15th African Union Summit Kicks off in Kampala Uganda

in the aftermath of the twin bombings a week ago by Al-Shabab a Somali terrorist group with links to Al-qaida

Naturally all eyes will be on Uganda to see how they pull this off and I can imagine there will be a nervousness amongst in the delegates as to their security. Will they be a seating target just like the poor folk who were watching the world cup finals? This is unlikely!

This makes me sad, as the venues chosen for the Summit as some of the best East Africa has to offer right on the shores of Lake Victoria, and people should be able to enjoy this, but chances are security will be so tight and everyone will be so guarded and unable to relax. I could be wrong, who knows?

Lake Victoria- Uganda photo by Ron Miller

The theme for this year is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa.”  Development in Africa is an apt choice for a theme  for an AU Summit as without it many women will continue to die in child birth and levels of child mortality will continue to rise.

Issues for Development in Africa

In dealing with development in any part of the world I think it is key to identify key areas that must be addressed and I would include the following areas

  1. access to decent health care
  2. education
  3. infrastructure
  4. skilled labour
  5. working capital
  6. employment/job creation
  7. access to markets
  8. food security
  9. good governance
  10. good policies
  11. security
  12. enterprise

The question then arises which amongst that list are in Africa’s gift/power to resolve? My answer is frankly all of them!

Africa is not a poor continent by any stretch of imagination and a degree of commitment and joint working would resolve some of those issues, indeed some of the African countries are ready doing well in those areas and the question remains as to why the rest cannot follow.

Development is a complex issue but not an impossible one and something such as effective Income Tax Collection could make a big difference as it would enable the government to provide social services assuming that they had the commitment to do so. The development issues mentioned above are interlinked and in order to improve life for the day day folk on the ground they all must be addressed.

A few question as far as the AU is concerned

  1. does the AU have the clout to effect development in Africa in any meaningful way?
  2. Why have they failed to work together on issues that would improve security and neighbour relations within Africa?
  3. Would other African countries back Uganda and Burundi in the peace keeping mission in Somalia following the bombings in Uganda last Sunday and why were not doing so already?

Will the AU like the G8/G20 become a talking shop? I suppose it is safe to say only time will tell!

Have you got a view on the AU or issues of development? Please share it

City bombings in Uganda- some afterthoughts Part 2

In the last thread I talked about the bombings of Kampala Uganda by Al-Shabab, a Somali militia group. I also expressed my fears/concerns in as far as the economic development of Uganda is concerned.

My fears or concerns  stem from a reference point dated 25 years ago. The country was finally rid of  Idi Amin and such like and had hailed in Yoweri Museveni. It was a terrible place to be and certainly folk would not have been out watching football  in such big numbers. I can imagine too Uganda was a no go area to the outsiders. For those of us that lived in the country at the time everything was scarce and I mean everything. There was no high street to speak of and certainly Al-Shabab,  would not have wanted to be in the Uganda of 1986.

The immediate change back then as I recall, we were free to go anywhere without the fear of being stopped or “taken away” for no apparent reason. This has remained the case as far as I am aware and I noticed that roadblocks on the Ugandan Roads had disappeared too.

I think it is safe to say generally people felt relaxed and the country did a lot to encourage investors to go there and invest and as such this improved life for most folk. My fear therefore is if the current government re- introduces some of the old practices from the old regimes, as a reaction to Al-Shabab or in effort to stamp them out,  the investors might live as well as the skilled Ugandan citizens, taking their skills and capital with them.

I sincerely hope I am over reacting here but only time will tell.

For now Kampala Uganda is getting ready to welcome all manner of people including African heads of state for the 15 African Union Summit. I have already asked  the question, WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE AFRICAN UNION? and as I understand it security is at the top of their agenda.

In the next thread I will look at one of the issues that is being discussed at the AU. In the meantime, if you have a view, please share it!

City Bombings in Uganda- some after thoughts

On Sunday 11th July 2010 19:00 GMT Holland and Spain battled for the World Cup title 2010 kicked off and fans of football the world over settled in front of a television somewhere to watch the beautiful game as they call it.  In fact for some this was a big deal, my friend Shelley whose husband is Dutch but now lives in England had told  me of her plans for a big family do that day- the family had to get together for this occasion!

I imagine folk in Kampala Uganda had similar plans, folk out there love football and follow European football religiously in fact some plan important events such as weddings around the English football season. Naturally Uganda being a developing country not everyone owns a television or has access to electricity so folk will go to places where they can access the game, besides it appears to me that football is best enjoyed in numbers as even those that have televisions would prefer to watch it it Pubs. My  brother Sam is one of those and interestingly he doesn’t drink so he clearly prefers to be part of the football crowd in bar.

I am not a football fan but some in my household are so I was forced to sit down with them and watch the final game. As far as I could work out it was a very close game and the tension could be felt amongst the spectators.

Imagine if you will folk sat in a Pub and a Rugby Club(field) watching the game on wide screen TV  with all manner of refreshments flowing the last thing on their mind was that someone amongst them was about to kill them! This is exactly what happened to folk in Kampala Uganda on the evening of 11th July 2010.

For those in diaspora and in fact those in the country our first concern was whether our loved ones were alive . My brother Sam told me he had in fact considered going to that Rugby club but had decided against it for some reason.

As the world woke to such news  Al-Shabab, a Somali militia group claimed responsibility for the killings of 74 innocent people. There was anger amongst several Ugandans and in fact some declared to avenge the dead one way of another and this is the basis of my afterthoughts.

Uganda has always been home for many Somali people fleeing their country that has come to be recognized as a failed state and the Ugandan government has a welfare  programme for these refugees as far as I understand and this includes cash handouts. One has to wonder why then did they turn on such a generous host?

An even more important question is what will happen to the ordinary Somali in Kampala in the days to come? The President was interviewed on this matter and I share his statements when he calls for calm and urges people not to turn on the innocent Somali people going about their daily lives in Kampala

Uganda's president-Yoweri Museveni- photo from Wikipedia

Another concern I have is one of development! A friend of mine sent a TWEET as he left Uganda on 13 July ( he was due to leave anyway)

it is sad to see so many people leaving Uganda

Where all these other people due to leave Uganda anyway or was this due to the Bombings?  I hope that is because they were due to leave anyway.

Uganda went through a terrible time 20 years of civil war, dysfunction etc and the last 24 years have been about rebuilding  and rebranding itself as a safe place  to be and to transact business.  Most agree that it has/had more or less succeeded and they are many non Ugandan Natives that  have been happy to call Uganda home. Will this continue to be the case? If not how might this impact the economic development of the country?

to be continued….