What is the main cause of poverty in Uganda?

“DSC_5377” by Trocaire licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Poverty is the state of being inferior in quality, but it can also be defined as the condition of having little or no money, goods or means of support. As it was published, 2015 was the 20th consecutive year since sub-Saharan Africa started on a path of faster economic growth. During this period, growth has averaged 5.2% per year. Meanwhile, the number of people on the continent reportedly living under $1.25 a day has continued to creep upwards from 358 million in 1996 to 415 million in 2011, the most recent year for which official estimates exist.

Research affirms that poverty is a daily friend to most of the people in urban areas, and this is due to scarcity of jobs with a greater competition among the educated and the uneducated personnel. Most people are confused just because of the situation where the people are taken to be ignorant by their employers. I think this situation is brought upon by the education system, whereby it gives hope to students that success will come after graduation and that after school there is a ready job for them. It has also developed a mentality that, if you have educational documents, you can qualify for any job; just a few degree-holders think creatively in their own demographic to be self-employed.

Today, I was in a taxi, and there was a radio debate that was going on. It was between an MP (member of parliament) and someone from the opposition government, and their conversation  was about the situation going on in Uganda whereby we have more than 30-40 universities and institutes in Uganda. Every year, universities have more than 7000 graduates, but the government provides every year only 124 jobs. So, each year, 6876 graduates are going to stay jobless! Still, the MP said that the jobs provided by the government are depreciating, and this means that two years from now they won’t be in position to provide any jobs for its people, and the country is going to be extremely susceptible to economic disaster. He made everything clear so that people may understand. He said that two years from now people, will be having no money, and he gave an example that someone will build up a hotel but no one will be able to sleep in it, and people will be more comfortable sleeping on the street just because they have no money to spend in the hotel. But remember, the owner of the hotel has to pay the workers and the electricity bills, hence he has no income.

On the other hand, I think another cause of poverty is due to the people who look down upon certain jobs. This is mostly happening in town areas whereby people feel ashamed of doing low quality vacancies, and they instead are running after white collar jobs, and this has led to increased competition in different fields, thus scarcity of jobs.

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One day I had a successful conversation with a teacher called Namuddu Rita in Luweero District. Luweero is far from Kampala, deep in the village. We were conversing about what gaps of difference exist between teachers in town and those in the villages, and she told me one thing: We are doing the same profession like those in town but we are paid little money as our salary, and sometimes we are not paid, yet we have to give students their daily service and also provide basic needs to our families. This forced me to ask her why it is like that. She told me that there is a difference in payment in accordance to location. That’s why the least salary paid to a primary teacher in town is 700,000 UGX per month (approx. $190 USD) plus allowances, compared to the same teacher in the village who is being paid 50,000 UGX a month (approx. $14 USD) minus the allowances.

Poverty is also on a high spread in Uganda and Africa in general due to fake investors who pretend that they have come to invest in Africa with a hidden agenda of sucking out all the money from the people. Some of the businesses they create are casinos, sports betting centers, and more, whereby people, most especially the youth, go in for gambling with the high chances of winning, but they end up losing all their money. After the investor collects the money, they don’t invest in that particular country. They take the money to their home countries, leaving people in miserable economic stability.

This is sometimes not observed, but when I was reading a newspaper from 2002, there was an article which was written by the late president of Uganda, General Idi Amin, giving his reasons on  why he expelled the Indians out of Uganda in 1974. He was defending himself by saying that he was just protecting the economy of Uganda, whereby the foreigners (Indians) were flooded in every sector, leaving the natives without jobs. He explained that he had to secure jobs for his people, thus ending poverty.

The invasion of industrial machines has also contributed to the poverty in Africa, whereby factories and companies no longer require lots of labour or manpower to work for them. In this case, they only improvise the use of machines, which leaves the people with no jobs. In the President’s Report last year, President Yoweri Museveni said that more than four industries are being built  every week, but the number of people without jobs has increased  from 69% to 76%. And in most cases, the factories and companies hire labourers from their home countries because they tend to say that here people are ignorant of how to use machines. So the outcome results to a situation whereby most of people’s expenditure is greater than their income; in short, they have a lot to pay for but have no money to cover all their expenses, and this is due to lack of jobs in various sectors.

Whenever I work on Kampala streets, I see many street vendors working on the verandas so that they get money to earn a living and care for their children and pay for them to get an education. Sometimes, however, they are being restricted and stopped by the KCCA (Kampala City Council Authority), and on my side, I see it as a contributor to the existing poverty in the country. I put the blame on my current government. In the regime of the former president of Uganda, the late General Idi Amin, as the council in his regime were chasing people away from the streets, he asked, “What will the people do if they having no jobs?” So he ended up giving a command to the council to look for a suitable and accessible place in town which will accommodate all traders in no more than 72 hours. That’s how Owino Market was founded, and it has accommodated over millions of traders and vendors in the years since. The current government has to do the same. Unfortunately, I think they have failed so far, so this means people are going to stay poor if there is no action taken.




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