Elections often drive people apart as voters vigorously support competing candidates, but inaugurations bring people together, as we stand united, looking towards the next chapter for our nation.
On the occasion of President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration, we look at ten reasons to be proud to be Ugandan.
- Peace and security within our borders. For many years the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized the north of Uganda, but in 2006, our forces, combined with our partners, rooted Kony’s troops out of Uganda. Since then, relative calm has been restored. Uganda still has terrorist threats, though today they are more likely from Al Shabaab, and Ugandan security forces have been quick to react and thwart any attacks to keep us safe.
- We keep our financial house in order. For two decades Uganda has enjoyed an average of 6% economic growth, and yet kept inflation at single digits.. Financial stability has attracted investment, created jobs, and increased government revenue collection, which enables the government to finance public projects. In 1986, revenue collection was a meager sh5b, but in 2014/15, it was a whopping sh9.7 trillion – that’s almost 2000 times more than in 1986! This vast increase shows just how much Uganda’s economy has grown and the huge opportunity for future development that has been created.
- An entrepreneurial nation. More than one-quarter of Uganda’s workforce are entrepreneurs, with many of them creating jobs for themselves, as well as for others. According to the Global Economic Monitor (GEM), Uganda is the #1 entrepreneurial nation in the world! The government has made it a priority to help youth who want to create employment for themselves and others, which is encouraging many to be part of Uganda’s entrepreneurial revolution.
- An educated nation, with universal primary and secondary education. Education is an investment in our future. We were among the first to have universal primary education, the first to offer secondary education, and now have free higher and technical education. Getting youth into classrooms is only half the battle. We are now working to ensure quality education, and in upper levels making sure it corresponds to the needs of the job market and promotes innovation.
- The ABCs of health policy. Our nation was the first to openly address HIV/AIDS, the first to adopt ABC (Abstinence, Be Faithful, or us a Condom), and the first to see a reduction in new infections. Ebola tragically took so many lives last year in West Africa, but Uganda has been able to quickly and efficiently stop each outbreak within our borders. We are bringing health care services closer to the people, making it easier for everyone to get the care they need. And our new goal: eradicate malaria.
- We understood added value before it was fashionable. “Give us trade, not aid,” declared President Museveni so many years ago. Now, all of Africa is clamoring for the same. But there was another radical concept he put forth: that selling primary goods was no longer good enough. We understood the increase in value for each step of production, and we were no longer content with getting the smallest piece of the action. We still grow the best coffee, but now we also roast the beans, and create the packaging.
- Ditto, Regionalization. In Uganda, regionalization isn’t just a term tossed around in international circles or a concept imposed by the World Bank. The East African Community (EAC) is a reality driven by all of us. We know our economic future depends on creating a market larger than any one of our countries. The government has continued an open dialog at the highest levels, aggressively eliminated barriers, and fostered a true spirit of community. The EAC is truly an African solution to an African challenge.
- Smart harnessing of natural resources. Uganda is blessed with beautiful land, but now we’ve discovered that land is blessed with bountiful resources, including oil, gas, and 27 commercially viable minerals. We’ve seen the “resource curse” elsewhere, and are developing systems to make sure our resources benefit us all, including exporting minerals in finished form to add value, create jobs and further build our economy. We are also aiming at increasing forest cover by at least 10% to remain environmentally sustainable.
- Youth. Youth. Youth. Uganda has the largest youth population in the world, with 78% under 30 years old. A youth bulge can be a blessing and a challenge. It can put a strain on social services, including schools, health care, and other resources, and can cause unemployment to rise as so many come into the workforce all at once. But like raising children, the beginning years take a lot of work, but they are there to care for their parents in old age. Uganda’s youth bulge will soon move from the growth years to the productive years, and from that point on, look out world!
- Strong, pragmatic leadership. Uganda has known its share of bad leadership, but since 1986, we have been fortunate to have a President and government committed to serving the people. Our leadership has given us a clear vision, understood and defended our value in the family of nations, and instilled in all of us a pride in our own culture.
As we inaugurate President Museveni, we once again stand together, proud to be Ugandan.