Murchison Falls: Are the voices of reason falling on deaf ears?

Wednesday June 26 2019


By Henry Owoko

Fretting at whether our government hears the rumbles of the voices of reason, those of nature and those of our forefathers, who bequeathed us this beautiful lands we call Uganda today, with all its diversities of scenery and animals both domestic and wild; to which they taught us how to hunt and live in co-existence.

And their foresight of the same being meant to feed us and those that follow us when we finally sleep the sleep of our forefathers.

I open the daily paper every morning and stories are told of why and how we should save Murchison Falls from the looming doom of construction of a hydropower dam by the different voices of reason on behalf of the public.

I am inclined to believe that may be the story of Uganda and Africa is being ignored for the pursuit of the “shining unseen gold” and “rumoured” minerals and oil for exploration. My serenity is lost for fear that this minerals and oil deposits are exhaustible, at the risk of destruction of the environment and the whole ecosystem. I think to myself, is the country being Ignoramus and we need someone to explain the facts already occurring in other parts of the world.

A journey through the analogy of the story of Africa, in 2015, foreign direct investment to the African continent totalled $54 billion and official development assistance totalled $51.04 billion, while tourism generated $39.2 billion and created 9.1 million direct jobs within the sector.

This is a clear indicator that the tourism industry has an increasingly important role in the global economy by contributing to GDP, service exports, and employment of African countries.


Several score years of harnessing and exploration of the African mineral resource, which are in a downward curve of depletion, have contributed little to the “balance of trade” on the international economy. However, the reciprocal question is, how does it leave our lands, the nature and the wildlife of the day, which tourist - foreign or local - pay a hefty price for.

In the quest for “unseen gold,” Uganda is choosing to journey as many African countries with mineral deposits and different features such as lakes and rivers to self-propel in technological advancement.

Due credit needs to be given to the government for production of more electricity for the Country, to which the voices of reason are not against, but at what cost is it coming and are there other options we can diverse in for electricity production and still save the beauty of the land bequeathed to us by our fore fathers.

Uganda today has two main waterfalls that are an enchantment to tourism: Murchison Falls and Sipi Falls. Murchison Falls, which is found at the heart of the Murchison National Park, is a waterfall between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the White Nile River in Uganda.

At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 metres wide, and tumbles 43 metres (141 ft), before flowing westward into Lake Albert. This is the county’s longest waterfalls that attracts many foreign tourists. It is believed to facilitate the ecosystem therein and a hydro dam would be injurious to the ecosystem.

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls

Saudi Arabia that faces a dilemma of mineral resource depletion, specifically oil that greases the wheels of its economy, has answered the question of the day “what is next when mineral resource is depleted?” And the answer was “let’s diversify and make Saudi Arabia the centre of tourism in the world”.

With Saudi Arabia holding jurisdiction over the two holy mosques in Islam, in Mecca and Medina, religious tourism is already well developed and diverse terrain offers a wide variety of scenery, while its captivating history, rich culture and significance for Islam makes it an attractive tourist destination.

Saudi Arabia has embarked on man-made features for the tourist by proceeding to build tourism infrastructure and hotels to be marvelled at.

Today, Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector has witnessed expedite growth and tourism contributed of $64.2 billion to the economy in 2017. This is expected to rise by 4.8 per cent per annum to $110 billion, constituting 11.1 per cent of GDP by 2027.

Uganda should borrow a leaf from Saudi Arabia’s dilemma and make good of the vast range of tourism attractions, which include the beautiful mountain peaks, thunderous tumbling falls and wildlife in the parks for its “optical gold” that awaits harnessing for generation if conserved like our forefathers, before they went to sleep the sleep of their fathers.

The “voices of reason” are a buzzing sound of trumpet of prophecy of saving our heritage and conserving for future generations as we harness from the ‘optical Gold.’
For God and My Country

Mr Owoko is a lawyer.