Uganda @60 animates post-independence struggles

Hadijah N. Nzeiye

What you need to know:

Erase all that madness of the first 24 years and imagine how Uganda, which President Museveni has so much impacted in the last 37 years, would be by now


In the last 60 years of Independence, Uganda has made a lot of gains and much of it during the 37 years of President Museveni’s very impactful leadership. The Diamond jubilee is an opportunity for us Ugandans to reflect on the collective accomplishments of the last 60 years which include growing the stock of paved roads to 8,588kms-6,717kms under NRM & 1,175kms during the 24 years of post-Independence regimes (1962-1986).

In comparison, the 70 years of British rule delivered only 696km! The road sector progress has made Uganda motorable border to border  and boosted trade. Increased funding and NRM-era road sector reforms have enabled this progress. Currently, our annual average is 300kms and the NDP target of paving 80 percent of Uganda’s 21,000kms total network is achievable by 2040.

On power generation, Uganda has equally done well growing its total installed capacity from the 60MWs the British left us with as of 1962 to now 1,230MWs from hydro (80 percent), biogas, thermal and solar. Once Karuma is commissioned in weeks’ time, total generation capacity will grow to roughly 1,800MWs. President Museveni’s deliberate and forward-looking leadership has seen total generation grow from the mere 60MWs he found in 1986.

Prudent NRM policies and enhanced funding saw Nalubaale hydro power plant (formerly Owens Falls put in place in 1954) enlarged to 100MWs and later to 180MWs (2012). Besides establishing Kira hydro power plant (200MWs), the NRM also attracted private sector actors like Bujagali Energy Ltd (250MWs) to come invest in Uganda’s generation business which was always considered high risk. It’s remarkable that Uganda, which only managed 60MWs during the British’s 70 years and pre-1986 regimes’ combined 24 years, currently generates 1,230MWs of which only 800MWs is effectively consumed during peak hours. In 32 years (1954-1986), the British’s 60Mws sustained Uganda largely because demand was low amidst very low industrialization levels.

Increased power production has impacted Uganda’s forex earnings with $26.84m being annually earned as of June 2021-through exporting to Kenya, Tanzania, DRC and South Sudan. Currently, 29% Ugandans have access to electricity and an ambitious target of 60-80% is articulated under NDP/Vision 2040. Even when challenges remain, Uganda has equally done well on especially infrastructure aimed at increasing access to education and health services. President Museveni’s prudent leadership, manifested in prioritization and increased funding, has enabled all this.

This is not to forget President Museveni’s lasting legacy of demystifying insecurity which had for years made Uganda a laughing stock of the region. Today, we host more refugees than any other country yet we used to be net exporters of the same.

Uganda’s Pan-African ideals have been deepened as seen in Uganda’s conspicuous participation in pacification of regional countries like DRC, South Sudan and Somalia etal. Due to all this, combined with President Museveni’s experience and seniority, Uganda is these days respected in forums like EAC, AU and beyond more than before.

Had President Museveni taken charge earlier, the 1979 violence and UNLF turmoil that followed would equally have been avoided. It goes without saying the Luweero bush war, and the misery that came with it, would equally have been avoided.

 Erase all that madness of the first 24 years and imagine how Uganda, which President Museveni has so much impacted in the last 37 years, would be by now.

Hadijah Namyalo Nzeiye- Head Office of the National Chairman