The late executive director Private Sector Foundation-Uganda (PSFU), Mr Gideon Badagawa, has been eulogised as a strong pillar of development and crusader of economic nationalism.
Mr Badagawa passed away on Monday morning aged 59, with reports indicating that he succumbed to Covid-19 at Mulago National Referral Hospital where he has been receiving treatment since last week.
While announcing his death, Dr Elly Karuhanga, PSFU board chairman, said: “The Board, Management and Staff of the PSFU with deep sorrow regret to announce the untimely death of their executive director, Mr Gideon Badagawa, who passed away this morning Monday June 21st, 2021, in Mulago Hospital.”
Mr Badagawa has served as the Executive Director of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) for the past 11-and-a-half-years, after previously working with Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), also as executive director - for two years.
However, since his death was announced, glowing tributes have been pouring in from contemporaries, former students, and politicians, who have described Mr Badagawa’s death as a loss to Busoga Sub-region, the private sector and the country.
Mr Daudi Migereko, the chairperson Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), said the private sector in Uganda has lost a committed and dedicated captain, and described the deceased as someone who preached economic nationalism and a strong advocate of Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) and local content issues.
“He came up with training programmes to ensure the economic empowerment of the indigenous business communities and linked those trained to financial institutions for funding of their businesses. His sudden departure is a big loss to the private sector and country,” Mr Migereko said.
Mr Charles Kiirya, a banker and former student, said: “I can summarise that he was a very brilliant and good teacher who was patient with his students.
Mr Edward Balidawa, a former Member of Parliament (MP) to the deceased in Kigulu North constituency, described the late Badagawa’s family as “my friends and ardent supporters of mine, politically.”
“Gideon (Badagawa) and I are from the same Sub-county of Nambale and we have known him as a humble and approachable man to whom you could run to in case of any issue regarding the private sector,” Mr Balidawa said.
Mr Robert Kisubi, a retired professional and consultant Old Boy of Busoga College Mwiri, said he got to know the late Badagawa through the strong Mwiri Old Boys’ network.
“Because the Mwiri Old Boy network was so strong, especially once someone knows you are a Mwirian. So, I got to know him through that, but also got to know him while we were at Umeme,” he said.
He added: “He was so supportive and passionate of the concession at the time, especially about the private sector in the 2000s and was always listening and asking for facts."
Mr Kisubi further described the deceased as "a good listener who always liked getting both sides of the story, traits that enabled the two to easily establish a rapport.
“Umeme was one of the companies to subscribe to the PSF, and we got very involved in their programmes. It was not a known entity, but there was Gideon who was a safe pair of hands and good public relations.
"He would never lose his temper and gave everyone time. His profile, not just locally, but internationally I think helped in the development of PSFU,” Mr Kisubi added.
Ms Kathryn Lindoha Musoke, the PSFU Public Relations and Communications Manager, said Mr Badagawa generously gave all PSFU staff and all those who came to his office his knowledge, expertise and skills.
"He gave energy, commitment and inspiration to all PSFU staff and to all those who came to his office. I am deeply saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in eternal peace," Ms Musoke said.
The late Badagawa was born in 1962 in Muyiira Village, Muyiira Parish, Nambale Sub-county, Iganga District to Mr Isabirye Badagawa, a long-serving magistrate and chairperson of the Iganga district Land Board.
He went to Busoga College Mwiri, Makerere College School, joined Makerere University in 1988 for his first degree in Statistics, and later obtained a master’s degree in Development Economics from the ISS, The Hague in the Netherlands, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environment Management from the Maastricht School of Management, also in the Netherlands.
He taught at Makerere University Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (ISAE), in the department of Planning and Applied Statistics from 1992 until 2000 when he joined PSFU as Senior Policy Analyst.
He later rose through the ranks as manager and director for policy advocacy before proceeding to work with UMA as executive director in 2008.
He has also chaired several boards, including National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Energy Credit Capitalization Company Limited, Uganda National Planning Authority (NPA), Uganda Warehouse Receipts Authority (UWRA), and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).
He will on Saturday be laid to rest at Muyiira Village, Muyiira Parish, Nambale Sub-county, Iganga District.