Event Reports

KAS engages Private Sector Players in discussion of attaining Inclusive Growth in Uganda

by Awel Uwihanganye

Conference Hosted in Conjunction with Private Sector Foundation-Uganda & Uganda Small Scale Industries Association-USSIA

The role of private sector players in engendering inclusive economic and social growth was at the center of the just concluded conference hosted by KAS in conjunction with Private Sector Foundation Uganda-PSFU, and Uganda Small Scale Industries Association-USSIA. The conference hosted at Protea Hotel on June 30th 2015 in Kampala included high level speakers such as the Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, the Chairman of PSFU Mr. Patrick Bitature and 170 other participants.

In convening this conference, KAS worked in collaboration with PSFU the leading umbrella organization for private sector players in Uganda, and with USSIA which brought in the voice of the small and medium enterprises in emphasizing the need for inclusive growth in the country.

The conference was organized on the premised fact that economic growth is essential to tackling the many dimensions of poverty and that a concerted effort is needed to address the individual and systemic challenges posed by social and economic exclusion.

Complex challenges such as ensuring inclusive economic growth require multidimensional, innovative responses from stakeholders at all levels to achieve a more prosperous and sustainable future that generates opportunities for all citizens. In this, all stakeholders have a role to play and especially ensuring a genuine partnership between government and the private sector to build systems that can deliver sustainable and scalable solutions

KAS with the convening partners appreciated that there is need to address the deficiencies of prioritizing solely economic growth, and rather focus on attempts to ensure that benefits of growth are more broadly experienced and inclusive in all aspects.

Whereas private sector enterprises cannot be viewed as a panacea that can solve all development challenges, it was appreciated by most participants that private sector actor’s role in development is a much broader and fundamental one in ensuring that this growth is likely to contribute to long-term poverty reduction, and requires private companies to include the poor as producers, suppliers, employees and consumers.

It was noted that in per capita terms, Uganda’s income growth averaged 4.0 percent, well above the Sub-Saharan African average of 0.8 percent. However the good performance on the growth front was not accompanied by a stellar performance in poverty reduction.

The conference was moderated by the Executive Director for USSIA Mr. John Walugembe who stressed that urgency for inclusive growth and emphasized the sustainable use of natural resources in facilitating job creation adopting tax policies that allow inclusive growth to occur, the need for social security savings and increase access to Finance. The Hon. Amelia Kyambadde stressed the importance of collaborative engagements and formations of consortiums for business growth. She decried the tendency for SME’s to always want to go it alone, advising that this cannot allow scalability and in turn cannot create the opportunities we want as a country.

Contributions to this important conversation were enhanced by representatives of Uganda Exports Promotion Board, Capital Markets Authority, Uganda Federation of Employers, and Uganda Insurers Association who formed the panel of speakers.