Sustaining economic growth in Uganda
Uganda’s reputation and image for protecting its natural environment has been commendable compared to its East African counterparts. The government of Uganda has been paying much needed attention to the environmental organizations that have been critical to oil companies operating in Albertine region in Western Uganda. These organizations have been calling for better protection of the environment as Uganda strives for higher economic growth and development from oil revenues expected in the next three to four years. Unlike most African countries, Uganda has sufficient laws that protect and preserve the environment and wildlife. This is the reason as to why the country is not suffering elephant and rhino killings that has been reported in Kenya and Tanzania. In Uganda, thousands of hectares of indigenous forest have been designated as national parks and game reserves and are out of bound to businesses. The government pays greater attention to environmental protection and sustainable business practices. Luckily for the country, President Yoweri Museveni has been emphasizing that the government is committed to preserving the environment and establishing as well as implementing policies.
Developments that damage the environment are not a choice for Uganda and application of the law and firm stance by National Environment Management Authority not to issue business permits in areas that are deemed protected forest land and revoking illegally acquired wetland must be supported by all those who care about the country and future generations. In my opinion, to sustain the momentum of saving the environment and wildlife, I think Ministry of Education should include environmental and Wildlife protection topics in school curriculum especially in Primary level. Such a move would be a step in the right direction and on long term it would be a proactive approach. Uganda’s rainforests are millions of years old and contain plants and birds found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, 11% of world bird species and 54% of Africa’s bird species are exclusively found in Pearl of Africa. Uganda has been known as the Pearl of Africa after Winston Churchill traveled, hiked and biked, boated across Uganda from one end to the other. Churchill saw the country as a special country in his book – African Journal and fell in love with Uganda’s rich forests, River Nile, lakes and called it the “Pearl of Africa.” If Uganda strike the right balance between economic growth and preserving the environment, there is no reason why the country cannot be a role model for sustainable growth in East Africa and the continent.