By Homeland Media Team,
Uganda’s Youngest tycoon, the managing director of Ruparelia group, Rajiv Ruparelia has asked Uganda’s cabinet to put in place post-Covid-19 recovery policies to help the country improve from the pandemic and increase its forex earnings.
Rajiv Ruparelia is remarks are contained in an open letter to the cabinet on post-Covid-19 recovery in which he suggested for the government to prioritize medical marijuana and externalization of labour as sectors that can play a significant role.
Rajiv Ruparelia told the Homeland Newspaper that, the post covid-19 policies are in light of the extra challenges posed by the pandemic which has disrupted several value chains and depressed local, regional and global demand.
“Like we have seen in many post-crisis recovery plans, there is always a lot of emphasis and sometimes over-emphasis on business-as-usual. Hardly do policy and decision makers ever consider new ways of doing things. Sooner or later we relapse into our old ways, often prolonging misery and suffering especially in the private sector,” said Rajiv.
Accordingly, Rajiv, notes that, the post-Covid-19 recovery policy makers need to put an effort in enhancing various sectors so that Uganda’s earning from workers abroad can match with other countries.
He explained that Uganda still has a chance to move fast and make the necessary regulatory approvals but warned of a possible danger of relying on the same sets of traditional sources of income.
“Uganda is ready for take-off and the next game-changer will be how fast we can create more jobs than the available demand and truth be said, not all of those jobs will be resident here in Uganda,” Rajiv said.
According to Rajiv, if post-Covid-19 recovery policy makers put an effort in enhancing externalization of labour, Uganda’s earning from workers abroad can match that of Kenya.
A recent World Bank report reached $2.3bn in 2020 and is expected to reach $2.9bn in 2021 while some other countries like Nigeria expect their remittances to reach $21.7bn in 2020 and Ghana ($3.2bn) and Senegal $2.3bn.
“For example, even before Covid-19 there are some sectors that were doing already well, with minimal government investment, except regulation, such as the externalization of labour,” said Rajiv.
The Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) statistics show that there are more than 165,000 Ugandans and growing at an average rate of 5,000 monthly, in the Middle East with annual remittances of more than $700 million (Shs2.8 trillion).
“This is just about 50 percent of the estimated $1.4bn in total remittances by all Ugandans abroad. The sector also directly employs more than 4,000 Ugandans locally and also pays another Shs25 billion annually to service providers and government agencies for services such as passports, Interpol charges, bank charges, vaccination and COV1D-19 PCR certificate fees,” the businessman said.
Rajiv states that put together, externalization of labour fetches almost twice more than Uganda’s coffee export earnings, before adding other benefits such as the skills, exposure and training brought back by returning workers.
Describing it as another emerging multibillion opportunity, Rajiv said that Medical Marijuana is developing with all signs showing that “if we do not move first, we could easily miss out on the first mover advantage.”
“While I do not want to compare Uganda with any other country, it is a market reality that most times, the early bird catches the worm- and this time we are talking about a global market that is expected to reach between $40bn and $45bn by 2025,” he added.
Rajiv commended the government for the “Industrialization for jobs policy” which has so far put up nine industrial parks and plans a further 25 industrial parks and four regional science and technology industrial parks but insisted that given the rate and which the demand for jobs is growing, it is about time we also seriously started thinking outside the box.