The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) has warned that any attempt to extend the lockdown will plunge more than 3 million Ugandans into unemployment, leading to a drop in GDP. This comes against the backdrop that Uganda is nearing the end of the 42-day lockdown but has only vaccinated 1 million people of the 21 million population target.
In the weeks after the lockdown commenced, media reported scenes of Ugandans being chased out of the city to stay home by Uganda Police. These very people form a significant part of the informal sector in Uganda’s economy. However, for 42 days, they’ve not been allowed to work, a move intended to reduce congestion in the city to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Having endured 42 days with no work, the lockdown is coming to an end. There’s uncertainty about whether the lockdown will be lifted and the economy opened or rather extended. After 6 weeks of no work, PSFU says that extending the lockdown will only push more than 3 million people already struggling to stay in the employment section to unemployment and this will have an impact on the country’s already struggling GDP.
“The extended lockdown will see a drop in GDP and this will have dire implications for generations of employment,” PSFU Deputy Executive Director Francis Kisirinya says.
The 42-day lockdown, experts say, was already implemented without a clear plan from government. Imposing another one will only leave the economy limping and cause huge losses in markets.
“The private sector is largely driven by informal sector, and yet government interventions during lockdown for small businesses have not been much. The government must restructure and re-arrange its priorities,” Francis Muhire, an economist and Lecturer at Makerere University Buisness School says.
Coupled with disruptions in basic health services and school closures, COVID and the lockdown has had a tremendous impact on the human capital. The schools’ closure have led to a rise in teenage pregnancies and thus the burden of dependency is high, eventually reducing productivity in human capital. Policy analysts have advised government to make an informed decision guided by empathy.
“Government should also engage with private sector before it opens up,” Francis Kisirinya concludes.