By Vision Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni has resounded his clarion call to the political class on the need to add value to Uganda’s raw materials to increase revenues.
On Monday, he met with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary regional whips at State House, Entebbe.
The President told them that coffee, cotton, maize, milk, forest products and minerals are some of the commodities that should not be exported raw but instead processed to rake in more money for the country.
He talked of an economic leap as a result of value addition.
“It can jump from sh50n to sh500b,” said Museveni, adding that the continued export of unprocessed products had cost Uganda both money and jobs.
“Remember when we are roasting the coffee and they are grinding and packaging it here, each level is a job for my grandchildren, because you know my grandchildren want jobs and they are going to work for the Arabs because they have no jobs here, and we are exporting jobs.
“So how can your country develop?” he added.
The President said value addition will save about 800,000 Ugandan children who flock to Arab countries to work as housemaids and end up being tortured.
Museveni often refers to his country’s young generation as Bazzukulu, a vernacular translation for grandchildren.
‘Fill the gap’
The meeting was also attended by a consortium of 15 companies dealing in the production and export of coffee.
Their leader, Nelson Tugume, told the President that about $10m (sh37.6b) 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 the diplomatic friction between Russia and the West due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“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 (sh7,900) per kilo to earning $25 (sh93,960),” said Museveni.
“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.”
Museveni desires to see the sort of transformation seen in the dairy industry due to value addition also happening for all raw materials, including coffee.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja,Government Chief Whip Denis Hamson Obua and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka attended the meeting.