Contents - Previous - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at

The scientific and technical faculties of the university

In Uganda there is one university, Makerere, which provides most of the scientific and technical training in the country at the advanced level, and which acts as a model for all of the lesser academic institutions. Like the universities that we visited in the other countries, Makerere has benefitted on balance from the interest in its activities displayed by foreign donors. The Medical Faculty, the Engineering Faculty and the Economic and Social Statistics Division have all received donations from abroad and are all prospering as a consequence. The same cannot be said for the scientific faculties, which have not received an equal amount of foreign support.

Particularly deprived is the Mathematics Department. With an 'Establishment' of 13, the Mathematics Faculty has been able to attract and retain only four mathematicians, of whom two are former graduate students who have not progressed beyond the level of the MSc. Two professional mathematicians, trained abroad, and two local ax-graduate students are a dreadfully inadequate body to teach a subject which is the basis for all of the scientific and technical fields. Denied the support of foreigners, even those mathematicians who remain active in teaching cannot devote more than a portion of their time to fulfilling their main obligation. Without the supplement of their salaries provided to their colleagues in the Engineering and other faculties, the mathematicians must seek part-time employment outside the university, in order to maintain their incomes at a respectable level. This leads to the commonly observed practice in the four countries we visited of government employees supplementing their inadequate salaries with outside jobs. In the case of mathematicians, their skills can be used in the much less intellectually challenging field of accountancy; and it is as accountants that they find part-time employment. From the point of view of the Ugandan economy, accountancy skills, which are in very short supply, may be usefully augmented; but the mathematical skills devoted to teaching are much reduced. Whatever the overall effect on the Ugandan economy, the necessity to supplement the professorial income with outside work reduces the attractiveness of teaching in the University and is responsible, at least in part, for the empty posts in the Faculty.

With estimates of the expenditures at Makerere University on those faculties advancing science and technology we can augment the previous statistics on Ugandan expenditures on furthering science and technology. This augmentation is made in Table 6.13, column 1 whose sums represent the total of public expenditures for this purpose. To these must be added foreign donations and the expenditures of the private sector. So far as foreign donations are concerned, the figures in Tables 6.11 and 6.12, column 4 reveal that they fat outweigh the Ugandan government's in 1990/1, and in subsequent years (see also Table 6.15). So far as the private sector's expenditures on advancing science and technology are concerned, we must admit almost complete ignorance. What we can say is that they are very small, given the relative unimportance of the industrial sector within the Ugandan economy and the relatively minor role of the private sector in industry. In making our estimate of the contribution of the private sector to the advance of science and technology in Kenya, we increased the figures for the public sector's contribution by 10 per cent. In Uganda, where the private sector makes a relatively smaller contribution, we will adopt a figure of 5 per cent, as representing the increase in the contribution of the public sector. In Table 6.13, column 4 the public and private sectors' contributions for 1990/1 and 1991/2 are given, and in the last column of the table the total expenditures on advancing science and technology are compared to Uganda's total level of economic activity, as measured by GDP. For earlier years, we shall assume that the total expenditures on science and technology, as a fraction of GDP, are equal to the fractions of GDP arising in agriculture which were expended on agricultural research (Table 6.9, last column). The whole series, 1981/2-1991/2, is given in Table 6.14. Hazy as all these figures may be, they do indicate overall increases, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP, in the most recent years. The experience of the Coffee Research Unit, and a few other major programmes (but not that of the Appropriate Technology Group), is borne out at the aggregate level.

Table 6.14 Uganda: estimated expenditures on science and technology as a percentage of GDP, 1981/2-1991/2

Year Expenditures on S&T (as % of GDP)
1981/2 0.003
1982/3 0.004
1983/4 0.004
1984/5 0.004
1985/6 0.003
1986/7 0.005
1987/8 n.a.
1988/9 0.09
1989/90 0.12
1990/1 0.15
1991/2 2.2

1981/2-1989/90: Table 6.9: final column
1990/1-1991/2: Table 6.13, final column


In summarizing Uganda's experience in advancing science and technology, we must recognize that to the extent advances have taken place it has been in very recent years. The turmoil to which Uganda was subjected meant that for over a decade little if any advance was made. Much of the capability for advance remained, in the form of permanent employees of the Ministry of Agriculture and of the technical departments of the university, but using an automotive analogy, the engine of research was just 'ticking over'. Fuel, in the form of donations from abroad, arrived only after the economy had stabilized and the structural adjustments been undertaken (see Table 6.15). To the extent that the adoption of the Structural Adjustment and Reconstruction programmes stimulated the issuance of loans and donations needed to stabilize the economy, it was a necessary condition for the renewal of the advance of science and technology. That the wherewithal! for advance is available can be seen from the figures in Table 6.14, where the two jumps in financing science and technology, in 1988/9 and in 1991/2, are readily apparent.

With Uganda's recent history complete, we have finished our description of what we learned about expenditures on science and technology in the four Sub-Saharan African countries. These chapters have been descriptive; the analysis is contained in Part III where all the evidence is presented. The evidence will first be presented on a macroeconomic scale, next on a 'meso-economic' scale and finally on a microeconomic scale. It is therefore to analyzing the overall advance in science and technology in these four countries that we proceed.

Table 6.15 Uganda: investment revenues and expenditures from domestic and foreign resources 1988/9-1991/2 (billions current USh)

Year Revenues Expenditures Deficit expenditures less revenues Foreign loans
Domestic resources Foreign grants Total Recurrent Development Total
1988/9 47 11 59 56 31 87 29 n.a.
1989/90 81 37 119 108 105 213 94 n.a.
1990/1 141 66 207 209 111 320 111 85
1991/2 204 230 434 419 252 471 237 184

Government of Uganda, Ministry of Finance, Financial Statement of Revenue and Expenditure, 1988/9-1991/2 (figures are approved estimates)

Contents - Previous - Next