Impact of Artificial Intelligence being felt globally.

NEW DELHI: Over 60 per cent of marketers in India believe new-age technologies are going to impact their workplace practices and consider it the next big disruptor in the industry, a new report said on Thursday. According to a global report by software major Adobe that involved more than 5,000 creative and marketing professionals across…

via Artificial intelligence, machine learning to impact workplace practices in India: Adobe — The Economic Times

Will a reduction in the CBR jumpstart Uganda’s economy?

In today’s article, I put into perspective the recent move by the Central Bank of Uganda of reducing the CBR in order to jumpstart the economy. Enjoy the read…

In the past months, Uganda’s economy has experienced a massive slowdown in its growth. A number of events have played a significant role in this economic downturn, for instance, an increased unemployment rate relative to population growth, a prolonged drought at the beginning of the year, and a reduction in money supply within the Ugandan market. Many businesses are downsizing while some are even closing because of the inaccessibility to credit. In other words, the interest rates have been very high and therefore not favourable for the local entrepreneurs who also have limited collateral security. The populous has also reduced its demand for goods and services due to a shortage in their disposable income. Meaning that majority of the population can no longer afford to spend as much as before, but are rather focusing on making their ends meet.

In a bid to revive the economy, Bank of Uganda (BoU) has reduced the Central Bank Rate (CBR), that is, the rate at which the commercial banks borrow money from BoU. The reduction from 12 percent to 10 percent is essentially meant to reduce lending rates, encourage the private sector to borrow money from commercial banks, increase local investment, and in turn increase the amount of money circulating within the economy.

However, oftentimes bankers have stated that the CBR is just a signal rate and doesn’t automatically translate into the lowering of lending rates to its level. In addition to that, most of the players in the private sector are sceptical to establish new and expand already existing investments. The high costs of production are pushing them to downsize their businesses with the hope of at least breaking even. Another reason why many local investors are not rushing to borrow is that the commercial banks might actually not follow suit to reduce their lending rates.

While addressing a press conference the other day, the Kampala City Trader’s Association chairperson, Evaristo Kayondo, had this to say; “Bank of Uganda has been reducing its rate for a year now but interest rates remain high. Businesses cannot be borrowing at a rate of 20 percent and expect to survive! For the last one year, bank’s have taken over business property because of these high rates. We don’t expect a lot to change.”

In my humble opinion, I think that fiscal and monetary policy measures like reducing the Central Bank Rate can only do much in the short-term. Therefore, to achieve a sustainable and long-term jumpstart in Uganda’s economy, the populous needs to save, organise and pool together the available financial resources in their respective sectors. This should be done with an intention to specifically support local investments. Eventually, the economy will be able to support itself to a good extent using resources from within.

Thanks for reading, until next time…

The Homerun: If you’re willing, then it’s possible.

The homerun obstacle race was scheduled for late last month and I was so looking forward to it. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the race I got sick and started second guessing my participation. This run was meant to demonstrate the challenges that refugees face while fleeing their home countries, usually in small families. Some of the challenges included delays in documentation, language barrier, tiresome routes, hostile and unfamiliar cultures. Manoeuvring through barbed wire fences, climbing over walls, crawling through muddy fields were also simulated.

The day before the race, just after deciding not to participate, I got a pep-talk from a close friend who successfully convinced me to change my mind. However, there was one problem, I didn’t have a family to run with. “Hey James, am looking for a team, can I join yours?” a colleague asked me. “Hey, I don’t have one, but we could create our own.” I responded. “Cool, let’s do that.” he added. A minute or two later, four ladies walk up to us and say; “Hey guys, is it alright if you adopt us into your family?” “Yes, of course!” we were quick to respond. We then formed an adopted family named it Samuka and hit the road.

During the race, there were times when I felt like sprinting but some family members were exhausted. So, we all had to reduce our pace and run as a family. At some point, it became more of a home walk given that we resorted to walk a good portion of the distance. Then came the obstacles! Hardly could we hold our breaths, when we encountered the next obstacle. Our mental strength was challenged, our bodies were pushed to the limit, we got agitated, but we’re willing to go all the way. When we couldn’t sprint, we jogged, when we couldn’t jog, we walked, when we couldn’t walk, well, we rested a bit, the ladies took a couple of selfies then we marched on.

Just when we thought the obstacles were done, there was the mud-crawl looking right in our faces. The whole family was quite skeptical about doing the mud-crawl given that some of us didn’t have a change of clothes, and the thought of walking through town all muddy was simply unbearable. Luckily, one of us had a change of heart and decided to take one for the family. Inspite of the occasional hiccups along the way, we managed to reach the finish line because we were willing.

Obstacles and hurdles that are often times impossible to anticipate disorganize our plans and divert us from our goals. Nevertheless, we should be flexible enough to adjust our plans whenever necessary, be willing to extend a helping hand and take one for the team. Above all, we need to develop a character of resilience, an attitude of never giving up.

It’s not how many obstacles we may hit and fall that matter, but how many times we are willing to get back up when we do.

If you’re willing, then it’s possible!

Until next time…

Dare to live today!

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live in the present!~Seneca.

Until next time folks…

The state of Economics today.

I am always fascinated by the prospect of discovering a new definition of economics and its role in shaping the dynamics of our society. Some of you are probably still caught up in a maze of figuring out what this phenomenon called “Economics” actually is.

A number of people perceive it differently and so have varying views on this subject. Some say economics is a way of life, others say its a science that enables society to utilise scarce resources by making decisions based on individual preferences.

When asked, a colleague of mine just narrowed it down to being some complex subject having lots of incomprehensible jargon, that is apparently only meant for the “elite economist!” Well, I beg to defer. I believe that economics is meant for everybody. From the lady vending maize along the streets to the tycoon owning a number of shopping malls in town, from the illiterate kid digging somewhere in a shamba to the rich kid anxiously waiting for the release of IPhone 8! The only difference is that all these individuals look at economics through varying lenses.

Recently, while chatting with some friends of mine, an interesting topic came up involving economics, its evolution and subsequent impact on our society over the years. We were later on joined by a fellow who was quite learned and knowledgeable in economics based on the thoughts he shared. What stood out for me was his argument that economic knowledge without political power in this day and age is hardly effective. He then posed an intriguing question; “Is economics dead?” To which we all responded almost in unison “No! Ofcourse not!” “Economics cannot die, it’s part of life!” One of us added.

In my humble opinion, economics has been put in an ideological box and maliciously suffocated by the major players who use power backed by their selfish and myopic interests. As a result, key policy decisions that affect the multitudes are taken by the minority.

Ironically, most of the interest groups have no clue that this is happening!

Until next time…

Poor spending habits: A major cause of the vicious cycle of borrowing.

Yesterday, I came across a very interesting article in the Daily Monitor Newspaper regarding peoples’ spending habits. I found it related to my previous article titled “Living within our means for a better tomorrow” and was therefore prompted to share it with you this day.

The phrase, “Failing to make ends meet ” is common in Uganda and it means that a person has got into a pattern where their income does not cover the money they spend month after month. In our book, “Make Sense of Your Money” we describe this situation as having more months at the end of the money- meaning the salary gets finished several days before the next pay cheque. 

Recently, a group of people attending a personal money management course that I was facilitating shared with me their major spending mistakes;

Living above means was a major spending mistake mentioned, for instance having expenses to an amount that is twice your income. Another was relying on anticipated income i.e one of the participants said his biggest spending mistake arose out of spending money in anticipation of future income. However, the most common mistake was  the “What will people say syndrome” where several participants said their spending mistake was that they spent money out of fear of the opinion of other people and they cited several examples to illustrate this issue. By James Abola.

Astala vista…

Integrity: A virtue essential for personal and national economic development.

Yesterday, I was part of a market place convention held in Kampala, Uganda. This convention is held once every year and brings together Christians from different walks of life in the job market. For instance, some of the companies that were represented included Renault car company,Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA), to mention but a few.

The theme for the night was Facing the Giants with the guest speaker being Mrs. Angela Kirabwire from Capital Markets Authority, Uganda. This convention is aimed at empowering christians with knowledge and skills required to prosper and leave a mark in whichever field they encounter. It also offers an opportunity for people to interact, network, and make connections in the job market.

Individuals who have been in the field of work for a long time (20 years or so) are given a platform to share their stories and experience in the job market. They also talk about the challenges encountered, how they handled them, as well as the crucial lessons learnt in the due process. This is meant to provide mentorship to the young graduates and those just starting out in their careers.

Mrs. Angela Kirabwire took the stage and put the theme of the night “Facing the Giants” into context using her story of about 20 years in the job market. She ably illustrated various scenarios in which she had been put in very compromising situations involving graft, bribery and corruption in its ultimate description. Angella then added that she stood firm by her values of Integrity inspite of the insurmountable consequences.

She later on emphasised the importance of giving our best and working diligently however small the tasks at hand seem to be. This lays a firm foundation on which we can slowly and progressively build our careers.

True economic development starts with people in the economy, and Integrity is a core value eessential for personal development.

If only every individual were to steward their resources faithfully, our economy would grow and develop exponentially!

An alternative to cereals as animal and fish feeds is imminent.

Cereals have for years, if not centuries been used as feeds for animals, fish and chicken. With the current shortage in production being a result of the prevalent drought especially in the tropical regions, it is imminent that a suitable alternative be found as soon as now.

There should be a significant reduction in the use of cereals as feeds. This can be done in a “green” economy by increasing food energy efficiency using fish discards, capture and recycling of post harvest losses, waste and development of new technology, thereby increasing food energy efficiency by 30-50% at the current production levels.

According to The Environmental Food Crisis, increasing the food energy efficiency provides a critical path for significant growth in food supply without compromising environmental sustainability.

As a result, the individuals living in drought stricken regions could have an extra meal or two contrary to what they can currently afford.