hI am delighted to welcome Diplomat readers to this special report, produced in close co-operation with Ugandan High Commission in London. I am convinced that this report will be a great success by bringing recent developments in Uganda to the attention of both the British public and London’s diplomatic corps. I hope readers will find the articles interesting and useful.
For decades, Uganda’s economy suffered from devastating economic policies and instability which left it as one of the world’s poorest countries. However, since the coming to power of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government in 1986, and with support of international agencies, Uganda has commenced economic reforms and its growth has been robust. Inflation ran at 240 per cent in 1987, 42 per cent in June 1992 and just 5.1 per cent in 2003. The economy has been growing between 6 and 10 per cent for the last 15 years and, now that we have discovered large oil and gas reserves, will continue to grow despite the global downturn and regional instability. Uganda has substantial natural resources including fertile soils, regular rainfall and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Tullow Oil, a British company, recently announced that sufficient reserves have now been discovered in the Lake Albert basin to warrant commercial development, and plans are under way to commence drilling there by the end of year 2011. Meanwhile, Uganda has embraced globalisation and accordingly has an open trade policy. The country has a policy of integration into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, and investing in technological advancement and transfers.
In Uganda, power belongs to the people. Accordingly, the people have routinely exercised their inherent rights and participate in the democratic process of electing leaders in a free and fair environment where elections are held every five years. Both Presidential and Parliamentary elections run simultaneously under the banner of multi-party politics. In February this year the country concluded a very successful Presidential and Parliamentary election in which the ruling NRM party, chaired by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, was re-elected by an impressive majority of 67 per cent. Even the fact that the electoral calendar has become predictable is a sign that democracy has taken root. The current political trend in Uganda is all-inclusive and participatory. The masses are politically aware, support government policies and fully abide by the constitution.
Uganda is known as a country of distinctive tourist attractions where, because of its location on the equator, the sun shines throughout the year. There are many large game parks, and incredibly a third of the country’s surface area consists of water. (Forty-five percent of Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in the world, is attributed to Uganda.) We are a host to the popular mountain gorillas and more than a thousand bird species.
The hosting of the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was a big boost to bilateral relations between Uganda and the rest of the Commonwealth, especially the UK. We greatly appreciate the British government’s strong ties of co-operation in such areas as person-to-person contact, trade, investment and tourism.
To the reader: I trust that this introduction will serve as an encouragement to those who have not yet experienced Uganda to visit, and for those who have already been to visit again. Thank you.