Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Is it Still in Our Common Interest?

The Commission for Africa [which was set up by Tony Blair, when he was British Prime Minister] has released a report, which follows up on the one published in 2005. It examines what has happened in Africa since then and conducts an assessment of the progress made against each of the recommendations made five years ago.

In a statement, the Commissioners said:

“There is much to celebrate. African governments have done more than ever before to promote business and investment. Donors have supported this by boosting their support to infrastructure and providing the aid and debt relief that has allowed African governments to increase their expenditure in key areas such as health, education and agriculture.

But there remains much to be done. Progress on reforming international trade rules has been dismal; donors are still providing less in aid than their commitments; and African governments are still not investing as much as they promised in key areas. That is why we believe this review is timely, and why we believe it is right to renew a number of the recommendations.....because they have yet to be fully implemented........"

They go on to say ".....Africa’s development requires a range of measures, with African governments in the lead supported by the international community...."

This is where it begs the question, can we Africans do it on our own instead always asking for help from donors, international community? It is indeed in our common interest as Africans muster all our energies and synergies as well as available resources to work out how we are going to do it. Since this report is going to form part of discussions at the upcoming UN MDG Summit on 20 September, can our leaders use this opportunity, get together and find a formula to do it without begging donors, international community for help to solve Africans' own problems.

The report can accessed here

Saturday, 4 September 2010

We Need More Than Vuvuzelas For Uganda Cranes

Today, Uganda Cranes hosts Angola's Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes) at Namboole Stadium in Kampala. It is one of the matches for qualification to 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Despite expectation that we are expected to give our all in support to the national side, I am not keen on having my heart broken for the umpteenth time.

While we may need to support Cranes, Uganda's football needs more than vuvuzelas on such Saturdays to get things right. It is a process that has to start from the grassroots to the very top. We scream ourselves hoarse then towards the end of the campaign, there are those mathematical calculations we start to 'guesstimate' bse Cranes didn't score enough away goals or win emphatically.

In the final analysis, I don't have much hope in UG's chances in getting to the 2012 Cup of Nations.....the whole FUFA administration, search for upcoming talent, football league, finances, fans support, media, corporate sponsorship, government support/budget et cetera will have to be fine tuned and tweaked to work in sync. Only then can we be prepared to take on the world. It is only then that Uganda will win more awards than just the CECAFA 'thing' [which has become boring].

Food for thought: Why is it that there are more fans of English Premiership clubs in Uganda than for the national team? More media coverage of the lives of the Premiership players and their WAGs than just results of matches from our own football league?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Three Million Dollars

Michael Ezra's press conference at which he flashed what seemed a huge amount of money in US dollars has captured headlines and the buzz around the city. Even earning a top headline on Uganda's #1 independent daily!! (Were there no more important stories, Daily Monitor?) More than it being a case of Mr. Ezra debunking talk of being in the red, owing about $2m (or UShs 1 bn) in back taxes and an outstanding loan of UShs 400m, it was a verdict on the kind of journalism we have in Uganda!

Even without asking the necessary questions like "Are you broke?", a little sense of observation and reading between the lines would have shown the journalists that this is a non-story. First off, while 'tycoons' like Sudhir and Karim owns hotels et al, Mulwana is into plastics manufacturing among others, and Kirumira is in real estate among others, Mr. Ezra has no known source of such huge sums of money that he gladly shows off [with the media playing unquestioning praise singer....]. If the press is the watchdog of this society, then it is asleep on the job. Why journalists risk and put a lot at stake in unearthing shady deals like NSSF-Temangalo "procurement or investment" saga; then fail to probe where this guy gets this money from? Definitely, it goes without saying that in many Ugandans' minds...that is the three-million question?

Moreover, just putting two and two together....there are some obvious questions: Why would someone who can casually move around with three million dollars, borrow just UShs 400m (about US$ 200,000) from a bank at an interest rate of more than 20%? Were those genuine dollars anyway? Further still, keen observation and mental calculation (using the picture as a reference), the amount on the table is a little more than US$ 1m. By the way, who mentioned the figure US$ 3m!!! Even Mr. Ezra didn't, as per the Monitor story!! Besides this guy who purportedly ordered for a private plane, bid for Leeds United (why did the deal fall through?), bought a Lamborghini (for Kampala kind of roads?)...are journalists so gullible not to check this up [They don't need to move from their seats, just surf the net, send out a few inquiring e-mails].

Yes, Mr. Ezra may have money but showing cash in public is not the mark of the wealthy or of a successful business man....It is better suited for rappers in music videos (check Make It Rain and many others).

Lastly, this is a personal appeal, the word "tycoon" is an over-cliched in our newspapers; can we give it a break?