Enterprise Uganda executive director Charles Ocici has urged political leaders at all levels to support their people build a positive mindset so as to cause attitude transformation for increased productivity.
Ocici said that government has over the years focused on theoretical education, allocating big budgets towards it to produce graduates with paper qualifications but little has been done to address the negative attitude towards vocational training, which is key for enhanced productivity.
“When it comes to skills, Uganda has not yet gotten the chorus right; even as we take people to vocational training institutions, they want to upgrade after getting diplomas in welding to a degree which is a paper qualification,” Ocici said.
He said having the right attitude towards vocational education will enable all Ugandans, including the uneducated to get skills to enable them live successful lives.
Ocici was speaking on the sidelines of a one-week Entrepreneurship and Business Development Skills training held in Walukuba, Jinja last week. It was organised in conjunction with Enterprise Uganda.
The training sought to reawaken the sleeping industrial giant of the Busoga sub-region by training and encouraging the locals to start their own enterprises and operate them sustainably.
Ocici also challenged the government to help Ugandans build required skills so as to benefit from the opportunities arising from the ongoing huge infrastructure development across the country.
He noted that though investing in infrastructure attracts investors into the country, it might see locals miss all the opportunities created if they are not well prepared.
“When you fix infrastructure like roads, electricity, water and internet, you have opened your country to the entire world; investment will come in but if the Ugandans don’t know how to tap into this, they will suffer the next pain of being employed but with meagre incomes,” Ocici said.
He urged Uganda to pick lessons from South Africa, where huge infrastructure development has attracted huge investments but the nationals are suffering because they were never fully prepared to get involved in the value chains of the different opportunities that presented ourselves.
“South Africa is a great nation with big factories, roads, airports, hospitals and education but the local man is the most bitter. South Africans hate to see another African going to their country; they are burning fellow Africans because they never got woken up to take advantage on an economy that has good infrastructure which has attracted all big investors in the world,” he said.
He added: “Uganda is privileged to be at the beginning of this revolution; as we create infrastructure transformation, let us also transform the software of our people – the mindset, so that when this infrastructure (hardware) comes in, they are part of the equation. Let investors form joint ventures with the locals so that we have an integrated economy.”
The Jinja East Member of Parliament, Paul Mwiru cautioned government against giving the youth, women and microfinance institutions funds without training them on how they should be invested to help them get rid of poverty.
According to Mwiru, business management training should always be an integral part of every program that involves extending community development funds to equip the beneficiaries with business and money management principles and cushions funds against misappropriation.
“Creating entrepreneurs and wealth among communities is much more than just giving them money. It requires taking them through the critical principles of financial management and preparing their mindset for business.
“Government should understand that reorienting people in the right direction even brings in more tax. Today 85 per cent of our taxes come from the central areas of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and Mpigi and only 15 per cent comes from the rest of the country,” Mwiru said.
We need to engage our people and empower them to understand how to run profitable businesses so that we get more taxes.