Failing to Compete

Failing to Compete

Technology Development and Technology Systems in Africa

Sanjaya Lall and Carlo Pietrobelli

This unique study draws on extensive fieldwork assessing technology systems in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the context of their export competitiveness. Its emphasis is on the role of technology systems in building industrial competitiveness and in this it finds deficiencies in the systems in all these countries, though there are also significant differences between them. Comparisons are made with more successful economies, particularly those of East Asia, and policy implications are drawn for the strengthening of technology support systems. Central to the book is its combination of academic analysis with a strong policy focus – policy implications are drawn for each case-study country.

Chapter 5: Uganda

Sanjaya Lall and Carlo Pietrobelli

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


INTRODUCTION Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world. In spite of the stabilization and growth recorded since 1986, when the current government came to power, its 1997 per capita GNP was US$324, compared to the average for Sub-Saharan Africa of US$533 (World Bank, 1999). Life expectancy at birth had fallen from 46.4 years in 1970-75 to 41.9 in 1995-2000, compared to the average of 48.8 for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa (UNDP, 2001). A series of military governments, civil wars and political upheavals in the 1970s and early 1980s left the economy in an appalling state (Harvey and Robinson, 1995; DFID, 1999). By 1986, much of the economic infrastructure was destroyed, and income per head was almost 40 per cent below its 1976 level. Macroeconomic imbalances were extreme. Inflation was running at above 150 per cent per annum. The exchange rate was grossly overvalued, with the black market rate running at a premium of over 600 per cent. The Central Bank had to finance most of government spending, about 6 per cent of GDP (Harvey and Robinson, 1995). INDUSTRIAL BACKGROUND The situation has improved since 1986, but the country remains highly dependent on agriculture, which accounts for most of GDP, employment, and exports. The non-monetary sector of the economy, essentially subsistence agriculture, represented 23.6 per cent of GDP in 1997 (Ministry of Finance, 1998). Manufacturing accounts for a small, though rising, share of GDP: 9 per cent in 1997, up from 5.3 per cent in...

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