By Eng Dr Isaac Mutenyo
The writer, a past President of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers, is the coordinator of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID). In this abridged edition of his article, the engineer explains the basis of the programme and its real nitty-gritty.
Infrastructure is a cornerstone of development for any country. Consequently, for developing nations it is even more critical as it is pivotal in achieving the development targets, if the agreed action plans are efficiently implemented. Yet despite this, most Sub-Saharan countries suffer a huge deficiency in infrastructure and economic growth when compared to other countries in the developing world.
Experts point out that this huge infrastructural deficiency impacts development in two ways. Firstly, it discourages investors from doing business in Africa. Secondly, it depresses productivity in business by 40% (Foster, 2008). This negative impact is not a light matter: it is equivalent to the effects of corruption, crime, lack of financial markets, and red-tape constraints put together.
Of all the sectors of infrastructure in Africa, the most deficient is the power sector. Sub-Saharan Africa consists of 48 countries, with a combined population of 800 million. Yet all these generate about the same power as Spain, a country of only 45 million people (and about twice the size of Uganda). Moreover, the combined power consumption in Sub-Saharan countries is only 124kWh per capita per year, only a tenth of the rest of the developing countries. (See Table 3 and Table 4).
The other huge deficiency is lack of all-weather road networks.
To achieve its Vision 2040, therefore, Uganda has set out various action plans. One of these is the USMID Programme as described below.
What is USMID?
The Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) is a Government of Uganda programme executed by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD) and financed by a 150-million-dollar credit from the World Bank. Of this, the Government makes a 10-million-dollar contribution by directly passing it to the target local governments as a development grant.
The five-year programme, which began on 4 September 2013 and is to end in December 2018, has the overall objective of improving the performance of 14 municipal councils (MCs) for quality delivery of urban services. The municipalities are: Arua, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Entebbe, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal and Hoima.