Africa’s Uganda seen advancing in achieving Vision 2040

By Nangayi Guyson

Africa’s Uganda seen advancing in achieving Vision 2040

Uganda announced on 18th April 2013 that it was launching its long-term development plan known as Uganda Vision 2040 to set out a blueprint for its future aspiration to become a middle-income country and join the two other East African middle-income countries, Kenya and Tanzania.

Back in 2013, Uganda’s GDP per capita was US$819. Today, this figure has reached US$934.90 according to data recorded in 2022 by Trading Economics. The World Bank’s requirement for countries seeking middle-income status is US$1,036.

The objectives of Uganda Vision 2040 not only include increasing the GDP level but also the development of industrialization, and improving social services such as healthcare and education. The key components of Uganda Vision 2040 include the development of infrastructure and human capital and private sector-led growth. The benefits of this vision are numerous and include increased job opportunities, an improved standard of living, and greater economic growth.

According to President Yoweri Museveni, the goals of Uganda Vision 2040 are challenging but not insurmountable and he expressed optimism at the 2013 launch of the plan stating that:

“Uganda’s growth is unstoppable and the country will be a lower income economy in four years and a middle-income country by the year 2032”.

Health care improvements

Since 2000, Uganda has been working hard to reduce child mortality rates. According to a report by the World Bank, Uganda’s under-five mortality rate was 137 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 but in 2019 this had decreased to 53 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is because the country has greatly improved in terms of healthcare by providing wide vaccine coverage and working on improving nutrition programs.

According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016, the country had lowered maternal mortality rates and provided access to high-quality maternal healthcare. Uganda’s maternal mortality rate decreased from 438 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016 as a result of the development of maternal healthcare facilities, improved skilled birth attendance, and the implementation of maternal health programs.

Improvements in education

Uganda has made substantial efforts to improve educational access, notably at the basic school level by increasing primary school enrolment rates, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics National Household Survey 2016/2017.

The general primary school attendance rate in Uganda in 2000 was 86% which rose to 94% in 2016. This achievement can be attributed to factors such as the elimination of school fees, the construction of more schools, and the introduction of new programs to encourage universal primary education.

Furthermore, the same survey also found that literacy rates among people aged 15 had increased from 66% in 2002 to 76% in 2016 due to initiatives such as adult literacy programs, increased educational resource availability, and the expansion of vocational training programs introduced by the Government.

Energy enhancements

Uganda’s energy sector is still characterized by inadequate access to electricity, a large reliance on biomass for cooking, and underdeveloped petroleum and mining industries. According to the World Bank, only approximately 26% of the population has access to electricity, with rural areas having much lower access rates than metropolitan areas. The bulk of the population cooks using traditional biomass, such as firewood and charcoal, which has resulted in deforestation and significant negative health effects owing to indoor air pollution.

Uganda’s Vision 2040 development plan has set high goals for the energy industry believing that the population growth, economic expansion, and escalating social requirements will necessitate the sustainable development of energy resources. By 2040, the plan seeks to boost electricity generation capacity from 1,000 megawatts (MW) to 41,738 MW. This will be accomplished by developing alternative energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal, peat, solar, and wind energy as well as the exploitation of the country’s oil and gas resources.

Uganda announced this year that it also has plans to begin nuclear power generation. Following pre-feasibility studies in 2019, the government determined eight locations for the building of a 2,000 MWe nuclear project in Uganda’s energy generation mix. The first nuclear power project is expected to be connected to the national grid by 2031 and will initially generate 1000 Mwe according to Ruth Nankabirwa, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development.

She also commented that electricity and modern energy would shift the country to an industrialized and largely urban population.

“Uganda is taking decisive steps to integrate nuclear energy into the electricity generation mix in order to ensure energy security and provide enough electricity for industrialization,” she said.

However, Ministry studies show that the country’s energy industry will be unable to reach the Vision 2040 targets.

The discovery of oil and gas reserves in the Albertine Graben region has created new opportunities for Uganda’s energy sector, and the government is working to build the infrastructure required to exploit these resources for power generation. The development of the oil and gas sectors is expected to significantly contribute to Uganda’s energy mix.

Information and communication technology advancement

As stated in the 2040 Digital Vision, ICT is now Uganda’s fastest-expanding sector and contributes considerably to its GDP. The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, reiterated the government’s commitment to work “diligently to expand the nation’s digitalization in a number of fields by building robust ultra-high speed, pervasive, intelligent, and trusted high-speed ICT infrastructure all over the country, in order to unleash the multiplier effect of ICT on associated secondary and tertiary industries for tremendous economic impact”.

However, despite the ambitious objectives and key components of Uganda Vision 2040, the country faces several challenges to achieving its goals. One of the main challenges is the lack of adequate infrastructure particularly in the transport sector which therefore hinders the movement of goods and services. Another challenge is the high population growth rate which puts pressure on the country’s resources and increases the demand for basic services such as healthcare and education. Furthermore, Uganda faces a high level of corruption which undermines the effectiveness of public institutions and hinders economic growth.

Despite these challenges, Uganda remains committed to achieving its development goals and ensuring that Vision 2040 becomes a reality. Overall, Uganda Vision 2040 is a bold and ambitious plan that has the potential to transform the country and improve the lives of its citizens.