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Analysing progress made 47years after independence

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th October 2009 03:00 AM

MID last century, drums of celebration reverberated across Africa as one nation after the other graduated from colonial rule to self governance. Uganda, Algeria, Burundi and Rwanda are the class that graduated in 1962. So how have they fared, as they cele

MID last century, drums of celebration reverberated across Africa as one nation after the other graduated from colonial rule to self governance. Uganda, Algeria, Burundi and Rwanda are the class that graduated in 1962. So how have they fared, as they cele

By Lydia Namubiru

MID last century, drums of celebration reverberated across Africa as one nation after the other graduated from colonial rule to self governance. Uganda, Algeria, Burundi and Rwanda are the class that graduated in 1962. So how have they fared, as they celebrate 47 years of self rule? More importantly, how does Uganda compare to her fellow ‘graduands’ in terms of development and her people’s welfare?

Going by the UN report on human development released this week, Uganda comes second to Algeria in that group in as a far as living conditions for its nationals go.

While Algeria was ranked 104th, Uganda comes a distant second at 157th out of 182 countries mea¬sured. Rwanda and Burundi were ranked 167th and 174th respectively.

The World Bank development indicators, however, tell a much more complex tale on how Uganda compares to her age-mates.

While she almost always comes a distant second to Algeria in positive development indicators like GDP, exports, industry and others, Uganda also has the worst development indicators related to health and her development ranking is further threatened by high rates of fertility, population growth, infant mortality, imports (compared to GDP) and a poor investment environment as evidenced by the number of days required to set up a business.

Uganda has second best economy of the four but…

Among the 47 year old African countries, Algeria leads in every respect except underdevelopment of course. The oil rich North African country literally dwarfs her Great Lakes counterparts in sheer volume of revenue. Combine the total market value of the goods and services produced within Algeria’s borders (GDP) with foreign direct investment and remittances received from workers abroad and the country’s coffers are as heavy as $210b.

Uganda, on the other hand, makes only about a 10th of the same and those of Rwanda and Burundi barely even compare. Algeria, a big oil and natural gas exporter, is a highly merchandised economy with 65% of her GDP coming from the sale of goods. Uganda, by comparison, earns less than half of her already small GDP from actual sale of goods. With 43.5% of GDP coming from physical trade, she is behind Algeria but ahead of Rwanda and Burundi, whose physical trade only earns them 27% and 38% of their GDP.

On health, Uganda is the worst in the class

Despite our great strides in the fight against HIV, Uganda has the highest prevalence compared to the other three countries in this group.

She also has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancies and levels of malnutrition only come second to Burundi’s, as does the infant mortality rate.

If Uganda and her contemporaries were human beings, they would be middle aged adults but our mother¬land would be the one who has not embraced basic hygiene even at that ripe age of 47.

Compared to the other three, Uganda has the poorest clean water and sanitation facilities with just over half of Uganda’s population having access to clean water, while three quarters of the urban population does not have proper sanitation facilities. Rwanda and Burundi are doing better than that but they also come short of Algeria, where every nine in ten people have access to clean water. Along with being the keeper of a dirty household, Uganda would also be the mother whose children are least likely to be immunised.

Although she is not the worst in other health development indicators like contraceptive use and births at¬tended to by skilled health workers, Uganda’s performance even here is poor and falls far short of class leader Algeria. Overall, 47 years after graduation, Uganda would be the least healthy of her fellow graduands.

Fairly good education

A little more than half of Ugandans of the relevant ages have completed primary school. While this does not favourably compare to Algeria’s 85%, it is considerably better than what Rwanda or Burundi have achieved. Uganda also competes quite favourably in girls’ education. Girls’ education is a strong point for all the four countries.

Rwanda has just as many school¬girls and school boys, while the rest have only slightly fewer girls. Overall though, Uganda’s performance in education, when based on these two indicators, is second to Algeria’s. And the gap is not very big. Rwanda and Burundi also fol¬low closely.

Citizenry prosperity

The World Bank measures two development indicators that may hint at how prosperous a people might be. They are mobile phone subscription and the number of internet users. As one would expect, Algerians dwarf the citizens of her generation.

However, the surprise is in the prosperity differences between the others. Taking these two indicators to show prosperity, Ugandans are twice as prosperous as Rwandans and nearly four times better off than Burundians.

Uganda’s development most threatened

Uganda’s development, although second to Algeria, is far more comparable to that of Rwanda and Burundi. It is probable even the two tailing economies will overtake Uganda, considering that the latter’s economy is far more threatened than the former ones.

Uganda has the highest fertility rate per woman and consequently the fastest expanding population in the group. While there are economic benefits from a growing population, economists argue that a fast expanding one is a threat to development.
Investors

The amount of time it takes an entrepreneur to start up a business in Uganda is often an obstacle to investment and consequent development.

It takes 25 days to start up a business in Uganda, a week longer than in Rwanda, an economy that is fast closing the gap with Uganda’s.

A businessman starting the same business in Algeria’s already better economy will do it a day earlier than their Ugandan counterpart. Burundi’s 32 days is perhaps Uganda’s only consolation.

Analysing progress made 47years after independence

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