‘Time flies’ is an old and tested cliché but seems very apt when applied to 2014. The year has flown by as we were held rapt by the emerging rift among the ruling NRM’s bigwigs. Nothing has dominated the country more than the goings on in the National Resistance Movement Organization.
And you cannot blame anyone because if the NRMO catches a cold then everybody is going to sneeze! And yet the drama is far from over, with an epic convergence on Namboole expected for the 15th of December 2014. Will the NRM splinter or grow stronger? Clearly something will have to give if compromise and consensus cannot rule the day. We wait with bated breath!
The unfortunate externalities of this ongoing drama in the ruling party are that everything else that matters seems to have taken second tier. Some key decision makers have delayed several national projects because of the loss of attention as they make political maneuvers. In a year when inflation had been controlled and great strides were expected in infrastructure investment, little progress seems to have been made. The effects of the political fallout may yet harm the economy more as capital flight continues and FDI flows slow to a trickle. All economic players seem to have adopted a wait and see attitude.
And the Governor of the Central Bank has not helped matters by insisting that he won’t do that over which he has no control – print money. His shrill insistence that things are well has fallen on deaf ears as investors vote with their feet. Interest rates may have come down, but that relief may yet be temporary as the public sector borrowing requirement spirals again. What we all know is that 2015 is going to signal the start of the election cycle and there is nothing Governor Mutebile can do about the government’s insatiable demand for recurrent expenditure. Borrow if it wants, the government will do as it wishes.
The redeeming features of 2014 may have been the bumper harvests we enjoyed because these dampened food prices, thereby containing headline inflation. As the politicians played cat and mouse – will he win he – the ‘corruption brigade’ aka mafia matched into town. The level of scandal and rent seeking hit the roof. The Katosi debacle was unearthed and a bill of US $ 8.5billion for the standard gauge rail was found to be full of air! Compare the Ugandan SGR price tag with the US $4.3billion for Kenya’s! The more things changed, the more they remained the same. Despite the uncoordinated noises from the IGG and other anti-corruption bodies, this is one war we seem to be losing. May be we should avoid the middlemen and just throw the money on the streets (end user) and wait for the flies going after the carcass!
Yes, indeed time does fly! As we watched the political and economic drama unfold, the ebola virus was ravaging three West African Countries. But the African Union was on break, since none of the ‘big men’ was in danger. Having gotten Uhuru Kenyatta off the hook, it was business as usual. Africa’s response has been muted and for this we fell short, except for a few brave corporates who have valiantly given to help the epidemic victims.
In this end of year bumper issue, we review the events of the year and analyze developments in some of the key sectors like telecommunications and real estate. There are significant realignments taking place in the Telcos and this may herald many benefits for consumers, with the arrival of Vodafone™ and departure of Orange™. For the real sector, it is evident that poor regulation begets shenanigans and many of the so-called impostors in the sector are up against the wall. What next, given the dire shortage of decent affordable housing for the expanding ‘middle class’ now estimated at over 12.6 million (sic)? You will find these and many more motivational pieces in the December 2014 issue
The team at Summit Business™ wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! However you choose to celebrate, remain safe and make sure you get re-energized for an interesting 2015! There will only be standing space!