Why Uganda’s Museveni Prioritizes infrastructure over people

Yesterday evening Uganda’s President ‪Yoweri ‎Museveni gave the country’s state of the Nation address while opening the 5th session of the country’s Parliament.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

In his introduction, he said he was going to account for the Previous year and then give strategies for the coming year, however he straight away delved into a sermon picking a verse from the book of Matthew 23:23

”Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law” in his own interpretation, the President said

“You concentrate on peripheral issues and neglect core issues. This is the challenge leaders have always had”


The Ugandan president then went on to list an increase in the number of Kilometres of power lines to 1627, and he also talked about the upcoming electricity projects which will bring Uganda’s electricity capacity to  Then he set out his priorities for the 2015/2016 financial. He mentioned road construction, electricity generation,  the standard gauge railway, security and easing cost of borrowing. He said that if the five were worked on, Uganda will be an upper middle- income country by 2040.

Following the #SONUG15  on Uganda’s social media, you would realise that the Ugandan President was more or less speaking to himself and some of the dignitaries to who managed to stay awake and listen. There were questions on the #SONUG15 ,Hashtag, on why the country’s President was not speaking about its people, on human resource,Education in light of the teachers strike and employers complaining about the quality of graduates in the Job market, Electoral reform,or health Especially with the hindsight of the recent social media fundraisers to save Cancer victims.

To understand President Museveni’s obsession with infrastructure, we would need to go back to the 1990’s IMF-World bank structural adjustment plans, billed as part of the new breed of African leaders at the time, Museveni campaigned hard and argued for the Brettonwoods institutions to concentrate on helping Africa bridge the infrastructure gap, this campaign led to the formation of The new Economic plan for African Development  (NEPAD) under the African Union, and started to yield results when the Chinese government started to look for investment opportunities in Africa, forcing the world-bank and IMF to realise that Africa was serious about having infrastructure even as its own people collapsed in hunger.

The Bujagali Hydro Power Project
The Bujagali Hydro Power Project

The President also revealed that the decision to focus on infrastructure was taken in 2006 and it is the reason Uganda now has Bujagali hydro power dam,the Entebbe-Kampala Express high way is under construction, the Kampala Northern bypass among other infrastructure projects. This he says and believes will ensure that the rest of the issues fall in place when the benefits of these huge infrastructure projects start to show, citing as an example the high cost of transporting goods on the current outdated railway lines where it costs over 3000 US dollars per container compared with Shangai to Beijing’s 1500 dollars by reducing the cost of doing Business, the Ugandan President believes the nation will be able to attract  investors including those that will cater for the much neglected social services.

Below are some of the issues the Ugandan President addressed his people about.


The outdated Uganda railway
The outdated Uganda railway

The President said the country is sourcing for investments in the steel industry because the country needs steel for dams & railway currently under construction. he also revealed that he is under pressure to allow export of raw iron ore which is 70% pure for USD37/ton instead of processing it in Uganda. some thing he said he has resisted ” We will add value and earn USD700 per ton”

He also revealed plans for a Gold refinery

“We have Gold we need a gold refinery at some point to stop our daughters importing finished gold products”

He also revealed plans to recapitalise the country’s Uganda Development Bank with 150Million dollars so SMEs could have access to cheap capital., he talked about plans to have a coffee producer set up a factory here and add value to just a third of the country’s totally product bringing in more than 600 million dollars which is 200 million dollars more than the country gets for its entire coffee production.


Uganda People's Defense forces
Uganda People’s Defense forces

On security  the President said

“Uganda is one of the most peaceful countries on the globe. Take the case of Namugongo yesterday. We managed big numbers with no security incident.

“The UPDF has ensured total peace in the country, defeated Kony and disarmed the Karimojong you do not know how many hours I stay up to monitor security as you are sleeping.”

He also promised to to install security cameras (CCTV) in towns around Uganda starting with Kampala to fight crime.  he also said the Computerized National ID is part of anti-crime infrastructure.

‘If we add other things I don’t want to talk about here, we shall manage the criminals”

Energy and infrastructure

On energy and infrastructure, the president said  the government has add 1627km of electricity transmission lines to the existing 4127.

He also revealed that when the country’s oil starts flowing,the country will generate additional 880MW at Ayago and about 770MW from Murchison falls”

The Executive Director of the Uganda National roads authority(UNRA) Allen Kagina
The Executive Director of the Uganda National roads authority(UNRA) Allen Kagina

He also revealed that government expenditure on roads has increased from more than 100 million dollars in 2006 to more than a Billion dollars in 2015. To fight the rampant corruption in the roads sector, the President, Referring to new UNRA Executive Director Allen Kagina, said ” I have put a no nonsense young lady who will do a good job.”

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