The theme for this year’s celebrations is, “Uganda’s Liberation, a significant contribution to our present and future development”. The Chief Guest will be H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. On this auspicious occasion, all Ugandans irrespective of religious, political, ethnic or racial divide will come together to reflect on our 32 year’s journey as a Nation. 32 years is a very long period of time but too shortas the memories are still fresh in minds of many Ugandans especially for the period 1966 to 1986. The celebration is also an opportunity for each of us as individuals to assess our individual and or group contribution to what I would call liberation that is liberating our economy, creating wealth, prosperity for all and creating an enduring peace for our country and fellow human beings in other parts of the world.
As part of the celebrations, President YoweriMuseveni will award 200 different categories of medals to distinguished Ugandans who have played critical roles both in the liberation of Uganda but also those others that have played key roles in advancing our country.
As a country why do we celebrate this day?
On January 26th1986 President Yoweri Museveni was sworn in as the 9thPresident of the Republic of Uganda after overthrowing the Unganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) regime. General Museveni arrived at the scene five years after he led his comrades to the bush after the sham 1980 General Elections.
His was a story of unflinching bravery. It is the story of unwavering search for a true, revolutionary and development-oriented leadership. The sacrifice that President Museveni and other young Ugandans decided to take in order to liberate Uganda from the jaws of helplessness to which the first post-independence governments had conspired to consign, is very illuminating.
Why Arua is the hosting region
Arua was chosen to host this year’s festivities due two reasons. First and foremost, it is now a government policy that all national functions keep on rotating across the country such that each region gets the opportunity of hosting such critical events.
Secondly, Arua and indeed the people of West Nile played a critical role in the liberation of this country. As most of you might be aware, some gallant sons and daughters from the West Nile sub region picked up arms and participated in the processes of ending bad leadership. Fighting groups like the National Rescue Front (NRF) under the leadership of Gen Moses Ali. Indeed, the NRF fighting group later joined hands with the NRA after capturing power in the 1986.
Uganda is peaceful and indeed a much secured country. We are not only peaceful as a country but we are at peace with all our neighbours. For the past 32 years the NRM government introduced participatory democracy where power was given back to the people. We have regular free and fair elections. Furthermore, the NRM recognized the important role played by formerly marginalized groups and allowed them to participate in leadership and decision making. Women, Youth, PWDs and workers are represented in Parliament and all Local Government Councils.
Over the last 30 years of President Yoweri Museveni’s leadership, Uganda’s growth has averaged 6.74% per year, making it the 17th fastest growing economy in the world, the 4th fastest in Africa out of 189 countries on the IMF list. When you remove mineral rich countries from the sample, Uganda is the 10th fastest growing economy in the world, first in Africa.
Revenue collection has increased from sh5bn in 1986 to now over sh12 trillion in 2016/17. This has made it possible to support many Government projects. Government has sustained macro-economic stability and restricted inflation to a single-digit.
Government has developed local capacity to exploit the country’s natural resources. This has facilitated the discovery of oil, gas, and other minerals.
The NRM continues to support Agriculture because of its critical role in the economy by providing raw materials for the agro-processing and food, security to the communities. Government has distributed agricultural inputs through Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), built market infrastructure and rehabilitated major irrigation schemes.
The NRM Government is committed to improving electricity generation and supply to support industrialization as well as ensuring access to energy. Electricity access has increased to 20.4% of households in 2016 compared to 11% in 2011. Construction works at the Karuma and Isimba hydropower projects are at 51% and 63% completion rate, respectively. Work is ongoing at 12 other power projects.
In the last five years, emphasis has been put on developing infrastructure with a view of reducing the cost of production. Paved Roads have increased from 3,317kms in 2011/12 to 4,919km. The Government plans to construct more paved roads and also build bridges. It has provided new additional road equipment to all districts to enable them work on their roads.
Ferry crossings have increased from two to nine and this has improved water transport. Government is undertaking to build ships, ferries and develop the ports at Port Bell, Bukasa and Jinja. Government has started the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) project that will link Uganda to our neighbours. The expansion of Entebbe International Airport and rehabilitation of upcountry airfields is ongoing.
Government introduced a five-year sh265bn Youth Livelihood Programme to provide startup capital for the youth to create jobs for themselves and employ others. In the Financial Year 2015/16 80,286 youths were given technical and financial support to implement 6,181 projects.
The primary schools sub sector registered an increase in total enrolment from 8,264,317 in 2015/16 to 8,655,924 in 2016/17.Secondary schools sub sector experienced a total enrolment growth from 1,284,008 in 2015/6 to 1,457,277 in 2016/17. Government has continued to expand infrastructure and to provide instructional materials in the primary and secondary schools.
Information and communication technology
Government has supported the growth of ICT which contributes over 8% to the economy and employs more than 1 million people. The completion of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) has increased efficiency in service delivery and supported expansion of e-services. This has increased contributions to tax revenue and employment opportunities. It has also reduced the unit cost of internet.
In the last five years Infant mortality declined from 54 to 43 deaths per 1000 live births; the under-five child mortality declined from 90 to 64 deaths per 1000 live births. Maternal mortality has also declined from 438 to 336 deaths per 100,000 births respectively. Deliveries in a health facility have increased from 57% to 73% of all births. Mother to Child HIV Transmission has declined with the number of new infections dropping from 22,000 in 2012 to 3,400 in 2016. Immunization against the five immunisable diseases among children is now at 97% coverage. In health infrastructure development, good progress has been made. Various referral and general hospitals have been rehabilitated or newly built