“Legislators from the Acholi sub-region were blocked from accessing the Apaa township, bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts. The eight MPs from the region were in Apaa on a fact-finding mission following an arson attack, displacement, and reports of gross abuse of human rights over persistent land wrangles. These were instead met by police officers and army men heavily armed with teargas and guns who blocked their access” (NBS Television, 10.06.2022).
This here story goes back in time. So far back that we are now soon two decades since the state gave the land to the investor. Since then the Apaa village has seen the forceful state, evictions and other sorts of tactics of the state to takeover the land. In the Northern Uganda land has been taken and given to “industrial” purposes like the plantations for the Kakira Factory for instance. Therefore, the ideas of taking land for “development” isn’t new. However, the state doesn’t give anything in return to the evicted and only creates more internally displaced persons. Which is another crisis in the making.
The Apaa village and Apaa community deserves better. They have been victims, which shown by this quotation from a report in 2014.
“The case of land in Apaa Village (Amuru District) illustrates the suspicions of local people concerning the acquisition of large tracts of land. In 2005, when people were still living in the camps, land was given to Bruce Martin from South Africa who was investing in game reserves for sports hunting. When resistance from the community intensified, it is claimed that the government changed tactics and asked the neighbouring district of Adjumani to contest ownership and claim that this land actually lies within Adjumani District. The Adjumani District authorities then passed a council resolution giving the land away to the ‘investor’. Some participants in this research argued that the boundaries between the two districts of Adjumani and Acholi are clear, and that some district politicians are manufacturing the boundary conflict. During an interview with the District Chairperson of Adjumani, he showed a map of the area in dispute claiming the area belongs to Adjumani District” (Otim & Mugisha, P: 8, 2014).
What is striking is that this case has been a running case in the 9th and 10th Parliament. Now, it returns to prominence in the 11th Parliament too. That means the Apaa village never been resolved, neither has the rights of the Apaa community really been heard. Secondly, the former MPs and Local Councillors haven’t been able to voice it up. This because it is a stalemate and the land is still up for grabs.
We know in 2018 that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) did some evictions of people in the area. This was done with the support of the army or the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF). That just shows that the District Land Board and Area Land Board wasn’t able to petition or have a say. Therefore, the directives and the promise of land was already settled without considering the implications locally.
That’s maybe why the MPs are trying to investigate it. They are MPs representing the Acholi sub-region, but still not allowed to access the area. That says something about the what is going on and possibly could be furthering escalations. We can be rest assured that the State House has directed it and is silently behind it all. As they have promised the land for the investor.
It is tragic that this is happing to Apaa village. Wonder, if the President would have been so kind to an “investor” if it happened to his farm in Rwaiktura farm in Kiruhura district. As a Namibian “investor” was given land and for “development” purposes in the greater Mbarara area. Because, that would be the same and he would have to idly move without any compensation. That would have been a similar act of land grab, which is what’s happening here in Apaa village in the Acholi sub-region. Peace.
Otim, David & Mugisha, Police Charles – Saferworld: ‘Beyond the reach of the hoe: The struggle for land and minerals in Northern Uganda’ (April 2014)
Today, there was held an demonstration in Gulu town for the land evictions happing in Apaa village. This is a planned land grab by the authorities dating back to 2006. As the land in Amuru have been given to Madhvani Group to the planned Kakira Sugar Factory there. Therefore, these evictions have been planned for decades.
That why I rewrite this again: The Amuru Land Grab: What is ours, is OURS; What is their’s, is OURS; and Whatever is your’s, is still OURS.
Here is today’s reports:
“SOLIDARITY MARCH Monday 4th February: Apaa Monitor has received information that a demonstration is taking place tomorrow at 8am, departing from Ker Kwaro Acholi head quarters in Gulu, in solidarity with those who are suffering in Apaa, and to denounce the atrocities that have taken place there. 8am, Ker Kwaro Acholi, Gang ker ma dit” (Apaa Monitor, 03.02.2019).
“Acholi MPs; Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya, Kilak North MP Anthony Akol and Aruu North MP Odongo Otto arrested over Apaa land demo. They were detained at Gulu Central Police Station for holding an illegal demonstration” (Edge.ug, 04.02.2019).
He we see again, that the public, the Members of Parliament and others are not allowed to address or voice out their grievances. This is currently very normal. Even if the people behind or organizing the demonstration had notified the authorities about their planned demonstration. The Police might still stop it or even bar it from happen.
They might have all the papers right, but still the police would come all out, because it doesn’t matter, even if they did follow the Public Order Management Act (POMA). The Police could still deem it illegal, as they didn’t notify correctly or “incited violence” breaking the penal code.
This is very common, therefore, I have a hard time believing this rally/demonstration was illegal. If it was, they did it this way. Because the MPs and the ones behind it, knew the authorities never would get it accepted. Since, the Apaa Land Grab is an accepted deal between the State and Madhvani Group since 2006. Therefore, the President would be humiliated and the Police Force cannot accept that. Peace.
“In this regard, we need to learn and apply lessons from emerging economies such as India, whose total healthcare industry revenue is expected to increase from US$ 110 billion in 2016 to US$ 372 billion in 2022 in response to deliberate investments in telemedicine, manufacturing of medicines and health technologies, medical tourism, health workforce training and risk pooling/health insurance, among others. In order to achieve this, we need to plan in a harmonized way. In Uganda, for instance, we, indeed, have a nascent pharmaceutical industry producing Aids/HIV, Malaria, Hepatitis-B, pharmaceuticals, etc. drugs. These are, however, still using imported pharmaceutical grade starch and imported pharmaceutical grade sugar. The pharmaceutical grade starch and sugar are crucial for making tablets and syrups for children’s medicines. Yet, the starch is from maize and cassava and the pharmaceutical grade sugar is from sugar. I am told the drugs would be 20% cheaper. Moreover, apart from helping in the pharmaceutical industry, more refined sugar is also needed in the soft drinks industry. Uganda is squandering US$34 million per year importing refined sugar for the soft drinks, about US$ 20 million for importing the pharmaceutical grade starches not including the other raw materials, US$ 77million for taking patients to India etc. Africa is incredibly rich but wasteful” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE JOINT EAC HEADS OF STATE RETREAT ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND HEALTH FINANCING AND DEVELOPMENT, 22.02.2018).
Seems like the 1980s World Bank loans to restart Kakira Sugar Works hasn’t done enough, since the Ugandan state did right after the National Resistance Army takeover of the state. They went into an arrangement with the World Bank getting loans for the company, to restart. That deal was done 8th March 1988. As the documents said back in 198:
“Uganda currently imports US$15-20 million worth of sugar annually, which ranks second only to petroleum imports. Import substitution through restoration of domestic production capacity is therefore a high priority and eminently justified given the considerable comparative advantage Uganda enjoys as a result of its landlocked situation. Conditions for sugar production at Kakira are highly favorable. Cane growing benefits from excellent soils, good rainfall distribution (requiring only limited sunplementary irrigation) and relatively low levels of inputs of fertilizers and pesticides. The project brings back to the Kakira complex the original owners who have a demonstrated ability to manage sugar operations at Kakira and elsewhere” (SUGAR REHABILITATION PROJECT, 08.03.1988).
Therefore, what the President said today, the Sugar Rehabilitation Project, which was done to stop the heavy imports of sugar and for consumption, has clearly not worked as projected. Since his own state is squandering their resources and not even following the loans to make the project work. That is my take on it. The president of 32 years has clearly mismanaged this and not finished his job. Since he hasn’t been able to rehabilitate the industry.
When it comes to pharmaceutical industry there massive challenges, not just the sugar starch for medicine coverage of the pills. Nevertheless, the whole arrangement, since the technology to operate these machines are imported, as well is the parts. Not only the sugar starch, but also the ingredients are imported too, than you have few companies who has automated manufactures, which makes hard to make medicine on a larger scale. It is also high operation cost, because of use of back-up generators because of blackouts and shortfall of electricity. Because of this, it is expensive to have cold storage of the medicine and have a storage for the final products.
So the Idea from Museveni that it is simple, it is the whole system around it, that makes it more profitable to import ready made medicine, than actually produce it. Even if the added value of production would be there, but with the circumstances put by United Nations Industrial Development Organization, seemingly it is from 2009. However, the state of affairs hasn’t changed that much.
We can really estimate, that the adjustment and the needed organization to pull forward both industries during the years of NRM hasn’t been totally fruitful. If so, why would he complain about the imports of sugar and medicine, when he hasn’t been able to make it function with his 32 years of reign? Someone who has 3 decades, should have the ability and time to find the information, finalize plans and execute as seen fit. That is if he cared about the industries in question and their possible engines for growth and riches of Africa. Nevertheless, he hasn’t cared and haven’t used the time wisely. He has used the time bitching and not acting. That is just the way things is and it isn’t becoming better either.
He could have made sure that the pharmaceutical industry had energy, had the sufficient organization behind it to make the medicine, not only import and assemble certain medicine, he could have made sure the sugar industry was profitable and had the equipment to make the refined sugar used in the pharmaceutical industry. However, both is a lost cause, because it takes money and time. Both, is something he doesn’t have, since the narrative isn’t making him wealthy.
Alas, he we are at the status quo, with a President running for life and complaining about waste. When he has wasted 32 years and not made effort to change it. It is all talk and no fire. Peace.
“We have had a wonderful collaboration with IMF since 1987. We have managed to control inflation. By controlling inflation, we have succeeded in preserving the people’s earnings” – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (State House, 2017).
Well, there been many who has set similarities with the inflation and price shocks of the year 1987. The Republic of Uganda has been through their mess before. The government of Uganda and the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) had just taken power in 1986. This was a year after the coup d‘etat, which brought the NRA into power. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in collaboration with International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had agreements and Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which promoted deregulation and less state control of the economy. This was also put forward to settle inflation and the deficit that the state had.
So, because some has put similarities between 1987 and 2017, as the prices has gone from about 3,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX) in 2016 and 7,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX) in 2017. There is clearly that there was problems in 1987, but whole another level. The Sugar Industry wasn’t established, the economy of Uganda needed export of coffee and this was the sole benefit of foreign currency into the economy.
“Inflation in Uganda is running as high as 200 percent, and low prices to farmers serve as a disincentive to agricultural production in a country of rich soil and mild equatorial climate” (…) “At the center of the debate is the issue of devaluation. In its first year in office, the Government revalued the currency from 5,000 to 1,400 shillings to the dollar, saying that the move would make imports cheaper. But exports have become increasingly expensive. Devaluation Debated. Some hard-line nationalists in Government insist that the cost of devaluation would be devastating. The cost of such imports as sugar, cooking oil and soap would increase significantly, they say, making the average Ugandan even worse off than he is now” (Rule, 1987).
“In 1987 the Uganda shilling was demonetizated during the currency reform and a currency conversion tax at a rate of 30% was imposed to further reduce excessive liquidity in the economy. There was an immediate drop in average inflation from 360.7% in May to about 200% cent in June. However, with the possible fears of complex and drastic currency reform, the premium shot up, representing essentially a portfolio shift to foreign currency, and possible capital flight, and suppressed inflation. The intended aim of the conversion tax, apart from reducing excessive liquidity, was to lend money raised through this tax to the government. This was to finance the budget deficit over a short period, rather than financing it through printing more money. Nonetheless, inflation shot up again within three months mainly due to renewed monetary financing of increased government expenditure, domestic credit expansion by commercial banks to meet coffee financing requirements and financing of the newly launched rural farmers scheme” (Barungi, P: 10-11, 1997)
“Prices for sugar and vegetable oil (both imported goods) increased rapidly in the early part of the year, falling between May and August — replicating the pattern of the premium between the parallel and the official exchange rate. The subsequent fall in sugar prices and stability of cooking oil prices were due to greater official imports. Inflationary pressures on food prices have been aggravated by supply shortages on account of severe transportation problems” (World Bank; P: 36, 1988).
“In October 1986, Mulema was replaced by Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, who has a medical background Kiyonga has a difficult task. The government’s finances are shaky at best. In an attempt to enable Ugandan citizens to purchase imported consumer goods, the government fixes their prices below world prices. This, of course, puts considerable pressure on the government’s finances: for example, in July 1986 the government imported $4.8 million worth of sugar to sell at subsidized prices” (Warnock & Conway, 1999).
Perspective from Kakensa: “Today sugar costs 7000/- per kilo. When Museveni came to power in 1986 each kilo was at 4/-(four shillings). Immediately he came to power he said Ugandan shilling had lost value, in 1987 all money was changed, not only changed but two zeros were cut off to give it value on addition to the 30% levied on each shilling. This means on every 100 shillings, you got 70cents. Those who had 100,000/- got 700/-” (Kakensa Media, 12.05.2017).
We can see there was certain aspects, but the sugar industry now is different. The Sugar factories are now real and the business are now in full affect. While, in 1987 the state needed coffee exports to get funding and foreign currency. The sugar was imported and was put on fixed prices. The inflation back then was because of the crashing economy after the bush-war and the effects of it. The Sugar prices now are rising for different reasons. These reasons are the yields of sugar-cane, the hoarding of sugar and the export of surplus sugar. Also, the production of ethanol and bio-fuel. That was not the situation and context in the past.
Still, history is repeating itself, since the NRM, let the prices run as crazy in the past. The price has gone up a 100% in a years time. Which, means the prices who doubled from 3000 to 7000 Uganda Shillings. This is not a stable and the ones who get hurt is the consumer and Ugandan citizens. Peace.
Barungi, Barbara Mbire – ‘EXCHANGE RATE POLICY AND INFLATION: THE CASE OF UGANDA’ (March 1997).
There are various of reasons for the rising prices of Sugar and processed sugar in Uganda. This isn’t the first time or last cycle of inflation on the prices of this common commodity. Sugar is common in Uganda for concept of having in it in the chai or the milk tea. To sweeten the milk and the black tea the Ugandans drink. Therefore, the Ugandans are needing and using lots of it on daily basis. It isn’t a luxurious goods, but a daily usage, for ordinary use. It has become staple and is staple together with matooke, cassava, rice and maize flour. This is all seemed as basic for the Ugandan people. Sugar is something very important. Therefore, the rising prices says something is out balance.
The balance have now been lost a year after the election. The prices of goods and food was also rising in 2011, therefore, the Republic had the Walk 2 Work demonstrations. These was demonstrations against the rising food prices, which also meant the sugar at that time went up. The same is happening now. With also on alternative exception, that the producers are not only creating sugar for consumption anymore, but ethanol and bio-fuel. Therefore, the produce and profits are going to export bio-fuel and other products, instead of the sugar that the consumers in Uganda uses. This also is an explanation for the rising prices, as well the added exports to Kenya, where the producers gain more selling it there. Than in Uganda, take a look!
In April 2017 USMA commented:
“Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association (USMA) says the increase in sugar prices has been prompted by the increase in cost of production and the deprecating shillings against major currencies. The Association’s Chairperson, Jim Kabeho says sugar millers were forced to announce what he called a paltry 4 percent increase on each 50-kilogram bag on ex-factory price. The increase according to Kabeho saw a 50-kilogram bag of sugar trading at one hundred and eighty five thousand shillings up from one hundred and seventy thousand shillings” (…) “Meanwhile a source at the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives who asked for anonymity says the Ministry suspects that the big players like Kakira could have decided not sell its sugar to the market so as to increase production at the ethanol its ethanol plant. The sources says sugar mills with ethanol plants are finally making money on sugar through on co-generation of power, alcohol and ethanol” (URN, 2017).
In April in Masindi:
“Masindi district leaders have risen up against the Masindi district Resident Commissioner, Godfrey Nyakahuma over stopping sugar cane buyers from buying cane from Masindi district. Last week, Nyakahuma launched an operation of impounding trucks of all sugar cane buyers who buy sugar cane from Kinyara sugar limited out growers and over five trucks loaded with cane were impounded by police” (…) “Byaruhanga added that that is a sign indicating that Kinyara sugar Factory has no capacity to crush the available sugar cane adding that since Uganda has a liberalized economy let everyone come and buy the abundant cane available instead of leaving the farmers suffer with the monopoly of Kinyara sugar factory. Amanyire Joshua the former mayor Masindi municipality said that if Kinyara is saying that sugar cane buyers are poachers, Kinyara sugar factory is a smuggler because it is also doing the same. Mary Mujumura the deputy speaker Masindi district blamed Byaruhanga Moses the presidential advisor on political affairs for failing to advise the president on political issues saying that he is not supposed to enter into business matters” (Gucwaki, 2017).
In May 2017:
“From last year’s average of Shs 3,000 per kilo of sugar, the price shot to Shs 4,000 early this year and is now hovering over Shs 5,500. A kilo of Kinyara sugar is the cheapest at Shs 5000, while Kakira sugar is selling at 6,000 a kilo. On the shelves, Kakira sugar and Lugazi sugar are scarce compared to Kinyara sugar, which is in plenty. Many dealers have now started hoarding sugar in order to benefit from anticipated price hike in the short term” (URN, 2017).
In May 2017 – Stanbic Statement:
“The only category to buck that trend was wholesale & retail, where staff costs rose and employment fell. Average purchasing costs also rose in April, reflecting increased prices for animal feed, food stuffs, raw materials and sugar. Higher cost burdens were passed on to clients, leading to a further increase in output charges” (Stanbic Bank, 2017).
President Museveni praises Kakira Millers:
“I would like to thank the Madhvani Group, despite the disappointment by Idi Amin. The family pioneered the production of sugar in Uganda. By 1972 they were producing 70,000 tons but today they have almost tripled the production to 180,000 tons,” he said. The President was today commissioning a state of the art ethanol distillery at Kakira Sugar Limited in Jinja district. The US$36 million facility, which is the largest in the East African Region, will be producing 20 million litres of ethanol annually” (…) “President Museveni pledged to address the issues to regulate the sugar industry but urged the Madhvanis to partner with farmers with large chunks of land for production of sugar-cane, as the cane is not a high value crop. He said people with small land holdings should be left to do intensive farming like the growing of fruits that give high returns. Turning to the issue of prices payable to sugar-cane out-growers, President Museveni advised the buyers and out-growers to sit together and agree on the prices taking into consideration the market prices globally” (Uganda Media Centre, 2017).
Government statement on the 11th May:
“Speaking to 256BN on condition of anonymity a government official monitoring the situation said the manufacturers have not increased the factory price, but he conceded that the situation is worrying. “At the factory prices are stable. Why is it that the prices at the retail gate are high. This means that there are some distributors who are using the hiding strategy in order to rob Ugandans. As Government we shall continue monitoring the situation until we come up with the solution” the official said. Affordability of sugar is considered a key barometer of an ordinary person’s well-being and its pricing can take on political dimensions when people cannot have sugar with their tea” (256BusinessNews, 2017).
Putting the price in pespective:
Kakensa Media reported this today: “Today sugar costs 7000/- per kilo. When Museveni came to power in 1986 each kilo was at 4/-(four shillings). Immediately he came to power he said Ugandan shilling had lost value, in 1987 all money was changed, not only changed but two zeros were cut off to give it value on addition to the 30% levied on each shilling. This means on every 100 shillings, you got 70cents. Those who had 100,000/- got 700/-” (Kakensa Media, 12.05.2017).
This is all proof of a systemic malpractice, where both export, together with lacking yields because of drought and also the production of ethanol and bio-fuel. All of this collected together are reasons for the rising prices of sugar. The sugar price goes up because the use of cane for other things than millers producers sugar for consumption, but for other export products. This is all making sure even as the Republic of Uganda has in the past produces to much, it now doesn’t. Since it elaborately uses the sugarcane for other products.
That has made the Madhvani Group rich and their exports of sugarcane products are clearly selling. Now even their basic milled sugar are sold more expensive on the Ugandan market. There are also proven problems by other millers, who either has to much cane like Kinyara Sugar Factor in Masindi. Which is ironical problem, as the Kakira and Lugazi sugar is empty on the shelves, while the sugarcane hoarding Kinyara are still in the shops. But Kakira which is produced by Madhvani Group, we can now understand, since they have bigger operation and is blessed by the President for their industrial production of ethanol and bio-fuel.
Therefore, the are more reasons than just shopkeepers not getting enough stocks. That the rising prices are not only that there is lacking production. It is the system of export and production. Where the cane isn’t only becoming milled sugar for consumption, but for all the expensive industrial exports like bio-fuel and ethanol. This is all good business, but also bad for consumers and citizens who are accustom with decent prices for their sugar. That is not the fact anymore, as the business and millers has found new profitable ways. So that the surplus sugarcane and also the other gains massive profits. This is all good business for the owners of the sugar-millers and sugar industry. The one who feels the pitch is the consumer and the citizens. Who see scarcity of sugar inside the shops and also the inflation of prices on the sugar. Peace.