I asked this question to some of my friends and it attracted different answers. There is no consensus about what Uganda’s key problem is. Some say the problem is poor leadership. Others think lack of value addition and poor infrastructure. Many others say it is the lack of nationalism. For you, what exactly do you think is Uganda’s major problem?
Clear problem definition is a critical step in turning around our economy. Imagine going to your doctor and being diagnosed with a wrong disease! You risk getting ineffective treatment. Indeed stories of patients being subjected to unnecessary procedures have been told only to realize that the prognosis was inaccurate. Usually it is more expensive to correct the mistake.
And that is how we find our economy. As a country, we have not identified the main problem which is a critical step in mobilizing the masses. Once the country’s problem is identified, it is easy to come up with a strategy to fix it. That is good enough motivation for people to rally behind a leader focused on fixing the national’s top problem.
At Summit Business, we think Uganda’s biggest problem is lack of nationalism – the inability of our citizens to be proud of their country. Some few people are very well off while many others are very badly off – this widening gap between the rich and the poor is bad development which needs an urgent fix.
How do you distribute national resources fairly among over 38 million people? It is not easy, but it is possible. Are public schools and hospitals functional? Are there benefits for the elderly and the unemployed? Does the state offer opportunities to her citizens? Is a Ugandan better off at home than abroad? These and many questions come to mind when you think about nationalism: why should someone love their country? How does the country provide support and protection of its nationals while in foreign lands? It is painful to sleep hungry in your own country; how does the country support people without jobs to survive? Which support exists for disadvantaged folks?
Nationalism comes from within. The feeling that this is my country, it has my interests at heart is what makes the love of the country.
The lack of nationalism has led to individualism and corruption. We have seen great projects conceptualized and never implemented. Lots of projects stop at “artistic impressions of xx.” However, the actual thing looks so different from the blue print that had been made. A lot of money meant for the project is stolen.
This article first appeared in Summit Business magazine Oct 2014 issue.