Opinion | Does Makerere University Need To Beg The President For An Investor? – By Isaac Sebakijje.

Posted August 28, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 54,951 views


I am commenting on the headline article which was published in The Daily Monitor on Thursday August 22, 2013. It was entitled “Get us land investor, Makerere begs Museveni” In that national paper, it was reported that the Vice Chancellor of the famous Makerere University wrote to the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni asking him to find an investor for the institution’s idle land.

For over a decade now, the debate for privatization of Makerere has captured many newspaper headlines both in and outside of Uganda. The idea for and against this proposal has been richly discussed and numerous recommendations tabled. Makerere University is a 90 year old institution once referred to as the Harvard of Africa and it was recently voted amongst the elite universities in Africa.

Nobody denies the fact that the university is dogged by fundamental challenges including the current labour strike. Those challenges are not insurmountable over time but require collective and innovative consultations in order to conceive solutions. However, the option of Makerere’s top leadership “begging” the nation’s leader for a land investor as stated in the headline above is perplexing and devoid of vision.

The demand for education services in African countries is rising at a faster rate than governments can supply. In these austere times, we know that governments are finding it challenging to increase their financial budgets for education. As a result, the Education Industry Investment Forums are bringing together practitioners, investors, and regulators to solve this supply deficit.

Entrepreneurs and philanthropists are bringing new perspectives and innovative solutions to the sector. These private individuals and organizations usually forge partnerships with institutions that demonstrate strong growth prospects with best practice. Such partnerships are not limited to funding but also include provision of advisory services and technical assistance that can strengthen the institution’s creditworthiness.

Has Makerere included our current young innovative minds found on or off the campus in the decision making process? Also, we are slowly entering an era of brain gain as we depart from our nation’s turbulent past. Has Makerere tapped into a pool of professional Ugandans in the diaspora who are well versed in the mechanics of institutional funding? These are opportunities that Makerere University and other cash strapped education institutions in our nation should be pro-actively exploring.

All it takes is visionary leadership and nonpartisan management capacity.Every Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Dean of Makerere University and similar institutions should be lobbying for better government regulatory reforms pertaining to education to ensure that they are conducive to investors. The way the government designs regulatory policies determines the ease or difficulty for those who are looking to invest money and other resources in the education system.

This is the foundation of the academic and financial autonomy of universities because it promotes accountability and transparency required by investors. Makerere is considered to have some of the best human resources pool that can devise and compile marketable proposals for potential stakeholders. The university also maintains global connectivity where leading entities provide investments for institutions like Makerere that are facing liquidity constraints.

According to the article, Makerere lists ownership of four acres of land in Kololo, 14 acres of land in Makindye, 30 acres of land in Katalemwa and Kasangati and others. In other words, Makerere is sitting on a goldmine of prime undeveloped parcels of land in its portfolio. Makerere must leverage these assets to attract national and global capital. It defies logic to think that the only way they can utilize that land is to “beg” the president for investors. We must discourage this type of perpetual dependency from Uganda’s mindset if we are to develop.

Not just from Makerere but also from those in our country’s private and civil service. In the recent speech that Vice Chancellor Prof. Ddumba Ssentamu gave, he thanked the government of Uganda for its continued support to the University which enabled it to improve its world rankings. This means that at least the taxpayers have provided the university with the vehicle. Why can’t the university provide the petrol in order to get the vehicle moving?

In 2013, a new chapter in Africa’s economic history is opening up in light of various economic, political and social reforms that are sweeping through the continent. The wise investors have already chosen Africa. Africa is the future and the future is already the present. Makerere must grasp the realities and necessities of change. It must market itself in a way that establishes a unique financial attractiveness using all the resources and assets it possesses.

According to economic experts, there are significant opportunities in Africa’s education sector at all levels. Eventually if Makerere opts for full or partial privatization, the investors will need convincing stories and images from the ground before they come running to invest. At the moment, there are not many investors, if any, willing to hop the flight to Makerere based on this display of seemingly hopeless outcry.

Makerere needs to understand the private sector thinking and start building a mature and defensible business model that shows the return on investment. The time to do it is now.

The writer is an experienced hotelier and tourism professional and Founder of Impactafrica Trade & Investments.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    The article is ideal for a business institution with an owner (CEO), Makerere University almost belongs to no body, once you come up with an interesting idea, know you are soon exiting! Until when Ugandans learn how to assume ownership of public property, then they will remain in a state of shame !


      I agree Ben. We just have to keep drumming this message to those in Uganda offices until they get it. They also have to involve young innovative minds in the process. This opinion article appeared in The Daily Monitor, Red Pepper and also a slightly modified article in the New Times of Rwanda. We have to use all available avenues to send these messages.


    Let’s form an advisory board of alumni to hash out some of the challenges facing this esteemed institution of ours. The solutions are right there staring them in the face, starting with the senseless allowances

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