20 November 2012

Uganda: We Can Pick Lessons From Kigali, Gujarat


I spent the last two weeks visiting Rwanda's capital, Kigali and the state of Gujarat in India on two separate study tours.

In Kigali, the study by Parliament's National Economy committee focused on the progress Rwanda has made, mainly in areas of investment, by quickening the process of registering businesses and all sorts of companies at the newly-formed Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

At RDB, we were told it is now possible to register a company in six hours. All entities responsible for easing business in Rwanda have deployed members of staff in the RDB building. The staff, almost all of them young people and full of energy, have full powers to issue the necessary permits to a prospective investor/businessman.

At RDB, you find immigration, revenue authority, company registry, tourism board, banking, environment authority, etc. The RDB is a one-stop centre. It appears Rwanda has her vision and the direction it wants to take well defined and the young people there are battling hard as if their entire life depends on it.

In Rwanda, they glorify institutions and their goals, not their CEOs. You will hear everybody speak about RDB and the one- stop business centre. Then there is the Kigali Construction One Stop Centre responsible for the city. This is charged with the physical planning of Kigali. If you want to build in Kigali, this is where you go.

If you look at their pictures, view their videos and listen to their explanations, you may be tempted to begin construction the following day. They have a plan to phase out informal structures in the city - what the city looks like today, how it will look like tomorrow and in 50 years.

In Gujarat, the three of us; Samuel Ssemugaba (MP Kyankwanzi), Robert Migadde Ndugwa (MP Buvuma Islands) and yours truly, members of the Infrastructure committee in Parliament, went to check on the new affordable technology for construction of low-cost houses and roads.

The technology developed by Charotar University of Science and Technology will be used in place of cement for the poor people. In liquid form, the technology is based on enzymes manufactured in a laboratory which, if mixed, in water solidify/compact the soil as if it is cement.

You can use it for brick laying and will not have to use firewood to burn the bricks. It is an environmentally friendly technology that saves forests and requires no use of chemicals. Likewise with roads, you just excavate, pour the enzymes mixed with water and compact the soil, using a roller I believe.

This enzyme is also used to treat water discharged from septic tanks which is then recycled for further use, mainly in flushing toilets and watering plants. Gujarat is a highly industrialized state and here it is fashionable to own a factory. It is these stories from Rwanda and Gujarat that I want the FDC delegates to think about when they assemble at Namboole to choose our next party president.

As a country, we have been deprived of these basic things like planning and a uniformed vision. What Mr Museveni has done is to preside over theft and looting. No wonder when he visited Kigali, he reported his gang of thieves to Paul Kagame.

The aspirations of FDC supporters, and I guess many Ugandans, is change. And this is not merely a change of leaders from Kizza Besigye to Nandala Mafabi, but real change that will fix systems. Almost all the young CEOs in Rwanda were educated at Makerere university. How come in Kigali these Makerere graduates are doing wonders and in Kampala, they are on a looting spree?

It is just leadership that we are lacking. Besides his age, Museveni is consumed by the desire to die in office and will spend his entire working hours fixing the politics. The next FDC leader has a duty not only to rally his party but the entire country in order to get rid of these looters.

They have looted LC bicycles, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation transmitters, money for the poor people in northern Uganda, money for Aids and malaria patients, money from oil...

The need to stop this profligacy and not who becomes FDC leader must unite us. Countrymen, we must do something or else we and our children will have no lives to live. Remember the Liberian motto: "The love of liberty brought us here." So, it follows that the love to liberate Uganda must unite us.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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