President Museveni and Wife. Hon. Janet Kataha, officially receive Uganda Airlines' first two Bombardier CRJ900 jets in April 2020. Since then two more Bombardier CRJ900s have been delivered, commercial flights to 9 routes within Africa lanched. Barring the effects of Covid-19, the first of two Airbus A330-800 is due for delivery, this December 2020 and another in January 2021. The revival of a national airline to facilitate the re-development of Entebbe International Airport into a regional hub, direct connectivity of the country to the major existing and upcoming markets for tourists to Uganda, and promote the export of high-value agricultural products was a key 2016 Manifesto promise. Entebbe International Airport itself is undergoing the first phase of expansion valued at USD200 million that includes an extension of the passenger terminal, construction of a new cargo centre, and refurbishment of the airport’s two runways. Works are due for completion in 2021. The second USD125 million is due for completion in 2023.

Four years into this term of office, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government is on course to achieve the targets it promised to the people of Uganda, Rt Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister has said.

NRM is the ruling party in Uganda and is serving a third straight term since the return to multiparty politics in 2005. Tuesday 12th May 2020 marked four years since HE President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement started a five-year mandate of leading the country following the 18th February 2016 General elections.

Rugunda who on 15th May 2020 was launching the NRM Manifesto Week 2020, at the Office of the President Conference Hall, said that during the 2016 campaigns, NRM promised to take the country to modernity through job creation and inclusive development and to date most of the promises had been achieved.

First of all, Rugunda thanked Ugandans for their resilience in the collective fight against the Covid -19 pandemic as well as President Yoweri Museveni and the Ministry of Health.

Uganda’s Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda affirms that the NRM government has achieved 80% of its promises in the 2016 campaigns and has laid a firm foundation for achieving the remaining 20% in the next year.

“The gains we are making are largely due to heeding the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health and HE President Museveni. The pandemic has affected and continues to pose serious challenges to lives, livelihoods, businesses, and our whole way of life. But we are confident that we will defeat it,” he said, adding: “As part of the duty of the NRM Government under the leadership of HE President Museveni when this pandemic broke out, the President promptly led from the front and made the right decisions at the right time.”

Rugunda, who was flanked by the Rt Hon Secretary-General of the NRM party, Justine Lumumba Kasule; the Hon Minister for the Presidency, Hon. Esther Mbayo; Hon Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Hon Judith Nabakooba, and the Director of the Manifesto Implementation Unit, Mr. Willis Bashaasha said that by waging war against the Covid-19 pandemic, the NRM government was fulfilling its first promise to the people of Uganda- protecting the lives and property of Ugandans.

“Overall, our assessment of the implementation of the manifesto commitments to date stands at about 80 percent. As we stand, we are on course to achieve most of the targets we set out in the Manifesto,” Rugunda said.  

Rugunda said that most of the achievements are underpinned by reforming several policies, laws and regulations and among them was the amendment of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Law; free connection to the national grid; improved planning, budgeting, monitoring and reporting; and continuous implementation of affirmative action programmes in selected regions to promote inclusive growth and development. 

Major highlights and achievements

Rugunda said that in the energy sector, the government had “completed and commissioned Isimba Dam which has added 183 MW of electricity on the grid and that Karuma Dam will be completed by the end of the year, adding an extra 600 MW on the national grid and bringing Uganda’s generation capacity to around 1839 MW.

“Generation of reliable energy is critical to attracting investments and driving industrialisation,” he said, adding that thanks to the increased availability of power, all District headquarters were now connected to power, save for the newly created districts. He also told the country that money had been mobilised to connect all sub-counties by close of 2020.

In the health sector, Rugunda said that the NRM government completed and commissioned the Specialised Women hospital at Mulago and that the rehabilitation of Mulago National Referral Hospital was at 95 Percent completion.

A Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) officer inspects coffee beans for quality before export at Kyaggalanyi Coffee Ltd. Although coffee remains a strong export income earner and accounting for about 10% of export revenues, under the NRM Government has diversified the export base and growing export earnings overall. As a result, export earnings have grown by 40.2% from USD2.92 billion in 2016 to reach USD4.1 billion in 2019- a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%. Coffee earnings have over the last 4 years grown by an average of 4% year on year from USD371.7 million in 2016 to USD438.5 million on account of increased production. Coffee exported has grown from 3.54 million 60-KG bags to 4.56 million bags in the same period.

“This is a sign of NRM’s continued commitment to the health of our mothers, daughters, and the newborn babies.”

On industrialisation, Dr Rugunda said that several factories that produce goods ranging from food products to agricultural inputs and other essentials.

“Besides producing goods and services, these industries employ many Ugandans, utilise local raw materials, and pay taxes into our national treasury,” he said.

In the transport sector, Rugunda said that the revival of  Uganda Airlines and several road infrastructure projects were oncourse. 

“We promised the country that we would revive Uganda Airlines during this term of office. I am pleased to note, as you already know, that four aircrafts were received in the country. This will open Uganda to many opportunities, boost tourism, raise our flag and brand our country,” he said, adding: “The Entebbe-Kampala Expressway was completed and was commissioned by the President. The Nile Bridge was completed and commissioned.”

He also said that work on expansion and modernisation of Entebbe International Airport to accommodate the volume of increasing traffic was also nearing completion.

“We have also completed the construction of the one border stop points in the main exit/ entry points to facilitate faster cross border trade. These have been operationalised,” a jovial Rugunda said.

To support commercialisation of Agriculture, he said that the government has started the process of constructing irrigation schemes to support commercialisation of agriculture

“We have continued to prioritise investments in agriculture as the backbone of our economy with provision of pesticides, seedlings and extension services to farmers. The recruitment of extension workers in particular has provided farmers with the knowledge and skills to handle their activities professionally and with a business mind. Through Operation Wealth Creation, seedlings of cocoa, citrus, tea, mangoes, oranges and apples have been distributed,” he said.

He noted that for example, as a result of this increased investment in Agriculture, there had been increased coffee production.

“Coffee production has grown from 4.8 million bags last year to 5.63 million (60 kg) valued at USD 492 million which represented a 40% increase in value from the previous year,” he said.

Once Karuma Dam is completed by the end of the year, adding an extra 600 MW on the national grid, Uganda’s generation capacity will increase to 1,839 MW.  Ove the past 15 years, transmission length has grown by 146 % from 1,178km in 2005 to 2898kmas at December 31st 2019 while the Distribution network has grown to 49,621 km, growing the number of customers from 300,000 connections in 2005 to 1552,025 at the end of 2019, thus achieving 28% national coverage. Uganda targets to achieve 51% national coverage by 2030, and 100% by 2040. To achieve this, the government plans to make 300,000 new connections to be made every year and for this to happen, Uganda’s generation must be ramped up to 3,500 MW by 2025, and 41,000 MW by 2040. This will require maximum harnessing of Uganda’s hydroelectric power potential, estimated at 4,000 MW, largely along the Nile River as well as other potential energy sources, namely: geothermal (450 MW), solar (1000 MW), and nuclear (30,000 MW).

To facilitate increased investments and the creation of jobs, Rugunda said that the government is working to improve the investment climate and reducing the cost of doing business and attract investors.

In the Education Sector, he said that money had been mobilised and the Government policy of establishing a seed secondary school for each sub-county commenced with the construction of 129 schools in sub-counties where there are no secondary schools.

Key stumbling blocks

Rugunda, pointed out some key challenges such as corruption and delays in the acquisition of land for flagship projects across sectors that were frustrating the NRM Government plans.

“Compensation remains expensive and sometimes delays project executions,” he said, adding: “Besides, there is corruption. This undermines the different efforts invested to achieve our targets. However, the Government has strengthened anti-corruption efforts, including by establishing the State House unit led by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema to fight corruption.”

“The fundamentals of the economy that are responsible for rapid economic growth are being systematically dealt with. It is not surprising that our GDP growth rate that had declined due to severe drought among other factors has regained pace at 6 percent. We know that Covid-19 will have negative impacts on growth, but we are confident that we will bounce back,” concluded an optimistic Rugunda.

About the Author

Muhereza Kyamutetera is the Executive Editor of CEO East Africa Magazine; strategic communications consultant, social-economic analyst and travel enthusiast based in Kampala.