lecture; "Education and Development: a National perspective" at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Audiorium-Naigeria

Friday 6th December 2013
HE Yoweri KAguta Museveni



We are going to talk about this topic and some issues associated with it.


In the Common Prayer Book of the Anglican Church, in Uganda, there is a passage which goes like this:  “…They left undone what they ought to have done and did that they ought not to have done and there is no truth in them…”.  I always liked this passage and its meaning. However, I wanted to find out its genesis in the Bible.  One of the religious people directed me to Mathew Chap: 23:23.  It says:  “…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone”. Verse 24 says: “….. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel…”



In other words, you do what you should not have done and you do not do what you should have done.  You fail to do the big issues and you do the petty ones.  Rene Demont, a French scholar, put it another way. He wrote a book entitled: The False Start in Africa.  This ‘False Start’, is doing what we ought not to have done and not doing what we ought to have done.… has got a number of elements to it.  In one of my previous essays, I have summed up these elements as 8 strategic bottlenecks.


However, for today, I will only talk about four of them:

(i)     Ideological disorientation;

(ii     suppressing the private sector; 

(iii)   underdevelopment of the infrastructure; and

(iv)   underdevelopment of the human resource, which is your topic for today: “education and national development ─ on African perspective”


On the issue of ideological disorientation, I normally quote two examples.  One example is that of my tribe, the Banyankore.  The Banyankore live in the South-west of Uganda and are traditionally cattle-keepers producing milk and beef as well as growing bananas.  Being one of them, I also produce beef and milk.  The interesting thing is that these Banyankore do not buy my milk or my beef because they also produce similar products.  There is very little economic complementarity between me and them.  Which community, then, empowers me economically by buying my milk and my beef?  It is the Ugandans, especially the ones of Kampala.  It is these that buy my milk and beef and, therefore, make me prosperous.  That is not all.  Even the market of Kampala is not enough.  We need wider markets.  That is why we value the markets of South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa.  If this is so, what, then, is the basis of tribalism or any form of sectarianism or chauvinism?  Tribalism, sectarianism or chauvinism are based on ideological bankruptcy.  Even if I did not care about other Ugandans or the other East Africans and I only, but intelligently, cared about my own interests or the interests of just my tribe, I would have no alternative but to be a nationalist (patriotic), pan-Africanist and anti-chauvinist.  Failure to be these three, I would be acting against my own interests if at all I am a producer of any goods and services.  I would also be acting against the interest of my tribe.   It is only the parasites, the ones not engaged in the production of wealth and yet, want money and power, or those afflicted by myopia or working for external interests that do not see this.  The only way the tribe helps me to create wealth is to produce, along with them, so that we generate volumes on a big scale to ease marketing and value addition challenges.  The tribe, in a modern context, is only relevant for cultural, linguistic and, if so organized, for genetic reasons.  Some of the African societies abhor in-breeding (obutembane).  That is, you cannot marry within your clan (endogamy).  You must marry outside the clan (exogamy).  This is good genetically.  That is why African people are quite strong and we should not lose it.  Marriage in Africa was deliberate.  The concept of “falling in love at first sight” is very risky.  What if the other partner is a witch?    Then there is the issue of our languages and our cultures.  These are also very important.  They should not be lost because they are our heritage and they are also very rich in vocabulary ─ much richer than the foreign languages we like so much.  Beyond this, however, the tribe is not useful in terms of modernization or ensuring the prosperity of the members of those very tribes, let alone of the whole country.


Then, there is the question of:  What is more important ─ the natural resources or the human resource?  I had been here before, at the War College and talked about this.  The natural resources ─ oil, gas, minerals, agriculture, marine resources, etc., are important.  However, they cannot be more important than the human resource.  Why?  This is because the human beings consume products and services (they are a market) and they also produce goods and services, including the products of the brain i.e. machines and machine tools, drugs, etc.  There are two examples of countries without a lot of natural resources but with vast and vibrant human resource (population).  These are: Japan and China. 


Japan has been the 2nd richest economy in the world after the USA.  It has only been recently replaced by China in that position. Yet, it has no minerals, no oil or gas or, even, enough agricultural land.  However, relying on its highly educated and skilled population, they have been spewing out a lot of products of the human brain ─ automobiles, machine tools, intelligence machines (computers), chemicals, etc., and selling to the rest of the world. 


China, on the other hand, started  by utilizing its huge market (big population) to attract investors who wanted to sell goods and services in China and have, now, successfully transferred the know-how (skills and knowledge) to their own people.  Hence, China is now the 2nd biggest economy, with US$ 12.61 trillion (2012 figs), compared to the USA’s US$ 15.94 trillion (2012 figs) in terms of the size of their respective GDP.  By 2031, China will have over-taken the USA in the size of the GDP.  


In the case of countries like Nigeria and Uganda, it is, therefore, unforgivable to have people mismanaging our human resources by using sectarianism of religion, tribe or gender chauvinism.  This is mishandling the most durable form of wealthy for our respective countries.  Of course, we are lucky because we also have a lot of natural resources ─ minerals, oil, gas, agriculture, the sunshine all the year round, tourism, etc.  Some of these are exhaustible e.g. oil and gas; but some are durable ─ e.g. agriculture and tourism.


African countries started getting independence about 50 years ago ─ Ghana being the first in 1957.  Unlike the Asian countries ─ India, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, etc., none of the African countries has attained the First World economy status or, even, the upper middle-income status.  This has been, mainly, because of policy mistakes on the part of the African countries and some other structural problems such as the excessive political balkanization of the continent. 


One of the mistakes was suffocating the private sector.  This happened in countries like Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, etc., where there was the phenomenon of nationalizations (confiscating of private wealth by the State).  In the case of Nigeria, Kenya and other countries, there was no nationalization.  In those countries, the private sector has always been free.  Yet, it has not caused the type of changes that occurred in Asia.  This was on account of some other factors, including corruption.  Corruption can impede the growth of the private sector even if the private sector is free, theoretically.


The master hindrance of any development and transformation, apart from lack of peace, is the under-development of the infrastructure ─ electricity, the roads, the railways, etc.  This under-development sabotages the development of the economy in a very fundamental way ─ by maintaining high costs of doing business in a given economy.  With high costs of doing in a given economy, the business companies cannot make profit.  If they cannot make profit, then, they cannot, expand.  If they cannot expand, they cannot, then, create more jobs.  If they cannot create more jobs, then, the consumption (purchasing) power in the economy cannot grow, etc, etc.  There is a measurement we use to determine the amount of electricity, for instance.  This is called kilo watt hour (kWh) per capita.  The comparative figures for the various countries are here-below:


USA                     -      12,391.4 kWh;

UK                       -      5,732 kWh;

CHINA                 -      3,493.8 kWh;

FRANCE               -      7,733 kWh;

INDIA                   -      529.1 kWh

UGANDA              -      150 kWh

NIGERIA              -      500 kWh

SOUTH KOREA     -      9,339.9 kWh

MALAYSIA            -      3,256.4 kWh

SOUTH AFRICA    -      4,222.5 kWh

LIBYA                  -      4,327 kWh

EGYPT                 -      1,383.7 kWh

KENYA                 -      128.9 kWh

TANZANIA            -      76.5 kWh

CHAD                  -      8 kWh

RWANDA              -      25.8 kWh

BURUNDI             -      18.8 kWh


By the time we have implemented our medium-term programme of building Karuma, Isimba, Ayago and using our own crude as well as geo-thermal, our Kwh per capita will be 500. 


This is about the availability of power.  There is also the question of the cost of this power.  A unit of electricity in China costs between 7.5 (for domestic use) and 10.7 (for industrial use) American cents.  In Uganda, when we used imported diesel or, even, HFO, it would, sometimes, be as high as between 35 and 40 American cents.  This is not acceptable.  Cheap power is a sinequanon of economic growth and socio-economic transformation. 


This now brings us to the next bottleneck that is directly linked to our topic of today:  “Education and National Development ─ an African perspective”.  First of all, lack of education is itself a strategic bottleneck.  We have seen, above, how some countries, without natural resources, are able to rely heavily on the human resource to achieve high levels of prosperity and growth.  Japan is much richer than Saudi Arabia the fact that she has no natural resources notwithstanding.  Education has a number of elements:  literacy, numeracy, skills, knowledge and intellectuality.  These are all different levels and types of education.  Literacy is about reading and writing.  The question is: “What are you reading and what are you writing?”  In Uganda, we had a phenomenon of some of our Moslem children being taken to Saudi Arabia by some groups and being taught how to read the Koran and some other religious studies as well as speaking Arabic.  They would, however, not give them skills.  These children would, then, come back and get frustrated.  They, then, tried to push conflicts within our Moslem community, attacking our people’s traditional Islam which mixed Islamic principles and our traditions such as, for instance, preaching against the final funeral rites (okwabya enyiimbe), which is part of our heritage.  They, then, would generate conflicts with Christian groups on account of the latter eating pork, etc.


On the issue of eating pork, I warned our groups, very sternly, that we could not entertain Middle-Eastern nonsense of arrogant chauvinism that generates intolerance.  Fortunately, I think God had positioned me to help our people because I belong to a cattle keeping group (just like your Fulanis here) which has the longest list of harams ─ much longer than the Moslems’ list.  Traditionally, I do not eat fish, do not eat chicken, do not eat mutton, do not eat goat, do not eat pig nor do I eat any wild animal.  I call these haram.


My father, who died recently at the age of 97 years, had never eaten, even once, any of the above harams (ebihagaro).  However, the difference between our part of the tropics and the Middle-East is that we keep our group or individual behaviours to ourselves.  We never try to impose our taboos (emiziro) or rituals (emigyeenzo) on anybody else.  Although I do not eat fish, I am the biggest promoter of the fish industry for the sake of the Ugandans that eat fish and for the sake of Uganda’s economy.   Therefore, this type of indoctrination of our youth by ideologically confused actors should be rejected.  That is what I told the Moslem youth in Uganda.


Going back to the issue of literacy and numeracy without skills, I would like to state that that is only a partial achievement.  Literacy and numeracy must be accompanied by imparting of skills ─ technical skills (machine-operating, carpentry, ceramics, metal-work, building skills, computer knowledge, etc),  accounting skills and auditing skills, laboratory skills, professional skills, farming skills, etc.


Beyond literacy, numeracy and skills, there is, of course, the need for the higher levels of education ─ managerial, scientific and technological education as well as general intellectual education (humanities).   In Uganda, we have tended to lay emphasis on science education.  About 70% of Government sponsorships are given to science disciplines (medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, etc).

By 1986, we had only one University in the country.  We now have 32 universities ─ a number of them, science-based universities ─ e.g. Makerere, Mbarara, Gulu, Busitema, Kyambogo, etc.  Others concentrate on management and financial skills ─ e.g. Makerere University Business School at Nakawa.  The result of these efforts, which are only 20 years old, are quite a spectrum of scientific innovations in food science and technology, inventing an electrical car and other automobiles, medicine and drugs, irrigation equipment and techniques and other industrial products.


The challenges are now two: how to adequately fund their research, help them to patent their inventions and, then, help them commercialize their inventions.  We have a few incubation centres for these products as they work to perfect and optimize the production formulae.  Even after you have helped the scientist to invent, patent and incubate their products, there is the money needed for the commercialization of the products.  The Government has been using the budget to support these scientists.  We have done this for the bananas, for the electric car, for the mosquito larvicide, for the drug to kill the bilharzia causing snails, for vaccines, etc.  However, the budget money is not enough.  Scientists have knowledge but do not have the money.  Faced with a similar situation, the former Soviet Union created design bureaus that were funded by the Government.  When you hear designations like MIG-19, MIG-17, 21, 23, 29, etc. they refer to the designers: Mikoyan and Gurevich.  Sukhoi refers to the designer of that plane.  AK-47 carries the name of that rifle’s inventor, Mikhail Kalashinikov, who was a Soviet soldier.  The compromise I am thinking of is for the Government, when we are able, to put aside a sizeable fund, to be executed through banks ((commercial ones or the development bank), with interest rates slightly above the rate of inflation, to be dedicated to commercializing the inventions of our scientists, post-incubation.  We have already done it for agriculture’s value addition.  It can be done for our scientists inventions. This is what is needed for education for national development.  In order to implement the above multi-layered educational therapy to our problem of an under-developed human resource problem, we started off with Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1996 and, later on, added Universal Secondary Education (USE), A-level education and Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET).  We also give government scholarship for the best university students and we are introducing a student loan scheme for all the rest (university students), starting with the science ones.  As a consequence, we now have 8.8 million children in the primary schools, 1.5 million students in the secondary schools and 150,000 students in the universities of Uganda ─ not counting those studying abroad.  This is out of a population of 35 million people.


All this, however, cannot be divorced from two other factors mentioned above ─ the development of infrastructure (electricity, the railways, the roads, etc.) that will help to lower the costs of doing business in the economy and getting rid of ideological disorientation where people are made to fight themselves under the intoxication of pseudo ─ ideologies such as tribalism, religious sectarianism and gender chauvinism.


Probably, the last strategic bottleneck that I cannot fail to mention is regional integration in order to unite the African market so that our producers have got enough buyers to buy what they produce.  If you produce something and nobody buys it, you will go bankrupt.  Besides, an integrated African market will also enable us to credibly negotiate for other external markets with foreigners.  Uganda alone cannot negotiate for reciprocal trade rights with China because it is too small.  East Africa, however, or ECOWAS or the Common Market of African can credibly negotiate with China.


I thank you.


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