By Willy Mutenza
During a debate on Central and East Africa, Bob Blackman, Conservative Party MP for Harrow (Harrow MP) east made a remark of the contribution that the Ugandan Asian Diaspora has made right across the UK. He said that, Uganda’s loss was Britain’s gain and that Britain gained tremendously in all field most importantly in politics and business.
He highlighted the fact that it was mostly the Asians who use to ran Uganda’s economy up until the late 1970’s. These are the individuals who came to the UK. They brought with them strong business acumen, hard work and a strong sense of community development and cohesion.
“Forty years on, we are now seeing the third or possibly fourth generation of individuals who came to this country. They are leaders in business and commerce, they are great employers, and they generate valuable resources for this country” He once stated
Bob further affirmed that the current economic progress in Uganda is obvious. Uganda is progressing quite well under President Museveni.
Stability has assisted in providing investment security
Uganda is not on the list of Dangerous countries any more!
The economy in Uganda is growing by about 5% a year. There is an opportunity to diversify the economy, expand education and invest in infrastructure. The forthcoming elections on 18 February will show how the Ugandan people are participating in democracy and how they feel the country is progressing.
However, he said that, in Kenya, the situation is much more of a mixed bag. There will be elections next year in about 18 months.
President Kenyatta won in 2013 in an alliance with William Ruto, who has since been arraigned at the International Criminal Court for instigating violence in 2007. There are concerns about corruption.
President Kenyatta recently said that corruption posed a threat to national security after the main Opposition party claimed that the Government could not account for almost half of last year’s Eurobond sale. There are pressures on the public finances and the fiscal deficit is at 9% of GDP. The Government recently secured a syndicated loan for infrastructure projects in November and a loan from China for the extension of the standard gauge railway in December.
With Tanzania he stressed that following the presidential elections in October 2015, the new President, John “The Bulldozer” Magufuli, has proved popular domestically, but is causing tensions in the region. In 2014, many donors suspended aid to Tanzania following a scandal in which $100 million went missing. Tanzania languishes in the bottom third of Transparency International’s corruption index. Despite Tanzania having abundant natural resources and being the second largest aid recipient in sub-Saharan Africa, poverty remains endemic, with 70% of the population living on less than $2 a day. The new President has undertaken a war on corruption and wasteful government spending.
Bob finally congratulated Lord Popat as the trade envoy to Uganda and Rwanda; a part of the Prime Minister’s new approach to exports. This is a welcomed gesture in UK- Uganda/ Rwanda economics development boost.
Recently another milestone, The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Uganda was launched in the UK parliament to further understanding within Westminster of issues relating to Uganda.
It was stated that during the past thirty years Britain’s policy and approach to Africa has overly passive. We have failed to grasp the tremendous changes that are afoot across the continent, and have instead relied on a narrative of aid and charity rather than investment and partnership.
Britain’s reputation in Africa – particularly amongst the business and political communities remains strong. However its position as a dominant trading force has been surrendered; China have invested heavily in the continent and now other countries are prioritising investment in Africa. Britain is very much in danger of missing out on the opportunities Africa offers; both economically and politically.
The Uganda APPG will play an active and essential role in helping to prioritise relations with Africa. Among its purpose is to support initiatives that help to foster stronger UK-Uganda relations, including the annual Uganda Convention organised by Mr. Willy Mutenza in London.