Bold action on climate change needed in Copenhagen meet

IF necessity is the mother of invention, we should be looking forward to a breathtakingly innovative agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in December. Such an agreement would not only outline how we should curb greenhouse gas emissions, but also how we could realistically adapt to climate change, and help countries cope with its negative effects.

The increasing threat to life and livelihood posed by climate change is already palpable and the need for effective action agreed in Copenhagen is increasingly urgent. Yet the lack of progress in ongoing climate negotiations raises concern as to whether world governments will be able to reach meaningful agreement in December.

For those living on the frontline —the most vulnerable communities living in risk-prone parts of the world — every day wasted could mean a step closer to food or water insecurity; communities having to move to secure adequate and safe services; or even whole regions emptying as they become unable to sustain life.

Changes in the Arctic are accelerating global climate change. Scientists warn that if the Himalayan glaciers disappear, the impact would be felt by more than one billion people across Asia. What will African farmers do when floods wash away their crops as is happening these days in West Africa? This might sound overdramatic. However, climate change is already increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme natural hazard events, especially floods, storms and droughts.  Writes Bekele-Geleta

Uganda National Development Plan lacking!!!

This does not surprise me! Given the way government business is handled in Uganda…..

The National Development Plan is not sustainable and has no practical macro-economic framework, Tumusiime Mutebile, the central bank governor, has warned.

“Although the development plan is still a draft, I can say that its fiscal framework doesn’t consider the possible revenues from oil and this plan is supposed to be for 10 years,” he explained at a press briefing held on the sidelines of the fourth competitiveness forum at Serena Kampala Hotel last week.

“Clearly, oil will start flowing, therefore, oil revenues should be considered. “The macro-economic framework of the draft plan doesn’t contain estimates for revenues and therefore the expenditure does not reflect oil revenues.”

Mutebile had earlier told the forum that he had written to the chairman of the planning authority Kisamba Mugerwa. “He replied me, but his reply is inadequate,” he said.

The governor expressed concern about the lack of technical capacity among Uganda’s workforce. “Unfortunately, almost all vocational training institutions have been turned into universities. No country has ever developed on the basis of university graduates alone. We need vocational skilled workforce.”

According to Mutebile, Kigumba Agricultural Institute, which will be turned into an institute to train oil workers, is not enough. He called for the establishment of more vocational centres. Meanwhile, the governor said the global economic crisis, which resulted in dampening Uganda’s gross domestic product growth to 7%, down from 9%, was beginning to wane.

“There are indications that the negative external shock has begun to subside. The balance of payment has started to improve with a rebound of worker’s remittances from abroad and a return of portfolio investment in Treasury Bills and bonds.”

He attributed this renewed interest from portfolio investors to the excellent macro-economic stability in the country for the past 15 years. He, however, warned that the external environment over the medium-term would not be as it was in developing countries before the downturn. The story continues

When politics meets culture!

Recently, there has been tension in Uganda all in the name of promoting culture. It has been going on for awhile and I would not want it just started yesterday or when the Kabaka (King) of Buganda was refused to visit one of his “constituencies”. People in Uganda have always had cultural differences. This I can remember even in my school days when once could identify you according to your physical appearance, long noses from the western part and big noses from the central part. As for the eastern and northern, I can not remember well! The Baganda have always felt superior to the rest of the tribes in Uganda but of recent, we have seen a change in this game! People from the west are now taking on this new “feel good” attitude with the popular saying that “we are in control”. This has caused a lot of hatred from the rest of the tribes. Therefore, the rest riots in across Uganda did not come as a surprise to me!

Although the cause was mainly as a result of the refusal of the Buganda’s king to visit Kayuga, I stand to point out that is was more to this than the “naked eye” could see! One can tell that atleast 40% of the rioters/protesters from not from Buganda. They were instead a mob of youth who are battling the fate of unemployment in this country, Uganda. Also, from the areas of occurrence of these riots, you could see that they sparked off in areas where development is yet to be realized. That most of these rioters emerged from downtown Kampala and slums around the main city of Kampala. So for the president to hold secret meeting with the Buganda king in the name of addressing the situation is just a matter of waste to me! Since the real cause of the chaos is being talked about and that is Youth Unemployment! Thus reading today Monitor headline, I still do feel that Yes, a lot still has to be resolved in terms of addressing the root causes of these tensions rather that just the Mengo-Government politics game!

For us Ugandans to have full harmony amongst ourselves, I believe government should find means of having equitable distribution of resources across the country in terms of development priortisation. Government should go back to redesign priority areas for development instead of wasting tax payers money in form of fielding our dear soldiers to die in Somalia. Instead, it (government) should focus on developing rural areas by providing infrastructural development in form of schools, good roads, electrification, advancing agricultural development e.t.c. It’s through this and many others that we shall see peace fully restored in our motherland.

Uganda starts Internet Governance Forum Discussions 2009

Ugandans are at it again! Following successful Internet Governance Forums last year in several East African Countries including Uganda, new discussions are under way.

Last year, the main issues were to raise awareness, update stakeholders on the issues under debated at the international stage, and gather views on what the priority issues for Uganda were.

This year however, IG discussions seek to focus on consolidating the understanding of the issues and to state positions that may have been previously ambiguously defined. Some of the issues that continue to be discussed are; promoting access, managing Uganda’s Critical Internet Resources, gender issues in internet governance; content control Vs freedom of expression; cyber security and crime, e.tc

Discussions can be followed on the I-Network website

Kampala City Council killing Ugandans with sewage

An interesting read from The New Vision Uganda... I believe KCC just doesn’t care about the health and wellbeing of city dwellers.

KAMPALA City Council (KCC) has disregarded recommendations of the Katorobo Commission and okayed the construction of a huge warehouse on top of delicate sewer pipes on a contested piece of land in Lugogo, a city suburb.

The developments on plot M72/3 by Luish Investments have drawn protests from the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, which warns of a health catastrophe as the clay sewer pipes laid more than 40 years ago may give way due to pressure exerted by the weight of the buildings.

The plot is behind the rugby club playground at Lugogo bordered by the Lugogo power transmission sub-station, a railway line and Shell Club.

The plot is not only located in a wetland, but is also shrouded in controversy over shoddy transfers and dealings. It was first acquired by the Vice-President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, in 2003 amid a dispute with Kyadondo Rugby Club.

The story continues…

Kampala’s garbage sites

I always wonder who is responsible for garbage collection in Kampala city. From what I have gathered, Kampala City Council (KCC) is responsible for this duty. However, it is common to find heaps and heaps of garbage piled on most Kampala streets. Now that the rainy season is here, it leaves a lot to be desired when it come to garbage collection in Kampala! For instance, I took this pictures on my way to work.

Scenarios like this are very common on the streets of Kampala, especially downtown and in slum areas, where I believe KCC officials just decide to keep a blind eye!

So what is KCC doing to address garbage collection? Or what does KCC need to do to address the littering garbage in our precious Kampala?

Quoting KCC, they write on their website, Solid waste collection and garbage management is one of the key services provided by the council.” They go to further say that “KCC has contracted private companies to manage solid waste collection so as to improve the cleanliness of the city. It is estimated that the per capita generation of garbage is one kilogram per day. With a population of about 1.5 million, this works out to about 1500 tons. The council can only manage to dispose of 40% -50% of this. About 80% of this garbage is organic matter which makes it very bulky to handle.”

I was beginning to think that most Ugandans are just dirty citizens who do not mind just littering rubbish anyway they find but on second thought, I thin it is the lack of sensitization on proper waste disposal that is lacking!

It is a very sight to see someone throw a polythene bag anywhere they find even when they have garbage bin in front of them! Still, this gets me thinking why can’t there be laws to punish such culprits?! Or is it that KCC will handle the garbage collection! I do not think at this point they are in position to do so!

For me, I believe that KCC should undertake massive sensitization of the public about the danger of unpropitious waste disposal, make implement laws that will catch the culprits who just on disposing garbage as they feel.

Internet Governance: Why should I care?

I have just come out of the Uganda Internet Governance Forum meeting and I’m beginning to think that it’s just talking and more talking about Internet Governance (IG) issues in Uganda.

The meeting which is supposed to feed into the East African Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF) has just made me realise that our government just doesn’t care about IG issues or if it does then it is not doing enough. A presentation from the Ministry of ICT just confirmed my fears about their ignorance or complacency about IG issues. The presenter was just limited to the role of governments in IG yet what we wanted to hear what the Ugandan government has done as far as Internet governance is concerned. To make it even worse, he could hardly even talk about the three main bills (e-signatures, cyber crime and e-transactions). He simply put it that they were being tabled in parliament for “approval” and knowing the way in which our parliament operates, this may take forever to be finalised!

Less than 5% of Ugandans have access to the Internet that is according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Latest data shows that there are 175,568 active mobile internet users, who access internet through data-enabled devices or at fixed wireless hotspots. This increasing accessibility via mobile phone is helping to shift the internet landscape from traditional fixed access to mobile wireless access.

Looking at these figures, I’m not exactly hearing what the government is/has done to make IG a success in Uganda. Right now, I’m seated in an Internet cafe and I’m wondering how safe it is for me to work from here! That is in terms of protection of my information. All I know is that the Cyber crime bill is is waiting Parliament’s approval.  So between now and then,  I do not know what happens in case someone hacked into say my email account (just in case I forgot to logout) and used my private data for their own use.

Not my kind of imagination, so I will leave it to that! I hope this bill comes out pretty fast because we need it to combat internet crime and fraud that seems to be on the increase Uganda.