Leadership and enabling environment underpin development

Uganda has slid from hope in the 1950s and 1960s that launched industrialization to restructure the economy and provide jobs and value added products and expanded education, healthcare, housing and nutrition to despair since the 1970s. The few winners will tell you Uganda is prosperous, peaceful, secure and stable and the number of millionaires – in US dollars – is increasing and the leadership commands respect of the international community. The winners call the losers lazy and drunkards.

Realistically Uganda has become what it is in large part because of the absence of quality leadership committed to equitable and inclusive sustained and sustainable economic growth and equal opportunity for all.

Britain became a great nation and leader in the industrial revolution, maritime and commerce because of the enabling environment that by and large prevailed over the centuries. The constitutional monarchy, the Bill of Rights and Toleration Act are among factors that laid the foundation that released human energy in all areas of human endeavor.

Robert J. Lieber has observed that as early as the Elizabethan Age (1558-1603), “Britain had developed a substantial middle-class base of artisans, yeoman farmers (small independent landholders who acquired early political rights), merchants, and then entrepreneurs. Their presence helped to foster a relatively benign internal political climate, at least in contrast to continental Europe. Though sometimes bloody struggles took place, a tradition of restraint on royal power dating back to Margna Carta of 1215 created the foundations for constitutionalism and the rule of law. The Protestant ethic encouraged independent intellectual and scientific inquiry and a climate in which individual entrepreneurship and commercial development could flourish with less interference than in countries with traditions of royal or religious absolutism. It is not surprising that the industrial revolution began in Britain in the mid-18th century, thus providing the country with a lead in technology and the dynamism to expand its influence over large parts of the globe.

The human and intellectual dimensions of this development contributed greatly to the rise of Britain and its empire. These included the development [and retention] of a well-educated and self-confident elite with exceptional diplomatic skills and the spread of mass literacy in the population as a whole. Together, these factors contributed to the growth of industry, the spread of the English language, and Britain’s eventual international primacy”(Robert A. Pastor: A Century’s Journey 1999).

Uganda started off at independence in 1962 full of hope for a quick equitable economic growth because the country is well endowed with natural and human resources. Sadly, the quality of leadership and lack of enabling environment since the 1970s have dragged Uganda from a country of hope to one of despair. Therefore quality leadership based on learning, experience, impeccable character and patriotism is a prerequisite for arresting and reversing the failed current political economy trajectory.