xxiv. Soroti-Katakwi-Akisim (100Km)
xxv. Akisim-Moroto Road (50.3Km
xxvi. Luwero – Butalangu Road (29.6km)
xxvii. Tirinyi-Pallisa-Kumi (67Km)
xxviii. Pallisa-Kamonkoli (44Km)
xxix. Masindi Park Tangi -Para-Bulisa(159km)
xxx. Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko (111km)
xxxi. Bulamagi-Igayaza-Kakumiro (93km
xxxii. Kigumba-Bulima (69Km)
The benefits of these roads to the economy are already enormous. As you know, all these projects create jobs during the construction phase. These projects also use domestic inputs like cement and steel which indirectly encourages more investment and demand for labour. Furthermore, the workers who are directly employed in the road construction project and those who work in the backward linked industry like the cement industry also use their wages to buy consumer goods like sugar and soap. This increases demand for these consumer goods and also for more labour. This process goes on and on until the entire economy is positively impacted upon.
With regard to electricity, we have also made very good progress. In March this year, I commissioned the 183.2 megawatts Isimba hydropower dam. This increased power generation capacity in Uganda from 1,167 megawatts up from 984 megawatts. Our generation capacity will increase to 1,767 megawatts when Karuma is completed.
As a result of increased power generation capacity, we have begun to see industries coming up in the non- traditional industrial areas of the country. For example, in Acholi sub region, an investor; Amina Moghe Hersi and the Uganda Development Corporation are putting up a sugar factory at Atiak in Amuru District. The factory will employ over 3,500 people directly and another 8,000 will be employed in the plantations. In addition, close to 9000 households will each receive five acres under the out growers scheme. The other day, I also commissioned a Fruit fFctory in Soroti which will process mangoes and oranges into concentrates and ready to drink juice.
In Kapeeka, I also commissioned Good Will Ceramics Company Limited. This factory has created about 2,000 jobs for both skilled and non-skilled employees. Not far from Kapeeka, I commissioned at Kakooge in Nakasongola a wood processing plant that will employ over 1,300 jobs in the country. It will also save the country about 130 million US dollars in imports.
You can see that while people are busy politicking, I am busy creating employment for the young people. I am told that the new factories established in different industrial parks in the country have created about 47,000 jobs for Ugandans. A good road network and sufficient energy supply also reduce the cost of doing business and lead to more local and foreign investments and job creation.
Despite the benefits of electricity and road projects, some projects are slowing down infrastructure by making outrageous land compensation claims. For example, a certain Kahirwa of Ntungamo district demanded for Shs.1.2 billion for one acre of land as compensation during the planned building of electricity.
Yet, at the time, an acre of land in the area went for about 5 million during the planned building of an electricity transmission. An another person in Kyegegwa district in Western Uganda, demanded for Shs. 100 million for an acre of land, yet an acre of land at the time went for about Shs. 3.5 million.
Some Judges are also a big constraint to the development of infrastructure. For example, a Judge awarded compensation to a project affected Shs. 1 billion for land that had been valued at Shs. 89 million by the Government Valuer.
The Chief Justice should take sanctions against such judges who connive with wananchi to frustrate government projects. Cabinet has also not been helpful in eliminating the judiciary of errant Judges.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the government is concentrating on the fundamental issues that unlock the potential of the economy, attract investment and trade, spur economic growth and also create jobs. Therefore, public officers demanding wages will have to wait a bit until we build the infrastructure necessary for creating the money that we shall use to pay public officers. I, therefore, call upon wananchi and the public officers to support my efforts of improving electricity and the road network
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to wish all Ugandans, especially the workers, a peaceful International Labour Day
I thank you.