Every solution begins with understanding the problem

Good medical doctors always insist they will not prescribe medication until they are sure they have diagnosed and identified the problem. The tests and consultations involved are sometimes expensive in time and money.

Similarly challenges in other areas of human endeavor should be correctly analyzed before solutions are presented. This takes time, money and above all patience.

As I read and hear commentators about developments in Uganda and the Great Lakes region, I am impressed by the depth of analysis and understanding of issues. For example:

1. People are correctly saying that economic growth is necessary but not sufficient condition for social development;

2. They are saying that rapid economic growth that destroys the environment is not sustainable;

3. They are saying that focus on urban development at the expense of the countryside will create more problems than solutions;

4. They are saying that without educating girls and empowering women and controlling immigrants into Uganda it will be difficult to reduce population growth;

5. They are saying that export of raw materials however diversified in commodities and markets will not generate enough foreign exchange earnings, keeping Uganda dependent on donations with strings attached;

6. They are saying that too many districts are economically unviable and divisive;

7. They are saying that manufacturing enterprises are essential for value addition, employment and economic transformation;

8. They are saying that quantity must be combined with quality and relevance of education to fit into the globalizing economy;

9. They are saying that during hard economic times with rising unemployment, poverty and food insecurity, governments should increase spending on investments such as public works like roads, clinics, schools and reforestation that create jobs, stimulate demand for goods and services, promote investments and increase government revenue;

10. They are saying that sheer numbers of poor people without adequate purchasing power will not create markets in the East African community to promote economies of scale. East African passport while desirable and facilitates mobility is not a sufficient condition for establishing a federation;

11. They are saying that high interest rates undermine investments, economic growth and job creation;

12. They are saying that corruption and sectarianism are detrimental to growth and development and lead to inequalities that could trigger instability;

13. They are saying that poor leadership and not shortage of resources or laziness is the root cause of the development problem;

14. They are saying that citizens should have primary responsibility for their destiny with a helping hand from development partners;

15. They are increasingly moving to a conclusion that in the foreseeable future federation has no place in East Africa. Charles Njonjo of Kenya with invaluable experience spoke for many when he referred to the East African federation as a pipe dream:

“We don’t need it. … Even the European Union is not working out. We are tired of Bazungu experiments that have failed them already [For example the Central African federation]. Many are after grabbing our fertile land, fresh water resources, fishing areas, all the natural resources so that they may displace the native Black Africans and make them refugees in their own countries” (Ugandans at Heart Forum).

In Uganda we are at a crossroads right now. How we choose to proceed will determine whether we drown or swim comfortably. Let us use optimally the talents at our disposal. If we do so everyone stands a chance of realizing a net gain.

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