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…

Development starts from within us.

I usually take walks along the streets of Kampala everyday after work. Last Friday proved to be one of a kind, mostly because I was accompanied by an enchanting and brilliant young lady. Momentarily, a conversation ensued between us in which I got fully immersed. Just across the street, there sat an able bodied man who was clad in rugged clothes with arms stretched out begging the passers-by. “Mpaako kikumi!!” (Give me one hundred shillings!!)” He repeatedly begged. “Ariz, do you think that guy over there has aspirations for the future?” I asked Ariz signalling towards his direction. “Uhmm, I highly doubt that, at least based on what I see.” Ariz responded. “Honestly speaking, I think having aspirations for his future, let alone pursuing them is the last thing on his mind. All he cares about right now is his next meal and possibly where he’s going to spend the night.” She added.

When I saw this guy begging, it got me thinking of the many young men and women in Uganda and across Africa who relate with him in one way or another. Some even have the privilege of University education but are still indifferent from the street man. They are sitted on their potential gifts and talents at home doing nothing productive. Apparently, most youths believe that personal development is a waste of time and energy. This is largely because of the mindset they have adopted from their societies. They don’t value their self worth and also don’t have mentors to emulate in that regard. Therefore, the whole idea of building human capital is an aspect so alien to pursue.

Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop skills and talents, facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations. These activities are more often than not disguised in service, that is, opting to be selfless inspite of the qualifications and certificates that we hold. I believe that we ought to look beyond ourselves, because the abilities that we possess aren’t for us to just keep in our minute and pocket-sized worlds, but rather to give of ourselves and create a positive difference in our localities and in the lives of those we are privileged enough to encounter.

When we begin to serve with a passion regardless of the field we are in, the need for personal development becomes inevitable. That way, we become vessels of change and a means to development rather than an end in itself. Better yet, pursuing something bigger than self opens doors for a great yearning coupled by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Eventually, development becomes an adventure worth taking on.

An orator once said; “To every individual, there comes that one opportune moment when you are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and given a task specifically tailored to your gifts and talents. What a shame when that moment finds you unprepared or unqualified!”

In which category do you belong?

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…

Mechanization: A kick-start to agricultural prosperity.

Inadequate agricultural mechanization is one of the biggest hindrances to transforming Uganda’s agriculture from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The director of National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), Dr. Godfrey Asea, recently said that 99.4% of small scale farmers in Uganda use rudimentary and obsolete technologies in agriculture, having tools like hand hoes, hand held axes, shovels, and slashers. Such tools make the cultivation process i.e slashing, digging, sowing of seeds and harvesting very tiresome and frustrating for the farmers. As a result, they end up tilling less land with low productivity.

The introduction and use of machines makes farming much easier than using manual labor. For instance tractors have components like the planter used for planting seeds, fertilizer operators, an irrigation engine, and manure spreader. Other farm tools like grain invaders are used during the harvesting process to pour seeds in silos, and the hay baler is used for parking hay in bales. In addition, these machines also increase the average cultivated farm land per day or in a given time period. This therefore enhances productivity by a great deal.

Modern agricultural mechanization is the way to go because by using mechanized tools, farmers will be able to reap high quantities of improved crop yields. Their household incomes will grow by leaps and bounds as the surplus available for sale will also be in larger quantities. On the other hand, the usual practice of using manual labor and rudimentary tools is rather time wasting and produces low yields.

Until next time…

A short term move to enhance food security.

Inorder to decrease the risk of highly volatile prices, price regulation on commodities and larger cereal stocks should be created to buffer the tight markets of food commodities and subsequent risks of speculation in markets.

This includes reorganizing the food market infrastructure and institutions to regulate food prices and provide food safety nets aimed at alleviating the impact of rising food prices and food shortage, including both direct and indirect transfers, such as a global fund to support micro-finance to boost small-scale farmer productivity. The Environmental Food Crisis

Being innovative and adapting to the changing times.

We ought to support farmers in developing diversified and resilient eco-agriculture systems that provide critical ecosystem services (water supply and regulation, habitat for wild plants and animals genetic diversity, pollination, pest control, climate regulation), as well as adequate food to meet local and consumer needs.

This also includes managing extreme rainfall and using inter-cropping to minimize dependency on external inputs like artificial fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation water and the development, implementation and support of green technology for small-scale farmers. The Environmental Food Crisis.

Could post harvest preservation systems be a remedy to food shortage?

Food waste contributes greatly to world hunger. One solution includes placing a greater emphasis on post-harvest food preservation methods such as solar refridgeration, intelligent packaging and creating a world food preservation center. Charles. L. Wilson, Ph.D

Drought resistant crops are the way to go.

Drought normally hits crops at the flowering and seed stages, which is critical in determining the size of a crop’s harvest. Therefore, we need to look beyond the traditional food crops that we have become accustomed to, and start growing those that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

According to Science Daily, lead researcher Dr. Kai Xun Chan from the ANU Research of Biology said that the team discovered an enzyme that senses adverse drought and sunlight conditions, and how it works from atomic to overall plant levels.

This way the crops will be able to react and adjust in terms of nutrient intake. In turn, they will be able to grow to maturity despite the harsh weather conditions.

Given that we can only do much to change the current weather and climatic patterns, why not adapt to them accordingly?