Uganda is officially a nation of too much talk and not enough action. Great vision that remain blurred. Laws that are hardly implemented. Artistic impressions that remain just that - impression.
The actual works remains a shadow of the original impressions. One wonders whether our engineers are that bad!
Now you have development partners following up their money. The end result is micromanaging the process. Sending experts to implement the projects. Construct the roads and buildings. Ugandans can no longer be trusted with money meant to help them. We are a nation of talkers.
I first visited Serena Hotel Kigo in November 2010, a year after its official opening. The place is fantastic. But the road to the hotel is in very bad state. It has remained so to date, though some activities on the road show this could change soon. The hotel management assured every single visitor that the road would be fixed by 2013. That date came to pass.
Apparently, government could not accept the investor’s proposal to fix the road in return for low tax payments until the total approved costs for the road were recovered in full.
In 2015, a friend invited a potential investor from Canada for a meeting. He arranged for the first meeting at Serena Kigo. The investor’s impression of the country was formed on landing at Entebbe International Airport. He saw poverty. Poor attention to detail. Lackadaisical attitude at immigrations. Apparently, the process was slower than he had ever seen at airports. It is a red flag to visit a country and find slow activity at the airport. If indeed there are opportunities, people should be visiting. One wonders why tourism in terms of new arrivals has remained so low despite consistent high ranking of Uganda as a stop destination country.
As the taxi branched to Kigo, the dust was too much to bear. Our Canada investor started making SOS (save our soul) calls back home: ‘any time I am being kidnaped, track my location.’ Arriving at Serena Hotel Kigo, did not make matters any better. The guest was not in his element. He changed his itinerary, and flew back. That opportunity was lost that evening.
Why is the tourism industry sluggish? The answer is poor in-country infrastructure network to link all key tourism attraction destinations easily. Tourism thrives on referrals and quality visitor experience. Quality transport network is critical in that experience.
Experts have advised government to address four things; (i) Buy Uganda, Build Uganda, (ii) Promote local content (iii) Align Ministries, Directorates and Agencies (MDAs) of government to national priority areas, (iv) Focus on the people – change their mindset and (v) good governance. These are just on paper.
How do we make 2017 a year of action? How do you attain the middle-income status without nationals to be at the centre of driving change and investments in the country? How do you encourage people to buy local products which they feel are substandard? How do you promote local content when few entrepreneurs get all the deals? And do you align MDAs to priorities that are not well articulated and funding provided?
In this issue, find out how the media industry is responding to the digital disruption and how to succeed in 2017. Happy New Year. Visit summitbusiness.net and start a new year on a fresh diet of ideas.