By Stephen Twinoburyo
I got up the morning of 22 January 2016 to write about Uganda’s positive development stats because it’s important that we look at the positive strides the country has made over the past years.
I started by looking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) report of 2014-2015. My findings were very depressing. I struggled to find something positive to report about Uganda.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report of 2014/15, Uganda’s GDP per capita grew from approx US $120 in 1990 to $626.03 in 2013. Of course we are glad that there was growth. If, however, we compare with Angola that grew from approx US $2, 200 to $6, 000 during the same period, we then realise that we have a long way to go. In the same period, we have consistently been about $1, 000 below the Sub-Saharan average.
The 2015-16 report actually shows the gap widening:
Let me look at the key findings of that report where a total of 144 countries were assessed and ranked. Our overall rank was 122/144 but I’ll delve into some individual findings:
- In public institutions we were ranked at 115 and we are on a declining trend i.e getting worse. Rwanda is number 1 in Africa followed by Botswana and then South Africa.
- In ethics and corruption, we were ranked at 131. This is course not surprising. I shudder to imagine how the 13 countries behind us are.
- In wastefulness of government spending we were ranked at 109. This is also another non-surprising finding.
- In the burden of government regulation, we were ranked at 42
- Quality of overall infrastructure: we were ranked at 104 and we are hardly growing.
- Quality of roads: we were ranked at 105 and the rate of growth is very low. The top 5 countries in Africa in descending order are Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Rwanda and Morocco.
- Quality of air transport infrastructure: we were ranked at 124. I was actually surprised that there are 20 countries that we beat.
- In mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions /100, we are ranked at 134 (I found this surprising because I thought we are way ahead of this). We beat Madagascar, Chad, Malawi, Ethiopia, Burundi and Myanmar, in that order. Surprisingly Gabon is number 2 in the world, after Hong Kong SAR. Botswana surprisingly is at number 11.
- In overall health and primary education, we are at number 122, with health alone at 128 and primary education at 105. In the quality of primary education, we are at number 115 and this is either stable or declining. And here I thought UPE was a saviour.
Nyakika Primary School
The block that contains the office at Mukokye primary school Ndorwa East Kabale Distrit (Source: Redpepper Uganda)
- In quantity of enrollment for higher education and training, we are at number 132, and the quality of maths and science education at number 117. However, in the quality of the education system (secondary & university), we come at an impressive number 78 behind Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Lesotho, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Ghana, Cameroon, Swaziland, Senegal, Tunisia and Ethiopia in descending order in Africa.
- In the number of procedures needed to start a business, we rank number 141 out of 144. No wonder many Ugandans resort to informal businesses or simply ‘kuba njawulo’. In buyer sophistication, we are number 136 out 144. In short, apart from bargaining and pretending to drive off when we actually want that item badly, we are unsophisticated buyers, period!
- In technological readiness, we are at number 119, in ICT use at 130 (Prof Barya please help) but in technological adaption, we are at 88.
- In employee productivity, we are at number 126 (that says a lot about how productive we are at work) and in our willingness to delegate authority, we are at 124. I wonder if this has a relationship to reluctance to hand over leadership within political parties.
We do fairly well in the macroeconomic environment. In the government budget balance as a percentage of GDP we are at number 87 (here I need economists to help explain to me because we are ahead of S Africa at 97 and US at 130). In inflation annual percentage change we are at number 97 and in government debt as a percentage of GDP, we are at an impressive number 49. We are at number 131 for exports as a percentage of GDP and one will naturally expect countries whose GDP relies a lot on exports, like some Arab countries with oil, to appear in the upper segment.
In labour market efficiency, we are at number 27 and at number 2 for flexibility of wage determination (i.e ease of employers to determine wage – probably an indication of no wage guidelines).
I had an utterly disappointing start to my day due to my choice of reference – WEF reports. I will nevertheless continue searching for positive stats and I hold hope that there must be some out there.