By Carol Natukunda
For decades, we were in the dark. Whether you had paid your bills or not, electricity in our houses was hardly on.
So the completion of Bujagali power project was a Godsend. In an era where we are using everything with power — cooking, washing, hairdressing — the demand keeps growing. Bujagali contributes 250 Mega Watts (MW) to the national grid.
Until late July this year, power demand during peak hours (7:00pm – midnight), was at 443MW, yet available electricity was about 330MW, which ensured the economy continued to suffer from power blackouts.
Electricity supply has now increased to 580MW, thanks to the timely completion of the Bujagali hydropower project. Dr. Benon Mutambi, the Electricity Regulatory Authority chief, says power demand is growing at 10% per annum.
“It means that every year we should be able to commission a 50MW project online if we are to avoid going back to the situation we were in a few months ago,” Mutambi said.
Karuma, which has stalled for some time, is expected to be completed in a few years. But Uganda is an endowed country and experts see no reason why we should not tap renewable options like solar, wind power and biomass.
For 50 years, we have done things manually. You needed to line up for months or even years to secure a proper land title. Now, the independence gift cannot be any better than going digital.
Chasing a land title will now take minutes instead of weeks when the digitalisation of the lands office is completed next month, according to the lands ministry spokesperson Sam Obbo.
In the health ministry, there is an initiative to digitise the country’s health management systems, including birth and death certificates, and patients records. In the internal affairs departments, we shall see more computerised driving permits.
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The inmates are upbeat. The Uganda Prison Services has submitted a list of over 1,000 prisoners who qualify to benefit from the presidential pardon.
Those who qualify to benefit from the pardon include those on death row, minor offenders who have surpassed 50% of their sentence, pregnant women, the terminally sick, breastfeeding mothers and the elderly.
No doubt, pardoned inmates will have a story to tell for generations to come.
Indeed we cannot shape future generations if we have an out-dated school system. That is why the best jubilee gift we could ever get in the education sector is the new curriculum.
Students joining S1 in 2015 will have seven instead of the 43 subjects that they have been doing since 1962.
National Curriculum Development Centre deputy director, Grace Baguma, says the current O’level curriculum was overloaded and outdated.
“For instance, during Physics lessons, the students are taught about vacuum tubes, yet the technology has long been phased out in electronics,” she notes.
The new curriculum lays emphasis on mathematics, science, social studies, languages, technology, life education and creative arts.
Meanwhile, vocational education has a new face now. With a programme dubbed, ‘Skilling Uganda,’ you can study “hands-on” courses in any institute and still earn a degree or diploma, depending on what you want to do. One can choose to be a hair dresser, mechanic, agriculturalist, florist, fashion designer, architect, chef and plumber, among others.
Maternal health is still a huge problem in Uganda. An estimated 6,000 women die every year due to birthrelated complications. A women-only hospital is expected to be ready in two years and hopefully end the deaths.
Uganda boasts of several plush housing estates. But they only target the affluent class. Daudi Migereko, the lands and housing minister, says once the new housing policy is adopted, it will streamline and ensure affordable and decent houses for the middle class people, including those who are renting.
The high cost of mortgages and construction materials will also be checked. The policy will also enable government to directly construct houses for medical workers, teachers and other public servants in the country.