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NRM@34: Infrastructure Promoting Trade

Commitment by the NRM government towards infrastructure development has opened up many trade and investment opportunities as it has facilitated free movement of goods and services with in the country and the region as a whole.

Trade and investment has sky-rocketed, flying on the wings of a soothing road network connecting the country to its different regions and neighbours.

In 1986, when the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) took power, the country‘s public road network stood at a paltry 987km but has since expanded to approximately 140,000km.

“The Government has always focused on building the country’s road network, and this has never changed. We shall continue to build roads to facilitate the movement of people and their goods as we grow the economy together,” Works Minister, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala says.

Electricity transmission: From 730 to 3,220km

Going down the memory lane in 1948, the former Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) was formed.  A year later Owen Falls Dam, Uganda’s first was constructed at a cost of £3.6m (about sh17.33b today).

UEB went on to operate and maintain the electricity value chain from generation, transmission to distribution segments until 1999 when it was unbundled.

The coming to power of the NRM government after a five year guerilla war ushered in a period of relative peace, security and a number of reforms that were aimed at reviving economic activities and growth.

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Uganda’s electricity journey has seen the country grow from a single generation plant established in the 1950s to 40 plants. It has grown the generation capacity from 150MW in 1950s to over 1,200MW in 2020.

Over the next 10 years, the Government plans to increase access to electricity in rural areas to 26 per cent of the total rural households,” President Yoweri Museveni said recently during the State of the Nation address.

Museveni’s comments came after the launch of a 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan (RESP) covering the period between 2013 and 2022 aimed to increase access to electricity in rural areas by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

REA is a government institution formed in 2001 to facilitate the provision of electricity to rural areas in an equitable and sustainable manner. REA was established as a result of the energy sector reforms which led to the enactment of the new Electricity Act, 1999.

Before the National Resistance Movement (NRM) took over power in 1986, there was hardly any deliberate initiative aimed at electrifying rural areas despite housing the biggest chunk of the population.

Access to electricity was generally low with less than 10 per cent having access to the utility though majority of it was centred in urban areas.

Then, only one in 10 people living in rural areas had access to electricity. According to Godfrey Turyahikayo, REA’s executive director, this pattern was because distribution of the national grid was concentrated along major highways to the detriment of villages.

“The national grid network then had a narrow path along the main roads and major towns, reaching some 15 per cent of the population that lived in the urban areas. About 85 per cent of the population was living in rural areas, but only 0.85 per cent of them had access to electricity,” he said recently.

The Government then took a deliberate path towards equitable development of electricity distribution lines in the rural areas.

Uganda’s population accessing modern sources of energy increased from 22.5 per cent in 2017/18 to 28 per cent in 2018/19.

New consumer connections by Rural Electrification Agency were 149,831 against the target 120,457.

New connections by UMEME were 93,580 customers compared to 82,373 customers in previous year.

The stock of  paved roads has also been on the  increased from 4,551km in 2017/18 to 4,971km in 2018/19.

Roads completed in the year 2018/ 19 alone include; Olwiyo-Gulu road (70km), Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi road (74km), Akisim-Moroto road (50.3km), Kanoni-Sembabule & Sembabule-Villa Maria roads (110km) and many more.

Government has also ensured that air transport perform well in terms of passenger numbers increasing to 1.94 million from 1.72 million by 2017/18. To further improve on air transport there has also been the revamping of the Uganda Airlines which is expected not only to improve on air transport sector but promote the image of the country as well.

There has also been the development of the science, technology and innovation policy that led to the development of 13 products which include: green banana flower, banana cotton yam, cotton fabric, and some automotive products.

Remarkable progress has been made in Kapeeka industrial park, where manufacturing of tiles and other products are already ongoing, as well as in the Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve, where construction and provision of various utilities is soon starting. In Kabaale and Mbale industrial parks, work is ongoing.

 

 

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