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Independence Day Celebrations

Friday, October 9, 2020

The independence day theme is: celebrating Uganda's steady progress towards economic takeoff and self sustaining economic growth.

Synopsis for the 9th October 2020 Independence Day celebrations   

 

“Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started”, Kwame Nkrumah. 

No words can sum it up better as we are all familiar with our colonial era journey and its ups and downs. Tribute also goes to all those who have paid the supreme sacrifices in the cause of nation-building.

The litmus test is simple: every day must bring some improvement in our lives, today must be an improvement on yesterday, and our tomorrow must certainly be better than our yesterday.

But achieving our destiny requires a deliberate, qualitative change in all aspects of our lives; especially, in the structure of our economy, the nature of our infrastructure, the education of our young people and acquisition of skills, and, above all, in our attitudes and holding firm to the values that define us.

On this distinctive occasion Ugandans are commemorating a unique day when we regained self-rule from British colonial government on the 9th October 1962. We owe a great debt to the sons and daughters of this country and all the other heroes who fiercely struggled for Uganda to be free. 

The heroes and heroines, the founders, and fathers of this nation, were wise. They knew that if we did not regularly remind ourselves what our freedom had cost, we would be lax in defending it. Today, we remember the heroes of the past, to celebrate the liberty they gave us, to preserve, protect and propagate that precious inheritance. Long before the struggle of our independence from colonial rule, we were independent peoples with a long and distinguished history.

The migrations that carried the many languages and nations to today’s Uganda arose from lands that had grown sophisticated civilizations. A key part of the Pan Africanist philosophy that Uganda’s founding fathers adhered to was that, Africa had been the land of great civilizations that lost their way as they came under the external assault of slavery and later colonization.  Independence Day therefore, was an opportunity for reclamation of our histories as free peoples. And to take that freedom and forge it into a political and economic order, that would allow us to build a united and successful nation as a part of a united and federated Africa. 

Our founding fathers knew they would need the vehicle of a modern state to negotiate the sophisticated international sphere if we were to protect our freedom and independence and use it to build a vibrant country.

Ugandans today live almost twice as long as the independence generation. This is thanks, in part, to recent programmes that make medical equipment available to parts of the country once under-served. Thanks, in part, to the NRM administration’s free maternal care programme, far fewer of our children die at birth, or in their first five years of life: we have cut child mortality to 33.4%.  currently 181 major referral hospitals have been constructed across the country, 222 Health Centre IVs have been constructed, 1,510 Health Centre IIIs are in place and 3,3674 Health  Centre IIs were constructed to further enhance universal health care in Uganda. Ministry of Health has insured that 100% of the children  are immunized against all the 13 preventable diseases and routine immunization services are provided at all health facilities and outreaches conducted in all districts within the country.

Government of Uganda introduced Universal Primary and Secondary education and partially in tertiary institutions and virtually every child in our country benefits from free education, an opportunity open to fewer hundreds at independence.  We have over 10.78 million children in our primary schools, 1.95 million in secondary schools and these are supported by the government of Uganda.  

Uganda’s economic growth has averaged 7% over the last 30 years. We have sustained single-digit inflation over a long time to date. Government will be implementing National Development Plan (NDP) III in line with NDP III and focus on strategic objectives such as enhancing value addition to the productive sectors which include agro-processing, mineral led industrialization, oil refinery among others.

The above areas are expected to support the sustainable and accelerated growth. The call now is to work strategically and harness the opportunities at hand. The Ministry of Finance continues to the capitalization of the Uganda Development Bank to provide capital at affordable interest rates for ease of doing business to local investors.

Additionally, capitalization of Post Bank with UGX4.7 Billion in the FY2018/19, UGX4.7 billion in the FY2019/20 and UGX4.3 billion in the FY2020/21, the government also provided a budget of Shs30 billion in the FY2019/20 to capitalize Housing Finance Bank. This is all meant to improve the capital base of the Banks so as to foster financial inclusion.

Operationalisation of the  Free Zones companies stands at 22 adding although some are privately-owned and mostly single factories dealing in Agro-Processing, Agriculture, Mineral Processing, Textiles & Garments, Digital Innovation & Blockchain Software, Timber Processing and Logistics. Employment in Free Zones has grown by 13.2% to 8,438 jobs in FY2018/19, from 7,456 jobs generated in FY2017/18. 

Uganda has access to affordable and nutritious food. No country can call itself great, or even close to greatness, if any number of its citizens is threatened with malnutrition or even starvation. Our productivity and investment as Ugandans is very critical in this regard. Uganda is in the race with the rest of the world to be productive enough and innovative enough, to produce better and cheaper goods than the rest. 

Agriculture remains the main thrust of Uganda’s economic growth with agriculture based products and it employs over 70 % of our people. All efforts to uplift this sector are being put in place to achieve full mechanization in this sector.  

Industrialization is another critical pillar of our economic independence and government has wasted no time to release this dream

The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) set out a Strategic Plan to acquire and develop 22 Industrial Parks in Uganda. Currently 9 Industrial Parks are at different levels of implementation including: Namanve, Luzira, Bweyogerere, Soroti, Mbale, Kasese, Moroto, Mbarara and Jinja.  UIA with the UPDF Engineering Brigade designed a plan for the infrastructure development in Namanve which was submitted to MoFPED for financing.  

. Thirty-eight (38) industries are currently in operation within the Kampala Industrial and Business Park-Namanve directly employing 15,000 Ugandans within the park.  109 projects have commenced construction, creating an additional 17,000 indirect/short term/contractual jobs during this period.  

While 131 companies are still in the pre-start stages (surveying, processing titles, environmental impact assessment studies, architectural designs, geotechnical and hydrological studies) these too will create employment for various white collar professionals including: Architects, Physical Planners, Environmental Consultants, Civil Engineers, Quantity Surveyors etc.  Currently, there are 12 Collaborating Agencies at Uganda’s One Stop business Center (OSC), offering business and investment related services.  Transactions have increased from 600 per month (2 years ago) to an average of 4,000 per month by the 12 Agencies under the One Stop business Centre.

The government has built physical infrastructure in the form of availability of energy and water in most homes. The government has also built connectivity infrastructure in the form of wider, better highways as well as airports in the interior of our country. The government has equally built legal infrastructure by re-writing obsolete laws to make life easier for our people. 

The unity of our people is another hallmark that defines our treasured independence. Unity does not mean we agree on all things. But it is a requirement for our country to be able to have the stability that will enable us to invest in it without fear. Our founding fathers knew when they won independence that there was no going back to the political structures that preceded colonialism. The world had changed too much, there were too many dangers to our freedom if we did not come together to forge a new nation. 

We fought for freedom together, we need to stand together to protect it and turn it into lasting liberty and prosperity. Ugandans now live in peace and good neighbourliness with our fellow citizens and other brothers and sisters beyond our borders. 

We reach out to one another in good and bad times. Our children play together and marry each other across communities. Some lousy political leaders have made attempts to divide our people, but they criminal attempts have failed them. But as government we cannot sit back as these selfish political actors derail our cherished unity. Many countries in our region provide terrifying evidence of what happens to peoples who are disunited. A house divided against itself cannot stand, let alone prosper. 

Finally, as we celebrate the good that has been achieved over the decades since independence, we know there are areas which we have not done well. We must admit that, in the past few decades, a few of us have failed their motherland. Some of those trusted to run and manage institutions, resources and safeguard the public interest have turned predators. Through their selfishness, greed and misuse of authorities, Ugandans have been denied critical public services and development. Our president has rallied us all to join him in the war that he has started, to vanquish corruption. While the challenge may look huge because of the way corruption has become entrenched in some of our people, today, we have to declare in unison that corruption in all its forms will be diminished from our country.

Therefore, as Ugandans celebrate this years “scientific” Independence Day to be held at State House Entebbe under the theme: “Celebrating Uganda’s steady progress towards economic take off and self -sustaining economic growth”, it is imperative that we continue to jealously defend our country against the new threats that threaten our economies, identity and cultural values.