President Yoweri Museveni has continued to sensitise the political class about value-addition to Uganda’s raw materials in order to increase the country’s revenue.
In a meeting held at State House Entebbe, the President told the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Regional Whips that coffee, cotton, maize, milk, forest products and minerals are some of the commodities that should not be exported raw but rather processed to fetch higher incomes for the country.
“My appeal to you is that this economy of yours can jump if we add value to all of these. It can jump from Shs50 billion to Shs500 billion. It will become a high middle-income economy,” Museveni said, adding that the continued export of unprocessed products had not only made Uganda lose money but also jobs.
“Remember when we are roasting the coffee and they’re grinding and packaging it here, each level is a job for my grandchildren, because you know my grandchildren want jobs and they’re going to work for the Arabs because they have no jobs here, and we’re exporting jobs. So how can your country develop?” the President noted, saying this will save about 800,000 Ugandan children who flock to Arab countries to work as housemaids and end up being tortured.
The meeting was also attended by a consortium of 15 companies dealing in the production and export of coffee whose leader Nelson Tugume told the President that about 10 million US Dollars, approximately 37 billion Uganda shillings is needed in the first phase to export the required quality and quantity of processed coffee to the Balkan states and other markets that have opened as a result of quarrel between Russia and the West.
“Recently I was in Algeria, they also want coffee, they can buy our processed coffee, and so can the Middle East so that we go from earning 2.1 dollars per kilo to earning 25 dollars. This is something we cannot miss. These young people have come up to fill the gap which was there. I really want the political class, especially the NRM, not to miss this historical opportunity by failing to fund these groups,” Mr. Museveni said.
He also said the dairy industry was transformed from 0 in 1989 to now 3.8 billion US dollars and the export portion is 106 million US dollars which is a step in the right direction to ensure vertical and horizontal integration.
“That’s what I wanted us to do for all raw materials. What happened to milk, I would like it to be done for coffee. That’s why the other time in parliament, you were fighting my plan of value addition. But I refused, I’m going ahead, I don’t know what will happen. But I cannot accept selling coffee at 2.5 dollars when I can sell it at 25 dollars a kilo. It’s criminal and I cannot accept it,” the President warned.
The meeting was attended by among others; the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, the Government Chief Whip Hon. Hamson Obua and the Attorney General Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka.