Uganda: Economists Express Concerns Over Museveni Directive to Government Agencies to Advertise With Only UBC

Economists have voiced their apprehensions following a recent directive issued by President Yoweri Museveni, directing that all government advertising be exclusively channeled through state media, specifically the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

While the directive aims to address the underfunding issues faced by UBC, economists argue that it is not in line with the government’s liberalization policy and raises concerns about the potential impact on the media industry.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, President Museveni instructed that all government advertising should be conducted solely through state media, particularly the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

The directive further stated that any accounting officer deviating from this instruction would face dismissal.

The decision was prompted by a letter from UBC’s Managing Director, Winston Agaba, highlighting underfunding, alleged denial of government advertising, and the mounting debt burden faced by UBC.

Francis Muhire, an economist from Makerere University Business School, highlighted the discrepancy between the directive and the government’s liberalization policy stating that the government had initially embraced liberalization as a strategy to foster efficient solutions, relying on private enterprises that require less supervision and operate more effectively.

According to President Museveni, the government had previously monopolized certain services, a practice inherited from colonial times. However, the decision was later reversed, and various sectors, including media and hospitality, were liberalized to encourage competition and innovation.