here are some of the opportunities that were in this year’s State of the Nation address #EconomicsUG


Museveni State of the Nation from www.dispatch.ug.jpg
Photo from http://www.dispatch.ug

OVER the years, I’ve picked up this highly useful fact from various successful Asian and Asian-Ugandan businessmen operating happily in Uganda: EVERY time there is a political or national event, they pay close attention to what the speech-makers are saying.

When it’s the President, they pay extra-special heed to the details of what he says and they thereafter follow up by making additional inquiries and investigations with the relevant offices.

One of them told me this as he was explaining why his father had invested in the first level of successful industry back in 1988, after two years of closely following this new NRM/A government all the way from London, in the United Kingdom. The young man himself was showing me round an investment project of his own that had built on his father’s success but fed off the plans the government kept announcing and dropping hints at.

That’s why, after last year’s End of Year address by the President to the Republic of Uganda, I wrote this – https://skaheru.com/2018/01/06/aligning-our-personal-objectives-with-our-national-ones/.

This week we listened to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni delivering another State of the Nation address – Uganda’s Chief Executive Officer’s report to the Annual General Meeting of shareholders.

I listened carefully to the event, paying attention to possible opportunities that even the smallest-scale businessman, entrepreneur or speculator could take advantage of and plan for.

They stand out quite well – paragraph by paragraph – #OpportunityUG – and just in case you haven’t read it or seen them, here are the ones I suspect might be useful:

“…we now have tarmac roads to almost all the corners of Uganda: Nimule; Oraba; Musingo; Vurra; Lwakhakha soon; Malaba; Busia; Busuunga, beyond Bundibugyo; Mpondwe; Mutukula; Muroongo on the Kagyera river; Mirama hill; Katuna; Cyanika and Bunagana.  Radiating from Kampala, tarmac roads are now connecting all those points. The distance between Cyanika and Oraba is 1,048Kms (655miles), all of it connected by a tarmac road, from Kisoro district to Koboko…”

When a road is built with tarmac, the value of the land adjacent and in the towns that it connects tends to rise. If you check for the most recently built road you might find some land available either for sale or lease and snatch it up before its value rises.

Besides that, there are additional opportunities along such roads – such as establishing rest-stops, motels, shopping centres, fuel stations, and other enterprises that will take advantage of the increased traffic.

“farmers will use more irrigation. In the coming financial year, the Government will work on the following irrigation schemes using the government budget:

  • Doho phase II in Butalejja district;
  • Mubuku phase II in Kasese district;
  • Wadelai in Nebbi district;
  • Tochi in Oyam district;
  • Ngenge in Oyam district;
  • Atari (Bulambuli and Kween);
  • Katete in Kanungu district;
  • Kawumu in Luwero district;
  • Amagoro (Tororo district);
  • Nabigaga (Kamuli district);
  • Rwimi (Kasese and Kabarole district);
  • Nyimur (Lamwo);
  • Musamya (Kayunga);
  • Kibimba (Gomba);
  • Kabuyanda (Isingiro);
  • Matanda (Isingiro); and
  • Igogero-Naigombwa (Iganga and Bugiri).

In order to roll-out a global irrigation system for the whole country, we are encouraging industrialists to set up assembly or manufacturing plants for solar-powered water pumps. Some of these pumps and water conveyance systems, will be used in government funded irrigation schemes. Others, however, will be used by the farmers at their own cost. I encourage all the capable farmers to, at their own cost, go  into irrigation.

We shouldn’t need the President himself to “encourage capable farmers” to go into irrigation. If you were planning to go into farming or agriculture, go and check where these irrigation projects are and set up your own project right there. Check what the application processes are and go for those!

But besides the irrigation project itself, check what elements go into the irrigation and solar-powered water pump manufacturing and see if you can supply or manufacture one of those components.

At the very least, if you don’t plan to invest, go and find a quick course to do in irrigation and solar-powered systems so that when these factories set up here you are marginally more marketable than the person next to you.

“With the building of our phosphate fertilizer plant in Tororo, Uganda, which at 2.5kgs per hectare has one of the lowest rates of fertilizer use, will now stir itself up to use more fertilizers. We are looking for an additional investor to blend the phosphates with nitrogen and potassium in order to formulate NPK (Nitrogen, phosphates and potassium). With the use of NPK, production will go up by 30%.  With higher rates of agricultural growth, the overall rate of growth will go up.”

Fertilisers are going to be taken seriously next year? First of all, the factory in question is in Tororo – what will the logistics be like? Normally transport goes from Tororo to Kampala and then from there to the rest of the country – so how about investing in a route that goes from Tororo direct to Gulu via Lira and capturing all the farmers that side?

Also, there must be an opportunity in this fertiliser trade that you can explore by even studying mixes and becoming an expert or consultant in its application and use – therefore turning all the farmers seeking fertilisers into your direct clients while also taking on the Fertiliser Plant itself.

I would like to single-out the sector of construction.  This grew by 12.5% annually. This is not surprising given the respective efforts of the government and the private sector in the areas of road and houses construction.”

The construction sector is growing by 12.5% annually? What will happen this coming year? Can we go for something there as well? Even if it’s not investing in hardware, is there a component that we can replace with something cheaper and yet equally efficient? What about the real estate brokers dealing in this growing sector – can we find better methods and corner the market?

The opportunities in construction are myriad, as it were, mushrooming each day the way apartment blocks do. Think of gardening and landscaping, and interior decoration, and auxiliary products and services.

If you have no investment capital to set up something big, how about teaming up with some pals and forming a cleaning service targeting just one set of these apartment blocks that keep cropping up…? That list goes on and on and on.

“I told you how rich Ugandans and other Africans are, already. In the case of Uganda, we spend about US dollars 7 billion a year in terms of imports. Importing what? Importing the shoes, clothes, carpets, textiles, furniture units, pharmaceuticals, electronic equipments, perfumes, soaps, wines, cars, pikipikis (motorcycles), etc etc…

We import so much? How about finding some of these items and their value, then picking up local ones and improving their quality even post-manufacture and then doing some import replacement?

That might now work for the perfumes, but even nonsense like second-hand clothing could provide an opportunity. A t-shirt with the Macdonalds logo on it could be spruced up with some kitenge bits to replace Maconalds and go for a neat margin well over and above the opened-bale price.

4,525 girls have already been assisted to engage in: knitting, shoe-making, weaving, tailoring, bakery and embroidery, while 6 groups have been assisted in furniture-making and 10 in welding.

Great opportunity there! Where are all these girls? Are they employed somewhere and each running their own business? If not, how about getting the list of the very best of them and investing in an outfit that will employ their services, skills and talents?

A handful of these girls could actually implement that little idea above of getting second-hand t-shirts and refitting them so they are fresh, Ugandan designs.

They even studied baking? If you take the marketing component and find a friend to handle packaging, you can be rolling in sweet money within a very short time of embarking on a project with these girls!

In the coming days, the Minister of Finance will announce the financial support we intend to give to the groups that wish to join the manufacturing in the form of the enhanced micro-finance efforts and the Innovation in addition to the Women Fund, the Youth Fund and Operation Wealth Creation Fund.

The ‘coming days’ that H.E. the President was referring to is the June 14 Reading of the National Budget.

If you don’t pay attention as THAT is being presented, and only focus on political statements (by yourself as well as by the politicians) please don’t blame anyone for your despondency thereafter.

let’s #BeatPlasticPollution – and justify our so-called wealth and education


AHEAD of the World Environment Day celebrations this Tuesday I found myself in Masaka last weekend along the route of the Uganda Marathon playing the part of sponsor representative while working up sweat.

The Uganda Marathon is so-called because it doesn’t attract the very same crowd as the MTN Kampala Marathon.

Try not to get dizzy as you read this, because we will be on Mars at some point. In fact, have a bottle of water handy.

The organisers – the Masaka Marathon – are the same people who signed up a partnership with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa to collect plastic waste from around Masaka to deliver it to the Plastic Recycling Industries plant in Kampala.

They registered their organisation as the Masaka Marathon because of their interest in running and have a surprisingly vibrant running club in Masaka. Besides that, though, they worked out that running is so popular that there are millions of people out there willing to come to Uganda to run and do more besides.

Hence the Uganda Marathon, which only forms one part of a long tour to Uganda that includes seeing gorillas, chimpanzees and other animals, rafting on the River Nile, and doing some volunteer work for charitable organisations.

People like me who simply drove over from Kampala paid just a few thousand shillings – if any – to take part in the marathon run itself. After that we drove back to live our normal lives.

But some of the people who take part in this Uganda Marathon pay hefty sums of money to come in from far-off countries and take part in the event while enjoying the tourism and life experiences here.

Among the voluntary tasks they performed were the collection of plastic bottles from within Masaka. At one point along the route I saw a young person from Britain actually going along and collecting water bottles that runners had discarded.

The plan, in general, was for the Masaka Collection Centre to collect the used bottles we had contributed and deliver them to Plastic Recycling Industries. They certainly did so but it bugged me that to a casual onlooker it appeared as if Ugandans were dropping bottles for foreigners to come and pick up for us.

That led me to the theme of this year’s World Environment Day – “Beat Plastic Pollution”. It was chosen by this year’s host country, India, for good reason.

Plastic Pollution is a global problem that is only getting worse because of how much plastic we use in packaging all the stuff we keep buying (and, in our case, importing). For us in Uganda the focus is normally on the bottles we take our sodas, juices and water in, that end up in the drainage channels.

Companies like the one I work for tend to step up and take responsibility because they feel it is the right thing to do. But WE Ugandans need to discuss our personal bad habits, terrible behaviour and the dismal culture we have developed.

Why do some Ugandans think it is alright to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle over hundreds of kilometres, stocked with drinks and then occasionally press a button to lower the window so they can toss an empty bottle onto the ground?

A person who can afford to drive that car with the air conditioning on full-time and buy drinks for the journey should surely have the brain power to see that this is wrong?

Dropped Plastic.png

How come that in our Universities – institutions of higher “learning” – we don’t have waste separation with some bins taking organic waste, others for paper and others yet for plastic? In 2018 where there is a man actually putting cars and other machinery onto the Planet Mars, we have University students and professors who can’t keep two bins side-by-side and differentiate between two types of rubbish?

The questions can flow in hundreds without comfortable answers – but YOU should stop and think about your waste disposal situation, considering that YOU can read and comprehend the language this is written in.

Two months ago my eight-year old stopped all conversation at home to raise a major objection.

“Remember the project homework we did about the environment?” she asked, quite upset.

I did.

“Remember we said people should not cut trees…?”

I did.

“Today at school we found they had cut the trees near the gate!” she protested.

I was happy. Her education is working. I told her to raise it with the Headmaster, and she did. So her education is really working well. And her Headmaster explained why the trees had to be trimmed – not cut down. That pleased me even more, because it meant I didn’t have to suddenly change schools.

We should stop focussing these major days and awareness campaigns solely on adults – because we might be a lost cause if all the education and experience and wealth we’ve gathered has failed to make us do simple things like dispose of rubbish properly.

Instead, perhaps we should target the children and get them to develop the right habits to shape their behaviour and create a culture that will secure the future of this nation and the world. That will not be a waste.

ideas are harder to destroy than bricks, steel, concrete and mortar


Benedicto Kiwanuka - independent.co.ug
The late Benedicto Kagimu Kiwanuka (Photo from http://www.independent.co.ug)

Dear Uganda,

Please let’s drop this fixation on Real Estate as a sign of prosperity, presence and relevance?

Besides our awkward daily focus on buying land as an investment, and erecting properties as a way of storing our variously-acquired gains, this week we have read numerous stories about the residential home of the late esteemed Benedicto Kagimu Kiwanuka (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedicto_Kiwanuka), Uganda’s first Chief Minister, President of the Democratic Party, and first black/African/indigenous Chief Justice, being razed to the ground.

Most things about this story are as painful as they are wrong, but the ones that hit hardest are the ones that appear to define us as a nation.

I’m not going to mention his family members because there are numerous articles about that situation that need no repeating here, but that one must share with one’s own children in lieu of the traditional ‘I curse you’ statement. (http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/Ben-Kiwanuka-was-an-astute-politician/689844-1492508-bfx33jz/index.html & https://skaheru.com/2012/09/29/ambassador-peter-maurice-kagimu-kiwanuka-kiri-wa-nnaku/ and even http://williamkituuka.blogspot.com/2011/12/exclusive-interview-with-his-excellency.html).

The people speaking up in outrage are numerous – including both Government and Opposition officials. Reading their statements in media reports so far convinces one that they are clearly being misquoted.

Benedicto Kiwanuka’s house was razed to the ground and does not exist any more. It was razed to the ground and the photos being published are all of the cleared ground – no rubble.

Minister General Jeje Odongo is quoted, for instance, saying: ““Government got concerned about what is happening here. At first, we thought it was a private family issue until we learnt that the house had been demolished. This is a historic site; it is here that the people who fought for our independence lived. Ben Kiwanuka’s name is historic, his house is monumental, it belongs to Uganda, government cannot simply watch.”

This is exactly what the Government did. Or maybe not, since it happened without their knowledge and we can therefore argue that they did not actually “watch”.

The Kampala Metropolitan Police Officer, Luke Oweyesigire, “said they got to know about the matter when the area chairperson took the late Kiwanuka’s old cars to Wakaliga Police Station.”

Not BEFORE it happened.

And according to Daily Monitor: “(DP President Nobert) Mao said if it was like in other countries, the home would be made a historical site given his legacy.”

Which other countries?

In organised countries that one would presume he would be talking about, this conversation wouldn’t be happening 46 (forty six) years after the great man’s death!

It is disturbing that this issue had to first get to the media before both Government and Opposition leaders knew about it. Is our entire political class really so far removed from people on the ground that a house so seemingly significant can be demolished without ANYONE raising a red flag right here in Kampala City?

Officially, don’t we have laws and regulations governing the alteration or, worse, demolition of property? Surely a local government authority is supposed to issue a permit and assign a cross-functional group of people to ensure the work is done properly – security, architecture, safety and legality all being catered for?

I’ve seen that the Kampala Capital City Authority, in whose jurisdiction this former house once stood, has Demolition Permit Applications online (here), so why wasn’t the Police aware? What about the KCCA Councillors, some of whom one would expect to belong to DP and, therefore, to give a damn about this?

On behalf of the DP, Deputy Secretary General Gerald Blacks Siranda reportedly acknowledged that the Party only learnt of this through the media. Just like Gen. Odongo, this must be malicious reporting on the part of the journalists, because there is no way a politician can say such a thing about an occurrence in his stronghold constituency.

Siranda should clarify that he was misquoted rather than appear to have told the world that DP is so out of touch with voters that…

But it gets worse when he is quoted as saying,

“As an institution, we are devastated and believe that what happened is trying to wash away the memory and image of Ben Kiwanuka; you can take away his home and body but cannot take away his history and contribution to the country.”

UGANDA, PLEASE!

Please let’s stop equating ‘LEGACY’ to ‘WEALTH’ and ‘PROPERTY’?!

As Uganda’s first Chief Minister and first black/African/indigenous Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka’s legacy cannot be just that house!

It won’t even be the one that Nobert Mao announced in May last year was going to be built in Benedicto Kiwanuka’s honour – the construction of which was supposed to begin in July 2017 and that must have started but without too much fanfare amongst the general public…(I read that here: http://allafrica.com/stories/201705290434.html)

The legacy of an intellectual revolutionary like Benedicto Kiwanuka should be in our hearts and minds, as absorbed through consuming his writings and memoirs, and hearing renditions of his speeches and public statements made by erudite professors and scholars of law and politics.

Where are the books about him written by all the elderly politicians who were young men alongside him back in the days when he was leading Uganda to Independence and self-rule? Where are the memoirs of the people that took cover in the mental trenches and exchanged political fire with the mighty colonialists and triumphed?

At the very least, let’s have some compilations of the papers delivered at the annual Benedicto Kiwanuka lectures that were launched back in 2011 since when I, personally, can’t recall many more. Someone, not his unfortunate son, but someone should take all those compilations to the Uganda Museum so that they can be installed on the bookshelves of the Uganda Society, lazima!

We should stop thinking about putting up a monument on Ben Kiwanuka street – which is non-existant even if it sounds likely. Nobody should even suggest establishing a Benedicto Kiwanuka section at the Law Development Centre or the Uganda Law Society buildings.

Those who have studied law in Uganda might have heard a lot more about Benedicto Kiwanuka during the academic lectures there since he was so influential in Uganda. I suspect that if you stop any lawyer and ask them to tell you about Benedicto Kiwanuka they will effuse greatly about his ideals and knowledge.

Try it.

These lawyers might even have – each of them – a secret copy of an anthology containing all the tens of thousands of theses and dissertations that addressed Benedicto Kiwanuka’s work.

Ask them.

If none of this exists, and we are going to lament over a house that is razed to the ground without even thinking about what condition it was in the day before demolition began then, again, we are being unfortunately defined as a nation.

Seriously speaking: WE ALL need to write more books and organise our thoughts, ideas and value systems for posterity. Ideas are harder to destroy and last much longer than steel and concrete, brick and mortar.