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Why is Uganda technically ahead of its neighbours in East Africa?

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Why is Uganda technically ahead of its neighbours in East Africa? by Kenyans247(1): Mon Jul 2019 09:00am
Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, has not lived up to its image. At the beginning of its colonial era in East Africa at the end of the 19th Century, Britain considered Uganda the jewel of its colonies. There was talk in the ruling circles of “concentrating on Uganda”. It was indeed for this reason the railway from Mombasa to Kisumu (but later extended to Kampala) was named the Uganda Railway. Kenya was by then just a transit place to this jewel. There was so much hope and expectations from the land of the source of the mighty River Nile, the finding of which had drawn many foreign explorers literally to the centre of the ‘dark continent’. When Speke discovered its source in 1862, Britain was pleased since it now controlled the territory covering the whole stretch of the Nile, up to the Mediterranean Sea.

The discovery of the “White Highlands” in Kenya and their climatic suitability for White farmers soon, however, shifted Britain’s emphasis to Kenya. Uganda became a native protectorate producing cash crops like coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco and later copper for Britain’s industries, while Kenya attracted European settler farmers, growing a variety of crops on a much larger commercial scale. Tanganyika, which was a German colony until the end of World War I was transferred to Britain in 1919 under a mandate from the League of Nations and renewed in 1945 by the United Nations.

With such an expanded empire, including Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, the refrain of “concentrating on Uganda” no longer held water. Britain proceeded to allocate economic tasks to the areas under its domain, all in its own interests. Kenya became the most important country in the region, a place White settlers called home, after brutally dispossessing the natives of their land. Its geographical location on the East Coast of Africa with an excellent sea port, Mombasa, made it the natural economic hub.

On the economic front, the recently presented budgets for 2013 / 2014 of the three countries are an eye opener. While Kenya’s Budget is $17 billion and Tanzania’s is $11 billion, Uganda’s Budget is only $5 billion! A budget of $10 billion for Uganda should have been expected by now if Vision 2040 is to be achieved.

Tanzania is also billed as one of 10 fastest growing economies in the world, while Kenya remains the economic powerhouse of the region and is set to grow faster in next 10 years. Uganda’s only hope hinges on the discovery of oil, soon to flow from the Albertine Region. One should not forget that our neighbours too discovered oil and are better placed to use it more efficiently than us.

An economy that puts its hope on a single yet-to- be realised ‘windfall’ is in a precarious situation indeed. Uganda should instead concentrate on increased investment in agriculture and let the oil be the future catalyst to industrialisation.

In conclusion, I don't personally think Uganda has feared better than its neighbours considering the above highlighted points. May we not fall from Grace to Grass.

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