The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) has agreed with President Museveni that the Covid-19 pandemic will facilitate industrial growth in the economy which has been relying mainly on imports.
Speaking at the maiden E-Conference on the Covid-19 pandemic and Economy on Monday last week, Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director of PSFU, said that the economy shall energize its industrial sector, during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This crisis provides an opportunity to strengthen industrialization through the transition from relying on extraction and sale of raw materials into building up local industries that utilize local resources and turn them into value-added products for export,” he said.
President Museveni has on several occasions in his televised presidential addresses kept on assuring Ugandans that the pandemic has given the country a chance to boost its industrial muscles.
“There are those panicking that the economy shall collapse. I am not part of that panic, I am not pessimistic,” Museveni said during his Labour Day address last week.
The President assured Ugandans that the vital sectors for survival which deal with basic needs including; food production, clothing, shelter, medicine, and security, have remained strong.
“We shall boost and support both the Agriculture and Manufacturing sector so that some of the goods that have initially been imported, be manufactured from here,” he added.
“Sugar that is used in making medicine will not be imported, we shall be producing it here and even export to other countries,” the President highlighted.
In his 13th televised address on CoronaVirus, on Monday, May 4, Museveni said that the country had 38 local industries that manufacture hand sanitizers that are being consumed internally and shall also be exported.
According to PSFU’s Bagadawa, the E-conference discussions focused on import substitution, economic stimulus proposals, opportunities especially for young people and women, and linkages to drive Uganda’s self-sustainability.
“If we don’t move quickly to strengthen systems and resilience of businesses, the development gains for recent years can easily be lost,” said Bagadawa.
The conference, which was organized under the theme: Inclusive Economic Stimulus Strategy, Opportunities and Linkages, attracted over 10,000 business owners, Senior Managers, Politicians, Civil Servants, Civil Societies, and Religious Leaders.
According to Kathryn Lindoha-Musoke, the Public Relations and Communication Manager of PSFU, the conference was conducted through an online meeting tool – zoom and broadcasted live on NBS TV, between May 2 to 3, 2020.
The United Nations (UN) Country Representative, Dr. Maxine Houinato said that the pandemic has proved to be a serious threat to the social-economic development of Uganda.
“The spike in the unemployment rate, especially for young people and women makes planning for the post-COVID-19 pandemic era very important,” said Dr. Houinato.
Dr. Houinato added that “Women who are engaged in low paying, informal work and businesses are also the breadwinners. Disruptions as a result of COVID-19 response will comprise their abilities to meet their families’ needs.”
In less than six months, the pandemic has caused a precedented contraction in economic activities, global deterioration of financial conditions, suspension of transport, nose-diving of stocks, crumbling of health systems, and losses of jobs, especially among the young people and women.