KAMPALA – A new report has poked holes into Uganda’s industrialisation agenda, saying it is riddled with contradictions, conflicting plans and poor monitoring.
The report, titled ‘From Paper to Practice: Implementation of Uganda’s Industrialisation Agenda’, which was commissioned by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German foundation, says while the government is well-intentioned in taking the path of industrialization, there is no clear implementation plan, which has left different players, ministries and departments implementing different plans, creating confusion.
The study was informed by an extensive document review, which included a critical review of key industrial policy documents for Uganda such as the Vision 2040; the National Development Plan II; the national budgets for the period 2015/16–2019/20; Trade and Industry Strategic Plan; Budget Monitoring Reports; the Final Draft of the National Industrial Development Policy (2018) and other relevant industrial policy documents. Several academic and policy research papers were also reviewed. In addition, key informant interviews were conducted with key officials involved in the implementation of the industrialisation agenda in Uganda’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The report indicates that Uganda’s industrialisation strategy is not clear.
“The general consensus is that although at political level, the intent is clear—i.e. building industries to add value to agricultural raw materials and minerals, and substitution of imports that are substitutable—the strategy is not clear at the technical and planning level. Because of the lack of clarity, each MDA is implementing the industrialisation agenda in the way they understand it. Several MDAs are constructing factories, most of which are not based on any technical or business thinking,” the report indicates.
The report, for example, says it is not clear how Uganda ended up adopting the Industrial Park model. “The model was adopted as a directive by the President, although no study on the appropriateness of the model vis-à-vis other industrialisation models was done. Neither were any feasibility studies conducted to inform the location of the parks,” the report reads in part.
The general view among the respondents is that the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Office of the President (OP) have failed to play the roles of chief coordinator and monitor of government agencies, and that of chief supervisor respectively.
“Both are preoccupied with implementation. As a result, Uganda does not have any institution or authority that monitors and supervises the delivery of services, let alone the implementation of the industrialisation agenda,” the report shows.
Senior economist Ramathan Ggoobi, who was the lead researcher, said the government ought to harmonise its plans in the different ministries if industrialization is to help the country meet Vision 2040 agenda.
Mr Ggoobi said one of the successes of the industrialization plan is the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy, which he said has helped support local companies. He said under BUBU, Ugandan companies have earned contracts worth 890 billion shillings to supply road projects with steel, cement, among other things in the last year.
The improved infrastructure (especially electricity, roads and optic fibre backbone for internet) was also ranked highly among the successes. Ranked third was the rapid emergence of SME industries along the Kampala-Jinja and Kampala-Gulu roads, and other parts of the country. The challenge is that most factories are unplanned, without much to show in terms of outcomes, the report shows.
As part of recommendations, the reports tasks the government to Draft a clear policy and strategy for the industrialisation agenda, and ensure that the GoU is speaking with one voice.
“Currently, people have different understandings of the same intent. Gather all stakeholders in one room for a couple of weeks to agree on the intent and draw up a practical implementation plan,” the report says.